On just about every Friday evening of the year, there is an English country dance sponsored by PCDC at the Burlingame Water Tower Dance Hall, 8936 SW 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97219. There is always live music, provided largely by paid musicians. Small ensembles on the first Friday each month include non-paid musicians as well.
A small ensemble consists of two or three lead musicians from the paid musician roster, plus one or two non-paid musicians (sit-ins). The intent of the ensembles is to provide an opportunity for sit-ins to learn styling appropriate for ECD music by playing along with the lead musicians, blending in with the music established by the leads, with particular attention paid to phrasing and the “feel” of the tune being played. The lead musicians determine and direct the extent of the sit-ins’ participation by incorporating the abilities and comfort level of the sit-ins with what works best for the overall music for the dance. The leads also answer questions and provide feedback to the sit-ins and may also offer instruction about how the music should be played.
If you’d like to participate in a small ensemble as a sit-in musician, send your request to Laura Kuhlman at shawm1550 (at) gmail.com.
At the dance you’ll be expected to bring a music stand, both volumes of the The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes and any additional music the caller has sent to you. You should be familiar with English country dance music and have some performance experience. Laura will notify you when and with whom you will be playing, and the caller for that evening will let you know which tunes you will need to prepare.
Each paid musician receives $35 for the evening plus a share of the net proceeds each year proportional to the number of times the musician has performed. If you would like to be added to the paid ECD musician roster, write to Laura Kuhlman at shawm1550 (at) gmail.com. Laura will consult with the music committee and other musicians, dancers and callers who are familiar with your ECD music abilities. If the community has not yet had the opportunity to hear you play, the committee will ask you to play in small ensembles. If the committee feels that you are not yet ready to be included in the paid roster, they can suggest ways to increase your skill.