New Harmony Music Festival 2017

Have a little slice of Utopia. It’s not forbidden, it’s not out of reach, it will challenge your musicianship if you allow it, and you will meet people that will become friends for a lifetime.

For the past 6 years, I have been attending, volunteering for, and teaching at the New Harmony Music Festival in some capacity. I saw a sign in the hallway of practice rooms when I was avoiding practicing Popper Etudes in college, and decided this sounded fun. I didn’t expect to fall back in love with my cello, I didn’t know that I would meet some lifelong friends, but I did know I was in for a musical treat.

 

NHMF&S is a festival held in New Harmony, Indiana. If you aren’t familiar with the history of New Harmony, please look into it. (New Harmony’s History) The town is a failed utopian society. It is filled with beautiful little gardens, historic homes, architectural gems, lovers of art, and lovers of music. The festival is a totally acoustic festival that uses the unique spaces, provided by the town, to teach, share, and create music. This festival presents a blend of traditional musics intertwined with classical music, presenting concerts that show mutual respect for all musical kinds. Students of the festival school are able to attend three elective classes of their choice, a group class called Group Therapy, faculty concerts, a called dance, and jam sessions.

This year, I was honored with the opportunity to teach Group Therapy Class. This class is an opportunity to allow teachers and students to share their unique talents. Students can perform and get meaningful feedback, teachers can share a small dose of what they teach, and community members can be invited to share their art (visual, musical, textile, written, dance). It was fun to facilitate this gathering. I have immense respect for the students and artists who come to New Harmony.  Teaching this kind of class is very different than standing in front of an ensemble conducting. It is more organization, and creating a safe space. Safe spaces are so important for the developing musician.

I would love for you to join this class one summer!

Check out the New Harmony Music Festival!

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Fiddle Camp!

In June, I spent 12 days in California. Part of that was simply exploring San Fransisco, but most of it was spent in a little slice of heaven called Sierra Fiddle Camp held on the grounds of Shady Creek Camp on the San Juan Ridge, outside of Nevada City, California. This year’s faculty was a fun filled group of traditional musicians from all over the place. Every day you wake up, have breakfast, and the rest of the day looks like this (for the most part…)

  • tunes class
  • 20 minute break
  • tunes class
  • elective class (CELLO CLASS!)
  • lunch
  • open forum (generally about the music from various artists’ cultures/area of study)
  • tunes class
  • break
  • elective class (CELLO CLASS again!!!)
  • student performances
  • dinner
  • evening event (jams, dances, pool parties…)
  • sleep

I learned so many tunes. So many tunes. More importantly, I worked on the things that make these tunes unique to their styles. Some people will call this ornaments, nuances, haggis, style, feel, groove, something else… It’s always a goal not to just play the notes of the tune, but to make it authentic to it’s place of origin while allowing you to play it in your own light. I probably will never say that I’ve mastered all of this, but I am starting to enjoy my own sound.

After camp (or any fiddle music thing), I feel like I’ve been bitten by this bug of really fun music to play. It invites you into a community that fosters traditions new and old. I want to keep learning so I can share more!

Check out Sierra Fiddle Camp at http://www.sierrafiddlecamp.org

I am also so appreciative of the post fiddle camp excursion that allowed us to extend our camp vibes and ease back into the “real world”. Some of us hung out around the area after camp, then a friend and I stayed with another family from camp as we explored San Fransisco for a couple of days. Our personal tour guides were al friends from camp, and spending time with them was so lovely.

(Photo Credits to Amy Luper)

 

I think I’ll Go to Boston!

School had been out for a week and a half, and nothing screams summer more than “getting out of Dodge” For around $200 I spent 5 nights in Boston. I took a tiny backpack and a purse and went on my way.

Southwest Airlines is pretty good about customer service. About a year ago, I took a flight somewhere and with delays connection issues, they asked if anyone was willing to give up their seat for a later flight. I had time so I gave up my seat. My 45 minute layover turned to a 4 hour layover and I had a voucher for $100 .

Saving #1: my flight cost me $30 round trip because of that voucher.

A wise friend told me that it is best to see the world through the eyes of locals. That way you really get to experience a place. Couch surf and you will always have a tour guide (or very good directions to local places of interest)

Saving #2: I stayed the first two nights with this wise friend, and the later three at the house of my guru and her partner. I am so thankful for these women and their hospitality, and I would host them at my house any time.

How many free things can you find to do in one place?

Saving #3: A lot, if you are willing to figure them out. Here’s a few things that I did.

My trip was a blast. I loved being in a city with solid public transportation. I enjoyed seeing places that I didn’t appreciate as well when I first went to Boston in Middle School. Lastly, I got to spend some time with people that I know from four or five very different moments in my life. It was cool to see these different worlds collide. Many of those worlds collided around a concert at Club Passim, which is a great concert venue for folk music. Funny thing…music pulled it all together!

This is what I packed (I’m just really proud of how little I took with me.)

  • My favorite purse that reminds me of Hermionie’s never ending bag from the last of the Harry Potter series because of it’s large capacity for _ _ _ _ and useful things.
    • wallet, reusable grocery bag, small tablet, phone, charging brick, earbuds, moleskine journal, pens (in a little plastic baggie so they don’t explode…)
  • Dora the Explorer Backpack-or small backpack from IKEA
    • medium packing cube: 3 dresses, 1 pair of leggings, and 2 shirts, very very thin raincoat
    • small packing cube: ample underwear and 2 bras, 1 pair of shorts
    • carnival cosmetic case (shout out to my cousins, creators of the Blush Label, for something I don’t travel anywhere without)
    • personal first aid kit (you never know what you’ll need and when!)
    • super comfy flats
    • tablet charger/phone charger went in the front pocket of the backpack
    • water bottle

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Hello!

Hello!

I’m Katie. I teach 5th through 12th grade public school orchestra. I play the cello and the fiddle (cannot claim classical violin, but have immense respect for it). I love playing fiddle jams and learning tunes from all over the world. I conduct because I love to teach, and I teach because the best things in life aren’t meant to be kept to yourself, they are to be shared. Traveling is a part of my life, my family is a part of my life, adventures are a part of my life, music often pulls it all together and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The idea of this blog came about when friends of mine started commenting on my summer travels. Many people have asked, “how are you doing this?” or “Are you teaching, learning, observing, or getting professional development?” Hopefully this will help answer some of those questions, and will allow me to share the results of some of my crazy ideas.

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