Some friends and I get together every Christmas Eve and a few of them have started leading us in new songs (mostly Yiddish Christmas carols and some Swiss-German songs) and doing little performances. This past Christmas it was so much fun, and so goofy, really, that I challenged everyone to come up with a new talent for Christmas 2020 and perform it. You've got a year: go!
I think I'm the only one who actually took that seriously. I tried Tuvan throat singing for a couple of weeks (YouTube is amazing...I finally realized that if I could master Tuvan throat singing, which would take years, even I would not want to hear myself), the harmonica, the nose flute. Then I remembered the 44-year-old D50 CapriTaurus dulcimer in the garage, which I have carefully carried around in its original cardboard box all these years. I took a few lessons after I bought it in 1975 but the teacher was unimpressed with me and I shuffled off in discouragement. (Crushed.)
I can't play any instrument, don't read music, was overwhelmed by trying to tune by ear, didn't know how to change strings, have never made any headway trying to learn to play the dulcimer by reading the books. I'm kind of shy; I was never going to be able to seek out someone who could help me. But everywhere I went, I carried that dulcimer box full of hopes and dreams.
At the end of January this year, it suddenly hit me: Could there be videos online now that could help me learn to play this...?
Since then, of course, I've bought two more dulcimers from Howard Rugg. I'm beginning to understand that's part of the journey: Learn a tune, buy a new instrument.
With trepidation I even went to Redwood Dulcimer Day this past month. That was totally out of my comfort zone; I kind of expected buzzers and flashing lights when I signed in that would spell out "Fraud! Fraud!" I was afraid the whole day would basically be a replay of the angst of walking into the high school cafeteria. But guess what, people were friendly and encouraging and SO enthusiastic about dulcimer music that it was a real high. And I wasn't even the least capable person in two out of three workshops I took, which was a surprise to me. (In the third, I muted my strings and concentrated really hard.)
I think Bosco the comfort dog, who came with Kevin Roth, was a valuable addition. Every festival should have a Bosco.
I'm really grateful for this community, the interwebs, and the folks way back when who came up with this marvelous music-maker.
updated by @mary-barnsdale: 09/13/19 11:20:29AM