Monday, June 11, 2007

Zoukfest, Day 01

Beautiful partly-cloudy and mild weather here on the morning of Day 01 of Zoukfest. Turnout for both last night's orientation/instructor-showcase was excellent--no doubt in part because the "commuter" student population (that is, those who live in the area and are driving in to the College of SF each day, rather than traveling from afar and staying in the dorms) is much higher than in past years. All of which is great: Roger Landes, Lisa Wright, and the ZF Board have made some excellent policy decisions which go to encourage interaction b/w commuting and visiting staff and students--all of which in turn go toward a really nice shared/communal experience. And all present were treated to an absolutely astounding (and, for a musician, humbling) performance by Char and Robbie Rothschild of Round Mountain.

Classes are scattered around the campus and quadrangles, meeting not only in the music building--which, like so many other fantastic resources, has been made available to us by department chair Steve Paxton--but also in the lounges of student dorms and the "Sub," the small free-standing student pub/cafe. That classes are scattered around the site is actually a very good thing, as it encourages staff and students to walk a lot, interact not only within the classroom and buildings, but also as members of a temporary but very real artistic community.

Accommodations are fine--dorms are a little bit like church camp, with communal showers and with men and women on separate floors--but they're clean, comfortable, secure, and with attentive staff. Blessedly, the food is excellent--any church-camp visions of spaghetti, tapioca pudding, or chipped beef on toast thankfully banished by the superb vegan- and vegetarian-friendly menus and preparation.

For me as a teacher, it's great to have 14 people walk into a class at 9am, given how late some of the nights (and early mornings) will be, and all seem to feel they're in a place where they can accomplish the goals they hope for. Nice folks, attentive and open-minded, and not too badly afflicted with stage fright. As I said in class, and will say again, ZF is the safest possible place to both make friends with your limitations as a musician and to find mentors who will help you transcend them.

Dharmonia's Early English Song class is full-to-the-brim with a Santa Fe folk choir who've enlisted en masse, and all reports are that things proceed apace.

Bit of a break now, before the (much-anticipated) lunch, and then Doug Goodhart's "West Virginia Long-Bow Fiddle" class--an under-examined tradition which, according to Doug, seems to reveal particularly direct connections with Irish ancestor traditions.

We're glad to be here.

No comments: