Celtic music school in Halifax hopes to preserve, flourish genre
Students will learn a common repertoire and jam session etiquette that's instilled in many Celtic musicians
A new music school in the Halifax area is hoping to get more young people interested in Celtic music to help ensure that the traditional music genre continues to flourish in a province named for its Scottish connection.
Shannon Quinn, founder of the Lydian School of Music in Dartmouth, said there aren't many options for young people to study and learn Celtic music in a group setting.
Quinn said growing up in Halifax, she took private fiddle lessons and summer workshops but didn't have much opportunity to play with people her own age, as Celtic jams often take place inside pubs.
"There wasn't really a weekly group where I could build relationships with people my age who were doing the same repertoire," said Quinn, who recently returned from touring with singer-songwriter Lennie Gallant. "We're trying to create a community here of young people who are playing traditional music."
'A world-wide community'
The 26-year-old Quinn, who studied music at Humber College in Toronto and has toured the world with her fiddle, said students will learn a common repertoire and the jam session etiquette that's instilled in many Celtic musicians.
"When you go to big festivals and these modern, amazing, progressive Celtic bands are playing, when everything is said and done and you get together to jam, you all have this common repertoire of traditional music," said Quinn at the school on Sunday.
"There's been many times I've been thrown up onto a stage with people I've never met before and we know hundreds of the same tunes. It's like a little secret club — but it's a world-wide community."
Quinn said many children in Nova Scotia — Latin for New Scotland — want to explore their Celtic roots.
"I think kids do feel a real connection to (Celtic music) because of where we live," said Quinn, adding that starting the school was a life-long dream. "But I do want to get more kids interested in it because there is such an amazing community of Celtic music in the Maritimes."
Gaelic-speaking immigrants from Scotland and Ireland have helped shape the province's identity over centuries. Today, Cape Breton Island is considered an international epicentre of Celtic music.
The school, which opened about two weeks ago, also offers private lessons in Celtic fiddle and classical violin, piano and voice, group singing classes for kids and teens, and a music discovery class for newborns to five-year-olds.
Her father and local musician Tony Quinn will teach private guitar lessons and will also lead a more casual adult guitar song circle aimed at people looking to broaden their song repertoire.