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Notes from Gary-- Your New President

When I was in 2nd grade I tried to learn to play the clarinet. It wasn't the right time for me, I think. My brain probably wasn't developed enough to handle it. I got fairly hung up and frustrated with learning to count music. That's where my musical muse stopped. So for many decades, I considered myself to be non-musical.

I was wrong. I knew somewhere deep inside there was a budding fledgling musician hoping, waiting and willing to bust out, yet not knowing how.

Woodworking, on the other hand, was second nature to me. I can remember trying to drive my first nail into a piece of wood when I was 5 years old! And, I went on cutting, sawing, drilling, nailing, gluing, joining, planing, sanding and finishing wood and wood projects ever since.

Thus enters the mountain dulcimer to the scene! It was 20 years ago when I ran across an ad in a magazine by the McSpadden Company offering a mountain dulcimer kit. At that time, Denny was working on her first college degree in vocal performance with a minor in classical guitar. I thought that she would appreciate a diversion so I figured a mountain dulcimer would be just the ticket for her. I ordered the kit as a surprise birthday present. When it arrived I began putting it together secretly. I had a blast building this simple stringed folk instrument.

However, two unexpected things happened. The first occurred when I strung the instrument and plucked the string…it worked! The strings sang and thus, deep within in my soul started to resonate with the sound of music that has never stopped.

The second unexpected thing happened was when I gave Denny the surprise gift. She liked and appreciated it. Denny was intrigued by it, but didn't play it much.

Now, one might think that she gradually would get into playing the mountain dulcimer and became quite proficient at it, or, maybe instead I would have learned to play it and become quite proficient. However, remember that Denny was busy with earning her degree in music majoring in vocal performance with a minor in classical guitar at the time. And my excuse was that I still had that mental block about learning music since second grade. Thus, the mountain dulcimer just sat in a closet unused for about 18 years.

Then there came that fateful day when Denny and I went to hear Celtic music being played at a pub in Black Mountain, North Carolina. One of the singers was playing a mountain dulcimer. And for the very first time, Denny really noticed the instrument. She looked over at me and said, "I have one of those instruments at home, you made for me several years ago!"

She began playing and I began building them. It was only a matter of time before I would also begin to play the dulcimer and learn music (which I am still in process of doing).

So, why did I agree to become the president of GPDA? Granted, I do not know much about music, yet; however, I do know a great deal about organizational structures, groups and business meetings. There seemed to be some difficulty in finding someone to become the president for this coming year, so I thought that perhaps I could help.

I know that together we can make this work. I love what we do. I love being a part of the group. I genuinely appreciate and like all of the group members and I have a lot of fun when we're together.

I will constantly be asking for your help, your advice, your input, your suggestions, and even your criticisms. All your input will be greatly appreciated! My main goal is to have fun! If we are not having fun, then we are not doing it right! I look forward to this next year. I hope you do too.

Keep pickin' and grinnin'

Gary Bell

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