Retreat testimonials

I felt very much that the way you ran the workshop gave me great freedom to explore some technical issues around my voice. Trust and support were built so that space cleared inside me, allowing my heart to connect to what felt at times like my authentic voice. No small thing.

Retreat participant

I had a wonderful weekend, rich in music, laughter and creativity. I was fascinated by the way in which you were able to attend to everyone’s individual needs within a group setting, and make it useful and interesting for all involved.

Ray Fielder

I was reminded of the powerful emotions in music and struck by the depth of emotion and sound created playing together and not alone. And I loved all the tunes we were able to take home. They really came alive over the course of the weekend.

Margaret Christianson

Up to then, I had what might be described as a mechanistic approach to playing, assuming that mere alterations to playing technique would achieve a change in sound. However, your remarkable blend of simple and effective repetitive exercises with deep philosophical insights into the elemental purpose of folk tunes, has wrought in me a complete re-think about music as a universal language; and consequently to approach playing it by living it.

Robin Abbey

I loved the way you got everyone to bring something to the group, share it and take away seven times as much. It worked very successfully with a mixed ability group, as everyone’s contribution was equally valuable.  You never stop learning and it’s always good to be reminded of things.  I’ve often felt that when I first had violin lessons in my teens, the teacher raced me through stuff that I never really consolidated, and I’d missed out on learning about some basic stuff. I’ve picked up a lot of tips on teaching and group work.

Retreat participant

I actually felt really freed up by the whole thing. Touching into that inner child place and letting her loose feeds into so much of my life.

I went places with word, music and song where I have never gone before and wonder where to next. All of this due to your vision, sensitivity, hospitality and musical integrity, not always an easy path. Thank you.

Retreat participant

I FELT VERY MOVED BY OUR CONNECTION

Retreat participant

My main memories are about the group process – sensitive facilitating by yourself, and gentle encouragement from other group members.  I love playing with other people and get lonely and uninspired on my own at the moment, so I cherished the opportunity to play and learn during the day and to join in the wee sessions in the evenings.   The weekend fitted into my general philosophy of life – sharing food, wine, music, chat, getting to know new people, spending time with people I know well, being in a beautiful place, as well as being personally challenged, and in a learning environment, having an adventure.

Retreat participant

I came away from the weekend feeling inspired to follow my own creative path. Being given the opportunity to teach as well as learn felt great. I learned more about creating music, songwriting, improvising and harmonising. I really enjoyed being able to play with singing and use a full range of sounds and notes!

Retreat participant

The holistic feel to the weekend is everything: Meeting as new friends on the ferry over, eating great food, singing, playing, dancing, laughing and getting tired together, looking out of the workshop window and quietly sharing the beautiful view together, leaving on the ferry as old friends, sharing it all with people who are passionate about singing and playing at whatever level.

Retreat participant

I said that I wanted to feel more confident with my singing and I do. Also I feel happier about harmonising and risking straying into off tune and off beat areas.

Retreat participant

IT WAS REALLY RELAXING BUT HARD WORK – IF THAT MAKES SENSE

Retreat participant

HAVE NOT ENJOYED MYSELF OR FELT SO AT HOME FOR A LONG TIME

Retreat participant

I think the weekend was about many things: getting away from the hustle and bustle; time away from all the technology; cohesion of the group on different levels; The ambience of the cottage and the island lend themselves well to getting back to simple reality and connecting with one’s deeper feelings and trying to express them through the music without pressure.

Retreat participant

My relationship to music has definitely shifted for the better.  After years  of playing classical music and working my way through the ABRSM exams I was looking for something different, a way to break out of the straight jacket and approach music in a different way.  Although I can see the value in classical training, unless you are going to be a virtuoso, a professional musician, or at least very good, it can be very judgmental and exclusive.  Spending the weekend playing a different kind of music in a setting that was non-judgmental and inclusive, was wonderfully liberating. And humbling as well – to see that people who were not strong in technique and music theory nevertheless had compensating strengths in areas where I am weak, like picking up tunes by ear and memorising them quickly.  And when we were playing as a group a lack of tone or precision didn’t really matter as we all became equal anyway.

Retreat participant

ONE OF THE THINGS I REALLY ENJOY ABOUT YOUR TEACHING IS THE AMOUNT OF ATTENTION YOU GIVE TO INDIVIDUALS

Retreat participant

I FOUND THAT IF I SING-MEDITATE, THERE IS A SURENESS THAT COMES TO MY VOICE, UNFORCED AND THEN THERE IS AN AUTHENTICITY

Retreat participant

What a great experience! It was lovely to have some time to really chill out, but also learn a huge amount. The atmosphere you created with the group was quite special. It felt very calm, and yet there was so much going on. I really enjoyed getting a chance to play and learn, but also the chance to meet some local folk (I met Eric and Kenneth on the train on the way home, as well as a nurse who used to live on Lismore…I wouldn’t have had a clue who they all were if the ceilidh hadn’t have happened.

Retreat participant

I can tell it’s already having an impact on my playing, and in ways I really didn’t expect. I seem to have come away with a glimmer of hope that I can read music…how did you do that? I particularly enjoyed the first session on the Saturday, and the way that you kept everyone involved, even while you were giving some very individual tuition. I suspect it’s rare in a group teaching situation for every individual in the group to feel they are going away with such specific things to work on…I was amazed at how easy you made that feel, and how clear it seemed for each individual in the group what they were taking away from the workshops.

Retreat participant

THE WHOLE THRUST OF LAST WEEKEND HAS COMPLETELY ALTERED MY APPROACH TO TRADITIONAL MUSIC IN GENERAL, AND SCOTTISH FIDDLE IN PARTICULAR

Retreat participant

Up to then, I had what might be described as a mechanistic approach to playing, assuming that mere alterations to playing technique would achieve a change in sound.  However, your remarkable blend of simple and effective repetitive exercises with deep philosophical insights into the elemental purpose of folk tunes, has wrought in me a complete re-think about music as a universal language; and consequently to approach playing it by living it.

Retreat participant

Thank you once again for a truly memorable and enjoyable few days on your lovely island. The whole thing was a rounded success with the unexpected bonus of ‘Pulse’. Your encouragement and insight helped the whole group to relax into the playing… you clearly have rare gifts.

Graham Knaggs