bandstand sessions in June

June 10, 2021

the weather forecast is looking glorious for this Sunday June 13, so

let’s have a Florence Park bandstand session from 3:30 onwards again, on the theme of anything goes, just come and share your tunes. On the Bank Holiday Monday we played Scandi, French, Galician and Slow Session tunes – the latter two can be read from sheet music I have in my bag.

Should the bandstand be occupied (it can’t be booked) there is also a small tiled area near the brook at the car park end of the park (near the Florence Park Rd exit), which also has good acoustics and a couple of benches (although no shelter).

Weather permitting I am also aiming to have sessions on the remaining two Sundays in June, 20th and 27th. There may or may not be sessions happening at South Park at the same time, which may be more convenient for people coming in on the buses, but I’ll definitely stick with my project of reclaiming the bandstand for music making (which also involves a chamber music evening with members of Cowley orchestra).

the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) filter outside the gate of Florence Park that is closest to the bandstand. (The planter has already been set on fire by moterrorists and after that been flooded with signs from LTN fans. Exciting times.

Bank Holiday session @ Florence Park

May 29, 2021

I emailed around in the middle of the week re. a possible session on Bank Holiday Monday 31.5., and several people have replied positively, so this is now officially on, and let’s call it 3pm to 6pm.

Should the bandstand be occupied (it can’t be booked) there is also a small tiled area near the brook at the car park end of the park (near the Florence Park Rd exit), which also has good acoustics and a couple of benches (although no shelter).

I understand there may also be a sesssion at the same time on the lawn at South Park, but I much prefer the acoustic at both the Florence Park sites. If, however, we fail to reach critical mass, we could always move across to crash the party at the other site.

The session will be anything goes, just turn up and play whatever you like …

this was the slow session at the Folk Weekend.

Euro session Sunday 9.5.

May 1, 2021

I haven’t had any luck getting a Florence Park bandstand session together so far, but several people have suggested they will be available on Sunday 9.5., so let’s try that. And as it’s Europe Day, let’s call it a Euro session. (On any other Sunday I would call it an anything goes session, as long as people turn up and play some tunes.) Let’s call it 3:30 to 6pm.

If more than six people show up, I will endeavour to define boundaries so that groups of no more than six can be defined, who shouldn’t intermingle. The sound carries very well in and around the bandstand, so keeping the distance while playing together works very nicely there.

Anybody driving to Florence Park please note that the car park is only accessible coming up Rymers Lane from the South (ie ring road or between towns road). There is a new modal filter on Rymers Lane just outside the park which means that coming from the city centre end of the road you cannot access the car park. Connections to Cowley Road and Iffley Road are also affected.

While the playground is at the other end of the park to the bandstand, there is ample space for kids to run around safely, so bring your family along if you like. Toilets are near the playground.

Ideally, I’m hoping to establish a session there on every Sunday that isn’t taken up by the Oxford Slow Session, but let’s see how the weather and the turnout play along. See you there …

outdoor play time

April 18, 2021

The Oxford Slow Session has held some lovely outdoor sessions at the Florence Park bandstand in the autumn and now again since the beginning of April. The rule of six, I learned when we had a few sessions at the band stand last autumn,  doesn’t rule out several groups of six being in the same neighbourhood, so with a physical structure like the band stand, we can have six people inside and six on the lawn on one side, for example, as long as these groups don’t intermingle. 

I really enjoyed playing in the bandstand (the acoustics is lovely), so as and when the weather improves in the next weeks, I might suggest the odd informal sessioning there, mailing around a couple of days in advance. I really think we should reclaim the structure for music making – no matter what kind. (If nobody else turns up I’ll be happy to play unaccompanied Bach, which is what I’ve been doing at home for the last 14 months.)

There are also open air folk sessions happening in South Park, organised via a facebook group, if that appeals.

I’ve emailed the Galician session mailing list and heard back from a few people to whom I have replied with date suggestions for the coming week. If you’re interested in Florence Park bandstand sessions and haven’t had that reply, please email me. ( michaelgrr a t yahoo d o t co d o t uk )

April slow session

Folk Weekend Oxford 2021

February 20, 2021

As we’re still stuck on Plague Island, I’m afraid the Folk Weekend will have to happen virtually again this year, watch their website for exciting things coming up. I even had an email from the dance coordinator about some sort of remote Morris happening.

I also see online events, competitions etc announced from Galicia sometimes, such as this one, worth looking out for.

Personally, I’ll stick with musicking offline and playing solo works while people are off limits. Learning the Bach suites seemed a completely mad idea a year ago, but by now, slightly less so. Follow my updates: Plague Year Bach Project

Oh, and at the woodwind front, I’m following in the footsteps of the Cantigas de Santa Maria illustration used in the header of this blog:

song workshop

November 17, 2020

Oxford León Association

The very amazing Ethno England people, together with Oxford’s twin town partnerships, are organising a series of online workshops where we can learn traditional music from our twin towns:

It will be Nicaragua’s term on December 5th, I believe that participants get to learn a song from Nicaragua, whereas the French workshop on the same day will feature a folk tune. To register and get the access info, fill in this form.

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tambourine course

November 1, 2020

Xabier Diaz has just launched an online tambourine course on youtube, starting from scratch, find the first video here:

outdoor sessions

August 20, 2020
as it may still take a while before we can return to playing music in  pubs, Ray has floated the idea of an outdoor Euro session (ie a merger of French, Scandi and Galician sessions), if anybody’s interested in joining I can put you in touch.
Also, if anybody would like to reclaim the Florence Park bandstand for music making I’d be interested in that. There’s an octagonal bench in the middle of it (probably to discourage the use it was built for, making music), so there are essentially 8 spaces for people standing on each side (or sitting down and turning their backs to each other).
In other outdoor session news, there are occasional slow sessions happening at Grandpont Nature Reserve (
and English / Irish session in South Park (organised at short notice via a facebook group).

dia da matria

July 24, 2020

Galician culture always finds a cause for celebration, and tomorrow it’s the dia da matria, the day of the motherland. I can’t find this in the otherwise excellent Galician wikipedia, but I suspect it is not just a feminist word manipulation but a reference to the emigration experience, the country from which people’s lives emerged and then moved elsewhere.

So, anyhow, REGA UK is organising an online romeria (one of the 400 words for musical celebrations), which is advertised on Facebook:



I do believe they mean 6pm British Summer Time, not GMT.




Muiñeira do Chao

June 9, 2020

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here, I’ve been focusing on other musical adventures including some unaccompanied Bach which makes a perfect quarantine project for this plague year.

Jenny (who in normal times runs the harp session) pointed me to this one-hour harp workshop on the Galician tune, Muiñeira do Chao. It also includes some general raving and info about Galician music at the start:


In the caption of that video you’ll also find some links to performances (eg Susana Seivane) and a video of people dancing to the tune.

It is a nice and easy tune, and after scratching my head for a few minutes, I remembered that Nadia had done a gaita tutorial for it on her youtube channel, years ago, which at the time I hadn’t watched as it wasn’t one of the tunes we played. But maybe we should play it. Here’s Nadia’s take:


Nadia also provides a score for it, in C, very easy, only has 6 notes. Will try that on the alto recorder later.

Stay safe, and see you on the other side …