[Bards] Truly's opinion on a few things

Truly Carmichael trulinor at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 14 08:24:40 PST 2006

Hello All.
I've been pretty quiet so far - but I'd like to offer my opinion about a few things.
First - for those who don't know me - I'm Eleanor Fairchild, and I live in Ealdormere (near Toronto, Ontario, Canada) 
I've only lived here for two years. Before I moved up here - I was Ansteorran, and the bardic community and bardcraft there is important to me. I still have a student in Ansteorra ( Alden Drake : ) and many friends, and I want them to have the wonderful family-like feeling that I now enjoy with the bards of the North. Ealdormere has an internationally known bardic community, and a strong bardic tradition, and I'd like to offer some observations on some of the comments I've read.
So. Badge:
It seems to me that if several of you would like to use a badge - you DO want to be associated with one another. If you are afraid a college will get too structure heavy - get involved in the planning and make sure it doesn't. A badge doesn't mean anything unless it BELONGS to something - make it MEAN something - and make the group it belongs to an open and welcoming one. 
If you really like THAT badge - it seems to me that naming your new college the same as the old one, but with guidelines that you specify is a good way to accomplish that. If, instead, you need something NEW - make something NEW and get a new badge. 
Not only is this nicely allitterative - it's a tried and true model. What a fabulous idea. The bards/cooks collegium which Alden attended up here proved to me that two groups which could not support an entire event on their own CAN band together and make something pretty amazing. We had a site with two kitchens and lots of good classrooms and performing spaces. There was no fighting of any ilk - though it wasn't forbidden. We had some folks who said they might come and do some -but the fighting was not the focus of the event - the Bards and the Cooks were - and their needs came first. Fabulous feast - with rafter-raisisng singing all throughout.
Just attended another event last weekend in Ohio which was ENTIRELY focused ont he Bards. http://tilted-windmill.com/bms8/ Small attendance - Big Fun. We had a LOVELY acoustically friendly room to perform in - and boy, DID we perform. Small FABULOUS feast - the tables were U shaped and we had performances in the middle - it was GREAT. And there was not a single competition all day long. We had new bards - we had master bards, we had sponsors and we had a BLAST.
What's your goal -  More contestants? More audience? better quality performances? If it's these - what you ACTUALLY want is a more active and involved bardic community. Better Eisteddfod is the RESULT of success in that endeavor - not the primary goal.  
Strengthen the community:
It seems to me - that just like any self- improvement plan, you figure out what you'd like the Ansteorran bards to be more like - and you BE that, each of you. You want audience? listen to each other - and do more sing-alongs. hand out a lyrics sheet every now and then. Best audience I've ever had is an audience of bards. Learn each others' work. ( I performed pieces by Robin and Robert FirtzMorgan this last weekend. Oh - and Ragnar. All WELL received) Hold bardic circles - challenges - different types. Make MORE safe places to perform. Encourage each other to write - or sing - or try a new genre. Hold workshops - three or four people sitting down to write a new something. bake sales to pay to import teachers - whatever.  
When I lived in Ansteorra - all I knew was Ansteorra, and I didn't think about the rest of the world at all. I live in a tiny kingdom now - and am much more internationally minded. It's really opened my eyes -  there are other parts of the world who do things differently, and some of those ideas work better. If you can travel to Pennsic - DO so. The international bardic family meets there and shares ideas and Supports each other. And bring a recorder with you. (Garraed and I come to Gulf Wars, by the way, and will try to bring some of the larger bardic family with us - so come meet us there!) Pick the brains of those in Ansteorra who have come from other places. Ken and Adelaide (now in Ansteorra) have ALL KINDS of stuff you haven't heard! just assume that lots of it is stuff you WANT to know. learn five new pieces this year. Write two. Get ONE new person to perform at each event YOU go to. When you hear someone who impresses you - Don't let them get away without telling them that - and insist that they perform that piece again next time. there is nothing like having someone ask YOU to do something - time to start asking each other more often.
Master Owen Alun of Northshield (incidentally - he was Ansteorran Duchess Siglinde's apprentice and he met Robin once or twice.)  who has been instrumental in the strengthening of the bardic tradition in Northshield often tells us: One person cannot make something happen; there must be at least two. One person to HAVE an idea and another person to think it is worth supporting. Even better if there are three. If there are three people with real drive - anything can happen.  I believe him - he's made it happen in his are - he and two others, that is. 
Why not give it a try? ANYTHING that gets the fire going is a good thing. The original college got Robin going when he first started. Robin got ME going when I first started - and several others, too, in more than one kingdom. I've gotten a few others going, and I ain't done yet! The result of that college was at least partially FABULOUSLY successful. Right now it sounds like the Ansteorran bardic community wants something MORE. A college could be that. You don't HAVE to have a college to have what you are looking for - but you need a change, and it might just HELP. 
And now - my rant is done. I genuinely hope it didn't sound preachy - I want wonderful things for you. I'll help in any way I can.
of Anst-ermere

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