Strings & Things

What Makes Your Heart Sing?

Before I became "musical" [actually before I realized that I had always been "musical"] I would openly confess that the music gene had come to me from the shallow end of the gene pool. And I would marvel and enjoy the musical proclivity of my wife and our children. Being married to a singer, I would frequently find myself attending concerts and choral performances of which my family members [most usually Denny] would be sharing their gifts with the world. This particular occasion was no different. I was seated near the back. Denny was on stage with the soprano section. Our children were at home probably tearing up the house, having just recently ascended to the age of being old enough to sta

Review of "Armadillo On A Hot Tin Roof"

VI WICKAM AND JUSTIN BRANUM are two of America's finest fiddlers. Their new album Armadillo On A Hot Tin Roof is a testament to the depth of their musicianship. From traditional old-time tunes to melancholy ballads, jazzy western swing to classic-sounding originals; each track is presented with care and authenticity. Vi and Justin play each tune clearly and accurately --- a rarity on many albums these days --- then throw in a splash of colour and originality. If you are a budding musician, trying to learn new tunes, you must add Armadillo On A Hot Tin Roof to your collection. The melodies are easy to follow, the lyrics are sung clearly (with all the verses!), and the arrangements are stunnin

Learning From Other Instruments

My first dulcimer teacher was my dad – a fledgling mandolin player. For the first several years that I played dulcimer, I didn't even know any other mountain dulcimer players. I was learning from bluegrass musicians nearby who played guitar, banjo, and fiddle. Turns out, learning from other those other instrumentalists made me a better musician, overall. It is wonderful to get lessons from masters on your own instrument – and thankfully, technology has made it much easier to get those lessons. It is also wonderful to sit down knee to knee with someone who does not play your instrument. Ask them to show you a lick or how they hold their pick. Ask a banjo player to teach you a roll pattern or

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