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Winter School 2014 Survey Results

So What Did You Think?

by Skye K. Richendrfer, March 13, 2014

The post-Winter School surveys were sent out to 99 participants, and 73 folks responded.  So right off the bat, having such strong response is a terrific indicator of how strongly people feel about WinterSchool!  I often say that our main job with respect to the MSA/Winter School program is simply to not screw it up.  There is such obvious deep passion about this program, with many folks coming year after year from near and far—seemingly loving each experience more than the last.  While we work really hard to strike a balance between providing students (and instructors!) with everything they want, from time to time reality (and expense) rears its ugly head!  At the end of the day, we’ll always tweak something and continue seeking improvements to what is arguably the finest program of its type in the world.  What follows are screen shots of several of the survey questions and some “interpretive comments” from me when I felt I could add something to the discussion.  Thanks to all who were able to complete the survey – your input is really helpful and valued!


Question 1



Question 2

Question 4We intend to streamline the registration process more, accepting electronic signatures on our PDF forms to eliminate the need to mail in, or print, scan and send as we’ve done in year’s past.
Question 5Strong majority of students agreed that the quality of instruction surpassed expectations.

Question 6For pipers, this continues to be a bug-a-boo. The auditions are stressful and difficult for many students, not providing the best environment for one’s best performance. Some students need pushing, others over-reach. We really defer to the instructors to assemble groups that are similarly skilled, while providing the flexibility to change it up for individual students as the occasion calls for it.
Question 7

Question 8This is such a difficult one, as individual abilities, energy, and stamina all play a part in balancing class/free time. Generally, it seems providing some quiet/down time is a good thing.
Question 9

  • Another whistle workshop; other thoughts an intro to Gaelic language; backup demonstration (beyond basic chords) for piano and guitar/mandolin; and simple step dance steps
  • Solo competition tips, I missed the piob this year, the massed band thingy was fun for a lot of folks who don’t have anyone to play with. You could send out a couple of tunes for folks to have by Winter School, etc
  • The mass. band evening was great fun. We wanted to play longer.
  • learning some of the dances such as highland fling, cantereachd, writing tunes/harmonies
  • more tips on how to make our instruments better and easier to play-maybe even a round- robin session involving the group on what they found works for them

Question 10OK – so I wasn’t surprised by the fact that some folks were interested in a potential expansion of the program, however I WAS surprised that so many indicated a desire (based on costs and vacation coordination, etc.) to sign up. What is being contemplated for starters, is expanding the piping program (optionally) by 2 days, continuing through Wednesday afternoon, and adding all day Thursday and going until Friday noon. There are some coordination details with Seabeck involved here, related to when other groups may be coming in, etc., and then which and how many instructors could stay and so on. We’re taking a very serious look at how we might be able to do this for 2015, and so stay tuned!

Question 12

Question 13-Seeing old friends and making new ones
-Camaraderie, getting to know the instructors, developing friendship with students and instructors is fantastic. Being able to socialize and listen music is a great experience. This said the instruction in class is highly regarded as well.
-Oh boy….don’t know exactly; this was my best experience in five years. I thought that missing Roddy would be difficult but Angus was magic!
-The quality of instruction and the dedication of the instructors to their profession.
-The people. Easily the nicest, most fun group of people I’ve been around in a long time. (And I’m not much of a people person) 🙂
-I don’t know where to begin…Incredible piob lessons from Bruce and Murray. Hand made reed from Murray, reed/chanter clean-up from Angus, re-hemped service from Willie, etc., etc. Love being able to talk piping 24 hrs a interacting with the “gods of piping”, great to have Angus on board..bring him back!

Question 14jpg– short class times. Suggest 1.5 hour classes instead of 1 hour.
-The food. Sorry, I know it’s not easy, and it is decent food, but…..that’s what I like least.
-Complaints about food.
-“Instructor Only” tables in dining hall; students want to get to know teachers outside of class
-It wasn’t long enough, sighhhhh

Question 1570% indicating they are coming back – “Haste ye Back” as we would say!
Question 16-i do wish some of the buildings with large rooms were open in the evenings for practice…maybe with a signup sheet for the space?
-1.Usually for a piping camp most time (or all!) is spent on the practice chanter. This year there was more emphasis on pipe time. I am very thankful for that. Jack Lee does the most with pipes – he should have a room that a) is bigger to accommodate this and b) doesn’t disturb the class below. 2. I liked the instructor sign up in advance. It saves the rush for the door and encourages early registration to ensure the choice of pick (better for administration I suspect!) Bring back Angus!
-I felt this was one of the best schools I’ve attended. I didn’t have much down time, and appreciate that when I have so short of time to study under these instructors.
-I prefer to learn the tunes by ear. However, it is really helpful to have the printed music for making bowing, ornament notes, etc. Jim, Andrea and I talked about some way to keep prior year’s tunes “fresh”. Maybe this could be done at the slow session, first hour of the evening session and then also maintaining a list of tunes – maybe on the CAF website under “fiddle resources”. A list of commonly played tunes would be good listed there too.

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