Long ago in Hawaii, I was taking a class in Early Music with all sizes of recorders. One cool old guy from N.Y.C. came to visit and his son was in our class. He said that when we learn a new instrument, the things we learned on our former instruments come with us.....we can learn faster often with that former knowledge of the other instruments. He somehow gave me permission to learn as many instruments as i wanted to learn. recorders, harp, dulcimers psalteries banjo organ....others for the joy of it. It keeps our spirits high and our minds learning and we'll not get Alzheimers. Healing with any musical instrument can happen. aloha, irene
Most inspiring live workshop/lesson you've ever had?
I am somewhat “unstuck in time,” so my recollection of dates is shaky at the best of times. But I’m guessing this was 12 or 15 years ago. I attended a workshop given by Don Pedi at a dulcimer festival at Pere Marquette Park in Illinois. It inspired me in much the same way that hearing Roscoe Holcomb or Howling Wolf for the first time inspired me. I knew immediately that this man and his playing were reaching me on a very basic level. I had been playing the dulcimer for some years and knew what I wanted it to sound like but everyone I knew, at that time, who played the instrument played in a much more genteel way that didn’t do much for me.
That first meeting with Don showed me that what I wanted to do was not only achievable, but could be thrilling and I’ve never looked back since. He and I don’t play exactly alike (he’s much better than I am, but our approaches to the instrument are completely sympatico), but I think we are heading to the same place, musically.
Added to that, Don is a genuinely nice and wise man. And I’m proud to call him my friend.
Sometimes the best teachers and lessons offered are extraordinary. One February, many years ago, I was driving back from a university hospital after visiting an elderly person in my congregation. It was very late and in the mountains of Northern New England temperature was well below freezing and a wind driven snowfall made driving almost impossible. As I got near to home I made a turn off a winding back road and saw something that caught my eye, (that in and of itself was a miracle)... an odd shape, covered by a thin blanket, sitting on top of a snow bank in a miserable storm at 1:00 am. I stopped my old beater of a car and pulled the blanket up and found a young woman who had decided that to die that night. I had heard about her and how she had sort of showed up in town and was homeless and suffering from some sort of mental issues that made her capable of some really bizarre and violent behavior. I took her to my office, made coffee and soup and after getting her to promise that she would not harm herself bought her a room at the one motel in town.
The next morning I picked her up at the motel and took her back to the office and did a bit of research. Prior to her illness she had been an accomplished Pianist with a slew of degree's from one of the finest universities in the deep South. As we talked she started loosing control of her emotions and went into the next room where an old banger of a piano had sat for Lord knows how long. Her agitation was increasing by leaps and bounds and trouble was on the horizon. This was where I got a real lesson in the power of music and one worth sharing.
Out of that rage and violent personality disorder came the most incredible music......Mozart, Chopin...you name it it was there and while she played the anger and pain inside her began to fade...and what was a violent rage filled affect gave way and joy began to make itself known even if only for a short time.
Here then was the lesson I learned from the "Teacher". Music when played with spirit and total absorption can still any storm, quiet any tempest and help heal a broken spirit. My teacher, I would learn had been rejected by family, friends and all sorts of social agencies because of her violent tendencies. At that time there were no mental health professionals willing to help.........we found her an apartment and she lived there for awhile. When her rage surfaced she would show up and play until it faded and off she would go.........one day she left town and where she is now I don't know. It has been over 30 years since I heard from her but I have always remembered those days and pray that some how she has been healed. Music heals and musicians can be technicians or healers......and the tools to heal are in your hands...when you play, dare to heal.
Some years back, one other student and I took a workshop on strumming with Jerry Rockwell. The other fellow and I both play using noters and Jerry had us doing some strumming pattern and he improvised over what we were playing. It was magical-- there in a cabin at Fort New Salem WV.
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
In 2009 I had a class with Steve Eulberg -- music theory, something I was very afraid of at the time. I was at about the high-novice/ maybe low intermediate level, and had plenty of gaps in my knowledge and skills. Instead of loading us down with a lot of music theory terms, Steve worked with us on how to find the songs we really wanted to play on the dulcimer fretboard.
I wish I could remember exactly what he said that was so profound, but I can't remember--I just know that a year and a half later when I was holding my dulcimer and thinking, "Now why can't I just pick up my dulcimer and play the song that's in my head, like I can do on the piano?"--suddenly a connection was made in my brain between what he had told us in class and what I was attempting to do, and whatever "it" was, I suddenly "got it".
My playing ability suddenly increased by leaps and bounds and soon I was ready to take on new challenges at more advanced levels Fingerpicking, hammer-ons and pull-offs, playing across the strings, learning many more chords, developing a playing style--all these things go back to that lightbulb moment and Steve's class in 2009.
So I pass it on.... Helping people make the connection between what they already know and understand musically with how that applies to the mountain dulcimer is one of the most rewarding things I do these days.
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Paula can you tell us about a particular workshop moment of inspiration that opened a door in your personal musical life? That's really what I was after in this thread.
"Tell us about the single LIVE workshop or music lesson that was the most musically inspiring to you in your music life. Could be on any instrument- but tell us about how that teacher's in-person lesson or workshop made a big impression, opened a door to your progress, or inspired your music playing in some profound way."
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Stephen Seiferts 3 day workshops are the best. He gets down to basics, rhythm, strumming, chords and covers the landscape very well. Not everyone is a good teacher and a good player. Stephen Seifert is excellent at both, and a very nice guy on top of that!
I know this may sound sorta silly, but back in the day (okay, okay...two years ago, haha!), my friend and I attended a day long time with Joe Collins. We were newbies but obsessed and had never had anyone show us exactly how to do a proper pull-off. Joe showed the class specifically how to do a fine and dandy pull off and you should have seen my friend and me turn our heads, look at each other with jaws dropped and a big ol' lightbulb go KAZAM! over our heads, haha!
Sometimes it's the little things.
Fifteen or so years ago, at the Southwest Dulcimer Festival in Dewey, AZ, I had an impromptu "lesson" with Robert Force, Alan Darveaux and Stephen Seifert at some picnic tables under some trees at the Bean Tree Farm. My first dulcimer festival, and here's wacky old Noter & Drone Ken, picking and grinning with one of the dulcimer gods and two other fabulous players!
Tell us about the single LIVE workshop or music lesson that was the most musically inspiring to you in your music life. Could be on any instrument- but tell us about how that teacher's in-person lesson or workshop made a big impression, opened a door to your progress, or inspired your music playing in some profound way.
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
updated by @strumelia: 03/07/17 03:31:40PM