Almost heaven

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!

One thought on “Almost heaven”

  1. Hello!

    I was also at Irish Week at Augusta, taking Robbie O’Connell’s class. Perhaps you saw me around campus – very long silver hair limping bravely about in an air cast on my right leg. This year marked my 19th year at Irish Week. I started coming in 1989 and just got addicted to it. I’ve met many fine performers and musicians over the years and I’ve loved each and every minute of every week that I am there.

    Usually you will find me at night in the Madden Center rotunda with the singing sessions. After that was built, we singers claimed it as our own – the acoustics ROCK, it’s a comfortable climate controlled indoor spot with clean restrooms and comfy chairs and it’s quiet enough and far enough away from the instrumental sessions to allow ourselves to be able to hear each other singing. Before they built that addition on to old Benedum Hall, now Madden Center, we used to go to a side porch at Halliehurst across from the Ice House, but it got too hard to compete with the loud sessions emanating from there, so when that rotunda got built and we discovered its acoustics, well, you’d better believe that we jumped on that spot and claimed it for our own.

    Well, if we didn’t meet this year, then if you come next year, perhaps we’ll meet face to face at last. Glad you had a GREAT class with John Skelton – isn’t he just the best? I’d love to play flute just to be able to study with him! This year, I couldn’t play any instruments due to recent surgery on my left hand, so until I am fully recovered (and the doctor says I’ve got a ways to go yet), I won’t be able to play anything. 🙁 But there’s always next year, and by then, I ought to have fully recovered, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, as they say!

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