Welcome to Country
Stringmania participants are officially welcomed at the beginning of each camp by Wurundjeri Elder Murrindindi. We are proud to have the opportunity to be greeted by Murrindindi and learn a little bit more about the strength, resilience and capacity of Indigenous Australians whose connection to land and water in this area has been continuous for at least 30,000 years. If you’re in the area on a Sunday, you can also catch Murrindindi at the Healesville Sanctuary between 10.30am-3.00pm.
Aboriginal History of Yarra
Murrindindi at Healesville Sanctuary
The primary classes are labelled Strings 1, Strings 2, Strings 3 and Strings 4. Strings 1 is the fastest class and Strings 4 the slowest. To facilitate a high-level and satisfying learning experience for all, there will not be time for extended individual assistance or attention in Strings 1. If you would like to be able to ask the tutor to slow down for you, or if you like to ask lots of detailed questions, we suggest trying Strings 2 or Strings 3. Strings 4 is designed to be a safe, supportive and fun environment for beginner players young and old and will be much more flexible in how it caters to individual needs. This means that Strings 1 can stay fast, Strings 4 can stay slow and the camp can continue to provide a full spectrum of learning experiences. The quality of teaching in all classes will be the same, all will cover similar material, and each class will be exposed to all tutors. Choosing a slower class may also reflect the level to which you like to push yourself, rather than your ability or potential as a musician. As a rough guide, we expect less than a quarter of the camp to attend Strings 1, and less than a quarter to attend Strings 4. Most people should end up in either Strings 2 or Strings 3.
Electives are scheduled around the primary classes, and anyone can attend any elective. Central to camp is ‘The Whiteboard’, where informal skill swaps, pop-up concerts, workshops, secret sessions, creative writing, music theory or technique, excursions and so on can be offered, requested and organised by tutors and campers alike. If you have something to share, or you're keen for more extracurricular activities, the whiteboard is your friend. While the scheduled classes, talks, electives and other events provide the skeleton of the camp, fleshing it out is up to you!
Nightly jams, dances, concerts, ceilidh night (a party where we share songs, stories, and tunes along with other special talents!) and planned and unplanned events will enliven the evenings.
Panel style forums provide an opportunity after lunch each day to discuss key ideas around traditional music making in Australia. The panels bring together combinations of tutors along with audience input to discuss salient ideas, issues and possibilities, and have been highlights of the camps. Topics covered in previous years include what it means to be a traditional musician in Australia today, what makes a tradition live, performance tips and tricks, music learning approaches, sustainability, music’s influence on a community and the place of multiculturalism in Australian music.
The 2020 program will be designed by Artistic Director Chris Stone and will be available shortly before camp begins. Here is last year’s program to give you a bit of an idea of how the schedule might look. It varies from year to year, but the main elements that make up the program are outlined here.
Venue and Transport
We are grateful to, once again, be holding Stringmania at Arrabri Lodge. Arrabri Lodge is set on a picturesque 12 acre property with 5 acres of natural bushland in East Warburton.
You’ll live in a comfortable school camp, with dormitory style accommodation, and eat meals communally. All rooms are heated and contain between 6-8 bunks. It can get quite cold at night so extra warmth is recommended! Contact us to discuss any special needs/concerns you may have. Bathroom facilities are shared and linen packages can be arranged for a small fee. Arrabri Lodge is a ‘nut-free’ camp and caters for all dietary requirements.
The entire complex is centrally heated and every bed is complete with a comfy innerspring mattress, blanket and pillow. The modern amenities are professionally cleaned daily, rehearsal areas are all carpeted, insulated and heated. The trampoline and pool (with solar heating!) are available (with appropriate adult supervision) most days along with a beautiful grassy expanse perfect for an outdoor class on a nice day.
Located just past Warburton township in the heart of the scenic Yarra Valley, it is easily accessible from Lilydale in the outer east of Melbourne. After Lilydale, turn right onto the Warburton Highway and continue until you reach the beautiful township of Warburton on the Yarra River. Arrabri Lodge is just a few more kilometres through the township.
Map Reference: 291 C8.
Local Bus Timetable
Public Transport Journey Planner
Local Area and Connections
Nestled at the foot of Mt Donna Buang, is the welcoming community of Warburton that Stringmania is lucky to have made its home. Whether you want to spend some time in Warburton either side of camp or are looking to get out into nature on the free afternoon mid-week, there are options aplenty including hiking, forest walks, horse riding, the famous rail trail, Indigenous experiences, river walks and a bustling main street. Look out for busking opportunities during the week to support fundraising for our Yarra Ranges Scholarship, reserved for a Yarra Ranges local of any age each year. Yarra Ranges Council made this scholarship possible by awarding us a small grant to cover its costs in 2018. Stringmania has since committed to ensuring that at least one scholarship place each year is awarded to a Yarra Ranges local. We were also lucky enough to receive another small grant in 2019 – this time to offset costs around our world-class tutors to support increased local access to them.
Over the past four years, we have built valuable community connections in Warburton and surrounds. The Warburton Fire Brigade (WFB) has been a fabulous community partner for our finale concerts since 2016 and we have really appreciated the support and hard work of their volunteers. Also volunteer run, the River Folk Festival put us on their program to offer a traditional music workshop last year facilitated by campers and members of The Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club. The River Folk Festival takes place in the town of Warburton during March. It was also a pleasure to work with Yarra Valley Ecoss, a not-for-profit community organisation based on a 7.4 hectare, former poultry farm in Wesburn which was our 2018 concert venue. Scroll down our concert page to read all about it and our WFB collaboration.
Visit Warburton – Things to do and Local History
Yarra Ranges Council – Local History
Rail Trail – Bike Riding
What To Bring
In addition to clothing, personal articles and musical instruments, you’ll need:
Your own linen (blanket and pillow supplied). It is a Department of Health regulation that this include a bottom sheet and a pillow case for the bed even if you are using a sleeping bag. You may book a linen package (pillow case, towel and 2 sheets) upon registration for a small fee.
Extra warmth. Although additional blankets are available, if you are from a tropical or sub-tropical location you are likely to feel the cold more intensely than most and will not regret coming prepared for cold Victorian nights!
Towel (if not paying for linen package)
Jacket and jumper
Mug and/or cup for beverages (optional)
Plate if you'd like one for lunches rather than using biodegradeable recyclables available (optional)
Coffee if you’re not fond of instant (optional – a few plungers will be around!)
Swim wear - the pool will be available most afternoons
Comfortable shoes for dancing/walking. There are tracks on the property and walks to the river and up Mt. Donna Buang.
Spare strings and a recording device
Cash for merchandise and the bar. Limited access to card facilities will be available.
Something to contribute to our annual silent auction. All funds raised support the Stringmania Scholarship Fund (optional).
A plain t-shirt if you would like it screen-printed on site for a small donation.
Something fun for our annual dress up party! We will let you know what the theme is in advance. Go all out or keep it simple - up to you.
Please name all your belongings. At the end of camp, we’ll need help making sure everyone leaves on time with all their belongings and things in order.
Can I get the sheet music and/or recordings of what will be taught before camp?
During camp, tunes and accompaniment will be taught by ear in keeping with the aural folk tradition. You are welcome to make recordings to assist with your learning. Sheet music and recordings will be collated and made available as soon as possible following camp. We cannot guarantee a time-frame as this is dependent upon the schedule of whoever volunteers to do it. Collating and notating all this is a big job. Learning by ear is different for everyone and can be challenging, especially if you are new to it, so some tricks and techniques that others have found useful will be shared with you early in the week.
Can I find out the names of tunes to be taught before camp?
As tunes will be selected by tutors based on the needs and desires of learners, it is not possible to provide a list of tunes in advance. Once registered, you will be provided with the password to access tunes taught at previous camps, some of which are likely to be played during nightly sessions.
Can camp participants use the venue's kitchen to prepare own meals?
Stringmania is fully catered and the kitchen is for the use of venue staff only.
Can I get assistance travelling to and from camp?
We will do our very best to assist you in getting to and from camp within the limitations of volunteer and vehicle availability. If you need help with transportation from the airport, city or a suburban train station then please let us know. Car-pooling amongst fellow campers is encouraged where possible and we are happy to help co-ordinate this.
Can I adjust the heater settings in my room?
All rooms are centrally heated and the heaters run on a timer. Any proposed changes to the timing of heating need to be discussed with venue staff and centrally adjusted by them. Please bring any issues with the temperature of your room to our attention and we will do our best to resolve them. Ensuring you keep your windows closed at night will assist in keeping you warm.
Do you provide extra blankets?
Each bed is provided with a blanket and a limited number of extras are available at no cost. However, if you are from a warmer climate or struggle with the cold then we strongly recommend that you bring an effective sleeping bag and/or doona with you to supplement the blanket provided. It can get very cold at night.
I don't play fiddle or cello - can I still attend?
While the camp is string based and many of our tutors play fiddle or cello, all instruments, stringed or otherwise, are welcome. The focus is largely on bowed stringed instruments but their "cousins" (i.e. harp, guitar, mandolin, piano) will be well supported. If you don’t play one of these instruments or something similar, the only requirements are your ability/willingness to learn by ear, an interest in traditional music in all its guises and being technically self-sufficient enough on your instrument to ensure you get the most out of camp. There will be four bowed string-based classes of differing speeds that all instruments are welcome to attend, and electives in song, accompaniment, rhythm, dance and more. There will be many opportunities for non-stringed instruments to participate. Being an immersive camp, you won’t learn exclusively from those who play the same instruments as yourself; music, traditions, creativity and musicianship transcend instrument choice.