Hillside Festival (in its 34th year) is my favourite event of the year – a weekend of fabulous food, music and community – and this year my contribution is to run a group singing workshop. So many benefits of singing together and such a fitting place to celebrate this.
Thank you to everyone who took a precious festival hour and shared it with us at the singing workshop. For those of you who attended the workshop (and maybe even those who didn’t), you might be interested in having some of the links and resources I mentioned. Here they are:
All Together Now – workshops, women’s choir, co-ed choir, women’s music weekend
Choir Nation – has drop in choir groups in Toronto, Niagara and Hamilton
Choir! Choir! Choir! – drop-in group singing that also does lots of performing (Clinton’s Tavern, Toronto)
Choir Place – helps you find a choir (international)
Sing Out – supports and promotes traditional and contemporary folk music
Research on the benefits of singing:
Singing & Health – research review
Singing Changes your Brain – article in Time magazine
The Neurochemistry of Music – Mona Lisa Chanda & Daniel Levitin
Looking for a place to share some ukulele joy? The Mighty Uke Club of Guelph has reconvened, Sunday evenings at the Red Papaya in Guelph. This is a relaxed group where you can join in as you like, lead a song (or not), learn some new uke chords and hear creative versions of music you’ve heard before – Guns & Roses, John Sebastien, Feist, Rolling Stones, and Leonard Cohen were just a few of the artists given a ukulele interpretation.
Hosted by our fearless leader, Kim Logue, the group is still sorting out how often it will meet so confirm on FB. Next meeting is Sunday, March 5th: https://www.facebook.com/events/1575065992511382/?active_tab=discussion
More good news for ukulele aficionados! There is a ukulele festival coming to Guelph this fall. The Royal City Uke Fest will offer workshops, group strums and a concert by the fabulous James Hill and Anne Janelle. Tickets for this September 30th event are already on sale.
[Mighty Uke Club, Red Papaya 55 Wyndham St N, Sundays 7-8:45 pm, no cover, licensed.]
I’m just back from Shelter Valley Folk Festival. What a wonderful place to hear and share music! The after hours campfires are led by festival performers and open to all campers to join in and so many of the small stage performances get the audience involved.
One of the highlights of the festival was the Ukulele Master Class with James Hill. I have heard James perform (as well as his amazing partner, cellist and songwriter, Anne Janelle) but I have never heard him teach. When he started the session by naming the strings, I have to admit I was thinking less “master” class than beginner intro. However, James quickly built on the basics – inserting references to music theory for those that had that background – so that everyone was learning something, yet everyone was included. It reminded me of watching Shrek with my young kids: two levels of humour but we were all enjoying the same movie. Despite being a ukulele virtuoso, James’ gift is in demystifying the music to make it accessible for everyone.
An interesting tidbit I took away from the workshop is how useful the uke can be when arranging music for 3 or 4 voices. I love harmony singing, and I play the uke, but I have never used it as an arrangement tool. I’m looking forward to trying it out.
In addition to all of us participating, Anne Janelle added her voice, cello and lovely presence to both the learning and performance parts of the workshop. James called on a brave volunteer from the audience to play the left hand (chords we had just learned) while James soloed further up the neck. The workshop was perfect blend of humour and insight; my only complaint is that it was too short. For those of us who want to hear more of James teaching he has a website called The Ukulele Way . Free membership includes 6 video ukulele lessons and access to an on-line ukulele-playing community. There is also a full membership for a fee that involves lots more.
As the summer draws to an end I hope you got outside and played some music. Although it is hard to see summer go with its campfires and festivals, many music events that take a break over the summer will be starting up again in September. See you there!
As if by magic, the rain stayed away for two days of music and merriment at Evergreen Ranch. Musicians from the surrounding communities (Guelph, Milton, Elora, Rockwood, Elmira) provided over 14 hours of entertainment in idyllic country surroundings. There was delicious food to be had and lots of friendly people to relax with. The cherry on top was the campfire that kept the music going into the night. If you didn’t make it to Ark Fest, watch for Ark Coffee House events throughout the year (find them on FB). Thanks to the Loney family and all the volunteers who made it happen.
Here are glimpses of Ark Fest 2013:
[Ark Fest, June 29-30th 2013, Evergreen Ranch; $40 for a weekend pass]
Today was a perfect day for strolling tree lined streets listening to live music and the Grand Porch Party was the place to do it! How it works:Residents of the neighbourhood just west of Waterloo Square are recruited to volunteer their porches as temporary musical venues. Then performers are matched with porches and – voilá! – an afternoon of music for all to enjoy.
I don’t know what the estimated attendance was but there were significantly more people congregating in the streets than there were at the inaugural event in 2011. Another change for the better was that there was an attempt to stagger performances that were close to each other. This helped avoid the unfortunate occurrence of one act competing with the sound of another.
The performers were diverse: from the young rock ‘n’ rollers of Adrian Jones Music School to the more mature players of the Grand River New Horizons Music, from solo performers like Ian Reid and Maleidoscope to ensembles like the Ever Lovin’ Jug Band, the music was diverse and intriguing. In addition to the themes of local music and community building, there is an environmental thread to the Grand Porch Party. The event is held on Canadian Rivers Day and each year there is an “eco-partner” (this year: Community Car Share).
The concept of making a residential neighbourhood into a public music space is an appealing one. In fact, another KW community launched a similar event in May (Hohner Avenue Porch Party & Picnic). Wouldn’t it be great to see these initiatives springing up everywhere? Until that happens, I hope to be back for the 2014 rendition of the Grand Porch Party.