Nigel Gatherer's Mandolin Diary
Friday June 4th 1999
ALP Scots Music Group End-of-Year Concert
Friday past. I'm part of a programme which teaches traditional music evening classes. Currently we have about 17 different classes, from beginners fiddle to step-dancing and a folk choir. I'm the sole mandolin tutor, but I also teach a "slow session" class.
We had our end-of-year event on friday, where all classes perform a set in front of everyone else. of course the beginners freak out and become very nervous, but it's so good for them to do it, as well as hearing what the other classes have been getting up to. The overall feeling is of support, as it's recognised that everyone was a beginner once.
When all the classes had performed, the tutors got up on stage and played for dancing. There was a melodeon, four fiddles, a couple of guitars and me on mando, and the set-list was made up on the spot. For the final dance - a long one! - each of us had to start a tune in turn, and the others would catch up as they recognised it (or not).
The other players are seasoned at playing for dancing, but I'm not. Most of my music in public has been either Scottish folk music - for listening rather than dancing - and American old-time music (we sometimes get clog dancers for that), so for mne it was a great thrill to be part of the band that night. I was pleased when I was able to match them and keep up with them, but I was also happy on the odd accasion when I admitted I couldn't and sat out a tune. The biggest thrull, however, was to be playing music on stage and seeing a hall full of people dancing and having a wonderful time. I hope such a feeling will be repeated. Often.