Sunday, June 4, 2017

Monday Night Music Program

Recently I was visited by a lady who wanted her grand children to learn about horses. She had researched riding programs across the region and had found that our program seemed "different from all of the others."

She was right. The breadth of what we do without a single paid staff person is shocking. There is nearly no aspect of our program that started with a concept followed by defined goals and objectives. Such thinking leads to conformity and adherence to rules and accepted beliefs that stifle creativity.

I have never been susceptible to such paralyzing beliefs. Our programs develop by polishing ad lib concepts. In every case the successful products end up being much better than my initial vision.

The best example is our music program. Teaching a few little  kids to sing the choruses of old songs has lead to weekly sessions where kids and adults learn to sing and play folk,  bluegrass, gospel and Americana music on a range of instruments.

They learn the meaning, history and cultural context of what they are playing. Most significantly, they learn of the origin and fusion of these songs from African, Scottish, Irish, and English roots. They learn how these songs fit into the development of our nation. They learn the power that music has to shape a culture's view of itself.

The music is taught the same way these ancient songs developed, on a pre-literate level. It is rare for the kids to ever see a written set of lyrics, much less sheet music. Instruments---- fiddle, banjo, dulcimers, dobro, autoharp, mandolin, bouzouki, wash tub bass, are introduced to program participants and they gradually pick up the basics of making beautiful and very simple accompaniments to very simple and deeply meaningful songs.

The picture above is from the Smithfield Concert series last August. It was the biggest performance that this group had ever had. This performance grew from our Monday night learning sessions.

Our last session brought something new to the Monday night music program---a small audience. These sessions are not concerts. They are not performances. We are used to having audiences for performances, but not for Monday nights at the tack shed.

Those are learning sessions and it never occurred to me that such sausage making would ever attract an audience. And as is typical in the development of all of our programs, that small audience creates the opportunity for program development and growth.

So, I will now start posting on the Mill Swamp Indian Horses group face book page an open invitation to the public to bring a lawn chair and come on back to the tack shed from 7-8 pm on Monday nights to watch and enjoy these learning sessions.

Don't come out expecting to hear spectacular performances. Instead come out expecting to watch an incredible group of young people enter the world of music in a relaxed pr,essure free atmosphere.

Check the facebook page each Monday to make sure that we are not rained out or otherwise having to cancel. If it suits your schedule, come on out to Mill Swamp Indian Horses at 9299 Moonlight Road Smithfield, Va 23430 on Monday's for the rest of the summer.

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