Final Words From Matthew

Final Music Blog, July 16, 2012

Santa Rosa, California

After 3 weeks at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, I was at home for a few days in Boston @ 85 degrees then we’ve been on a family trip to northern California @100+. It’s hard to compare the sunstroked burnt brown hills here with the dripping rocks and misty green of the Burren, though in some sense a mountain is always a mountain, and I’ll always love the Napa Valley and the Burren equally. What brought back memories of the class a few nights ago was having dinner at a local restaurant. I noticed that my brother-in-law didn’t seem to be finishing his hamburger. Lo and behold I felt an acute pang of hunger in spite of the fact I had just polished off a huge dinner. In the exact moment I repressed an urge to ask him what his plans were for the burger, I was back with everyone in Ballyvaughan (the Cavaccos and Allens must be related somewhere). On the Ireland trip I loved it that we had so many funny riffs going on with personalities as we got to know each other’s habits better. And we had our stock of characters, ranging from our 4 neighborhood donkeys to the 3 houses to the sprinting rabbits to the improbable drink known as Bulmer’s (come on people, pear cider?).

Andy has written eloquently about our process, about what we were trying to do and how we both felt it went. I want to thank Andy above all for helping me think in new ways about teaching music. For a long time I’ve taught ethnomusicology courses, which combine the sociology & anthropology of music with historical study. This trip was an opportunity to work with students in developing their creative musical side. Andy was a great sounding board. Some nights we talked at our apartment eating cheese sandwiches and watching the European soccer championships. Other nights we talked at the pub eating turkey and ham and watching the European soccer championships. I’m afraid the Irish soccer team performed like the Irish weather, but those talks were great in getting ideas for how to help students work through particular challenges, and in thinking in general about how music and art work.

I want to thank the students on the trip above all for taking the opportunity so seriously and for being supportive of each other. Before this trip I was on the fence about taking students to some place where you’re basically together 24-7. I like my quiet time. Right away on day one I started to see the morning’s work spill into lunch conversations which then spilled into the afternoon’s work and then you’re still talking about it over dinner. By the end of the first day I was sold on the idea of the class. What a great opportunity it was to work in so many contexts and environments, to choose particular challenges and address them from so many angles and in so many settings. And to do this with a group as focused as our students was absolutely great. – M.A.