Traditional Arts Apprenticeship in Scottish Accordion Music
An FY2010 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant – Master artist Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, N.H. - $2,020 & Apprentice Douglas Brunson, Derry, N.H. - $985
Traditional arts are the crafts, music, stories, and ways of doing things that are passed on from one generation to the next within families, communities, and cultural groups. Preserving traditional arts relies on the master practitioners being willing to teach and encourage others so that these living art forms continue to be visible and meaningful.
One way that the State Arts Council helps to preserve traditional arts in New Hampshire is through Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants, which support a master traditional artist teaching an experienced apprentice in one-on-one sessions over the course of 6 to 10 months. The funds cover modest fees for the master artist as well as travel and supplies essential to the apprenticeship project. Apprentices typically range in age from pre-teens to older adults.
Over the years, Apprenticeship grants have helped artists to preserve a variety of musical traditions including those brought to New Hampshire by early English, Irish, Scottish, and French-Canadian settlers. The accordion was introduced into Scottish music in the late 1800s and, while the instrument is extremely popular in Scotland, there are few Scottish accordionists in New England.
Accordion player Sylvia Miskoe of Concord and Douglas Brunson, a home-schooled teenager from Derry, received Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants in both FY2009 and FY2010 to preserve Scottish music played on the accordion. Sylvia Miskoe is well known and respected statewide for her command of both Scottish and contra dance music on the accordion. She is a long time member and former president of the Strathespey and Reel Society, a community music group that preserves Scottish music.
The first year Miskoe and Brunson worked together, they built upon Douglas’ basic skills. The second year of funding allowed the two to hone in on specialized aspects of playing as well as the repertoire of Scottish tunes. Douglas’ skills have advanced through this last year so that now he is able to compose tunes and is learning to transcribe them into musical notation.
The grants have led to opportunities for Douglas, including a chance to continue his studies with noted traditional Scottish accordionist, Jeremiah McLane.
“It’s … like throwing a stone into a pond,” says Sylvia. “You throw a stone in a pond and get ripples, and they go out and out and out. Because of the grant, there have been so many things that have opened up for him.”
The arts are making a difference in communities throughout New Hampshire.
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Learn more about State Arts Council grants and program services.
September 7, 2010