It is just one week until we leave. On this quiet evening, I am enjoying knowing that the work is done. I think about walking with the kids down to the river in Malung, showing them the lovely and unusual gravestones in the cemetery and the Malungskyrka, and taking them to the fountain in Rattvik of the fiddlers and dancers. I think about standing on the stage with them in Nås, in Bingsjö, and all the other places we will play. Though it has been hard work to get this far, the payoff is just around the corner, and I am sure that the trip will be even more amazing than any of us have imagined. I know that I am lucky to have this opportunity, and I owe many thanks to all the families who are loaning me their children, the people near and far who have given financial support, and to my wonderful friends in Malung. Join us in Sweden by following our blog! We invite you to watch the adventure unfold!
My daughter Emili is so very excited to be going to Sweden with Lilla Spelmanslag this summer! I have been so proud of her dedication to this group. She has been a member for four years. Emili is an amazing fiddle player and an accomplished singer too! She is excited to be going to Sweden to experience not only the music, but the culture too. Emili is half Swedish, and our family celebrates holidays with Swedish food and decorations.
(Photo: Emili and her cousins, also Lag members, at the Nordic Heritage Museum's Yulefest)
Emili told me recently, "I am excited to go to Sweden to learn some more folk tunes and pick up some more language!" (She took some Swedish lessons recently). She continued, "I can't wait to meet the penpals too!"
Doing the pack-out practice last week was a great idea! Emili packed her suitcase by herself and had the honor of having the least amount of stuff and the smallest suitcase! As a mom, I was proud to see her with the group tromping through the neighborhood, practicing how to travel, with her fiddle case hung over her shoulder, daypack on her back, and pulling her suitcase! Brava! What a great experience for the group!!
Today was a big day for the kids traveling to Sweden. We staged a "pretend" departure, otherwise called a "pack out," For today's activities, all the kids packed their gear up in the suitcases and backpacks they will be taking to Sweden and brought it to our rehearsal site. Then they carried it down the block, up and down stairs, across the street and back, and in and out of doors! This is because all the kids will be responsible for carrying all their stuff - luggage, instrument, backpack - through the airport, from the airport to the train, and from the train to the bus, and from the bus to the folk high school in Malung. Lots of being self-sufficient! After the pack out an adult went over the contents of their luggage to make sure that they understood and stuck to the packing list they developed.
While this was supposedly designed to help the kids, it was also a good wake up call for parents (including me!) to really think hard about the nuts and bolts of this trip. Small but important questions came to mind like: where are those eye covers that I like so much? what happened to that extra set of violin strings I thought we had? and, boy, time flies - can't believe we are really getting on an airplane in 7 weeks!
Overall, the kids did quite well and I was very impressed with the thought they had put into the exercise and I am sure having done this will pay off when we head to the airport on June 25th!
-Kelly, Sweden Trip Chaperone and Parent
I had a great time performing with the Lilla Spelmanslag at Skandia's Vinterdans last night. After a long day at school it felt great to be on stage and perform!
I think the performance was amazing, but what I loved the most was looking out into the audience to see people dancing and enjoying the tunes we played. Another thing that stood out to me was playing the Engelskor, which we haven't played in a while, but we did a great job. The liveliness of the dancers excited me and kept me going. After we performed I enjoyed listening to Ben Teitelbaum, the guest artist, play nyckelharpa, and hanging out with other musicians in the group. Vinterdans was definitely a great way to start out the weekend!
From Kerstin, Lilla Lag musician
Our Kickstarter funded and we are hot into fundraising still! But, we did have to deal with getting the Kickstarter rewards out, including the hand written thank you notes. What better way to do that than to have a party? We gathered in mid-December on a cold and rainy afternoon. There really aren't many other kinds of days in December in Seattle after all, but spirits were high, as kids headed to the basement for letter writing, and parents gathered upstairs to process other kinds of rewards. It was a team effort!
We divvied up the letter writing, so that everyone took a share. There was a lot of joking around too, laughter and smiles, as we worked hard to get our task done. We wrote well over 100 notes that day, processed them and got them sent. Woohoo! It was a great time to remember how many people have helped us, and a fun way for the kids to get involved in the gratitude process!
Meanwhile, upstairs, our parents worked hard too, sharing a rare time of working all together. Of course, there was also socializing, as that is at the heart of any spelmanslag!
Now it's on to three more shows before March, including playing for dancing in February, which is always a treat. In March we'll play for the Swedish Cultural Center's Pancake Breakfast, and produce our first ever concert - a benefit for the trip. Check our performance calendar for details - we hope to see you out there!
Here is a post from Anika, one of the Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag's young musicians.
I want to go to Sweden. It's a big dream, I know, but it's not impossible. This is my chance, my goal, but I can only get there with help. There are more than three reasons, but these are the big ones:
There is nothing like learning a tune from the person who composed it. They tell you the inspiration for it, who/what they wrote it about, and teach it the way it was originally composed. Every teacher has their own techniques they use. It's important to learn new techniques so you don't always sound the same and develop your own style.
I have never been to Sweden, and it must be different from America. Although the Northwest has a very similar environment to Sweden, that doesn't mean they are the same. For example, the Native American art is very different from Swedish rosemåling. I would like to learn more about our similarities and differences with Sweden.
Traditions and art are carried through generations. Modern art and technology are starting to replace old art and traditions. Although technology is convenient, we still need to keep old traditions. If we don't keep those arts and traditions they will never be heard of again, and at least somebody thinks they're worth keeping.
Learning tunes, going to a new place, keeping old traditions, these are a few of the most important reasons why I want to go to Sweden.
Planning planning planning! The itinerary is complete! We have 12 children committed to traveling. Wow!
The largest chunk of our time will be spent in the western part of Dalarna, in Malung. Malung is a small village, population about 5000, that sits on the Västerdalälven, the Western River. It is surrounded by soft mountains, and is an area famous for leather work and mysticism. It is also a place for outdoorsmen with fishing, boating, hunting, and skiing.
In addition to spending three days at a course in Malung with other kids from around Dalarna, we will visit fiddlers gatherings, including the granddaddy of them all, Bingsjöstämman. This festival is the highlight of the summer for many, many fiddlers, including about 15,000 people. It is a kaleidescope of dance stages with live music, concerts by well known and unknown fiddlers and groups, and busking of the highest caliber. Of course, our trip would not be complete without some time to see Stockholm too. From the Vasa ship to Skansen to the Gamla Stan, we will see the sights.
We're going to Sweden! About two years ago, a young fiddler, aged 9, asked me, "Do you think we (meaning the Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag) could go to Sweden?" I answered that I thought it would be possible, but I wasn't sure when. Now that dream is a reality, and in June 2013 the Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag will depart for a little more than two weeks on tour in Sweden.
Why? What is our purpose? We want to connect with other young people playing Scandinavian folk music, to have an opportunity to study with and learn from tradition bearers, and to absorb the music in its native setting. Let's not forget having fun!
In the coming weeks and months, you will be able to follow our progress here, with posts by directors, parents and children. We hope to share with you our journey, from now, when the real work starts, through the end of the trip. Read along, and travel with us!