This past week was spent in Elkins, West Virginia attending Irish Week at the Augusta Heritage Cultural Center at Davis and Elkins Collge. This was the third year Jack and I attended this intensive program, myself for flute this year with John Skelton, and Jack for a week of fiddle with Liz Kane. We are both exhausted and stuffed with new tunes and techniques.
I was tremendously nervous to try a week of flute having only been playing for about 6 months. But I survived not only the classes, but the student showcase performance…
Next to me is John Skelton who taught the intermediate flute class. As a teacher myself, I can, without a doubt, say that John is the best teacher I have ever encountered in any subject. His teaching style is the perfect blend of wisdom, wit, technique and understanding. He is, for lack of a better word, brilliant. I am already looking forward to the start if Riley School in the fall to get back to classes with him on a weekly basis.
On the right side of the photo above is John Doyle, whom John Skelton invited to play with us on our showcase pieces. In the small world of Irish Music, these two Johns are considered sort of rock stars. Needless to say, I was just a little nervous. But I felt like a musician, a real one. Those moments are few and far between. I am inspired to keep learning and practicing to get more of those musical moments in the future.
Many a night was spent wandering the Davis and Elkins campus listening to various sessions scattered about. We did a fair amount of ceili dancing as well. There was not very much sleep to be had, but plenty of coffee, and laughter and of course, music. I am already looking forward to next year’s trip to Elkins to reconnect with old and new Augusta friends, but for now, I am off to sleep some more!
I had cause to celebrate yesterday as I was able to pick up my new flute from Dave and Marlene at Celtic Lands Irish Flutes. It is gorgeous and has a lovely sound already, even though I have not adjusted to playing it yet. Every flute is slightly different and so a flute player has to adjust to the instrument over time. I am really, really thrilled to have it!
Dave’s flutes all come with a case but I wanted something a little more funky than a gun case, plus I need something to carry my whistles as well. So my son Jack and I scoured some antiquey stores and found a cute vintage Samsonite suit case into which I built foam and supports to keep the instruments safe and sound when traveling.
Every month on the Full Moon, some of my artist friends and I get together to celebrate this monthly natural occurrence as well as our intuitive, feminine way of making art. Yesterday was the Full Moon so last night Lisa, who just landed a position teaching ceramics, came over with some clay and taught me how to make lovely spherical rattles that, when I looked at them, reminded me of the moon that brought us together. Here’s Lisa’s nearly complete…
And here are mine and Maddie’s in process…
Last fall I borrowed my friend Cindy’s wooden flute to try my hand at playing it; a rather large jump in the learning curve for me in music. Since then, I have had a few lessons and even signed up to take a summer course with my teacher from the Riley School, John Skelton. Cindy’s flute was made by Dave Copley and Marlene Boegli at Celtic Lands Irish Flutes and I have enjoyed playing it immensely. But there comes a time when one either has to fish or cut bait, as the saying goes, and I decided a few months ago that I was ready to commit to buying my very own flute from Dave and Marlene who fortunately live right here in Cincinnati and are part of the Riley School of Irish Music community.
Today I went over to Dave’s workshop to see the flute as it was being built and to take a few “baby pictures”, as he calls them. I am very excited. The plan is to build the flute with mounts already in place so I can add keys later on as I become more proficient at playing. Above is a picture of the head joint, freshly drilled. Below are pictures of a finished flute with keys already mounted on it and after that, the pieces of my flute, in the same layout, ready to have its shaping begin.
I am feeling a bit spoiled, having this instrument built just for me, but I am trying to get over that guilty notion and just enjoy it. I hope to have years of learning and playing on this thing; I might as well have a good one. My Grandpa Kelley used to say “ya pay a penny more and go first class”. This was his way of saying that sometimes, quality things are worth the investment.
Meanwhile, the seemingly endless renovation project here at Chez Bogard continues. After much discussion, research and visits from flooring specialists from all genres, we have decided to put in a polished concrete floor with areas of radiant heat to keep our toes warm in the colder months. I have never been a fan of carpet from a housekeeping and allergy perspective and it didn’t look like wood, bamboo, or cork would hold up to the dogs and our rough-house lifestyle. I like tile but I don’t want any more lines in this space so visually driven by lines in the first place. This really left us with with only one option and we are taking the plunge. Today Tony is taking conference calls outside to avoid the noise of the grinding and I have stuffed towels and blankets around the door to keep the dust out of the studio.
Slowly but surely, the forward progression continues. We have left the dated, termite-eaten, fuse-blowing space behind and are starting to see the beauty of the light at the end of the tunnel. Kudos to our contractor Jerry Westerkamp who built the gorgeous soffit in our new space. Yep, slowly, but surely….