Thursday, October 2, 2014

The woes of the musically literate

(--- Go on. Play this music to accompany your reading. It's the music of birds, of the morning and a girl rehearsing in the adjacent lounge. Just recorded on an phone thingie as I typed, no edits --- )

Sunday morning. Lotsa birds lost somewhere in the Strathbogies. Another great Folk Music Camp.

I write from the verandah of the 'Altos' bunkhouse, looking at the mountain, listening to the birds, and in behind me in the lounge I can hear a tentative voice repeating phrases with a guitar and pausing and resuming and pausing – I reckon she is writing a song at 7:45am – I can almost hear the pencil scrawls. In the accompanying Soundcloud clip you can hear the birds, the typing, brief conversations, the tentative voice.

The Intermediate Turkey Gobblers

And so the uke players trudge up the hill to the workshop.

Yesterday we had about 60 musically literate people show up for our first 1 hour ukulele workshop We did Royals and How to Make Gravy – it was all happening and very successful, even if we had to leave our allocated lounge classroom and be ejected onto the lawn. It is so good to work with people who are already musically literate, who listen and take instruction easily. Though they do become a noisy rabble, and without a PA we resorted to a 'modified shut up! primary school method' which involved gobbling like a turkey. I would do gobble and everyone would have to follow suit. That seemed to work, much like this video (just play a second or two of it - it is much sweeter listening to the accompanying soundcloud of birds, songstress, typing fingers and morning hellos).

Keen ukers gather for the first session. This is only a few of the final participants. I couldn't take photos. I was teaching!
So we completed the first session of turkey gobblers, for intermediate players. Phew! Glad that is over! We've dealt with 60 people out of a total of 300 registered campers (with perhaps another 100 unregistered kids). There are only 4 concurrent workshops at any time, and we feel like that will we be our fair share of punters.

The Beginners

30 minute break and then off to do the 'Beginners Ukulele Workshop'. We should only get 15 people at the most, and surely they've put us in the wrong venue for this? The main Marquee? So we toddle off down the hill to that ... and are aghast. At least another 60! What is it with the ukulele?!

Big mistake. We set up the area without thinking of using the PA which we could have used. It is more personal, but very taxing on the voice – turkey gobbling notwithstanding.
'The Doctor' helps tune ukes. Jane girds her loins for another class.

So. Back to the beginners. The wonderful thing about teaching uke at these camps is that people are already musically literate. Or at least they are here with a desire to learn music. Such an important first step. There is no dragging kicking and screaming here. Just willing voices and fingers.

But it also has its disadvantages. Our one-hour-each-day beginners program is shot to pieces. At home we work with 10-15 people in a two hour beginners' workshop in which we can count on getting through maybe four songs and a whole bunch of techniques. Here we are with 60 people, croaking instructions, and they get through 2 hours of skill development and song learning in 40 minutes. Now what do we do? And more to the point, what do we do tomorrow?

We'll figure it out. It's not like we are strangers to this situation.

And when you have finished reading, and listening to the birds and song, you can play the videos of the final night uke concerts.

Here be the first - How to Make Gravy.

More to come very soon....

No comments:

Post a Comment