Between 2007 and 2010, I conducted interviews with over 60 participants (informants) regarding the impact of media in their musical lives from their earliest recollections. My own practice was to conduct these interviews with no fewer than two people because I wanted to exploit the associative power of storytelling and narrative to help my participants recall small, rich details. I wanted to get what Clifford Geertz called “thick description”. The combination of participants in any one session depended more on scheduling convenience than any sense of relationship between the participants I might be aware of or assume. Without exception each session uncovered surprising connections and memories, often the most heartwarming and fulfilling aspect of the process.
In this snippet, Seamus Connolly, a native of Killaloe, County Clare, 10 time National Fiddle Champion and “Sullivan Artist in Residence” for Boston College, is talking about his experience of learning music by ear from 78 rpm discs his father procured at various record shops in Limerick and Dublin. When his family was able to get him formal instruction on the fiddle, Seamus discovered that he had learned to play the instrument all wrong! He had to learn it over from the beginning.