Musical Yards ♪♫♬ Μουσικές Αυλές


One good thing about music,
when it hits you, you feel no pain.
[Bob Marley]
.Woman dancing in Ikaria

What do I know about music?
I know more than you ever thought, dear readers.
Perhaps because my mother was Italian, perhaps because music has been for me a good way to soothe a temper often volcanic, or just because I have strong lungs and throat, I have always sung and I think that my singing is not completely unacceptable to a trained ear. I’ve never had a musical education, and yet during a year or two of my crazy young days I could sing folk songs and jazz music from Hungary – and all that in Hungarian, oh yeah! 😀

What I cannot do, and that’s a life fact, is to dance.
All I do is jump and kick and dangle and that’s a pity because I love Greek music and all the music of the countries around Greece and that music is (90% of it) associated to dancing. So, I listen to it, sing it, but all the dancing is done within me.
What to do? Nobody is perfect.
This was just a soppy introduction. Bloggers are expected to write a couple of soppy things before getting into the subject, aren’t they?
Forget it.

😖

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Musical Yards, homepage The subject here is the Music Seminar of Ikaria («Μουσικό Σεμινάριο Ικαρίας») also known as Musical Yards («Μουσικές Αυλές») and Musical Fireplaces («Μουσικά Τζάκια»), a long course of lessons, workshops and concerts organized by a small group of young Ikarians in the village of Christos Ráches every February and July.

Students dancing the Ikariotikos at the big party in the end. .

You would say, what’s big about it? There are several prestigious and popular music seminars taking place in Greece, the most known ones being in Mount Pelion and Crete. Why a seminar in Ikaria? What more does it offer? And who are this “small group of young Ikarians”? It sounds like one more boring folklore festival. At best perhaps a more sophisticated, DIY generational “panigiri”. Nothing new here.

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.This year's Musical Yards poster

Oh no, readers! Everything is new here! The seminar’s webpage does not explain very clearly the novelties of the event, so I have decided to say a few more things about it. For example, everything that goes around the Musical Seminar of Ikaria is hand-made, home-made and ever-evolving.

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Everything about the Seminar is countless hours of unpaid collective work done by local resident volunteers without support from the authorities, without sponsors and with only some help from few small hotel owners, car rentals and bus drivers.

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Playing music after the classes late in the eveningThe most remarkable thing about it is that they don’t have art directors, managers, public relations, don’t have «connections». Totally independent and willing to pay the price for this, all and all these guys have is each other and the support of their community. All and all what they want is to do it. And by some magic trick, they do it.

But how? What’s the trick?

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The trick is, first of all, dear readers, that it’s not a “big event”. Only capable of hosting a rough maximum of 200 students, the center of everything is the large yard of a countryside chapel near the village of Traditional violin classChristos.

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Several classes take place under the oak trees in that yard, while other classes are hosted -guess where?- in the yards, patios and spare rooms of the surrounding family homeBabis Papadopoulo's musical composition and orchestra classs in the neighborhood. Hence, the meaningful name of the Seminar («Musical Yards»*), a name which does not only signify the location; it says a lot about the character of the event.

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It also shows Exercises at the course of singing and vocals the support it receives from the village community, not to mention that, in my opinion, it’s a great way to say «thanks» to the owners of the homes where the classes take place.

(* The same houses, plus/minus some, during the wintertime Seminar turn into Musical Fireplaces. Cool!)

The Seminar's camping site in Ai Giannis. .

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No buses, no traffic, everything is nested in nature, including the participants themselves, around 1/3 of which choose to accommodate themselves in the campsite set by the organizers near the church.

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Secondly, “the small group of young Ikarians” is no other than the environmental, political and cultural association “Citizens’ Movement of Ráches Ikaria” («Κίνηση Πολιτών Ραχών Ικαρίας»), a 20yearold group still and always active in various fields (see my 2 footnotes down below).

At the course of musical instrument construction. .

None of them are idle or leisured patrons of arts; on the contrary, all of them are ordinary working people, faces that you see in the streets on their way to work in the morning.

Song writing course with Thanassis Papakonstantinou

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But there is an unseen difference: in spite of their smallness, in spite of their very limited financial resources, these people care! Moreover, they have skills and experience. Even though none of them are graduates of the Conservatory of Vienna, they know how to make things go right.

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.Evgenios Voulgaris, the lute teacher

Thirdly, the teachers! If anyone ever thought the Music Seminar of Ikaria is some kind of groovy thing, just a glance at the list of teachers is enough to change their minds. Each one in his or her own music, mostly the Oriental, traditional Greek or Balkan genre, as far as I can tell, they are the best among the best!

How come?

Singing course 3. .

Because these teachers trusted the organizers and they liked the concept. Some of them even, who come again and again every year, have proved to be truly committed to this event. They brought along their own students, they helped the organizers with valuable advice and in general, they did a lot to improve the Ikarian Seminar and Guitar lessongradually establish it in the agenda of musical education in Greece.

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Against the tourist legend that no serious work can be done in Ikaria because everything is unfocused and relaxed, the Papadopoulos and Siotas in one of the concertsclasses are as demanding and as strict as anywhere in a city environment. Besides this, every  year the teachers, to show their understanding of the concept of the Seminar, offer three evening concerts which are open to everybody. Arranging themselves in small groups in these concerts, the last of which always blows up to a big party, they play for hours without being paid.

The teachers playing at the big final concert. .

A large audience from all over the island gathers to attend that last concert in the Yards and all the money collected is used for the causes of the Citizens’ Movement, the first of them always being the preparation of the next seminar.

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The goal of the Seminar:

«Culture, communication, living together and playing music, teaching and being taught, knowing each other and having a good time too».

Yeah, we know, we know…

I know you know but I don’t think you know everything.

Singing course 1So, let me elaborate and add a few throughts of my own. They are strictly personal -although I don’t think I am totally wrong in what I am going to say. It’s no coincidence the Ikarian Music Seminar “Musical Yards” started in 2012. That was the terrible year when the Greek economic crisis peaked. That was the year of suicides, the year of social cannibalism when everybody blamed each other for the crisis and the dept.

Singing course 2. .

In several occasions during that year, Art, and more particularly Music, did a lot to keep Greek society from breaking apart. To say the least, Music, and more particularly Greek (traditional and post-traditional music), reminded to us that in spite of our differences, we can still love the same songs and can still sing together.

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.Tsambouna - Aegean island bagpipe

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Because 2012 was a bad year for Ikaria too, this was, in my humble opinion, the reason why the Citizens’ Movement, instead of some other activity, chose to put their bets on music. After all music plays an important role in the life of the island.

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One out of four mostly younger inhabitants play a musical instrument, one out of three is an excellent dancer and absolutely everybody loves to go out to places where there is live music – no matter Spaced percussionistwhat kind, no matter how good. So, why not invite other musicians to the island, not just for a concert or two, but to stay longer and share their art?

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To cut this short, against all odds, with crisis on one hand, and the love for music on the other, without any support from the authorities and no sponsoring, the first Musical Seminar of Ikaria was crowned with success.

Careful listener. .

Although small at that time, Musical Yards was a pool of forgetfulness and forgiveness, a pocket of equality and fraternity, a refuge for the young for inspiration and hope, a spot where music was played, taught and performed without interruptions or interferences – other than the song of the cicadas on those old oak trees in the hospitable churchyard of Ai Giannis.

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The course of the lute behind the churchIt is still like this and now – 2018 – is their 7th year!
Who would have thought!

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Composer and singer Thanassis Papakonstantinou in the concertLast year I was there for only one day but that one day, as I was guided around by a friend, was enough for me to witness all of the above. The Music Seminar of Ikaria is cultural and social barrier breaker and meltdown. I think everybody involved in musical education – and I dare say all education- have something to learn from the way things go during its course.

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Trumpet!I support Musical Yards with all my heart!

😍

Eleni

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.Chapel altar window, Pablo Picasso (unsigned), Ikaria, round about 1620 😉 Partying in the Seminar Music ♪♫♬ bubbles in the air .

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June 15, 2018

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Except the first taken by kikiller all photos featuring in this article belong to Musical Yards. They can be found in the files of their website and their page on facebook. © All rights reserved 2012-2017.

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9 Σχόλια on “Musical Yards ♪♫♬ Μουσικές Αυλές”

  1. Ο/Η egotoagrimi λέει:
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    WOW! You have surprised me, sister!
    . With one corner standing on the traditional communitarian panigiri, with another on musical education and with the other two corners standing… in the air, Musical Yards is the new big/small/big self-managed, self-supported cultural event.
    (In cultural, someone may also read political)
    GREAT ARTICLE!

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    🙂

    Αρέσει σε 7 άτομα

  2. Ο/Η greg λέει:
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    If you can carry a tune and are half Greek, you must be able to dance. I am also bashful about dancing, but I can. So drink wine, let the music and moment carry you away, and just do it! XOXOXO

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    🙂

    Αρέσει σε 1 άτομο

  3. Ο/Η Si Claridge λέει:
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    Great stuff, I used to go to sing on Friday evenings and hope to again. :))

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    🙂

    Αρέσει σε 2 άτομα

  4. Ο/Η girl of the last chance λέει:
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    Les musiciens et la musique dans les grands festivals de Ikaria n esont pas bons. Par contre, partout ailleurs où j’ai été j’ai entendu très bonne musique et nous avons dansé et chanté. Je pense que au fil du temps le séminaire a beaucoup aidé dans ce domaine. Je aime aussi beaucoup les concerts à côté de la petite église et j’ai rencontré beaucoup de gens intéressants là. Une grande partie du charme du séminaire est en raison du fait qu’il est auto-organisé. Tout le monde doit apprendre cela. Eleni, je crois que ton article l’explique magnifiquement. J’ai beaucoup de respect pour le travail que tu fais dans ce blog pour expliquer les choses, parce que Ikaria n’est pas une île intello. 😉

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    😉 😛

    Αρέσει σε 7 άτομα

  5. Ο/Η Eleni λέει:
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    @egotoagrimi
    Thank you for this feedback. I am a good judge in music things and I had a good guide around the classes but I didn’t have a sure foot hand talking about the social issues. Living in Ikaria, you have more knowledge than me on the subject.
    @Greg
    I am very vain! I don’t want to just dance. I want to perform! I want to be the best and lead the circle! 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Si Claridge
    Subscribe then to one of the classes of the Seminar!
    @girl of the last chance

    «Ikaria n’est pas une île intello»

    j’aime beaucoup ça!!! Merci Erietta!

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    🙂

    Αρέσει σε 6 άτομα

  6. Ο/Η Angelos Ka λέει:
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    Only few weeks left! There are still vacancies in some classes!
    Eleni, your article is smashing!
    (the social issues included)
    There are a lot of foreign participants every year but this year it’s YOU who have made us INTERNATIONAL! 🙂 🙂

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    Angelos Ka's post on Musical Yards wall on Facebook

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    🙂

    Αρέσει σε 7 άτομα

  7. Ο/Η elinalafina λέει:
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    Besides music, the peripheral courses are also worth mentioning:
    Photography, creative writing and dancing.
    That last for you @islgr 🙂

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    Dance course in the Music Seminar of Ikaria

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    ^^’

    Αρέσει σε 6 άτομα

  8. Ο/Η Θεοδώριχος λέει:
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    Eleni, you ‘ve written the best promoter of this event! It’s an event that deserves to be promoted!
    The only thing I can add is that the location, between forests and cultivated fields, between the village Christos Rachon and Canyon of Chalares, is ideal! It’s fun to all of a sudden see that small secluded place buzzing with people and musical tunes. Besides the home owners who host the courses in their yards, a big bravo from me to the keepers of the little church for supporting and sheltering the Seminar.

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    Summer events and fests are over, by angeloska on Flickr

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    💗

    Αρέσει σε 7 άτομα

  9. .
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    This is the map of the area where the Seminar takes place:

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    Like every July we have a lot of work to do over there in the week before the events!

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    😉 😉 😉

    Αρέσει σε 7 άτομα


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