The Legacy Project: Feed a Body, Feed a Soul – Recording a Christmas CD of Fiddle Music

ImageOne of my goals for 2013 was to find a way to give back to the community.  Some might say that I do so by teaching children how to play the violin/fiddle.  Some might say that I do that by performing music and taking some of my groups into retirement homes and hospitals.  I have never felt like those are completely selfless acts as they are part of my business.  I accept money for teaching lessons, and though I am not paid to take my groups to retirement home, I am still paid for running the groups.

This is the year that I give back to my community in what I hope will be a big way!  I have been trying to figure out what to do.  I don’t have a lot of time to give away with volunteering, and I don’t like to undercut other musicians by performing for free, so what now?  I am going to be recording a CD of Christmas music this year, selling it, and donating the proceeds to the local food banks through CBC Fredericton’s “Feed a Family” campaign.  I am excited to be working on this project and hope to be able to parley my time and effort into far more money for the food banks than I could afford to donate on my own.

So why call it “The Legacy Project:  Feed a Body, Feed a Soul”?  Let’s start with the legacy part of this.  My father passed away in 2011.  He was a botanist, but was also very involved in music and had a large impact on the local music scene.  Since he passed away, I have wanted to do something in his memory, but nothing every really felt right.  We used to do family concerts to raise money for charity, so this idea of using music to raise money for a local organization felt right.  This project is in his memory, and I am hoping will become in a way part of his musical legacy in Fredericton, NB.

The “Feed a Body, Feed a Soul” part of the title has to do with the fact that we are raising money to help the local food banks.  In this way we will be feeding a body, or hopefully many bodies.  Music is said to be the food of the soul, so the fact of recording this CD will hopefully help feed the souls of all those that listen to it.

There will be many steps along this process.  I have decided to return to Outreach Productions to record and am grateful to them for agreeing to sponsor this project.  With their sponsorship, we will be able to raise more money for the food banks!

So how can you help?  I am holding a fundraising concert/launching the project on Friday, April 19th in Fredericton, NB at the Charlotte St. Arts Centre (732 Charlotte St.) at 7:30pm.  Many of my musical friends including Derrick Miller, SONAS, Different Folk and Tom Richards have agreed to come perform through the evening.  There will be not cover charge, however I am hoping that you will all come along with your wallets and donate.  Together we can make this project truly great!

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas music is incredibly polarizing. Where do you stand? Do you love it? Do you hate it? The other day on twitter, Jian Ghomeshi tweeted that we should not be playing Christmas music until December. This led to a barrage of tweets and retweets about the topic with, by the sounds of it, most people agreeing with him.

I happen to love Christmas, and I love the music that comes with it, which is really good since I teach violin/fiddle lessons and will be hearing Silent Night many times between now and December 25th. My students are always excited about learning Christmas music because these songs are familiar to them. These are tunes that they have heard every year for their whole lives.

The only restriction that I put on working on Christmas music is that I chose not to teach it until after Halloween. This seems like a good balance for not working on it for four months, but still having long enough that my students can play the music well by the Christmas recital.

I do understand though the frustration with having Christmas music played in the malls as soon as Halloween is over. I fully agree with the idea of generally not having Christmas music playing until December 1st. There are always exceptions to every rule, but I think that the stores and malls could wait until December 1st anyway, if for no other reason than the sanity of the people who work there! I will personally continue to enjoy all of my students playing their Christmas music from now until the recital!

photo credit: ClaraDon via photopin cc

One of the many reasons why I love this time of year…

I happen to love this time of year.  I know, it is full of ridiculous commercialism andpeople are running around like crazy.  The parking lots are full and there are always lots of accidents at the time of year as everyone rushes without really paying attention to what they are doing, but I still love it!  One of the many reasons is how nice it is to teach my students right now.  You might think that I would get tired of hearing Silent Night every year, but really, I don’t.

So why do I love teaching Christmas music?  Well, my students always get excited when we start.  I have a rule in my studio that we don’t start working on Christmas music until after Halloween.  This is to help maintain my sanity, but also to build excitement.  Kids love Christmas music and are always excited to play music that they have heard all of their lives.  They love playing music that their family immediately recognizes as well.  Often they are looking forward to playing for their extended family when they visit over the holidays.  That is one of the many joys of this time of year!

I also love teaching Christmas music because my students learn it really quickly.  It is amazing the progress that they are able to make during this time of year.  I try to balance music that they like with music that will help to develop their skill.  I am a great believer in being able to read music, so I do get my students to play music that they don’t hear all the time.  This means that when Christmas comes, they have the added bonus of having heard the music their whole lives, so they are able to learn it much quicker.  That is satisfying for them, their parents and for me!  I do love this time of year!