Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What an amazing day for my musicians...

I am always amazed by other people's reactions to Haley's musical abilities. I live with her every day so I am getting used to her playing and I know the work she puts into it and the things that come effortlessly. Even so, I am often awed by things she masters and accomplishes.

I am getting used to the fact that non-musical people and people in the community are fascinated by her playing...she is little and plays a mean fiddle/violin. I was unprepared for the reaction yesterday of two "greats" in the Celtic music world...

Yesterday morning when Haley woke from a bad dream, she quickly remembered that it was the long awaited day. She would play with Kevin Burke. She spent the rest of the morning with a huge grin across her face. The night before, she had found a small clipping in the Sunday paper advertising a concert he performed in Atlantic City and she cut it out and taped it to her wall.

When we arrived at Kathy's for lessons, Cal Scott was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. They had both spent the night after the concert the night before. Kevin hadn't yet come downstairs but when he did she and Kathy went into the kitchen. Kathy introduced them to Haley then Haley got to play with both Kevin Burke and Cal Scott. They played the Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz which Cal had written. Then they played a few other tunes together before Kevin had to leave for an appointment. Kevin Burke joked that she would be taking his job and said she could substitute for him if he got sick. Cal said he was honored to have someone so young want to play his song. They asked Haley to bring her fiddle along to the concert in case they got a chance to play a little. Kathy, her fiddle teacher, said a few people were bringing instruments so they could play a little session after the concert.

After Kevin left, she and Kathy (on harp) played some more with Cal accompanying on the guitar. After the lesson, I had to run back in to leave the payment for the lesson because I had forgotten in the excitement and Cal told me, "She's a sweetheart and absolutely amazing. Kathy says she initiated learning fiddle on her own?" I quickly told him how she had begged me to buy the How to Play Celtic Fiddle DVD at their concert last year and quickly learned the first two tunes on her own prompting me to search out a teacher seeing it as a way to prevent her learning the Suzuki songs improperly (Cal later told us his aunt had been the first Suzuki violin teacher in Oregon), leading us to Kathy.

After fiddle lessons she had Suzuki violin lessons where she played really well. I was surprised because she was still so excited about her morning. She didn't even mention it to Gerry but went about the business of violin lessons like it was a normal morning.

The whole family went to Kevin Burke and Cal Scott's concert, even Grammy and Poppop.

Her fiddle teacher said she was the main topic of conversation at the dinner table. Cal later told us that he and Kevin's jaws had dropped to the floor when they heard her play because she played with such a wonderful sense of timing, rhythem and conviction. He said she plays better than a 10 year old, actually better than a 15 year old. He went on to say how talent like that just comes along every now and then.

At their concert, Kevin and Cal dedicated The Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz to Haley and told the crowd they had met her and played with her that morning and how wonderfully she played. Throughout the concert, most of the songs they played were from the Across the Black River CD we own...and listen to nearly everyday in the car. Every time they played one of those songs, Haley turned back to look at me and mouthed, "That's my favorite song." I told Grammy, she has more favorite songs than I have favorite Christmas cookies (a little family joke).

Prior to the concert, Kathy had told Haley that when people listen to Celtic music, they usually tap their foot or clap their hands on their laps rather than clapping their hands together (at the Kane sisters concert, Haley was so enthusiastically clapping her hands the whole concert and some grumpier people had complained that it was distracting). A few times during the playing, I watched Haley begin to clap her hands, quickly remember what Kathy had said, and then she tapped them lightly on her lap with her feet bouncing away in the air since they couldn't reach the floor to tap.

At the end of the program when giving out thanks, they thanked Haley for "starting their day right." Immediately after the concert, Cal came right over to us like he could care less about anyone else in the room but Haley. I asked if I could take a picture of Haley with him and Kevin. While he went and got his guitar, I handed Haley her fiddle (without even tightened her bow or tuning her, just for a picture). He asked her to play the Lighthouse Keeper's Waltz which they did in front of everyone. Everyone was milling around talking and eating but they all stopped when Haley and Cal started playing. It was so quiet while they played and when they finished, the applause was deafening. Cal yelled, "Yo! Burke catch a bus home. I have your replacement!"
A few people even asked Haley to autograph their CDs right along with Kevin and Cal! I guess they figure if she makes it big some day, those might be worth something or they can say, "I knew her when..."

Cal came over and asked me if I had taped it and would I send him a copy. He wanted to show her to his wife back in Oregon because he had called her in the morning and told her about Haley. Some people even asked Haley to autograph their CDs along with Cal and Kevin.

Dennis and another tin whistle player had set chairs in a circle and asked Haley to grab her fiddle. She then played with the adults for awhile (about 5 songs I think before she handed me her fiddle and said she was too tired. It was 10pm). Cal Scott actually let Dylan play his 21 year old guitar (a Taylor) for The Merry Blacksmith (which made Dylan's night) and it sounded really neat with all the tin whistles, fiddles, and guitar going. Cal had taken time to talk to Dylan both during the intermission and at the end. He showed him some things about accompanying people, discussed guitars with him, and gave him a pick from his case.

I have loved their music since we saw them last year when we first heard them play. Now I see them as, not only great musicians but also wonderfully down-to-earth men. There were so many people waiting to talk to them during the intermission and after the show but they took the time to talk to my kids and actually seemed to enjoy.

Not many people get the chance to play with the musicians they most admire and here's Haley getting to play with hers at 5 years old. It is pretty amazing. I don't think Haley even understands how amazing yesterday was and how most people live their entire lives without doing what she did. Probably not a bad thing that she doesn't. This morning she said the best part of yesterday was listening to the concert.

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