My whistle class with Kathleen Conneely, another fantastic person who is just so fun to be around, is proving easier for me, though I'm trying to use my ears more than my eyes for learning tunes. My biggest pet peeve with these classes is what Swannanoa Gathering Coordinator Jim Magill called "noodling," people playing their instruments incessantly during class, especially while the instructor is playing or talking. It's so annoying!
Meanwhile, in Sean Nos dance (or "old-style" Irish dance, and here is an example), we have learned lots of steps and have been challenged to start making up combinations on our own! We have a routine to go through as a class that basically runs through all the basic types of steps, though I'm really enjoying that just as much as trying to put together my own phrases.
This session was called "The Happy Subject of Death," and consisted of the three musicians suggesting some of their favorite songs that happen to involve or concern death: some humorous, others more serene, and still others downright depressing. If you've never heard Cathy Jordan's voice, you ought to go check her out because it is so powerful. The men sang very well, too, as did Nuala Kennedy and Alan Murray when they dropped by partway through class and added their voices, but hers is so strikingly passionate.
They were also hilariously comparing the "body count" of different songs. They are all masters at coming up with solos and variations on the spot, but this sometimes led to the guitarists taking a verse to solo, encouraging Cathy to rejoin them, and her shouting, "He's dead!" because there were no more verses.
I'm sure I will have more awesome people to write about tomorrow. Tomorrow is also the Old Farmer's Ball, a weekly dance event open to the public, but this time featuring Celtic Week instrumentalists. It sounds like several of us in the under-30s crowd are a little leary of this, but some of us are going to try and dance anyway!