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How Inside Folk series has taken on a whole new meaning


By Liza Mulholland

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Liza Mulholland during one of her online performances.
Liza Mulholland during one of her online performances.

Playing music is one of my biggest passions, but I also love writing about music. I guess that’s why I enjoy doing this column so much!

Trying to convey and share a sense of the thrill, joy and fun of making music, while highlighting great projects and opportunities out there, is hugely satisfying.

This is what got me started writing the first book of my non-fiction series, Inside Folk. Subtitled Notes From A Scottish Musician’s Year, in that volume I talked about some of the typical activities keeping a folk musician busy across 12 months, from teaching, performing and travelling, to festivals, album launches, juggling gigs and kids, and much more. A sort of wee peek into a musician’s life, garnered from my own personal experience.

I was keen that the content and style be as light and accessible as possible – sort of conversational in tone – and deliberately kept its size to a relatively slim little volume in order that it be an easy pick-up read. One thing I could never have foreseen was how the series title would take on a new meaning.

In lockdown and very much inside, I’ve joined lots of fellow folk musicians in sharing our music online – and what fun it is, while also feeling that we’re doing something positive in this crisis.

It’s challenging too. Playing solo is not what I do most of the time, and getting things like lighting, camera angle and sound volume, while filming on my mobile phone, at least halfway decent, present their own learning curve.

But I’m also using this new-found time to write. Volume 2 of Inside Folk has been in the pipeline since last year, adding to it here and there whenever I’ve had time, but as a busy working mum and single parent, windows of opportunity for head space and prolonged writing are not overly frequent.

I was roughly halfway through the manuscript when Covid-19 struck and am now, being suddenly unemployed, very much back on it. Many of us have felt the need in lockdown to get our teeth into something, whether it be baking, DIY, box sets, Duolingo or clearing out the shed, and these small tasks and steps can provide a real sense of purpose and achievement during current difficult days.

For me, I’ve caught up on some garden and cleaning jobs and am now getting stuck back into my much-enjoyed project. This second instalment is focusing on aspects of our instruments; the learning of them, playing, practising, teaching, the making of them, the adventures they lead us into, with wee bits of historical background for context, and all again drawn largely from my own experience and interests.

I hope it might strike a chord with anyone who loves music, is learning an instrument or plays, and those who are simply curious as to how the music they enjoy comes about and what multitude of factors go into creating it.

Helping me get my thoughts back into the Inside Folk zone, is reading Volume 1 aloud. I was asked to film a reading of Notes From A Scottish Musician’s Year for the Scottish Women’s Institute, to be shared daily on one of their social media pages – a sort of Book of the Week idea.

Liza has been reading Inside Folk Volume 1 for the Scottish Women's Institute.
Liza has been reading Inside Folk Volume 1 for the Scottish Women's Institute.

As a keen listener to audio books myself, I was only too happy to oblige, so am currently immersed in this undertaking. There’s nothing like reading aloud to get a sense of the rhythms of the words and phrasing, and, very much like music in this respect, what works well and what doesn’t.

Hopefully the ladies of the SWI enjoy listening and that my experience of reading will help feed into Volume 2. Though we don’t know how long lockdown will continue, I’m hopeful that Inside Folk ‘take 2’ will see the light of day soon. Will keep you posted!


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