Welcome to Country
Stringmania participants are officially welcomed at the beginning of each camp by Wurundjeri Elder Murrindindi. This will be no different for our online event. We are proud to have the opportunity to continue 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 and across Australia has been continuous for at least 30,000 years. Depending on relevant COVID-19 protocols and statewide restrictions, you might also be able to catch Murrindindi at the Healesville Sanctuary between 10.30am-3.00pm on Sundays.
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, and so on can be offered, requested and organised by tutors and campers alike. Tree and mountain climbing will clearly not be options this year, but if you have something to share, or you're keen for more extracurricular activities, the whiteboard remains 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.
Look out for some fun online additions!
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.
DRAFT Online Program
The 2020 program is being by designed by co-Artistic Director Chris Stone, is subject to change and will be finalised before camp begins. This version is definitely still a draft and, while it should not be taken too literally, does provide an outline of the basic structure. If you have attended in the past, it will look quite familiar!
We are grateful to have been able to hold Stringmania at Arrabri Lodge since its inception in 2016 and were disappointed that we were unable to support them this year by running a physical camp. The Arrabri Lodge crew have been very good to us over the years and we'd like to show our appreciation in whatever small ways we can, starting with a recommendation to hold your event there once restrictions are eased!
We are looking forward to the prospect of a physical camp there late September/early October 2021. Keep your fingers crossed for us!
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. In past years, we have enjoyed 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. A few of them even got together and ran a workshop for some lucky students at a local primary school!
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 from 2016 -2018 and we have really appreciated the support and hard work of their volunteers. The River Folk Festival, also volunteer run, 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.
What To 'Bring'
Well, since you'll be attending camp from the comfort of your own home this time round, there is no need for us to tell you to bring warm clothes and spare strings! The good news is, if you are from Queensland or the NT you won't be freezing!
In lieu of the obvious, however, here are a few things you might like to consider:
Something to contribute to our annual silent auction. All funds raised support the Stringmania Scholarship Fund (optional). More details to come as our annual fundraising extravanganza goes online!
Something fun for our annual dress up party - this time via Zoom! We will let you know what the theme is shortly. Go all out or keep it simple - up to you.
We will add more ideas to this list as they emerge (that means you should tell us if you think of anything!).
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 and formal classes will be recorded via Zoom for future reference by fully registered camp attendees only. These recordings will remain available for 30 days after the online camp has closed. Class resources will be prepared by your tutors as appropriate and made available to you as soon as practicable. 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 event.
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 fully registered, you will be provided with the password to access tunes taught at previous camps, some of which are likely to be played during camp tune sessions.
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, sitar, erhu) 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 the learning experience.
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.
If you have any other questions please do Contact Us and we will help as best we can. Please bear in mind that running an online event is a first for Stringmania volunteers and we are learning as we go. Thank you for your kindness and patience!
We will continue to add to this FAQ list as queries (and answers to them) arise.