The Big Experiment 2010

What a fantastic weekend! This was the third Big Experiment weekend and, having made
noises for years about the fact that England and Scotland were so good at providing
workshops and tuition for folkies, and nothing ever seemed to come as far as North
Wales, there was no way that I couldn’t sign up for it, but I really had no idea what to

There were five mixed instrument groups to choose from, catering for all ranges of
ability. I chose to go in with Karen Tweed, the guest tutor, and there were about 10-12
of us in the group – strings, boxes, wind and even a hurdy-gurdy! We worked really hard
on two or three sets of tunes – some of which Karen had written, some traditional and
some lovely polskas – learning by ear and sight-reading, and arranging them all. Very
stimulating, very hard work and very enjoyable.

Afternoons were given over to further options – ranging from Welsh dance, trying out a
crwth or harp, Plygain singing, or even one-to-one sessions with the tutors. I had a great
time doing the dancing – so energetic and so much fun – most of the time we were in fits
of giggles. Also had a go on a harp – managed a very simple tune with the right hand and
an even simpler accompaniment with the left! But the Plygain singing was one of the
high spots – even though we ladies were singing the tenor part of a carol which normally
is never sung by women. We were given special dispensation by Arfon Gwilym, but
implored never to stand up in a Plygain service and try and take part! He had organised a
trip to Dwyran church for us all, so that we could actually participate in a typical Plygain
service and live the tradition, and everyone found it a very moving experience.

So to all of you budding – and experienced – musicians out there, next year come along
too and join in the fun.

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