“Stories of AIDS” Please take a look at this great project…

by adminKFS on · Leave a comment

With this post I want to make you all aware of a great project called Stories of AIDS. This project is led by my good friend and fellow musician Andrew Magill from Asheville, North Carolina who was the winner of the fulbright-mtvU fellowship to travel to Malawi and record the stories of people there affected by the virus. Stories of AIDS is a concept album where each song has been inspired by a narrative Andrew collected while in Malawi. In his own words “Of 26 recorded narratives, ten were selected to be crafted into song, often weaving direct quotations from the narrators themselves with lyrics in Chichewa and English. The narratives reflect a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and personal relationships of people living with HIV/AIDS. Each song is designed to musically capture the story and personality of the individual profiled. Through these ten individuals the listener will learn about a diversity of issues which reveal the kaleidoscope of social contexts and dynamics of Malawi’s AIDS epidemic.

Andrew worked with social activist and popular Malawian recording artist Peter Mawanga to produce the project. The album features musicians from both Malawi and the US and draws on both Andrew and Peter’s musical influences- jazz, traditional Irish music, Congolese soukou music, traditional Chewa rhythms and more. By bringing together these musicians and styles of music, Andrew wants to emphasize the idea that “this music and these stories truly transcend culture. It is our hope that this music will open up a similarly cross-cultural conversation about AIDS between the people, personalities, and stories from other cultures singularly connected by this virus. The message of this music is hope not defeat. Reinvigoration not resignation. Life not death.”

I had the pleasure of performing for a fundraising concert for this project when I was teaching at the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC. In October, Andrew will be bringing over musicians from Malawi to the Asheville area for the CD release. Please visit storiesofaids.com to learn more about this fantastic project.

“Getting into Fiddling”

by adminKFS on · 2 comments

Just thought I would write a short note about this topic. It’s something I get asked about a lot, particularly from those trying to make the shift over from classical music and after teaching at three weeks of music camps this summer, I’ve been reminded of this common issue.

The first thing I like to tell students is that ‘fiddling’ is not really a genre. There are so many different styles of fiddling. Even within Celtic music there are the very specific styles of Scottish, Irish, Cape Breton, etc, and they can be broken down even more. So the first step is to find a style that you are really passionate about. And that means doing a lot of listening. Become familiar with the artists in the genre and get to know their repertoire. Attend sessions to see what the common repertoire is. Sticking to something that you love is always a good way to start out. All of these different fiddle styles have very specific nuances that separate them – bowings, grace notes, etc. Diving into everything at once can be daunting and it may difficult to become a good player of any one style.

The process of learning a style of music needs to be treated like learning a language. The bottom line is that to learn a language with all its idioms and inflections you have to be immersed in it. Learning a fiddle style is no different. And today we have great resources like youtube and itunes when a live experience isn’t possible.

If you are making the switch from classical to a style of fiddling, just know that it can certainly be done. One example I like to talk about is the great Irish fiddler, Liz Knowles. Liz began playing Irish music later in her career and is now one of the most respected fiddlers in Irish music with tours with Riverdance and the String Sisters.


Just remember to get into something that you love.