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Bardic-Swap-art - 4/10/08


"Running a Bardic Swap & Shop!" by THL Thomas Whitehart, aka True Thomas the Storyteller. This is the class handout for a mini-workshop for the Caid Collegium in 2007.


NOTE: See also the files: Bardic-Guide-art, bardic-msg, Entrtng-n-SCA-art, storytelling-art, Tales-o-Teror-art, Jestrs-Mumrs-lnks, Hornbook-art, Fyrecrawling-art, Bardic-Coachg-art.





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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



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Running a Bardic Swap & Shop!

A mini-workshop for Caid Collegium 2007

By THL Thomas Whitehart, (aka True)


First, what is a bardic swap&shop?

A bardic swap&shop is similar to a bardic circle with some important differences.

1. It’s set up to be a place where folks can share and learn new material.

2. If things go well, you will get folks from outside the normal bardic community.


So how does this work?

The formula so far….


La la la!Where: Find a place where 20 or so people can meet, sing, etc. If it has some kitchen facilities, so much the better. Comfortable seating is a good thing too.  It should be someplace not too far off the beaten path, with available parking. Be aware, that some folks who have mobility problems may want to come, so plan ahead. Have a phone on hand to give directions.


When: The Calendar is always full. Just look at it, and try not to go up against the biggest events. Friday nights have worked for me so far, but it depends on how close your SCA community is.


After you’ve worked out, where, and when…..


Who:  You’ll need 3 people- A host, an Emcee, and a guest speaker. Other volunteers are a good thing too.


The Host - Welcomes folks, gets people introduced, situated, shows them where everything is, etc. Stays on top of food, answering phone calls and questions.

The Emcee -  Starts the program, makes introductions, and introduces the speaker. After the speaker is done, the Emcee leads the swap, and coordinates what pieces will be shared, teaches the call and response, lines up breaks, etc.  Explain the 3 rules of folk music.

The Guest Speaker -  Teaches the mini-workshop, lasting about 30 minutes at the beginning of the swap&shop. They should have all the hand outs, and props. The mini workshop can be taught by multiple people by the way, and it can last longer than 30 minutes…You can open it up to the group at large.


Okay,  now I have the who, the what, the when, and where…


Now comes the hard part/fun part-

  1. Butt’s      in Seats! It’s not much fun, if no one comes. Market, Market, Market-      Flyers, both paper and E-mail. E-mail notices. Crown Prints. Caid Website,      Barony Website, Household Websites, E-Lists. Go to events. Get friends to      pass word of mouth, especially in the non-bardic community. Get them to      pass on info as well. Get people with influence to encourage folks. Come      up with a 30 second spiel that sounds fun!  Get the word out 3 times-      initially, about two weeks before hand, and the day before the event (to      individual people).  (Ask True about flyers and press releases, etc.)
  2. Make      it nice- have drinks, some snacks, and make it as comfortable as possible.      Decorate if you are doing a holiday event, etc.  I like to have a candle      or two going, or if you have a fireplace, that’s great too. Set everything      up in a horseshoe pattern where the people who are leading, can make eye      contact.
  3. Expect      people to come and go as the event is going on. Stick to the schedule if      you can.
  4. When      you wind up, help folks get to their cars, thank them, and get their      input. It’s important that you encourage them to talk up the      Swap&Shop.


So, people have arrived, and things are getting settled..

La LA la!

On with the program!


Meet&Greet- Go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves, SCA –wise, and where they are from. If anybody is new to the area, make them feel welcome. Have a sign in sheet with phone and e-mail numbers. Get everyone to fill it out.


What’s Up- What is going to happen, what is the featured mini-workshop, and the theme for the evening. Introduce host, emcee, and speaker, point out facilities, get any music, have someone organize it on a table, etc.

La la la!

Mini Workshop, (30 minutes) and Questions..


Break (10 minutes)


Call and Response- Once everyone has had a chance to chat, and lubricate, call everyone back. Have a simple piece, like a round or a silly song to practice with.

“The Janet Cornwall method”


  1. Tell      everyone about the song, and it’s titles, etc. Find out who knows it,      explain about it’s history or relevance.(briefly) If info is conflicting,      that’s per the course..Folk music is supposed to be all over the place.
  2. Sing      it thru once, completely. Make certain that everyone can hear you.
  3. Sing      a line, and have everyone sing it back. Go thru until finish. Expect stops      and starts.
  4. Sing      a couple of lines, or a whole stanza, if folks feel like they’ve got it.      Go thru until finish.
  5. Sing      the whole song thru. (At this point all the harmonies magically appear ;)
  6. Take      a minute, put it aside…
  7. Next      song…this is a good point to have another song leader/teacher. Follow the      same method exactly.
  8. And      so on.


At this point, you discover that folks have a variety of talents, and your group may be just great at ripping thru and learning songs. Keep the form, but go faster. If a song is a bit much, just sing it, and ask folks if they want to learn it, or try a simpler one. NO stress!  Always tell folks what you know about the song, and what it means to you (why you like it, etc.)  After 3 songs, take a break. After 3 more sessions, take a longer break.




Now, have folks who want to make announcements about upcoming events etc. Keep them short.  The emcee comes back on line and


Learn more songs/ Re-Sing


Re-singing is an important part, especially since various songs all start to blend with each other.  


After another few songs, open the floor to just people who want to share a song, and not nesc. teach it, etc. Ask folks what themes and workshops they would like to see in the future..


Close it up with a song.  Chat and Clean up!    


In the case of Swap&Shops on other themes (storytelling, instrumentals, etc. ) you can come up with a variety of teaching-sharings.  Little mini-stories for folks to swap, personal experiences, etc.  Pizza boxes for people to practice Bodhran on, etc.  Almost anything is possible!


Thanks for attending this workshop, and I believe if we can get more of these going, we’ll see a lot more singing around Campfires and bardic overall.


Copyright 2008 by True Thomas, 663 Fowler Ave., Newbury Park, CA 91320. <Truethomas (at) sbcglobal.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org