For more than a decade, Clíodhna Ní Aodáin—an Irish-born musician living Switzerland—has led MfP workshops and drum circles worldwide. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has turned to technology and social media to engage new, larger audiences. Ergo the success of “Fill Your Home with Music,” a free online music circle co-facilitated by Mary Knysh and Irene Feher.
“We create music in the moment,” says Clíodhna (pronounced “KLEE-uh-nah”) regarding the weekly MfP series, now in its third month. “Each session usually starts with Celtic or Irish music and then goes on an exciting adventure.”
We recently caught up with the classically trained cellist and conductor to discuss the significance of online music-making.
Every Saturday, “Fill Your Home with Music” attracts about 75 people from North and South America and Europe. Why do you think the series is so popular?
Our mission is to bring music-making into as many homes as possible and to help people to feel connected during this unprecedented time. Mary, Irene and I share our facilitation skills for free, so that anyone who has been financially hit by COVID-19 can participate.
How do you describe your chemistry with Mary and Irene?
Fun. Flowing. Supportive. Inspiring.
Is it exciting to see MfP flourish in an online environment?
MfP is ideal for online music-making. Even simple activities such as “call and response” and using your “Yea and Oooh Energy” can result in fulfilling experiences.
How I approach music-making, conducting and teaching has radically changed for the better. I like to think I am more present to my pupils and my fellow orchestral musicians as well as to myself.Clíodhna Ní Aodáin
You’ve known MfP Co-Founder David Darling since 2007. What has he taught you?
He’s changed my life. How I approach music-making, conducting and teaching has radically changed for the better. I like to think I am more present to my pupils and my fellow orchestral musicians as well as to myself.
One time, David and I were watching a video of someone in MfP’s Musicianship and Leadership Program. It was clear that this person could not feel the pulse of the music. Instead of admonishing him for his lack of rhythm, David said, “Let him be the leader.” Amazing.
In addition to Mary and David, who are some of your influences?
Cellist Yuli Turovsky [the Russian-born emigre who taught Clíodhna at the University of Montréal), Swiss jazz vocalist Andreas Schaerer and Irish fiddler Martin Hayes.
My other influences are [Zen master] Thich Nhat Hanh; [mindfulness teacher] Orlaith O’Sullivan; and my parents, Marion and Bernard.
How do you define success?
Success is when you see the light of joy in someone else’s eyes, and you realize you have been instrumental in passing on a beautiful feeling.