Updated Dec 5, 2023
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 and 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.
written by Ryan Thomson 2001