Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lark Camp 2014 - Day Three – Muscle Memory

Dancing in the dining room at Camp Two - Lark Camp 2014

Jane and Janene (from Santa Rosa), Camp One - the last night
3 nights of dancing. I think. Is it Monday? The lunch menu board says so, so I believe it is. Which makes it four nights of dancing, but three whole days. I can't keep up with Jane, who wants to keep dancing – tonight it is Cajun / Zydeco. Tomorrow's theme is Balkan, the next Swing or Contra or....

I remember Warren Coleman saying backstage at a Castanet gig in the early 80s that he loved America because if there was any minor craze somewhere in the world, then in America it was a whole big movement. That's what it is here. They've got the density and diversity thing going on big time. A different style of dance each night. If you move between tables or tents or fires then there is bound to be some different cultural form being expressed, with a whole bunch of people doing it. And this is just Camp Two. Camp One is apparently bigger – we still haven't strayed from Camp Two. There is plenny diversity here, without introducing too much Irishie Celticie streams to make matters even worse.

Around the fire I was joining the Mexican trumpet player doing Mexicanie sorta stuff, lead by a female accordion player. I have never seen so many hurdy gurdies, or guitarrons, or, or.... then back inside for some more Cajun dancing. I get told and bossed around by various women, including Jane. This is how you dance – not like that.... Cajun seems to really use my calves more - they hurt.

Workshop Area 1 - our teaching home for 7 days
The trudge home from dance, in the dark, is now more familiar. Muscle memory is kicking in. Dodge that overhanging limb – turn left at the giant sequoia tree stump – swing past someone's cabin – up the hill to the loo. Down the hill, I'm home, with minimal or no lighting.

We keep teaching people about muscle memory, for fingers on frets. We assure them that, if they practice and play then the muscle memory will soon take over.Thank God for auto-walking and auto-fretting.

We're on a mission from the Blues Brothers

People are really loving what we do, and today I think we snagged the quote of the trip...

I thought ukulele was boring til I met you guys.

And that's the point exactly. Too often we are hearing stories of newly minted, musically curious ukulele players feeling that hum n strum on the uke is the only form of music on offer. Many of them then leave disenchanted because they feel there is nothing more to it.

Our Ukestration webpage sets out some of our mission - to allow people to be simple on the uke whilst continuing to learn; to introduce them to musicality, initially through their nostalgic curiosity; and to enable audiences to hear the ukulele as more than just hum n strum.

The cultural difference between this folk camp and uke festivals and camps to which we have been is enormous. Utterly enormous. So many ukers have an exciting journey ahead of them - engaging with and learning about musicality. But to achieve that one needs leaders who are musically literate and curious. Music is about so much more than nostalgic reproductions of songs. Yes the uke is introducing thousands upon thousands of new people into a life of making music and is creating new communities. But experienced leaders and musicians need to help those inexperienced musicians to know that we need a diverse set of skills so that music can help us celebrate life and help us personally mark its joyous and sad passages.

This is our mission, our mountain. That should keep us amused for a while. It's good to have a mission. And it is places and events like Lark Camp that help keep that mission focussed.

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