Friday, February 15, 2008

Day 27 "In the trenches" (keep-on-keepin'-on edition)

Day 3 (second full day) of TMEA. "Lecture-demo's" (loosely and inaccurately so-termed) #3 and #4 today. With the sod's-law coincidence that usually obtains in these kinds of situations, I was scheduled to present a workshop with the Celtic Ensemble, at precisely the same hour that about five of them are stuck in the major rehearsal with our Symphony Orchestra. Nobody's fault, but problematic nevertheless. So I've beaten the bushes for ringers and I expect I'll have enough bodies for a critical mass--but the scheduling, and the space, certainly tweeze the nature of what we can try to do.

In past years I've attempted to teach a "slow session"--tune-learning session--but that's a relatively small, static, and quiet activity: doesn't really sell to the wandering swag-toting multitudes. This year I'm cutting right to the chase, and using a presentational method that works better for this venue: we'll have a few of my players to hold down the tunes, and I'll just teach a couple of dance steps. These have the merit of being both highly visual/visible across the room, and of generating audience participation.

One of the nice things about Texas is that, with the ubiquity of the two-step, almost everybody has learned to dance at least that much. This has two benefits: the youngsters are way less shy about dancing than they were in the uptight Northeast or Midwest, and they're also bodily much more familiar with the process of learning. I was shocked, the first time we took kiddos to Ireland on a seminar fieldtrip, at the extent to and the willingness with which they got stuck-in at the Ennis ceilis. Hoping to generate something of the same enthusiasm today--we'll see.

Later: Waiting in the massively crowded lobby with the rest of the swag-seeking hordes who want in to the exhibit hall. It's not quite so enticing for us, as, in the literal acres of goods 'n' services, amidst the band uniforms and ornamental swords and entire soundproofed practice-room modules and hundreds of cubic yards of sheet music for band, chorus and orchestra--there's actually comparatively little space for the stuff we do. Ain't much in the way of vielles or uilleann bagpipes. Which is actually a good thing, because it means that we can cut out of the exhibits and head back to the hotel, before sallying forth again for another clinic and dinner with friends.

Later later:

Ran out of steam. Two clinics (including a hair-raising screeching-around-the-curves taxi ride for Dharmonia to pick up an errant bouzouki), sit in on colleague's viola workshop, massive sushi dinner with old Altramar friends, back to college reunion where you hear how all the kids from the past seven years are doing in their first or second or third teaching gigs, hoick back to the hotel once again. We're pooped.

Home tomorrow.

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