Thursday, July 09, 2009

Willie Week - Thursday

Another tune-packed day in the flute class. With 6 more tunes learned today, our total is now up to 18. Along with learning tunes, we are also learning some principles of technique. Today Conal and Tara talked about breathing -- where to take breaths and how often. Both our teachers advise against letting one's air reserve get more than half depleted. Their advice was to breathe quickly and often so as to never need a long time to take a breath. Tomorrow we will go around the class, each of us playing either The Rookery or Peach Blossom (tunes we learned yesterday), and Conal and Tara will offer individual advice on breathing and other aspects of our playing.

After class I made my daily dash to the library for my 30-minutes of internet. As I mentioned on Monday, there is precious little internet access in Miltown Malbay. The ONLY way to get online is by using one of the four library computers. You sign up when you arrive, wait your turn, and when your name is called you get exactly 30 minutes. If that's not enough, you're welcome to come back the next day. (Just make sure you know the hours the library is open, because they are different every day.) Since uploading pictures was both forbidden and blocked, I gave up my real-time blogging effort early on - thus these back-dated posts. Today's challenge was to do the online check-in for my Ryanair flight to London on Sunday morning. I hadn't realized I needed my passport in order to complete the check-in, so I will have to try again tomorrow.

After my trip to the library, I met Lauren who had found a nice session in the yard behind Cleary's pub. I joined her for a few tunes before a meal of fish and chips at "the chipper," a take-away place in the middle of town where you can get burgers as well as fish, and of course chips (or french fries as we Americans would call them). The chips could be ordered plain or with several toppings -- salt & vinegar, curry sauce, or garlic sauce. The curry sauce had only a hint of curry, but I liked the flavor and the curry chips quickly became my favorite. Everything was served in brown paper bags with a plastic dish in the bottom to catch the sauce. ( Again, no picture. What was I thinking!) We ate our food from the chipper outside the B&B so our room wouldn't smell like grease. The outdoors B&B cat, who had been rather stand-offish until now, suddenly got very friendly after we fed him bits of fish.

After dinner, Lauren drove me to see the Cliffs of Moher. We saw the Cliffs at dusk which was around 9 pm. The sun sets very late at this time of year in Ireland, between 10:30 and 11 pm. The views were breath-taking. Since we can see the Cliffs from our B&B, it was especially thrilling to experience them close up. I was really thankful Lauren felt like taking this little side trip.

(To make the pictures larger, double click the first one.
Then, on the Picasa Web site, click on Slideshow.)

After our drive to the Cliffs, Lauren joined Danika at the ceili and I went off to find myself a session. I ended up in the back room of the Central Hotel. Nearly all the people in the circle of players had white hair. The exceptions were Dennis Cahill on guitar and Brid O'Donaghue on flute. Many of those playing were teachers, others had obviously been playing all their lives, so the level of playing was very high. Even so, the tempos were relaxed and players savored the tunes. There were many songs mixed in with the tunes. Len Graham was in the room, but he didn't sing. Eventually a chair opened up and I joined in the playing. Between tunes I chatted with the man next to me who comes over from from the Achill Islands (pronounced AY-kull) every year for the festival. He had a flute from 1830 with very interesting keywork. I was pleased that the group played a few tunes that my teacher Mike Rafferty taught me a few weeks ago, as well as a waltz I learned just recently for the WSHSO - Dermot Grogan's Favorite. This night was very special, the highlight of my session playing experiences in Ireland. All by myself, I found really good playing and was able to participate.

When the session broke up around 1 AM, I decided to go home. Any session which would follow this one would surely be a disappointment. I was really happy and satisfied as I walked back to the B&B, alone under the stars on a country road in Ireland, with beautiful traditional music played much like it was hundreds of years ago still ringing in my ears.

© 2009, Linda Mason Hood
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