Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekend Ramblings

We actually didn't ramble too much this weekend! We had some nice time at home to get the house cleaning done and relax. In between our time at home, on Saturday Haley and Dylan played a nice, small, cozy gig at an area nursing home for a St. Patrick's Day party in the memory care unit. About ten people, residents and their families, were in attendance. (I didn't take any pictures to protect the privacy of the residents.)

One resident from the assisted living area of the nursing home came to listen because she loves Irish music. She told the kids about all the Irish bands she'd been to see then told them they were just as good as the best she'd seen. So cute! She talked to them between sets and was very excited.

While they were playing an upbeat tune set, an elderly man in a wheel chair started moving around like he was trying to get up. Initially I thought he was trying to leave because one woman had left when they started playing saying she didn't have any interest in Irish music. LOL The elderly woman sitting next to the man turned and tried to help him. I though they were both going to fall but a nurse rushed over and asked him what he needed. Turns out he wanted to dance so she talked him into dancing in his chair and she and the elderly woman held his hands while he moved his feet to the rhythm. It was wonderful to see them touching someone's life and making them a little happier. Haley looked right at him and played for him while he danced.

...And because we get antsy staying home too long, we decided to go to the session at Plough and the Stars…actually it was Dylan's idea! This has never happened before. Dylan will go along with us to a session sometimes grudgingly and sometimes happily but has never been the one to suggest a session unless he's at Swannanoa where he sessions until the wee hours but Dylan got his drivers permit on Saturday and wanted to drive. The boy is so excited to drive anywhere, he will spend 4 hours playing music just to have a chance to drive! Ha!

Some might think it dangerous to allow a brand new driver to drive on the highway and in the city but he is confident and makes very good decisions while driving. The day before he drove us halfway to the nursing home and all the way home in traffic. He has been driving our vehicles around our driveways and on our property for a couple years. If he is going to be my chauffeur for the next six months, he needs to be fearless about highway and city driving!

We had a nice surprise at the Plough when Haley's buddy Keegan showed up with his pipes! His mom took this picture and posted it so I took it off Facebook. Dylan was sitting across the table from them and didn't make it into the pic. Haley and Keegan made plans to meet at another session tonight! These two share an amazing passion for Irish music!…and rarely smile in pictures while playing now that they are older.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Haley's First Day of School…kinda

On Friday, Haley had a wonderful experience spending an entire day at school demonstrating and teaching Irish music to the middle school students at a rather large public school in PA. We met the music teacher at this school at Paraic's Monday night sessions. She plays flute and tin whistle and is learning Irish tunes. She thought it would be a nice program for her students and the rest of the school in honor of St. Patrick's Day so she asked Haley and Paraic to come to the school for the day.

They started the day with the 6th grade orchestra and another music class observing and taking notes. The orchestra students had learned the tune Drowsy Maggie. Haley took the lead in giving them some hints on how to make their reel sound more "Irish" by adding in some ornamentation and downbeats. The orchestra director had written the tune on the white board so Haley wrote her and Paraic's suggestions into the music, demonstrated, played with the students so they could practice then they rehearsed together.

The next two class periods she and Paraic played some tunes and did a question/answer segment with different classes. The kids had some great questions and were extremely well behaved and polite. We then had a nice lunch brought in. Haley was curious to see what it was like to walk the halls of the school on her own so she did. The music teacher also took her around to the lunch room, which she said was "really loud and crazy…with kids throwing oranges," and another classroom so she could see what it was like. As lunch was ending she and Paraic stood outside the auditorium and fiddled for the kids walking the halls because not every student was able to fit in the auditorium for the "show" later in the day.

They did another class with the 7th and 8th grade orchestra who had learned Tripping Up the Stairs. She and Paraic taught them how to slur notes together into the down beat and add a couple ornaments to make their tune sound more "Irish." They asked the cello section, who were playing harmony, to begin playing the tune as a little intro before the rest of the orchestra joined in. They rehearsed it a couple times before class was over.

The final class period the students filled the auditorium. It was a really big school with a large auditorium but still teachers had to sign up because not every student could fit. We even added a couple extra rows of chairs in the front. It was full of students. Haley and Paraic played a set together then they played along with the 6th grade orchestra.

6th grade orchestra

Then they performed with the 7th and 8th grade orchestra.

7th/8th grade orchestra

Haley and Paraic played a tune for a couple dancers who went to the school while they took turns Irish dancing. (I had a really hard time getting a picture to come out not blurry.)

Haley and Paraic finished the program by played two more tune sets together. As the orchestra students packed up their instruments to head to their buses a number of girls took pictures with Haley and made friends.

Haley and I jumped in the car right after school to head about 30 minutes away because Haley's string ensemble, PRYSM, was playing with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra to open their "Harp Play In." They performed Vaughn William's Variations on Dives and Lazzarus.

Haley playing her small solo section.

Here's a picture of all the harps on stage. There were over 20 harps playing at once….some concert pedal harps and others smaller lever harps. It was beautiful music!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March Madness Continued...

I was going to wait until after this weekend before posting about all the fun Haley is having this week but there is too much to wait so I will break this week up into two posts. Sunday evening Haley got a message asking her to come out and play with her buddies, John and Darin, session-style for a fundraiser for Philadelphia Councilman James Kenney at The Plough and the Stars. We met Councilman Kenney at the Plough a little over a year ago and last year he asked Haley, Newt, and Dylan to play some Irish music at a Philadelphia City Council Meeting in honor of Irish heritage and St. Patrick's Day.

The venue was crowded with fundraiser guests almost to bursting. Haley and the guys could barely hear themselves play but Councilman Kenney and some of the other guests come over now and then to listen. They had a lot of fun together and the food was delicious. There were also performances by Irish dancers and a pipe and drum corp (that was really loud!).

Haley and Darin

Haley, Darin, and John

Pipers and drummers from the balcony
Tuesday, Haley played with the South Jersey Irish Society dancers again (the same dancers she performed with last week at the nursing home) for a Senior Luncheon. The dancers did some set and ceili dances and for some of the ceili dances had audience member volunteers come up to try them out. Haley worked the CD player for the dancers and while the dancers rested, performed tune sets throughout the show. She even joined the dancers for The Haymaker's Jig (one of her favorites).

Dancers doing a set dance.

Haley joining the dancers to do the Haymaker's Jig.

Fiddling around.

I had to add this one in because I like it.
Wednesday (today) Haley and her harp playing friend, Emily, were invited to perform for a different church's luncheon. Someone at the church noticed an article written in the newspaper mostly about Emily but mentioning Haley after the girls both took 1st in Ireland last year at the All Ireland competition and they asked them to perform for their group.

I have to include these photos because it is a really neat blast from the past. Here are Haley and Emily performing for the first time together when Haley was six years old and Emily was seven. So cute and little…probably playing "Summer, Summer" together.

Here they are today looking so much more grown up but in almost the same poses. Time sure does fly. We are so blessed for Haley to have such a large group of wonderful kids in our area who love Irish music like Haley does. It is fun watching them grow up together.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

March Madness 2014

As I alluded to in my previous post, the month of March is like Christmas for my Irish musicians…gigs galore, wonderful audiences, performing with friends, and making new friends!

This week was no exception.

On Thursday Daddy took Haley to a nursing home in Cherry Hill where she joined some local set dancers in a program to entertain the residents. This is the 2nd year they've done this program. The set dancers invite some of the more mobile residents to join the dancing and the others watch and clap along. Haley played her jigs and reels then played a requested "Danny Boy" for an elderly woman who said her son's name was Danny.

Set dancers.

Friday was orchestra rehearsal getting ready for PRYSM's amazing performance opportunity next week with The Philadelphia Orchestra for their Harp Play-In where they will open the concert. (It's free for the public.)

Saturday we spent half the day at the NJ State Wrestling Championships watching Newt wrestle. He wrestled well but got knocked out of the running early in the day.

Today was a very busy day. Haley and I got up early to drive into the city where she was to play at a church's Irish Mass with her friend, Keegan, who plays uillean pipes. They played while the church filled up then accompanied a singer for a piece toward the end of the Mass. It was hard to get a picture from where I was sitting but I managed this shot during Keegan's solo.

The Mass ran a little over time so we had to run out and jump in the car to get back to Southern Jersey for the sound check for their afternoon concert, the Down Jersey Celtic Celebration. It was a celebration featuring young Irish music talents from the local area. Haley's friends, Alex and Keegan, opened the show, followed by a wonderful young band called Amarach, then Haley and Dylan played their set before a finale where everyone played together for the "Sold Out" crowd. It was a great show!

Alex, Dylan, Keegan, and Haley after the show
We have another busy week coming up. Something scheduled every day except Thursday (oops, maybe wrestling on Thursday) then a busy weekend in NY!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Weekend Ramblings....the beginning of March Madness!

After spending all day Saturday watching wrestling, Haley and I jumped in the car immediately following Newt's finals match to drive across the state for The Chieftains concert. We haven't seen them for a couple years because they were in the area on one of my work days last year. They put on an awesome show with a variety of local talent as well as their own amazing band members.

Saturday night a drum and pipe corp from Philly as well as the local high school choir joined them on stage for a number as well as the grand finale. Haley and her best bud, Paraic, also joined them for the "round robin" grand finale where they play a link tune and in between each person on stage performs a solo. Haley also helped dance the An Droh encore which she thought was great fun!

Not the best pic of Haley on stage.
Haley had a morning Skype fiddle lesson then spent the rest of the morning practicing because this week is her orchestra's Practice Marathon....a fundraiser for the orchestra that also serves to promote extra practicing (a rather smart idea).

On Sunday afternoon, Haley and Dylan performed at a local concert to benefit an area church. The kids opened the show with some jigs, reels, and a song to get the crowd warmed was freezing in the room. The rest of the show featured a group of talented local musicians performing session style with a variety of tunes from different Celtic traditions and songs. Their singer has such a sweet voice!

                                At the end of the concert, they did a couple tunes all together.

Today we are getting more snow and looking forward to a day snowed in before another busy weekend of wrestling and music!

Sunday, March 02, 2014 more week!

Newt is wrestling the final season of his high school career and he has extended it one more week! Last weekend he took 1st in District 31 bringing his career record to 119-20 and last night he took 2nd in Region 8 after a tough (3-1) loss.

It was a crazy weekend full of ups and downs!

Thursday afternoon we got a call from the school athletic trainer saying Newt had been hit in the face when he collided with another kid's forehead in gym class and needed an x-ray to make sure nothing was broken. He had blown his nose and the side of his face had blown up. I rushed to the school, took one look at his face, and had a sinking feeling in my gut because I thought there was no way there wasn't something broken. The whole side of his face was huge with a couple cuts from the pressure of the blow. All the work he had put in all season (actually for the majority of his life) seemed to be gone in a blink of an eye.

We rushed to Urgent Care because I knew we'd get in fast there which we did. He got x-rays and the doctor had them read them then took them over to the radiologist because he wasn't sure. They decided nothing was broken so he could wrestle the next day. He iced on and off all evening. His eye grew black and blue. His brother dug in the equipment box at school and found a mask at the bottom of the box for him to attach to his head gear while he found it or who left it there, I have no idea. Strange because I was looking for one on the internet to order and could not find fast enough shipping to get it here on time.

The mask wasn't the greatest. Any time he got hit in the head or knocked his head on an opponent, it shifted, blocking his view but it was better than not being able to wrestle at all. Friday night he won his first match by tech fall (17-2) while watching the match on the mat next to him where his, most likely, toughest opponent was getting pinned after being caught in a head lock.

Moving on to the semi-final match Saturday morning, Newt controlled his opponent to a 16-2 win. He was now going on to States whether he won or lost in the finals! He had achieved his main goal for the season!

Under the lights at Regions...Good thing they got his good side!
The finals match was a tough one. His opponent kept knocking the mask pushing it down over his eyes. Early in the 1st period Newt asked the ref if he could exchange it for plain headgear so he could see to wrestle but the ref wouldn't allow it saying he had facial hair. (Newt's "facial hair" is about 4 little pieces of scruff that the head gear chin pad would cover.) Newt got taken down out of bounds in the last second of the 1st period when they were all tied up going out of bounds and Newt lost his whizzer as the buzzer sounded. In the 2nd and 3rd period each boy got an escape. The final score was 3-1.

Newt was in high spirits last night! It has always been his dream to wrestle in the State tournament!

Newt with his high school coaches!