I started playing the piano by ear while in kindergarten and have since then had a few years of piano instruction, Flutofone in 4th grade, 5 years of clarinet, took up folk guitar in college, and have owned a dulcimer since I made a cardboard one in 1991. About 6.5 years ago, I finally had some sort of mental breakthrough (helped along, I'm convinced, by some choice nuggets of info in a music theory class I had with Steve Eulburg at KY Music Week (KMW) and I can now play the dulcimer by ear, as well. Other instruments I play with varying degrees of success include the pennywhistle, recorder, ukulele, harmonica, djembe, steel drum, and hammered dulcimer. The instrument I would most like to play, however, is the cello--but I think that involves the use of a magic wand!
One of the things I struggle with is playing from tab, because that involves lines and numbers and my brain doesn't process that very well (hence the problem with piano instruction!) I'm more of a spatial learner, so hearing and seeing intervals in music makes a lot of sense to me. And I'm better with linear instruments (piano, whistle) than ones that have you moving in a circular manner (steel drum) to produce the music. I think of low notes as being either left or "down" and higher notes being to the right or "up". Tone progressions that move in circles or boxes on an instrument require a lot of extra brain power.
I love informal jams with others, especially with folks who enjoy rounds, playing in parts, and adding harmonies and counter-melodies.
Some of my recent challenges include songwriting and composing for the dulcimer, performance, learning the technology involved in making and posting audio and video clips, and being a mentor and providing instruction in mountain dulcimer to others.
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