Bard and Ceilidh

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer: it sings because it has a song.” -- Chinese Proverb

Ever since I was a little girl I remember coming up with tunes: I would think up a melody (usually when I should have been practicing) and arrange it on piano or violin (the hurdy gurdy didn’t come until much later.) I’d rope my sister into recording ourselves talking into our old tape recorder, and then play it back and talk over the ‘soundtrack’ to create an atmosphere of a festive celebration. I’d record myself playing one part of an arrangement, and then I’d pull out the violin and start playing along to the recorded track, all the while imagining myself providing the music for a big feast or festival.


Music has always been deeply connected to play. Flash forward about twenty-five years and here I am doing almost the same thing:

Bard and Ceilidh in a sense remains my imaginary ensemble of players (though occasionally I’m joined by a real friend or two!)

As I write tunes, I arrange the music to accomodate my growing family of instruments, then I press record and lay down tracks. The finished product is a recreation of the spontaneous, live music making one might hear at a Scottish ceilidh.


As I grow older, two other elements have shaped and colored my music making: Joy and hope. As a song/tune writer, one of my goals is to create space for quiet reflection. It’s easy for daily life to become more about the urgent than about the important. I hope my tunes/songs help listeners slow down, be still, and learn to recognize and appreciate the simple joys and quiet victories of everyday life: the more I see these things in my life, the more I’m reminded to remain hopeful as well. I resonate with Samwise Gamgee’s bold and beautiful declaration: “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” Or in my specific case, it’s worth writing, arranging and playing for.


Come, listen, be refreshed and encouraged.

- Mary Vanhoozer

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© Mary Vanhoozer 2020