Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Music for Clayville Spring Festival ** UPDATED x2 **

Blast email sent to the Clayville and Prairieland dulcimer club lists … updated with: (1) new link to dulcimer tablature for John Stinson's No. 2 on the Bellingham (Wash.) Dulcimer Club's website at (scroll down to "John Stinson #2" to open PDF file); and (2) some more thoughts on making a tune your own at a festival. ...

Hi everybody --

Here are links to some tunes we decided we'd like to play at the Clayville Spring Festival, plus a couple of others I think we'll enjoy. I'm home from St. John's now, but I had a nasty little infection in one of my lungs and I'm "homebound" getting supplemental oxygen. Which means we'll be able to have the Prairieland Strings at my house, but I won't be able to make Saturday's Clayville Pioneer Academy of Arts jam in the barn at Clayville. Don't know yet about the festival May 17-18.

I'll post the Prairieland Strings schedule below, along with directions to my house. And I'll copy this message and some tips on jam sessions, festivals, etc., with working links to my blog at:

In the meantime, here are the links to the music:

-- Soldier's Joy (tab for dulcimer and other instruments in directory)

-- Go Tell Aunt Rhody

-- Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm (scroll down right-hand column)

-- Five Pounds of Possum (scroll down left-hand column)

-- Shall We Gather at the River

-- John Stinson's No. 2 (scroll down to "John Stinson #2" to open PDF file)


If you haven't played for the public before, don't be intimidated. At a festival, our main goal is to enjoy playing together and demonstrate how much fun it is to make your own music by, well, making our own music! IT IS NOT A CONCERT PERFORMANCE. Most festival-goers will hear us because our music is part of the ambiance of the festival, and some of them may stop and watch us for a minute or two, maybe ask a couple of questions. But they'll move on after three to five minutes.

Here are a couple of tips I posted to the blog before last year's spring festival:

  • It isn't a concert performance. We'll have a card table set up (or an instrument case) with a flier about the Clayville beginners' jams, and festival-goers will typically come up and listen for a minute or two. If they like what they're hearing, they'll stop and chat us up for a minute or two. I like to tell them how easy it is to get started playing the dulcimer, and how much fun it is.
  • Bring chairs.
  • Festivals are the very best way for newbies to get experience playing music in public. Most of the festival-goers aren't paying a bit of attention to you, but they like hearing music off in the distance. So we can recycle the same tunes through the day. I know people who have survived entire festivals playing "Bile 'Em Cabbage Down" and "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."
  • Bring chairs.
  • Since it's a festival, there will be distractions. […] But since it's a festival, you should feel free to get up and walk around.

There's more, including some jam session tips on learning tunes as you hear them "on the fly" from the Small Circle Tune-Learning Session in the Denver area at:

Wouldn't hurt to bring chairs to our Prairieland Strings sessions at my house, either, come to think of it!

UPDATE: Additional email sent at 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 2 …

Just a quick note to confirm what you're probably already guessing -- I'm not going to be able to make it out to Clayville in the morning.

But the Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music jam session will go on fine without me! 10 a.m. to noon in the barn at Clayville, off Ill. 125 at Pleasant Plains. One suggestion, though -- as you play the songs, play each of them through five to 10 times and change 'em up a little each time. Play up an octave, down an octave, improvise some harmonies …

(If you play up two notes above the melody, or two notes below, you've got a "third" interval, and it'll probably sound pretty cool. If it doesn't, try something else! We're jamming, not conducting a Bach cantata.)

But you know to do that without my telling you!

We'll meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at my home, 2125 S. Lincoln Ave., in Springfield. We're three blocks west of MacArthur between Cherry and Outer Park (the same block as the construction site for the new Hy-Vee store). Hope to see you then!

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