Why I started a Folk Music School
First of all, I have ALWAYS loved to teach music. I would come home from my piano lessons at age 9 back in Savannah and make my mom sit down at the piano so I could teach her everything I just learned. I hope she still has the customized method book that I made her called "Susie's Music Book". Also a big part of my life for the past 13 years has been teaching a wonderful, amazing music program for very young children called "The Music Class" where you will find me most mornings. But way back in the 80s it was on a trip to Ireland at the age of 23 that I discovered the incredible joy of fiddling. It was then that I not only decided to become a fiddler, but also to share my discovery with others as a teacher. Although I have been teaching fiddle music ever since, it has been a bit sporadic and it was always my dream to reach larger numbers of people, host regular jams and song swaps and really encourage a strong, nurturing, music community.
Then in March of 2011, my high school senior Mickey Nelligan was accepted to an amazing music school, Berklee College of Music in Boston. As a home schooled, self-directed music student here in Decatur, GA, Mickey learned guitar and fiddle at home from his brother Moses, myself and his dad, fiddler Mick Kinney and learned harmonica from his godfather Whit Connah. But he also learned tons of music from our rich community of musicians in Atlanta. He is dedicated to traditional Irish and American traditional music and jazz and is also in a punk band. So for Mickey, Berklee is a dream school: historically jazz, best rock music program in the country and fantastic roots music program kicked off by Mark O'Connor in 2010. But the tuition is huge. So I'm thinking "hmmm.....how can I earn more money to help my son with tuition?" Then I thought "wow, what if I start teaching more folks and teaching less conventionally and more in the way that seemed to help my sons' musicality blossom so effortlessly and joyfully?" So I carved out a corner of my house for a home studio, came up with a plan that included fun and inspiring community music events outside of lesson time, made a website, and put it out to the universe "Nelligan School of Traditional Music".