Friday, July 04, 2014

Keeping the Love Alive

Haley is often afforded opportunities that help keep her love for Irish music alive and well. This week she had a concert to attend which featured a couple of her favorite Irish musicians, Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely. Kevin and Cillian have been playing together for years. They have a wonderful rapport with each other and with any audience along with their amazing talents on their instruments of choice. They played in a house concert at the home of friends who often host such concerts.

There is really no better way to experience Irish music than a house concert. You are up close and personal with the musicians hearing their instruments acoustically and interacting with them. We hung around after the concert because Haley was hoping to play a few tunes with the guys and she wasn't disappointed. She kept us out until after midnight playing tunes and listening to songs sung by others who had stayed.

The last few months Haley has had more opportunities than ever before to work on her Irish music with kids closer to her own age. Previously, she'd do a once a month kids' group session or practice once or twice in a year to do a trio in competition but since January, her trio has practiced more often, performed together in a number of gigs, and worked with other young Irish musicians from our area to raise money to go to Ireland by doing a number of concerts.

We are always on the look-out for opportunities for her to meet and play with other young musicians interested in Irish music. So a few weeks ago when I received a message from a woman who runs a CCE branch and Irish music school in Illinois asking if Haley and her friend, Livia, would be interested in joining some of her under 12 kids in a grupai ceoil and a ceili group in competition in Ireland, I consulted Haley who was very excited to give it a try. They sent her recordings and videos of the music which she learned. Then yesterday the teacher and three of her girls flew here to get to know our girls and arrange/practice the music.

Our visitors arrived about 10am, unpacked instruments, and got straight to work. They worked altogether and other times broke off into small groups of girls playing the same instrument. They worked off and on all day long and between practice "sessions" played games, ran around outside, ate meals, and played with our chickens. The girls hit it off immediately and you'd never know they only really just met (Haley had a workshop with two of the girls, Sophia and Lexia at the North American CCE convention in April but didn't have much chance to get to know them). They sounded like girls who have known each other and played together forever. Each gave her best to learn the arrangement and contribute to the group.

They had an after dinner practice session then the girls put away their instruments for the evening and played outside until dark then inside until called for bed. We piled two big air mattresses in the living room with the couches made into beds for them to all sleep in the same room. One little girl fell asleep  early when she laid for a minute on a mattress. The others went to sleep at various times throughout the night.

We all woke early. Livia was the first awake so she helped me make blueberry muffins with fresh blueberries from our garden. The girls ate then dressed and took out their instruments for another practice session before they had to leave to head back to the airport at 10am.

It was a whirlwind visit but amazingly fun! The girls made new friends and have their music ready for competition next month. We are looking forward to it!

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