Some of you may been contacted directly by us about our Spring Training weekend workshops
that we are offering in April, May, and even a mid week one in late June. If this is your first visit
to this blog then a GREAT BIG HOWDY to you. Welcome back anyone else.!!
We hope we'll get some interest after taking out an ad in the OT Herald and spreading the word in other ways. We don't want to be annoying. These workshops are intended to help those
who want to play more rhythmically and with more strength.
On a different level Spring Training has begun for our local heritage music program for youth called Floyd JAMS.
In the after school program on Mondays 3-6 PM I have 7 kids ages 8-12 in my class; five of which have been in previous banjo classes under me. The other two are as raw as any beginner can be.
As is to be expected after school in a class of youngsters, When someone has little enthusiasm and desire to play but is in a class knowing absolutely nothing, then, I, as a teacher, have a huge challenge. Thank goodness I have an able assistant in Terry Cartesen who is helping me to motivate the rawest of beginners while I try simultaneously to carry my advanced beginners learn to play carefully and in time. Teaching the basic Clawhammer 'lick' is truly challenging as the actual technical motion is based some much on 'Feeling' the beat. How does one successfully teach that?? Lots of rhythm exercises
and demos of playing exactly with the beat is all I can do hoping that they'll just 'catch' on to it. Indeed some have.
After two semesters
of emphasizing rhythm, timing and tuning by ear I now feel like I can actually make some progress with most of these kids as I show them a basic version Old Joe Clark. I actually made a playlist
of 7 different renditions of the tune by individuals, OT bands, and BG bands in my collection so they could hear some variations on the same tune. I burned and gave everyone in class a copy for homework.
I am also trying to get the kids to become collectors
of recordings the local mountain dance music that I love. I hope that they will learn to love it because they are becoming able to understand how to really play it. With so many distractions in life its a long shot but at least I feel good about sowing some seeds in that regard. Its been sort of a 'mission' for me to pass on my love for the 'local' music especially and how to make others feel something with it.
All my banjo kids have my 2005 CD 'I'm Going That Way', as well as 2009 'Turkey in the Mountain'
which features my banjo playing and Shat Garriock's fiddling. Maybe the music will mean more
to them because it was played by me, the teacher.?
I speculate that most people new to listening in general tend to ignore the 'rustic' homemade sounds preferring the smoother 'clean' sounds that society would deem 'best'. I would hope that those who claim to love any kind of music could define what it is that draws them in and makes it outstanding . For me its all about the feeling of the beat, precision timing, and interesting chord choices with counterpoint transition runs in regards to a ensemble. A great melody moves me as well but a great melody played with subtle rhythm patterns catches my ear every time.
Let us hear from you!!