Jack’s Weekly Guest Blog tackles Celtic Fiddle

Jack’s weekly guest blog about our recent bookstore guest

Among the many delights of running our bookstore are the events that we put on. Just last weekend we had a house concert with a wonderful musician from North Carolina. Jamie Laval is an American who plays Scottish fiddle music as well as any Scot I know and we had first met some years ago when he and Wendy and I were teaching at the Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week at Warren Wilson College outside Asheville.
Jamie stayed the whole weekend so we had lots of time to talk about his music and share a few tunes together.
But maybe the most fascinating thing happened a couple of evenings before he arrived, when we realized that he’d recently done a ‘Ted Talk’ and watched it on YouTube. He had lots of interesting things to say about his musical career and the reason he switched from playing classical violin in orchestras to making his way as a solo fiddle player specializing not just in Scottish music but west coast Scottish fiddle music!
But when he moved on to talk about how he worked with young people, and involved some of them in his performances, things really got powerful. He explained that his motivation was to open their minds and eyes to the wider world and raise their awareness of what they were capable of. Not necessarily in music but in anything they chose for themselves.
I immediately remembered when I was still working in a college in Scotland and organized student exchange programs with colleges in Denmark and Slovakia. I always had to work hard to recruit participants from among my students, and I only needed fifteen from a population of three hundred and fifty. The reasons why it was hard were simply that most of them needed exactly the boost to their self esteem and self worth that Jamie is doing with his musical events. My students often set off in fear and trepidation wondering what kind of food they’d encounter or whether they’d be able to communicate with people etc., etc. But when they came back they were unrecognizable! Confident and excited they could see, at last, that they could do anything they set their mind to.
So here’s to the folk like Jamie Laval who can find the time to invest in young people and help them to open the door to their future.
What was that about bagpipes?


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