Banjo pickin' girl...

A friend asked me the other day about banjo playing, and I wrote up a bunch of stuff, so thought I'd post it here, too...

I've got about 4 songs I feel reasonably comfortable playing, and 6 more or so that I'm working on.

I played violin from the time I was 5-13 officially, then got to high school and we didn't have an orchestra, so I stopped playing. :( I wish I'd kept it up, and I wish I'd learned cello, too! We had a piano growing up, so I learned to play chords on there and would play chords and melody to sing along with (musicals, Simon and Garfunkle, 60s and 70s pop music...). I sang in middle school and really took it up more seriously in high school, auditioning for some regional groups and having a blast... then I got to college and didn't have time for choir. :( So performance music pretty much stopped for me at that point, sadly, except for one semester in Germany.

If you remember the dance class I was taking, the same woman I took that with is who I'm taking banjo with. It's going well, the violin background really helps, as does the ability to read music and to tune a stringed musical instrument (even easier with frets!). She said I'm starting out about 6 months ahead of the curve, which is good to hear. :) Playing is getting to be somewhat more fun but still challenging. I've been doing one 1-hour lesson/month of banjo and about a 1/2-hour of dance, but that might change (more on that below).

I took John and Anja to the Rhode Island folk festival two weekends ago, and John got to play some bass, and I got to try out a mountain dulcimer. He was so excited to be playing again, that he went on Craig's list and found a used acoustic bass and now we're having kitchen music jams, I love it! I'm also going to borrow a dulcimer from Aubrey since I really enjoyed playing it so much at the folk festival (so easy, and instant gratification!) and I'll probably do dulcimer lessons in place of dance lessons, for a while. (And I did do this, got the dulcimer from her yesterday and some music to work on!)

I'd love to go more often but it's an hour away, and she's wicked busy, and lessons are expensive. So for now, I'll keep up with that, plus a bunch of us from class (dancers and musicians) are meeting up in a barn every other Tuesday for a dance party and music jam. Anja runs around and chases the chickens and we dance and play music and sing folk stuff and sea shanties. Man, why is all this good stuff happening right as we're getting ready to move?!

Also, you know the secret I'm learning? If you have one or two good players, and 5-6 other people who can play 4 chords (D, C, F, G) or notes, you can play folk music in a group! LOL - Um, also if you can hit a drum in time with the rhythm. Hee.

Seriously, dulcimer is a great string to start on... you can pick it up and be making music in 5 minutes. Instant gratification! And it seems like most folk musicians are very willing to put up with newbies and help you learn/find instruments/etc.

Anyway, some videos (not of me) if you're interested...

Am working on this: Banjo vid and another banjo vid

Aubrey dancing: Flatfooting and more flatfooting

Some dulcimer: mountain dulcimer and more dulcimer

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