Augusta Heritage Center
Irish and French Canadian Week Report, 2001
by Ryan Thomson.
Irish week was enjoyable this year, with great concerts, workshops, and a complete
offering of classes in just about every topic in Irish music and dance. I took a flute class
with John Shelton and worked on improving my playing technique. John was patient and
always encouraging to everyone in the class. An added bonus is that he can also be very
funny, and as the week went on, he had us laughing harder and harder with his jokes and
observations on life amd music.
At the end of the week long program was an afternoon "showcase" at which all students and
classes did a demonstration or performance of what they had learned during the week. Our
flute class performed several tunes, including a great hornpipe that John had taught us.
French Canadian week was especially fun this year for me, partly because of the small class
sizes, and partly because I had so much fun working with the instructors: Rachel Aucoin;
and Sabin Jacques. Small classes meant lots of individual attention to students, and my
piano class with Rachel was a real pleasure due to her enthusiasm and entertaining manner.
In addition, Rachel and Sabin made a point of coming out to the late evening jams and
playing with the students(myself included) for hours at a time. We all learned more
because of the long hours of immersion in the music.
For my own music making needs I found it difficult to get my regular several hours of daily
practice in during Irish week, due to the fact that every day was almost completely filled in
with classes and concerts. Just about the only time to jam with other students and staff
was after 11 pm when concerts ended. Most students, including myself, are past the age
where we can play till 3 or 4 in the morning 5 days in a row, and still make it to breakfast at
8 am. I prefer 4 to 5 hours of jamming starting around 8 or 9 pm. French Canadian week was
better for getting more practice time.
For more information call or write, or visit the web site at: Augusta Heritage Center.