Easter Thursday

I am gaining confidence in “good enough” tuning — sometimes what doesn’t sound perfect to me right in playing position sounds just fine via a video, or if I’m on the other side of the dulcimer or a little further away.

I would want to be more exact in tuning for a CD, or for an important event like a concert or wedding ceremony. But for background music, especially outside, this tuning is good enough.

Easter Thursday is an English country dance tune, in 3/2 meter. The middle section is what I play if someone else is playing melody, but it sounds rather nice on its own as well.

A trio version is available on my Christmas CD, What Child Is This, with Craig Higgins on guitar and Jerry Drumheller on fiddle.

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 9:44 pm  Comments (2)  
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Strobe tuner repair

I love my Conn Strobotuner ST-11.

It’s an old strobe tuner. Inside there’s a patterned wheel and some strobe lights — one moves according to the pitch of the note on my dulcimer, and the other moves according to the correct pitch, and the closer I get to exactly in tune, the slower the movement. It’s so precise that even if it’s still moving a little, I know it’s going to sound good. So, for me, it makes tuning a little more relaxing, with a lot less second-guessing and waiting than I had with the digital tuners I’ve used.

It’s almost always made some noise on the B note, and recently it’s started having noise on C as well — and the movement for C doesn’t seem to be accurate any more. Sometimes it is — but sometimes it claims my dulcimer is far sharper than it actually is.

From what I’ve read at Peterson’s forums (they bought Conn), it sounds like the bearings in the motor are wearing down, so the motor will need to be replaced. Their service facility is about three hours away, so I could avoid shipping charges, which with something this heavy would probably cost more than six hours of gas. In 2008, the motor cost $80. That’s almost as much as I paid for the tuner.

So… I may look around Ebay for another one… or maybe look into having this one repaired… or maybe consider a newer model if I can get one used.

Peterson also makes virtual strobe tuners — I don’t know whether they have the same advantages a real strobe has, or whether it’s just about aesthetics. More research needed.

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm  Comments Off on Strobe tuner repair  
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Sheep May Safely Graze

Tomorrow morning I am playing at the South Bend Farmers Market, outside, on probation. If approved, I might get to play there regularly, and inside.

I thought I would need to tune the beastie this afternoon, and didn’t get around to it before my student arrived. I noticed that it sounded fine as she played it, so I figured it would be fine for tomorrow as well. Whew! It’s always nice to avoid a tuning, especially when I’ve been doing a lot of work with my hands and don’t want to stress them. (I have hypermobility and not much strength, so they’re prone to injury; hence my special ergonomic hammers.)

Anyway, I rejoiced by practicing the obligato for Sheep May Safely Graze, and then decided to try recording it. I wasn’t able to get an errorless recording, but here it is anyway. Oh, and I’m sorry it’s rather quiet — I forgot how weak my camera’s mic is!

(I can’t play the obligato and the melody at the same time; check out this one to hear the melody sung beautifully.)

Published in: on September 8, 2010 at 8:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Shenandoah, and O Susanna

I have a student again — it’s nice to get back to teaching. She wants to learn Shenandoah and O Susanna, so we recorded basic melody for each in our lesson today.

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 11:04 am  Comments (2)  

Covered by a rock band

My former trio partner, Craig Higgins, is now in a rock band called Snake Oil Salesmen. His colleagues decided to cover my tune Irksome Girl, which our trio used to play and included in our CD. To watch and listen, go to the Snake Oil Salesmen music page — it’s the second video.

Published in: on November 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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Whistle March

For some reason I picked up my tin whistle the other day, and again today I played it a bit. I learned the G and A scales in addition to the D, and I picked out a few tunes like the usual Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Then I started doodling around in E dorian — basically the same notes as the D scale, but focused around E instead of D.

And this tune, perhaps a sort of slow march, resulted.

Whistle March

Published in: on September 13, 2008 at 6:11 pm  Comments Off on Whistle March  
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Ian’s letter

You recently wrote me asking about an introductory lesson. I found that another teacher lives much closer to you and would like to write back with her information. However, I seem to have lost your envelope, so I no longer have your return address. I’m hoping that you’ll see this blog post and send me an email or write again. I can also send you to this link for Randi Klees, the teacher I’d recommend you see.

Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 8:17 pm  Comments Off on Ian’s letter  

RS Event

My scheduling plug-in is not working right now. I just finished upgrading WordPress, and my family’s waiting for me to join them for dinner. I’ll try to get to the plug-in another day — I have nothing scheduled right now so it’s not a big deal.

Published in: on August 31, 2008 at 4:53 pm  Comments Off on RS Event  

Schedule C

I just finished my business taxes. How funny; my net profit for the year is an even six bucks.

(Partly because I sold a decent number of CDs, which is a deduction in terms of cost of goods sold, and partly because I had to recapture as income prior depreciation from a computer and software that I no longer use much for business. Hey, that sounds like I know what I’m talking about.)

Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 11:02 am  Comments Off on Schedule C  

Daughter makes music

Today daughter and I were playing in the music room. She is almost 15 months old.

First we played with my mountain dulcimer — made from a kit when I was a camp counselor; not very good, but good enough. She knows she is not allowed to touch the tuning pegs. What she likes to do is put her fingers or palms on the strings on the fretboard; she moves her hands around the fretboard, like I do, as if she, too, wants to make different notes on the melody string. Occasionally she tries to strum or pluck, and sometimes hurts her fingers. I showed her how to hold a pick to strum, and she thought that was pretty fun, too.

Then she picked up my soprano recorder (a plastic Yamaha; very nice but also nicely undelicate). Just put the mouthpiece in her mouth and blew, and was delighted to make a pretty sound.

She asked me to play my hammered dulcimer — at least that’s my interpretation of “pway” and pointing. Her attention span for it is very limited, though — maybe once or twice through one tune.

Her own musical toys include some homemade shakers (papier mache over toilet paper tubes and soapboxes), a combination xylophone / piano, a big jingle bell on a necklace, a cowbell from my brother’s trip to Switzerland, and a plastic drum with little beads inside.

Published in: on February 10, 2008 at 9:29 pm  Comments (5)