[Hannah, Ray B., Lydia, Ellie, myself and Trent B.]
Isn't it interesting how a person simply relaxes and doesn't do much after pushing hard for a certain length of time? That is exactly what I've been doing since we got home from camp last Sunday at 4 am in the morning. I don't do late nights/early mornings well! LOL! (But I don't regret this one in the least. I can't tell you how wonderful camp was. It's hard to put into words the joy, the fun, the effort, the 'one, big, happy family' feeling, the talent, etc, etc, of Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party camp.)
That being said, I am finally feeling a little more energetic today and wrote a bit in my diary. I thought you might like to see excerpts of it since I haven't written anything else... I know I'm dreadfully behind on my blogging but I hope to get back into it soon. :-)
What follows is in the order it was written in. I hope you enjoy it... and that it gives you a taste of the joys and frustrations I experienced that week. For all musicians out there who are reading this: go to Kenosee Lake Kitchen Camp this coming August! But let me sign up first. ;-)
August 23rd, 2009
Camp is done already. I find it hard to believe. We had a wonderfully happy, very stressful time. :-) I learned so much... did music all day long. Class room. Jams. Concerts. We made several close friends and renewed old acquaintances. It's funny how close you can get to folks in five days.
There were several people I am missing horribly at the moment: Ray. Our beloved brother who, the first morning came into the mess hall, saw us and came over saying, “come here, you big lug!” and hugged me so hard my feet came six inches off the floor. :-) I love my big brother. Tahnis. Sweetness, youth, maturity, talents, wit, sarcasm and beauty mixed all together, creating a delightful person. I knew she was great before but now I know it better. Johnny. More than ever, this man reminds me of a Grandpa who is not only very talented but so sweet and ornery at the same time. :-) I miss seeing him every meal time, nearly the first person through the line... I miss hearing his chuckle and the sound of his voice and seeing him sitting, observing... it seemed that no matter where I was walking, I would spot him. Here at home I keep catching myself looking around for him... Daniel K. When I first saw this man with white hair and gentle eyes that smile 89% of the time, I knew he was someone who would fit into our circle of adopted family members. He always took time to talk to me whenever he had a moment. I hope I didn't make a nuisance of myself! LOL! Because if I saw him I would always wander over and say, “hi!” Somehow, he would calm the butterflies in my stomach and bring sunshine back into the day if I was feeling sick or a little low. Joel. I love Joel's smile. As our roommate said, “Seriously, Joel is the nicest dude around.” :-) He is. Chris. Chris has this laugh that is totally infectious. And he's always upbeat... loves the Lord.... talks a lot about his wonderful wife and children... he loves music passionately... really cares about people and takes the time to talk... isn't backwards about hugging two or three or four times and waiting around to get another one! LOL! What a great guy. :-) Gordon. I can't believe I was actually scared to death of this man at one point. :-) What a wonderful person. In fact, he is part of my favorite memories of camp, the most favorite being when he caught me behind stage and told me how he enjoyed my playing. And then, just as I was getting teary-eyed, pulled me into a big hug. That's called an inspiration from one of the musicians I respect the most. Because Gordon is not only a very talented musician, he is homegrown. He's not flashy; he is not showy; he's down to earth. Yet, his music is top quality and has it's own special style. Michele. I love Michele. I love her, I love her, I love her. What else is there to say? If I said anymore, it would be woefully insufficient and lacking. Let us just be content with that.
Shamma. We adopted her on Friday and haven't regretted it in the least. :-D When I picture people's eyes, I most often see Shamma's. They always seem to be shining with smiles. I think she's one of those people who feels things deeply and she is very happy. She has very good reasons to be happy... for one, she is so looking forward to sharing her life with her man... and two, she's at camp and camp is, as Fred said it so well, heaven on earth. :-) Fred. I wish I could have gotten to know this man better. He reminds me of my Uncle Doug. I was a little bashful of him at first but I am guessing that it will end up rather like Gordon in that I will like him a whole lot... but will always be a little in awe of him. :-) Trent. Oh boy. What a gift. What a man. What a laugh. :-) Mom was just talking about when we first saw him on video and how impressed I was with his playing... little did I know that someday in the not too distant future, I would consider him a friend. God is so good. He brings some of the greatest people into my life. :-)
There are so many more people I miss. Shannon. Donna. Kim. Geoff. JJ. Lindsay. Gillian. Daniel G. (honestly, the guy has the biggest, most constant smile ever. It's like sunshine.) (oh and he is a fantastic fiddler... fast becoming one of my favorites. :-)) Bridget. Ameena. Dillon. Alice. Edward. Karrnnel. Will. Kyle. Stephanie. (I am still completely in awe of how powerful her music is. Wow.) Fred E. I'm afraid I'm missing some. But that cannot be helped because after reviewing camp pictures, I am heading off to dream land. We got home at 4 am this morning so I'm little brain-dead at the moment... and a larger percentage of my brain is becoming more deceased by the second. Haha. :-P Aw man. It simply doesn't seem possible that camp is over already.
[The Holter Girls & The Whistlepigs: Ellie, Joel, Hannah, Chris, Lydia, Fred & yours truly]
August 25th, 2009
10:24 pm... For some reason, I feel extremely tired right now. I think I'm shortly off to bed. Just wanted to record some of the happenings of the day. The family went out and picked raspberries at the neighbors in the morning. Lydia, Uriah and myself stayed at home. Uriah to do productive things like lock doors and see if old keys from Bonners Ferry would unlock them and to do lots more interesting stuff. At one point, Lydia and I were both downstairs and I heard the former saying in a nice voice, “Now Uriah, Nomie and I are downstairs. Please don't do anything stupid while we're gone.” Haha! He is a busy fellow. :-)
My eyes aren't cooperating. I keep seeing at least two of things. :-P A usual sign of a need for sleep. :-) Oh yes... my nose is running like a faucet. Nice, eh? At least I don't feel sick otherwise. I'm taking vitamin D but we're almost out. It does seem to help...
August 26th, 2009
6:30 pm... I'm finally beginning to write earlier in the day. :-) My eyes are still feeling a little tired but they're much better. I think I'll head to bed a bit earlier tonight. (Famous last words!)
I'm listening to Daniel Gervais play Red Wing from his recording “...endless possibilities”. Michele Amy always insists that you can bring any instructor home with you that you wish and that is certainly true. :-) Or at least, you can bring camp home with you. Because when I close my eyes while listening, it isn't necessarily a person I see but a place and time... while Daniel plays “Memere and Pepere's Anniversary Waltz”, I am back in the outdoor chapel, listening to the rain beat on the roof while the music fills and overflows my senses... when John Arcand plays in his traditional, unequalled style, I am tapping my toes with the rest of the crowd... and when Gordon Stobbe whirls in with his Mad Bulgar, I have to stop myself from shouting “Hoy!” at the appropriate moments. ;-)
There are times when it seems that camp is all about listening to music. But it's not all about endless pleasure. :-) There are times in the classroom when your instructor says something that doesn't make sense to you (but does to all of your fellow classmates!) and you have to take extensive notes because you are the person in class with the least knowledge of theory and classical music. :-) And there are the times when the instructor tells everyone to do something, then looks at you and says, “Naomi, let's start with you!” while I respond by blushing and saying, “Well, to be honest, I didn't quite understand what you said.” He smiles and says, “That's alright. That's why I asked.” LOL!
I am afraid I'm not the best student. But Geoff Horrocks managed to cram quite a lot of stuff in my head in spite of that fact. He's an amazing pianist. His style is very improvised... which means, he doesn't simply follow a chord chart but adds extra chords, such as relevant minors (i.e. instead of playing 'G', he will replace it with an 'E minor'), scales with chords, lots of tenths, and a bunch of other stuff I can't even explain yet, let alone talk about in technical terms. ;-) Oh, and you should hear him at a jam with no chord charts. It simply comes straight from his head!
To be quite honest, some of his stuff doesn't thrill me. Part of that could be the fact that I first learned from Trent Bruner, who plays in a completely different style. With Trent, even when he plays melody, the bass is very prominent. Geoff's isn't. Trent says the former plays with an Ontario style while Trent plays like he's playing a bass guitar (bass note, right hand chord, bass note, rh chord, etc) (4/4 or 6/8 time signature).
I am not criticizing anyone's technique or style. But... I am picking apart both instructors so I will (hopefully) be able to construct a style of my own personal preference. While I prefer Trent's style for faster songs, I would like to be able to add more variety to the chords and options, especially for my right hand. For waltzes, however, I would love to imitate Geoff. He has such an ear for it... when the music swells... or grows softer... when chords need to go up the keyboard... and when the bass needs to be prominent. Sometimes, I think the fiddlers follow him instead of the other way around. :-)
With those two guys (and Alice Wilson, last year) having given me instruction, I should have learned something. ;-) It's inspiring being around all that talent and listening to incredible music all week long... some of it is enough to bring a lump to my throat. :-) Watching Geoff and Trent play is incredible. They go places I hadn't imagined possible on the piano. Which, by the way, is an incredible instrument. :-)
Today, I sat down at ours and decided to make “Maple Sugar” a difficult song to play. :-) I'm not even sure how to explain what I am doing, except for the relevant minors, which is probably the easiest part. :-) But I am playing the chords A, A maj7, A6, A with a descending bass line (?), instead of just A. On the B part, I am trying to add a new lick that Geoff taught our class but I'm not sure how to explain it. :-) It sounds so cool. Someday I am going to learn the terms so I can tell people what I am doing. ;-)
[Lydia with her class in concert]
I think playing at the jams is my favorite thing to do. It's so much fun! Watching twenty or thirty fiddlers bowing away is amazing to watch and amazing to play along to. At one jam, this little guy sitting off to my left requested “Mad Bulgar” and proceeded to play it with exceeding excellence (if you had heard him, you wouldn't be questioning my terminology extravagance ;-)). I turned to the man sitting next to me and exclaimed. He grinned and said, “That's my boy.” :-) Imagine being able to say that about your nine year old son. :-)
The next day, JJ Guy sat next to the piano. Purposely, I think. :-P About half way into the jam, he decided to amuse himself by pressing the lowest key on the keyboard at intervals during the songs. LOL! Each time he did it, he'd look at me out of the corner of his eye to see if I had been thrown off. No such luck! I asked Ellie to spank him for me afterwards but she wouldn't. :-P :-) Trent said it was too bad JJ's girlfriend hadn't been there because she would have kept him in line. ;-)
There are so many memories that make us girls laugh when we're remembering but I think the funniest thing that happened to me at camp was... from ignorance and a lack of observation! Let's just say I wouldn't make a very good Sherlock! Anyway, one of the activities at camp is called a Pig 'n Whistle. The camp is divided into four or five groups and each group is supposed to come up with a skit to act for the rest of the camp and for whoever pays to get in. Invariably, they're hilarious. My Pig 'n Whistle consisted of several groups... each one playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. We had opera (hysterical!), bluegrass/country, polka (my group), spoken word, etc. They were looking for someone to play the accordion for the polka group and I volunteered... sort of. LOL! I was scared to death but game since I knew I could get pointers from Ellie (who plays that particular instrument quite well). Anyways, Gord brought the accordion up to the Mother Teresa Centre and set it on the couch saying, “It's all yours.” I pulled it out of the case and put it on. Gordon was talking to Ray and JJ but he caught sight of me and hurried over. “I don't mean to embarrass you right in public,” he said quietly. “But you have that on upside down.” I was a little embarrassed but couldn't help laughing... and as I thought on it more, the funnier it seemed. I related that instance several times over the next days and it never failed to bring a chuckle. :-) Wasn't Gordon sweet though? :-) He is so thoughtful. :-)
My most scariest time (imagine a dramatic voice influx) was the last day when I got on stage to play for the final group. I knew Geoff was going to be playing as well but what I didn't realize was that none of my class, besides me, wanted to play for that particular set. Well, we had only gone through them once before but I was game... I thought. LOL! Lo and behold, if I didn't get lost in the middle. I couldn't seem to find it again. For a moment, I panicked but I suddenly remembered what Trent said about holding the rhythm and the bass note being the most important. So I held 'D' very faithfully... LOL! But suddenly when we were nearly ¾ of the way through, I began hearing the change of the chords... and started venturing a little away from my position. So in those pictures you see of me playing on the last day, note that smile. ;-) After the first initial panic, I was actually having fun. LOL!
I did expect some sympathetic smiles when I got done, however. I knew that more than once, I cringed a little! But instead, everyone congratulated me heartily over my 'excellent' playing. I was shocked and said so to Ray. He laughed, then got serious, “But we couldn't tell you were lost. That was the main thing.” That made me laugh but it was so true... Steve Kaufman says that people don't make mistakes while playing music; it's merely a matter of personal preference. ;-) Life is full of lessons. The majority of them being from the musical side...
If you actually made it through that, I'm impressed. :-) btw, yes, I take care to edit out all of the secrets. Sorry if you had your heart set on them. Hehe... :-) I'm off to fry myself a batch potatoes before I head to bed. :-) Oh yes... (another, btw. :-)) I can highly recommend Karrnnel Sawitsky's debut recording entitled “Karrnnel”. It's a refreshing mixture of many music styles and genres... and a lot of talent. Karrnnel wrote all of the songs. He has a unique outlook on life that is apparent in his music. Added to his first class fiddling, he has a wonderful back up band, which includes Ray Bell (guitar), Daniel Koulack (banjo and bass) and others. I've had the privilege of hearing Karrnnel perform his music over the past three years so I was not expecting anything but a quality recording but I was still impressed. I love the “River Moth” tune that he wrote with JJ Guy. Mystical and beautiful. Check it out. :-)