Today I did a fun thing and did a ZOOMTUBE interview with my friend and colleague Leah Roseman, a first class violinist who plays with the NAC Orchestra in Ottawa. Leah and I went to McGill together, and I always remember her brilliant playing and really supportive nature. It was a treat for me to talk to her about the nyckelharpa and my obsession with it ;). She has started this new podcast series on her YouTube channel called “Conversations with Leah”, a series devoted to musicians and the intricacies and discoveries in music making. What a great idea!
After doing the interview, it got me thinking about WHY I really did this: start to learn a completely different instrument and tradition at the age of 45- MADNESS surely! I think it’s because there were parts of my musical persona that just weren’t satisfied. Don’t misunderstand, I do love Classical music and I have experienced some momentous music making during my orchestral career. But I also love listening to and playing all kinds of different music from different cultures, as I find it fascinating and can learn a lot. Part of me has always wanted to “do my own thing” and when I met the nyckelharpa, I knew that was it.
It’s been humbling to learn from the great players, especially those in Sweden. Learning to play more convincingly in that style will be something to strive for as I continue on this path. There is still an attitude amongst some of my Classical colleagues that playing Trad music is easier than playing Classical and “it all sounds the same” to them. After trying on some Trad shoes for a while, I have to say I completely disagree. It’s like comparing apples and oranges- two completely different things. It’s all about what you are really listening to I think. Ask a modern orchestral musician to groove on a tune, most of the time finding that groove is tricky, particularly in a section. It’s something I struggle with when I switch from classical violin to playing polskas or any groove tune on my nyckelharpa. In Trad music, rhythm and groove are key, something that is often overlooked by orchestral players because they are relying on someone else’s groove, the conductor’s! Ahhh yes…conductors: I think another blog post!
I have real admiration for any musician who decides to take the independent route and manages to eke out a truly creative career. It’s a tough business and you not only have to play well (well I think you do, there is also a lot of questionable stuff out there) but you also have to have smarts: business know how, great communication skills, recording skills, social media skills and fantastic organization skills on top of it all! You also have to have dogged perseverance if you want to “make it”, whatever that means.
To all my new Trad friends and colleagues out there- YOU ROCK!! Enjoy the interview 🙂