New Project Meeting Report

A small group of interested people met on February 6 to begin talking about how to make more folk music happen in Ottawa. I am attaching a pdf file (below) of the minutes, for those of you who would like to learn about what was said. It is not a complete transcript, obviously, but gives you an idea of the diversity of thought and the difficulty of creating a new group/organization/project. As was noted at the meeting, there are several people who would have come if they had been free that evening, and there is much more to be said and heard by them and others in order to move the project along.

My sense at this writing is that most of the people who have expressed an interest in the project, both those at the meeting and those who have emailed me about it, are more interested in having an opportunity to sing than in organizing. I am glad those people are out there because I have suspected there are many people in this city that want to sing and did not feel connected to recreational singing opportunities. I hope one of the first things we do as a group is to get more recreational singing opportunities going.

I will reiterate as I have mentioned before in this blog that the twice-monthly songcircle which I attend is still open to anyone who wants to attend. If it gets to be too big to be manageable, we will have to address that issue. But in the meantime, if you want to attend a songcircle (see earlier posts for a full description) just email the administrator of the list to get your name on the listserv and find out when and where the songcircle is meeting. Here is the email address: songcircle.ottawa@gmail.com. This group is not strictly limited to folk music, traditional or otherwise. You are welcome to bring any kind of song to songcircle, though I have often noticed how much harder it is to sing pop and theatre music in recreational settings than it is to successfully sing through folk songs.

There was some discussion at the meeting about terminology, and the difficulty of language in the area of describing clearly what we mean, when words like “folk music” mean so many things. We could end up using the word “traditional” instead, to capture more of the material we want to hear, though it would have to be understood that we are also interested in songs that were written in our lifetimes but have been taken into the oral tradition by being sung around over time by regular people.

On another topic, I have noticed that most people who came to the meeting and who have responded to my notices are more interested in singing than playing tunes. This may be because that is my passion and people who play are less hooked into my networks. I would be happy to hear from more players who would like more opportunities for playing in ways that are not available to them now. If most of the people involved want more singing opportunities, that is where the focus of this group will go.

I will post a date soon for the next meeting.

Folk Music Project Meeting Minutes 6.02.12

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About Maura Volante

Maura Volante is a talented and experienced performer. Although she has written many songs over the years, her main focus these days is traditional folk songs. These are songs that have stood the test of time and have an enduring quality that speaks directly and clearly to the human experience. They also tell us about our history. Because these songs are not commonly sung in these post-folk-revival times in which folk music generally means singer-songwriter material, Maura has taken on the project of helping to keep this valuable material alive. Her specialty is Canadian folk songs, but she knows many songs from the British Isles and the USA as well. All her concerts and other programs are designed with group singing in mind. Whether in a concert, a tour, a social gathering, a classroom, a festival or a conference hall, Maura creates an encouraging atmosphere, relaxed and inclusive. She uses her strong voice and facilitation techniques to bring out the best possible music with these voices in this moment. Maura firmly believes that everyone can sing and, moreover, that everyone has a right to sing and be part of group singing activities, without judgement or criticism. No matter what the various skill levels of participants may be in any group singing activity, it always sounds good in a group, because the voices naturally attune with each other. Maura also teaches and calls contra dancing and simpler forms of traditional dancing suitable for all ages, often incorporating group singing into the dancing through the use of play party songs, which are sung by the whole group as they dance.
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