Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You Dennis & Fred!

I just wanted to take a minute to thank Dennis and Fred for their help this month.  Some of you know that we had a sewer problem and we had to have 35 feet of sewer pipe replaced.  Unfortunately, the 35 feet of piping was right underneath the sidewalk leading to our front door.  The good news is that this all happened during Christmas when we didn't have a lot of students here needing to use our restroom!  It truly is a blessing that the timing worked out this way.  Dennis and Fred helped us out by levelling the remaining parts of our sidewalk and setting up the forms for the new concrete.  Tomorrow we'll actually get the new concrete.  Thank you Dennis & Fred!  This is what things were looking like:

The 2012 Bluegrass Shack Tuesday Jam Schedule

Calling all pickers! Here is the 2012 Bluegrass Shack Tuesday night jam session schedule. Our jams are held every other Tuesday starting at 7:30 p.m. and going until there is no one left. That usually occurs around 10:30 p.m., but has gone as late as 1:00 a.m.! Our jams are open to everyone (even listeners) and are for acoustic instruments only. We pass the mic around our jam circle and each person has the opportunity to share a song with the group.

2012 Public Jam Schedule
January 3, 17, 31
February 28 (only one due to Valentine's Day)
March 13, 27
April 10, 24
May 8 (only one due to Silver Dollar City's Bluegrass & BBQ Festival)
June 5, 19
July 3, 17, 31
August 14, 28
September 11, 25
October 9, 23
November 6, 20
December 4, 18

Chris' 2012 Lesson Schedule

For all of those students who take lessons from Chris:

Chris' 2012 Lesson Schedule

On the following dates, Chris will NOT have private or group lessons:

January 16, 17, 18, 19
February 20, 21, 22, 23
March 19, 26, 27, 28, 29
April 16, 17, 18, 19
May 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31 (Join us in Branson at Silver Dollar City's Bluegrass & BBQ)
June 25, 26, 27, 28
July 16, 17, 18, 19
August 20, 21, 22, 23
September 3, 10, 11, 12, 13
October 15, 16, 17, 18
November 12, 19, 20, 21, 22
December 24, 25, 26, 27, 31
January (2013): 1, 2, 3

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Biggest Christmas Party Yet!

Saturday, December 10th, marked the 5th year in a row The Bluegrass Shack has hosted its annual Student Christmas Party.  This year was the largest yet!  I think better weather helped us out this year.  The past two years were still great, but slightly less attendance due to snow and freezing rain.

We had around 200 people in attendance at the party.  Everyone brought food to share, so there was a great selection to choose from!  Nick was kind enough to provide all the soda and water again this year, and St. Agatha Parish allowed us to use their multi-purpose room (cafeteria) again this year.  We are so blessed by the kindness of others!  I personally sampled home-made vegetable soup, rice and broccoli casserole, mashed potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, honey-baked ham, cheese and crackers, a gingerbread cookie with cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate cupcake!  I know, I know....It sounds like I ate a ton.  However, I am an expert at potlucks and buffets.  I know how to make the most of it without being miserable afterwards.  I take only a little portion of many things so that I can try out a lot!  And it was all good!

Santa came early in the evening -- I'd say around 7:00 p.m.  He brought lots of smiles to all!  He handed out candy canes, suckers and a few sticks!  I can't wait to get the pictures from Marvin to post.

We started off the evening's celebration by handing out attendance prizes.  This continued throughout the evening until practically everyone present received an attendance prize of some sort.  Our huge stocking winners (for 12 and under) went to Anna and Jarrett.  Lucky Jarrett!  Somehow, he has managed to win the giant stocking two years in a row!  The winner of the gingerbread house was Denise.  Congratulations to Denise and Marvin! 

The entertainment for the evening was provided by Bluegrass Shack students and all present.  We started off with a flute quartet.  My student, Pat, selected the pieces she wanted to perform, and I found two other students that also played flute who were willing to join us.  Paige, Pat, Amelia and I played Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claus, Angels We Have Heard on High and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

I had a surprise trio of young girls that wanted to sing for everyone.  This trio was all under 10 years old and consisted of Joy, Isabella and Isabelle.  They sang Away in a Manger for everyone and did a super job!  I think everyone present loved it!

Next up came the fiddle duets that we play every year.  I have a great book of fiddle duets that we use every year because the arrangements are not too complicated and the harmony parts are the best I've ever heard.  Joy and I played the harmony parts, while all the other students played the melody.  This is something that is never practiced as a group, but only as individuals during regular lessons.  It always works out amazingly well considering there is no conductor and we've never practiced together before.  We had quite a few fiddle players this year:  Earl, Tim, Colton, Joy, Angela, Nathanael, Emily W., Emily C., Alex, Pat, Susan, Aubrie, Liz and me.  I hope I didn't leave anyone out!

After the fiddle duets, we had a sing-along of Christmas carols.  Lyrics and chords were passed out to everyone, and then we all sang a number of Christmas tunes together.  I love this part!  It is so nice to hear everyone's voices all together!

Finally, the evening was ended with a Virginia Reel.  This year, we had 16 couples that participated.  Many thanks to Ron and Lucas for helping out with this!  Ron played guitar for my fiddle, and Lucas did all the calling.  We had all ages from 5 years old to almost 80 years old partcipating.  Having to play for 20 minutes solid doesn't seem nearly so long when I can watch the fun that everyone is having!

I'll be getting the pictures back from Marvin very soon, so be on the look-out for them!  Many thanks to everyone for coming.  I hope you all had as good a time as I did!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fiddle Bows (Upgrading) - Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1, you might want to do that first so that you have the background information that will apply to this article.

One of the most common fiddle bow questions I get is "When should I upgrade my fiddle bow"?  After that, folks generally want to know what to upgrade TO, how much money they should expect to pay, how much difference a better bow will actually make, and how to select a better bow.

There are several good reasons to upgrade your fiddle bow.  It could be obvious, like you broke your bow, or your bow needs a rehair, or it could be that you are getting a better fiddle and you'd like to upgrade your bow at the same time.  I think it is important that you have played long enough to establish some consistent bowing habits before you spend much money on a bow.  After six months of playing, you should have established some consistency of bowing -- good, bad or ugly!  Why is that important?  Because if you bow differently every time you play, the bow you play best with today may not be the bow you play best with tomorrow.

When you are ready to upgrade, I think it is very important to be able to play the bows from which you are selecting.  That is not always possible, but it is certainly best.

Finally, it won't do you any good to have someone else try all the bows and select one for you, unless you are in a "must replace" situation and are a rank beginner.  The sound the bow makes is different based on who is playing with it, the type of strings, and the actual instrument!  That means whatever bow I play best with will not necessarily be the bow that you play best with.

WEIGHT - Bow weight is measured in grams.  Most violin shops should have a bow scale that will display the weight of the bow.  In general, you want a bow between 59 and 64 grams.  If you don't use bow pressure when you play (you SHOULD), then you may want the 64 gram bow.  If you tend to bear down on the bow too much, then you might want the 59 gram bow.  One gram can make a very big difference!

BALANCE - The balance of the bow can make a huge difference in how it plays.  A heavy bow can seem light if the balance is different by even a mere 1/4"!  You can find the balance point of a bow by simply balancing the bow on your finger.  Make sure you do this in a safe way.  You certainly don't want to scare the shop owner or actually have a bow slip and fall on the ground.  Hold your finger out straight, and then move the bow slightly one way or the other until it stays balanced on your finger.  Don't try to balance it on the tip of your finger!  This probably won't be very useful in selecting a bow, but if you notice that a heavier bow seems lighter, this would explain it.  A bow with improper balance just won't FEEL right when you play with it.

BOW COMPOSITION - Unless your teacher is telling you to purchase a certain type of bow, try bows of all compositions.  You won't know if you like a wood bow versus a carbon bow unless you have tried them.  Also, make sure you try more than one of each!  If you are trying out carbon bows, try out five or six of them.  If you want more information on bow composition, make sure you read Part 1 of this article.

PRICE - If you are purchasing your first bow upgrade, expect to pay at least $100.  Bows can cost thousands of dollars, but you don't need one of these unless you are playing quite frequently or are a professional.

HAIR COLOR - Violin bows are generally haired in white (or bleached) hair.  Mongolian horse hair is the most common because it is very consistent.  If the bow hair has any deformities in it, kinks or knots, you will hear this as the bow slides across the strings.  Black horse hair is generally used only for cello and bass bows.  This hair is slightly thicker.  It grabs the strings more.  Sometimes fiddle players like this, but it is hard to find unless you request your bow to be rehaired in black hair.  You may also find bows that have dyed hair, so that the hair could be any color of the rainbow.  Since you are UPGRADING, you probably don't want one of these because they are more for fun.  A good quality bow is not going to come with red or blue hair!

BOWS THAT YOU CAN REHAIR YOURSELF - P&H makes a bow that is simple to rehair yourself.  It is the only brand that I know of, but there may be more out there.  Otherwise, you will need to take your bow to a violin shop to get it rehaired.  It costs about $60 to rehair a bow.  If you have the P&H bow, it will cost you about 1/3 of that.  P&H rehairable bows are fiberglass and tend to be rather heavy, so this will not work for everyone.

BRANDS OF BOWS - I really don't put much stock in a specific brand of bow.  There are so many good bows out there.  If you can't try out your bow first, a specific brand may help you get something that is quality.  Otherwise, just make sure you are purchasing from a reputable place that will guarantee their products.  It is nice if a shop will allow you to try out several bows and send back what you don't want.

QUALITY AND APPEARANCE OF BOW - Make sure you read Part 1 of this article so that you are knowledgeable about camber, warping, general appearance, and proper function of the bow.

HOW TO ACTUALLY SELECT YOUR NEW BOW - This is where the rubber meets the road!   Will you actually be able to tell a difference in the bows?  Almost always!  Not only will you FEEL the difference, you should be able to HEAR a difference.

The first thing you want to do is play the fiddle that you normally play.  Don't just arrive at the fiddle shop and play one of their fiddles.  You want to hear the bow on YOUR fiddle with YOUR brand of strings.

Next, pick out at least five bows to try of varying compositions.  If you can pick from more, then do it!  Play the same song with each bow.  You might want to start with a slow song using each bow, then play something faster or completely different with each bow.  You should notice a difference in feel (weight and smoothness), volume and tone quality between the bows.  Every once in a while, we will have someone in the shop that we simply can't really notice any appreciable difference between the bows.  This is rare, though.  Generally, the bow that feels the best when you are using it will be the one that sounds the best.  If you can't notice any difference and you really need a new bow, select the one that is the least expensive or simply pick by which one you like the looks of the best.  I know this sounds simplistic, but it simply doesn't make any sense to spend a lot of money on something that doesn't make a difference in your playing.

When I got the bow that I currently play with, it made a huge difference in my playing.  The tone that I am able to get out of my fiddle is so much better, and I simply play better!  I would say it took me about 2-3 weeks to really get used to my new bow, but I liked the feel and sound immediately.

I hope this has helped answer some of your questions!  When it comes to fiddle, any time is "bow season."  Happy bow hunting!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fiddle Bows (A Primer) - Part 1

There are so many bow choices, it can be overwhelming!  You hear about carbon bows, fiberglass bows, octagonal vs. round bows, fully lined and half lined bows, pernambuco, brazil, snakewood, and it goes on and on.  Prices start at $15 and go up to thousands.  How is a player to know which one is right?

First of all, let's start with the rank beginner.  Usually a new student will purchase a fiddle outfit that comes with the case and bow.  Most beginner outfits come with very cheap bows.  Some of these are okay, and some of these are not okay.  Here at The Bluegrass Shack, I end up replacing about 1/2 to 3/4 of the bows that come with our beginner outfits.  I do this at our expense, and I check every bow before it leaves here.  I go so far as to rosin up the bow and play the fiddle with the bow.  What do I look for in these inexpensive bows?  I look for camber, warping, proper function of the frog (tightening/loosening mechanism), condition of the hair and whether it's real or synthetic, and general condition.

What are these things I mentioned and what do they mean?

CAMBER - Camber is the curve of the bow.  It is important that bows have camber, which is different from a bow having a type of curvature called a warp.  Good camber in a bow will allow the hair to touch the stick when the bow is in a loosened position.  (Yes, you need to tighten the bow hair to play, and loosen the bow hair when you are done playing.  We'll talk more about that in a minute.)

This picture shows a bow with good camber.  Notice how the hair touches the stick in the middle of the bow.

I check for camber in a bow without hair by placing the bow on a straight surface and making sure that the middle of the bow touches or nearly touches the flat surface.  For this test, the frog has to be on the bow.

Good camber (the shadow looks like hair, but there is not any hair on this bow) - You can see how the stick touches the flat surface.

Insufficient camber - You can see how the stick does not come even close to touching the flat surface:

WARP - A warped bow is one that is curved from side to side.  You can check for warping by sighting down the bow from one tip to the other tip.  It should be straight all the way down.

Here is a bow that is completely straight with no warping:

Here is a bow that has a warp in it:

FROG - The frog is the black square part that is attached to the end of the bow that you hold.  There is a threaded fitting that goes into the end of the bow that allows the frog to move back and forth.  This either tightens or loosens the bow hair, depending upon which way you turn the knob.  You should be able to loosen the bow hair so that it is completely slack and can touch the stick, and you should be able to tighten the bow so that there is at least 1/4" between the hair and the stick.

This is what the frog looks like when it is removed from the bow.  You can clearly see the mechanism for tightening and loosening the bow.

Here is a picture that shows all the different parts of the bow.  You can click on the picture to enlarge it if you have trouble reading the labels.

This is what a properly tightened bow should look like.  The hair in the center of the bow is about 1/4" from the stick.

This is what a bow that has been OVER-tightened looks like.  Notice how there is almost no camber left in the bow.

Overtightening a bow can cause a number of problems, the most severe being warping or actually breaking the stick.  Overtightening can also cause premature breakage of the bow hair and loosening of the wedges that hold the bow hair in the bow.  The most common thing I see with the overtightened bow is that one of the wedges comes out of the bow and then the bow hair won't tighten, or it falls out completely. 

HEAT can also cause a bow to warp, even if the hair is completely loosened.  Don't leave your instrument in a hot car or directly in the sun!

The cheaper the bow, the easier it is to warp.  This does not mean you can't use a cheap bow and that it can't be a decent bow that lasts a long time.  It just means you have to take care of it!

THE BOW HAIR - Unless you are allergic to horse hair, you want to make sure that your bow has real horse hair in it.  Real hair holds the rosin better and is not as slippery as synthetic hair.  If there is no rosin on your bow, it will not make a sound when you pull it across the strings.

It is not uncommon for there to be a few loose strands of hair in a new bow when it is tightened.  If they bother you, cut them off.  There shouldn't be a lot of them.  Don't pull the hair out.  Since the hair is held in the bow by wedges, pulling the hair out can cause the wedges to become loose which can result in all the hair falling out immediately or prematurely.  Any time you get a broken hair, the same applies.  Simply cut it very close to both ends, but leave the ends in.

GENERAL CONDITION OF THE BOW - I check the general condition of the bow to make sure there are no cracks in the stick or the frog, and to make sure all the wedges are properly in place.  You won't be able to see the wedge inside the frog, but if you look at the tip of the bow, the hair should lay pretty flat where it comes out of the tip.  If it doesn't, then that could mean that the wedge is pulling out.  If the wedge inside the frog is loose, then you won't be able to tighten the bow all the way.  You'll tighten the mechanism as much as it will go, but the hair will still be loose.

A NOTE ON HUMIDITY AND BOW HAIR - The bow hair is very susceptible to humidity and heat.  When bow hair is fitted to a bow, there is a very close tolerance to the length that the hair has to be so that it can tighten and loosen properly.  The bow hair can be fitted perfectly to a bow, but if the bow is kept in a very dry environment, the hair will shrink up and you will be unable to loosen the bow hair enough to remove the tension from the stick.  Likewise, if the bow is kept in a very humid environment, or if you are playing in a humid or hot environment, you may find that after a while, you are unable to tighten the bow hair any more.  I always take two bows with me to my gigs, especially when I'm playing outside in the summer.  When one bow reaches its limit and can't be tightened anymore, I loosen it completely and use the other bow.  As soon as my bows are back in a "normal" environment, the hair shrinks back and the bows work fine.

ROUND VS. OCTAGONAL STICKS - Bows come one of two ways.  Either the entire stick is octagonal, or the stick will start octagonal at the frog and will be round the rest of the way to the tip.  In general, an octagonal stick will be stiffer than a round stick.  Why does this matter?  The stiffer the bow, the less bounce.  Let's face it, a bouncing bow is not our friend!  This does not mean that a round bow will always bounce, nor does it mean that octagonal sticks never bounce.  Most inexpensive bows are round, so you probably won't have a choice in this as it will ship out automatically with your student outfit.  If the bow has proper camber and is not severaly warped, this should not be a huge issue regardless of the expense of the bow.  Bouncing can also be caused by poor technique, so think of this as an opportunity to improve your bow technique.

HALF LINED VS. FULLY LINED - This is something that does not matter at all as far as functionality of the bow is concerned.  Less expensive bows are half lined.  If you take a look at the picture of the bow parts that I posted earlier in the article, you'll see an arrow pointing to the back part of the frog that says "half lined."  If the bow was fully lined, you would not be able to see the black part of the wood there.  You would be seeing a piece of metal there instead that would continue from the slide all the way up the back of the frog to the stick.

COMPOSITION OF THE BOW (WOOD VS. NON-WOOD)  - Bows can be made of a variety of types of wood and also of several other materials.  Some old bows were even made entirely out of aluminum!  Today, the most common materials a bow is made of  are wood, graphite (carbon), and fiberglass.  The main advantage to non-wood bows is that they don't warp easily and they are harder to break.  In fact, it's almost impossible to warp a non-wood bow.  As far as which is better, this is a personal preference.  Some teachers and players prefer non-wood bows for their students.  It doesn't matter to me as long as the bow works well for the student. 

The main types of wood that a bow can be made of include brazil, pernambuco and snakewood.  Brazil wood is the least expensive, but there are many very nice bows made from brazil wood.  In general, brazil is not as stiff as pernambuco.  Brazil bows start at $15 and go up from there.  Most professional bows will be made from pernambuco wood.  It is stiffer, harder to find, and it costs more.  An inexpensive pernambuco bow will probably start around $150.  They will go up in price to many thousands of dollars.  Snakewood is a rarer, very beautiful wood that bows are sometimes made of. It is valued for its appearance more than anything, but its functionality is good as well.  Snakewood bows start at $200 and go on up from there.

Bows are easy to break.  They are very fragile.  If you drop the bow, especially on its tip, you will be lucky if it doesn't break!  If it drops flat, then it will probably be okay.  Children sometimes tap the bow on its tip on the floor, a music stand, their shoe, etc.  This will cause weakening of the bow, which can result in the tip breaking off even if the bow is not dropped.  Many times, the tip does not break off immediately, but rather at a later time when the bow is tightened to play.  This may cause you to think that there was a problem with the bow when it was actually misuse that caused the bow to break.  Even so, I don't see this very often.  (I think twice in five years out of thousands of bows.)  Children also like to sword fight with their bows.  Not a good idea if you want the bow to last!

So now, the million dollar question.  Which bow is right for a student?  I never recommend anyone purchase an expensive bow when they are just starting out.  A beginning student has no consistent bowing habits and so it really won't make any difference what bow is used as long as the bow has camber and is not severely warped.  (In rare cases, a student bow may be either very heavy or very light, and this can make a difference.)  After six months or so of playing, a student will have developed some consistency of bowing, and at this time, the student may want to revisit the idea of getting a better bow.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Child Stars

What did you dream of becoming when you were a child?  A firefighter?  Doctor?  Teacher?  Movie Star?  Princess?  How many of you actually became what you first dreamed?  If you didn't, why?  There are probably several reasons why, and more than likely it wasn't because you weren't good enough.

What does it mean to be a "star"?  I suppose it can mean different things to different people, but in the end, I think it has to do more with fame and fortune than anything else.  Think about the things a famous musician gets:  travel, nice things that money can buy, name-recognition, doing something they love to make a living, the ability to meet other "famous" people, playing in the most prestigious venues, and the list goes on and on.  It sounds great on the surface, doesn't it?

Now for what you don't think about.  How about the grueling schedule, including the time spent away from home, family and friends?  How about the sheer number of concerts in a short amount of time?  How about the ability to just go somewhere and enjoy yourself without having to worry about people following or stalking you?  And finally, how many really famous people do you hear about that have drug, alcohol and moral issues?  That won't be hard to come up with!

How many musicians do you know that are REALLY good?  You probably know quite a few, even if you don't know them personally.  How many of them make their living solely by playing?  Probably not many.  Does fame equate with talent?  Certainly not!  Just go to Nashville and listen to all the great musicians.  Or how about travelling to Branson and watching them live at Silver Dollar City or in any one of a number of different venues along the strip?  There are many, many talented musicians and singers that never "make it big."  Are they any less valuable?  No!

Does playing a famous venue or playing with a famous person make you famous?  Of course not!  It's a great experience and something that you are not likely to forget soon.  It's something that most people don't get the opportunity to do, and it is something to be thankful for.  It is an honor.

Have you heard of the term "starving artist"?  I would imagine so.  There's a reason for that.  It's called playing for nothing just to be able to play and promote yourself in a way or in a venue that you think will further your career.  It means no health insurance, unless you are lucky enough to be covered under someone else's policy.  It means not being able to choose exactly where you'd like to live, because you need to be in Nashville, or LA, or New York, or some other location that is more likely to further your career.  It means portraying a certain persona (sexy...) and dressing in a certain way.

Are these things that a child can understand?  Absolutely not!  A child equates fame with everything good.  A child cannot understand the lifestyle that ANY occupation entails.  At least for those who want to become a doctor or lawyer or teacher, there are plenty of others who can help them.  How many famous musicians do you know personally?  A child cannot understand giving up childhood until it is too late.  A child cannot understand that people have many dreams along the way.  That is healthy and good, but it's also good that they don't all come true!

A child who loves to play music dreams of becoming famous, just like a child who plays with fire engines dreams of becoming a fireman.  If your child is dreaming of becoming a fireman, you might take him or her to the firehouse, but would you actually let them ride the truck to a fire and help put it out?  If your child dreams of becoming an astronaut, would you send him to space camp?  If you could afford it, probably so!  You might go to Cape Canaveral to watch a space launch.  You might even buy a nice telescope.  But would you hire a private tutor for an 8-year who wanted to be an astronaut?  How about invest in an agency to further a 10-year old's space career?  Yet some parents don't bat an eye about doing these things for a budding musician!  The excuses I hear?  The child loves it, dreams about it, and practices all the time.  The child is specially gifted.  It's the only thing the child wants to do.  Well, to me, this sounds like a kid who loves to play computer games, too. 

What about the agencies that promote this?  You PAY them!  Of course they are going to tell you what you want to hear.  It's their JOB.  Why would they turn away someone that had the money??  Of course your child is especially talented, beautiful, cute, smart and marketable!  If the talent agency really believed that, they wouldn't be charging you!  They would know that your child was going to make them big money and they would pay YOU as it happened.  They would know an INVESTMENT when they saw it if they were that good.  It's like taking pictures with a digital camera.  It doesn't matter how many you take because it doesn't cost you to take them.  If you take enough photos, you are bound to turn out a few fantastic ones!  Every agency boasts about the career they made for someone.  They just don't tell you about all the "digital film" they went through to get there.

You can hire agencies all day long and pay them to tell you what you want to hear.  That's all it is.  You can enter a thousand contests and even win them all.   You can do photo shoots and promotional videos.  You can record a CD in Nashville or any other place as long as you have the money.  In the end, it's not how talented you are. It's all about how much you are willing to give up, who you know, and being in the right place at the right time. 

Support your musical child and give them as many opportunities as you can.  Get them music lessons.  Make a CD.  Travel to concerts and other venues to listen and to play.  I'm not against doing these things for and/or with a child, but I am against doing them for the wrong reason.  Don't waste their childhood and your money SEEKING fame and fortune!  Let the children grow up and then make their own decision.  It's not too late!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why I Post Videos

TO INSPIRE AND TEACH - This is a big reason why I post videos of my students, and inspiration goes two ways.  I hope to inspire my students to practice, and I hope to inspire those who listen to their recordings.  It is an honor for me to record my students, no matter what their level of experience or expertise.

Others who listen to these videos may be inspired to learn an instrument or learn a song that they have heard someone else play.  Even a teacher can learn new things!   I listen to others' videos to learn new songs and new variations to songs I already know.  Sometimes I listen for the pure joy of music!

TO ALLOW STUDENTS TO SHARE WHAT HAS BEEN LEARNED - Not only am I proud, but so are they!  When these videos have been posted, parents, grandparents and others who are interested have the ability to view them.

Case in point?  I have a student who is in his mid-70's.  I took and posted a video of him playing a song.  He figured out how to view the video from his cell phone.  He showed it to his children, to several nurses at the hospital, and several others.  How wonderful!  He keeps track of the "hits" on YouTube and is proud of his post.  So am I!  How many 70-year olds do you know that decide for the first time in their life that they want to learn to play a musical instrument?  Who better than a 70-year old to inspire another 70-year old?

I wish I could share with you all the reasons I am proud of each student.  I have students that have natural talent, and I have students that are not born with natural talent.  I have students with all different types of physical disabilities.  I have students of all different ages from 2 years old to 80 years old.  What I know is that it doesn't matter!  Success is not determined by these things.  If a student is willing to work hard, there are so many things that a student can overcome.  If you only knew what each student had overcome, you would be as proud as I am!  What I can promise you is that YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!