COME PLAY WITH US!
I love having sit-ins.
Visually, they set a tone of informality and participation. The newcomer dancer who looks in at the door of the hall usually thinks that the dancers all know what they are doing. However, when they look at the band, it is easier to see that there are a hired band and a group of “learner” musicians. This is an encouraging aspect to the timid newcomer. And I look at the sit-ins as the main source for hired musicians. The majority of musicians I have hired in my 25-plus years at contra calling got their start as sit-ins. As a bonus, if they sit-in at my dances, they become familiar with my repertoire, my tastes, and my philosophies.
Note that you are just as welcome to join us without advance preparation–the music is provided simply as a service for those who wish to get a head start. You are welcome to invent your own harmony lines or play around with those provided.
1) All are welcome to sit-in at my dances with a few exceptions. One is when their presence prevents the hired musicians from playing their best. For example, I have not found a way to incorporate sit-in piano players and occasionally a banjo, drum or accordion who has difficulty maintaining a steady beat can throw the band off by the sheer volume of their instrument. (I also discourage using non-baroque sounding instruments for the Playford English Country Dances). In such cases, another band member or I may ask you to play more quietly or to move to a different location on the stage. Although in the stress of the moment, we may be low on tact, such comments are never meant to be taken personally. We honor your courage and desire to learn.
2) Sheet music is available for nearly everything that we play, but it is sometimes difficult to locate. Personally, I feel the best of dance musicianship comes out when the players are absorbed in the choreography that is happening on the dance floor and this doesn’t happen if you are staring at the music. I prefer to have more bad notes if I can get the musicians to direct their attention to the dance floor. I encourage you to try to use sheet music as little as possible. Strive to learn the tune by “feeling” it and how it portrays the dance. Although it is a struggle to learn tunes in this way at first, you can get good at it over time.
3) Generally, the hired band is miked and the sit-ins are not, regardless of their caliber. There are rare exceptions to this rule but the sit-ins should expect to play acoustically.
4) The same donation policy that we apply to dancers applies to sit-ins. If you can contribute to the survival of the dance by donating some cash to the money box, please do so. If financial hardship makes this a burden, consider yourself welcome just the same and maybe look a little harder for some other way that you can lend a hand (e.g., floor sweeping).
MUSIC TO SHARE
Here is a collection of tunes that have been played at previous dances. Click “PDF” to view the sheet music in Adobe Reader. Listen to the MP3 file of the melody. CLICK HERE for additional music.
Lady Walpole’s Reel
President Garfield’s Hornpipe
Arranged By Cammy And Vandy Kaynor
From A Gigue By G. F. Handel
Skinner Albin Larsson
Behind The Bush In The Garden