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Nigel Gatherer's Mandolin Diary



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Wiston Lodge Mandolin Weekend Residential

Friday 4th March

I think this is the third time I've been honoured to be asked to work at the Wiston residential, an intensive mandolin course for all levels. I enjoy it enormously, the work, meeting the students, and Wiston Lodge itself; it may be a little spartan in places, but there is a magic about it which is unique. Work for tutors is practically non-stop, which is hard, but it's the only way. One highlight was meeting my friend Alison Stephens, one of the other tutors. I hadn't seen her for a while, and it was good to see her coping so well, and wonderful to hear her playing so well!

I went to bed early on the Friday night, letting the others party till late. I take my teaching seriously, so I didn't want to impair my concentration for the next day. However, I might have been better partying, as I didn't get much sleep, and felt pretty bloody the next morning. No matter, a good breakfast had me raring to go.

The technique workshop went fairly well, and from then on it was individual lessons. You never fully know what to expect, and it's often a case of thinking on your feet, or rather responding to each individual's requirements. Sometimes it works extremely well, other times not so well.

My first big workshop - Celtic Mandolin - was scheduled for early evening, which I think was a mistake. Almost nobody had had a great night's sleep, and after eating, drinking and breathing mandolins all day Saturday, there was a general feeling of apathy. I persevered before abandoning it and teaching a nice wee tune - A Yow Cam to Wir Door Yarmin'. Another slight problem about the workshop was that I wasn't totally convinced about the theme - "interpretation" - and I felt a little restricted by that. Possibly if I'd found more time to prepare I could have wrung more out of it, but for months now I have never been busier.

Sunday was more individual lessons, more workshops, etc. I was particularly useless when I had half an hour to help one of the orchestra groups. I had neglected to print out their pieces, and when I saw them I was astonished at their complexity, especially for absolute beginners. However, the group helped me and we made progress. Barbara pomerkenke-Steel, who was taking the orchestra, continues to amaze me in her skills with ensembles.

Once the obligatory photo had been taken in mid-afternoon, it was back to Crieff and preparing for the week ahead. Another successful Wiston residential!


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