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The gifts of music – chances for children

By Liza Mulholland

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ArtyNess: Liza Mulholland receives the perfect present, and highlights an opportunity for youngsters to get involved in music too

The Fèis Inbhir Narainn Cèilidh Trail musicians from 2019, when the event was last held in person.
The Fèis Inbhir Narainn Cèilidh Trail musicians from 2019, when the event was last held in person.

A lovely present has arrived in the post, something which brightened up my day but also reminded me of just how much I miss playing music with my friends.

It was a CD, Angels in Sandshoes by artiste Anna Lavigne, to which I had contributed some playing late last summer, in that brief window of opportunity when we were able to meet with fellow musicians to play and record. And what a lovely body of work it is.

Anna’s partner Martin Stephenson, of Daintees fame, had asked if I could add some accordion to a couple of songs on the album, which he was producing and co-writing, and having recorded with Martin for several albums in the past, I of course said yes.

Martin is one of the most incredible musicians and songwriters I’ve met and had the privilege of working with; a deeply intuitive musician, master of his instruments and any project of his is top quality. As well as that, he is someone whose joie de vivre is infectious!

Having sent me over files of the two beautiful songs in advance, I worked out some parts and duly rolled up to record. It was a beautiful day and warm enough to leave the front door and windows open for our socially distanced, well-ventilated recording session.

From cold raw February, it seems like such a long time ago, so it was just wonderful to receive Anna’s CD and be reminded of sunny summer days. Full of poetically lyrical and thought-provoking songs, with Anna’s warm voice over gorgeous arrangements, the album has quite a continental and cinematic feel, at times reminiscent of 1950/60s French and Italian films.

I’ve been truly transported listening to it, whisked off to Paris in the Rain, seascapes and beyond, and am reminded yet again of how lucky I am to get to do this thing called music.

It has brought immeasurable pleasure and fun over many years of playing with fellow musicians, collaborating, in bands, recording etc, and this experience always informs my encouragement to youngsters to likewise grab opportunities to learn. With that in mind, let me tell you of just such an opportunity for young ‘uns!

Nairn’s Fèis – Fèis Inbhir Narainn – will host music tuition next week for children aged eight to 18, with a Fèis Bheag for ages five to seven. As half-term Fèisean cannot happen in person this year, Fèis Inbhir Narainn is offering online Zoom sessions between February 15 and 17 in fiddle, guitar, song, chanter and accordion, for all levels of ability and accessible from your computer.

These classes form the second of two weeks of online music (under the banner Fèis a’ Ghearrain – February Fèis), with Gaelic-medium groups in the mornings and English-medium in afternoons. All are free (donations welcome) with booking at www.feisean.org/en/feisaghearrain-week-2

While children are occupied with the Fèis, I’d highly recommend parents chill out to Angels in Sandshoes at daintees.bandcamp.com

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