Monday, July 06, 2009

Willie Week - Monday

Today was my official first day of the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, County Clare, Ireland. Jetlag notwithstanding, I made it to the flute class which started at 10 AM. Taught by Conal O'Grada and Tara (Bingham) Diamond, it was a fascinating class. Conal has a very colorful sense of humor, so he entertains while he instructs. Taras soft-spoken manner provides a complementary balance.

Each teacher taught us a tune. Then we broke for coffee/tea at the local pub, which served some tasty scones as well. Back in the class, we went around the room - all 18 students - playing the first tune. Each student received some feedback and helpful advice on how to improve his or her playing. I was neither the best nor the worst. Conal commented on the fact that I moved around too much, which would account for why the flute didn't seem securely planted on my chin. I learned that the strong woody sound Irish players get requires that the flute be pushed really firmly into your chin. Now mind you, I didn't realize I was moving, nor did I think the flute felt insecure, but when I adjusted my hand position as instructed and firmed up the pressure, I could hear the difference immediately! Something to work on, for sure.

Conal & Tara discussing technique

After class I went on a quest for internet access. I walked the length of the town twice, only to confirm that on Monday there is no public internet access in Miltown Malbay because the library is closed. No internet cafes, no wireless in the B&B. Nothing. I guess this should not be a surprise. I am in rural Ireland, after all.

At 3 pm I attended a lecture by Tim Collins, a friend from the Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra. Tim was part of our group when he was the Fulbright scholar at NYU in 2007-08. His lecture was called Around the house and mind the bonfire - dance spaces in East Clare and South East Galway. It was very interesting with many old photographs and film clips, but I don't have enough knowledge of Irish set dancing to attempt a summary. Sorry...

At 5 pm I returned to the B&B to practice the tunes I learned this morning and experiment with some of the techniques I want to incorporate into my playing. After Lauren and Danika returned, we all headed out to the town of Lahinch for dinner. Lahinch is a resort town right on the ocean, home of one of Ireland's well known links golf courses. We drove on the coast road and the scenery was absolutely stunning.

View from the car going into Lahinch

Scenic parking spot in Lahinch

We had a delicious meal at the Corner Stone Inn before returning to Miltown.

For the evening's amusement, Lauren and I dropped Danika off at the ceili (pronounced KAY-lee) and then continued on to a pub called Crosses of Annagh outside Miltown. We were both pretty tired, and the music was nothing special, so we came home early (midnight). All in all, a very satisfying day.

© 2009, Linda Mason Hood
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