- One good thing about music,
- when it hits you, you feel no pain.
- [Bob Marley]
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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?
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 Christos.
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 homes 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.
(* The same houses, plus/minus some, during the wintertime Seminar turn into Musical Fireplaces. Cool!)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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 gradually establish it in the agenda of musical education in Greece.
Against the tourist legend that no serious work can be done in Ikaria because everything is unfocused and relaxed, the classes 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.
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.
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.
So, 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.
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.
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.
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 what 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?
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.
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.
Last 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.
June 15, 2018
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.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
A few articles in our blogs about the action of
«Kinisi Politon Rachon Ikarias» through the years:
I am very interested in reading personal accounts about my island. To keep in touch with the place, media is good but there’s nothing like reading actual people’s impressions and looking at their photos.
This is the seventh part of the list of blog entries about Ikaria that I like. As I said in the forenote of the first part, my ambition was to review, not just blogroll, so I wrote a few words about each blog entry and I picked out pictures and quotes. These quotes I sometimes hid “behind the pictures”. Move your mouse over to read them.
«We are settling into the pace on Ikaria, which is sleepy and slow like a snail. We get up every morning with just enough time to jump in the ocean before the hotel breakfast ends.Regarding scooters: we have seen three different men driving with their dogs on laps with paws on the handlebars, a man and his date eating ice cream cones while riding, and a man that had an entire grilled fish on a large oven pan on his lap while riding up a mountain.
Long and twisty scooter rides have taken us to some fun destinations…«
Should I or shouldn’t …I did it again. What a headache that has been! It’s (b)lasted for 2 days… Whatever… The spell worked. I didn’t take this photo to be in a museum. I protect my topics with whatever I’ve got. Aooch! (it will go away with a kiss)
Read the story in more logical (?) terms in
Flickr>> group>> Ikaria>> discussions>> topic:
Δεν καταλάβατε τίποτα; Δεν πειράζει. Ούτε κι εγώ. Πάντως η δουλειά έγινε. Κι εγώ όταν τελειώνει μια τέτοια δουλειά, είμαι υποχρεωμένη να δίνω δημόσια αναφορά. Αλλιώς τα ξόρκια χαλάνε.
Thursday June 21, 2007 – 02:25pm (PDT)
I have ready long message to post in Flickr group Ikaria. Revealing a bit of the secret -as we have agreed. Just hope you haven’t changed your mind, oh powerful one.
Saturday June 23, 2007 – 02:39pm (EEST)
Great photo of a gorgeous location! Thank you for sharing it with us. Warmest, Konstantinos
Sunday June 24, 2007 – 04:13pm (EEST)
@ konstantine : I have re-edited the entry and added links. Follow them. It’s an interesting case of how a beautiful photo can save a beautiful place.
@ AKK : Nana sends you her love for what you did in Messakti. She says that in Heiligedamm the leaders of the famous march across the fields were two men around your age.
Sunday June 24, 2007 – 06:55am (PDT)
I had posted an ironic answer (msg#452) when you asked «Does Photography help to preserve the Environment?» in the hikingIkaria group. Now I feel very bad (like a «Doubting Thomas») and I want to do something about it. Let me make the announcement of this incredible «magical realism» story in the group. A COOL PHOTOGRAPH DOES HELP save the environment as long as THE RIGHT PEOPLE are inspired and INVOLVED (:- «spellbound» -:)
(Μπαμπα κουλ γερο πουρό αγγελούκο …η οικογένειά σου κι όλοι οι κοντινοί σου άνθρωποι πρέπει να είναι περήφανοι για σένα. Πραγματικά ήταν ένας οικογενειάρχης σαν κι εσένα αρχηγός στη δική μου φάλαγγα όταν διασχίζαμε τα χωράφια στο Ροστόκ. Από πάνω μας πετούσαν ελικόπτερα -και ψιλοχεζόμουνα ‘egotogrimi’- όμως εκείνος και οι φίλοι του μας οδηγούσαν με αποφασίστικότητα και γνώση κατευθείαν στο στόχο. Το οποίο βέβαια και πέτυχε. Ζήτω το *generation fusion* λοιπόν)
Monday June 25, 2007 – 03:03pm (EEST)
Κάποιοι άνθρωποι πλησιάζοντας τα 50 τους είναι πια σίγουροι γι’ αυτά που αξίζουν στη ζωή. Ο χρόνος μετράει πια αντίστροφα κι αρχίζουν να κτίζουν αυτό που θα αφήσουν πίσω τους. Το μόνο που χρειαζόμαστε είναι έμπνευση. Κι εσείς την παρέχετε άπλετα.
Tuesday June 26, 2007 – 02:25pm (EEST)
I’ve been away so I’m just catching up. Bravo Angele, Effy and Eleni – well done and thanks, great to know things will be unchanged when I visit again…xxx
Tuesday June 26, 2007 – 10:42pm (BST)
Hey Jude! Visiting in September, right? Hope I am there!..
Thursday June 28, 2007 – 10:04am (PDT)
Hi Eleni. I hope so, though it is all a bit vague at the moment and only talked about as something that may or may not happen….(but the vagueness gets weaker as the summer progresses and the rain here doesn’t stop)
PS. A friend of mine runs a small holiday company (www.indigo-holidays.co.uk) and wants me to go to Symi, as that is where her business partner is based ( I do some work for them), but I told her yesterday that if I was to go to Greece at all this year, it has to be Ikaria! So maybe I will extend my trip and do a strange combination of Ikaria followed by symi! That will be very odd.
Wednesday July 4, 2007 – 10:40pm (BST)
Vague? I wish I had so «vague» plans. I live for the next moment righ now. The only thing I know for sure is that I am in Athens and a friend is driving me and Sideraki down to Pireas to take the boat to Ikaria the day after tomorrow. Ah, and that I will find a clean house there too, thanks to Nana. The future will tell for the rest.
Friday July 6, 2007 – 03:49am (PDT)
Ah, Eleni. That is fantastic news. It is better to live for the next moment than be vague….I am so glad you are taking your son Sideraki to Ikaria. It is the best thing for you both, you will be going home. Sto Kalo.
Friday July 6, 2007 – 11:25pm (BST)
Καλό ταξίδι! 🙂
Saturday July 7, 2007 – 08:35pm (EEST)