CREATING SACRED INSTRUMENTS with Nigel Shaw & Carolyn Hillyer
We have now confirmed our workshop dates for 2017:
FLUTE MAKING MAY 26-28 NOW FULL
DRUM MAKING MAY 26-28 NOW FULL
FLUTE MAKING SEPT 1-3 NEARLY FULL
DRUM MAKING SEPT 1-3
We have been sharing traditional instrument making at Lower Merripit Farm, an ancient farmstead located in the heart of Dartmoor, for over twenty years. They have been very popular and exciting weekends, and during that time hundreds of participants have handcrafted their own beautiful flutes and frame drums. We used to run the workshops as single-day events but these days we prefer to teach the instrument making over the course of a whole weekend. This enables the drum or flute journey to move slower and deeper, with more opportunity for finishing details and decoration, learning about techniques for playing and traditions relating to the instruments, having the chance to play a range of other flutes and drums we have made, as well as enjoying more time on the farm and in the ceremonial roundhouse.
We will be running two sacred instrument making weekends this year, in May and September. Each workshop lasts from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, with Nigel’s flute group (7 places) and Carolyn’s drum group (13 places) running alongside each other. The weekend starts on Friday with arrivals from 4pm to 6pm. After supper at 7pm there will be a welcoming circle for each group that will include a short opening ritual, a talk about the instruments, and some simple preparations for the following day. The Saturday session will begin at 9am and close around 6pm. After dinner there will be an informal flute circle in the cottage and a drum circle in the roundhouse where participants will be able to play music together and learn more about the instruments they are creating. On Sunday there will be a short optional walk onto the open moor with Carolyn, then the morning session begins at 9am, for finishing off, fine tuning and decoration. In the afternoon there will be a final ceremony for everybody to bless their flutes and drums over the fire in our ancient roundhouse. We will complete the workshop at 4pm.
ABOUT MAKING A FLUTE:
During the many years since Nigel has been creating and teaching traditional wooden flutes, he has developed the original ancient Native American design into a sacred instrument that plays the songs and prayers of these wild islands. The workshop offers a choice of several beautifully-grained indigenous woods all harvested locally on the moors: you will be able to choose from silver birch, ash, oak, sycamore, red cedar and others. Each wood has a different tone and energy, carrying the song of the land in its own voice. You will be able to decide what wood to work with when you are here.
ABOUT MAKING A DRUM:
For seven years Carolyn has been carrying out all the preparation of skins for drum making in our small farm tannery. Every hide is sourced with great care and respect, from long-established wild herds that dwell on the high moors. We also prepare forest deer and feral horse skins for the leather that is used to trim the instruments and to make the drum beater. The workshop offers wild red deer skin laced onto medium size (16“) hoops. These skins have beautiful markings and a very good resonance for many different purposes: journeying, ceremonial, healing, drum circles or playing alone in nature. There will also be red deer or wild horse hide available for making a rattle shaker to play with the drum. Although this year we are not offering horse skin for making the drums, all participants will have the chance to make a wild horse rattle.
BOOKING A PLACE:
The weekend workshop place costs £250 for Flute Making and £265 for Drum Making (slightly higher due to increased material costs and ongoing support through our tannery work to Dartmoor’s hill pony protection project). Your workshop fee includes use of all tools, 2 nights camping, 2 vegetarian (vegan option) evening meals, all hot drinks, spring water on tap, roundhouse ceremonies, informal teaching sessions and Dartmoor walk.
The deposit to secure your place is £100 or full payment may be made when booking. All deposits are non-returnable (please see website for our cancellation policy). Payment schedule sent with your booking confirmation. No experience is necessary – all skill levels are welcome. This workshop is not suitable for people under 18.
Accommodation options are (1) free camping in the meadow with full access to cottage kitchen and bathroom facilities (2) Two nights in our guest cottage including self-service breakfast for £50 per person (sharing twin rooms same gender or couples) or £100 sole occupancy double ensuite (3) Local B&B in village – please ask for details.