Monday, 2 December 2019

How I learnt to tell a crumhorn from a shawm

You might recall that I held the book launch for A Sparge Bag on the Washing Line at Kettering Arts Centre. There were lots of reasons for this, chief amongst them being that the place plays a large part in the story. I'm also a keen advocate of the venue because of the quality and variety of acts in brings into the town: music, drama, comedy and art. There were people there on the night who hadn't been in the Arts Centre before, even though for some of them it was right on their doorstep, so in my thank-you speech I encouraged them to come along to an event there and especially to come and see someone they'd never heard of.

On Saturday evening, I followed my own advice. It had already been a long day - taking our turn on an Etsy fair, a bit of promotion for Extinction Rebellion, shopping, trying to ignore the cold weather - so by 7pm all Mr T and I wanted to do was curl up in front of Strictly with a glass of something. However, there was a 'turn' on at the Arts Centre and so off we went. Good decision.

We went to hear A Brief History of Christmas performed by GreenMatthews, who are musicians Chris Green and Sophie Matthews, joined on this occasion by Jude Rees. You can read more about them here. Suffice to say their knowledge of the history of Christmas music and the instruments on which it is played is extraordinary and relayed with humour and energy: and that's before I say anything about their musicianship. They are on tour and if they're coming anywhere near you I recommend you go along.

The point, though, is that if you only listen to music you know, buy tickets for comedians you've seen on TV or read books by authors you've read before - hell, if you never speak to a stranger! - you could miss out on something fabulous. We're really glad we took the plunge on Saturday.


  1. This is very true. Strangers can be surprisingly interesting. Books by authors you've never read before can be delightfully engaging.

  2. Wise words, Julia. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.
    But it does take a bit of energy, drive & bravery to try something new. Usually worth it though!

  3. Sounds fascinating - obviously good to get out and about at times, even when we don't feel like it!

  4. This is so true. I went to hear a literary conversation by an author I hadn't heard of on a topic I haven't seen before and it was a wonderful evening. I bought the book and have been dipping into it every since. (It's that kind of book.) It's easy to miss out if you never try anything or anyone new.

    I'm curious, though: What is a crumhorn? What is a shawm?