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What a Year!

As I sit here listening to Christmas music with a cup of tea in hand, I'm thinking back on the past year of fun with GPDA. We've done a lot, folks! It seems appropriate to reminisce about a few of my favorite moments – I hope you'll join me and share some of your own stories.

The year started with the Winter Retreat. The food and fellowship we shared can't be beat! Lots of new members and guests, our first attempt at an "instructional jam," and workshops in a closet!

The Spring Fundraiser was another lovely gathering.

The dulcimer orchestra is always a highlight for me. Connie Renberger composed a really lovely arrangement of "Shenendoah" for us this year, and it came together beautifully. I always enjoy hearing our club members play their own favorite music too.

During the summer, the club's cardboard dulcimers were put to good use with a Vacation Bible School at Gary Bell's church in Newton. About twenty kids participated in the program, each of them learning to play a song or two on the dulcimer. The program inspired me to find more creative ways to get those dulcimers into the hands of interested young people.

Playdates abounded this year, with programs at nursing homes and senior centers, elementary schools, and Cowtown. We added several new locations to our list of venues this year, exposing even more people to dulcimers. I am often unable to attend the playdates, but our club is always well-represented by volunteers who make it a priority to spread the joy of old-time music to our community!

Fall brought the Warm-Up Picnic, which was, in my opinion, the best one yet! So many people pitch behind the scenes to make that event run "smooth as butter". The instructors were all wonderful, many new people came to experience the music, and the open mic was over-flowing with talent. This event just keeps getting better and better!

Neal Hellman came to visit Wichita in October, offering a full day of unique mountain dulcimer instruction. The concert at Derby Public Library was a highlight of my year, as Neal and I jammed together for the second half of the program. Seriously cool to have a California dulcimer star in little ol' Kansas!

Now 'tis the season for Christmas music galore. Playdates at Botanica, Cowtown, churches and senior centers keep the GPDA calendar full. You all make the days merry and bright!

I'm looking back on the year with a huge smile on my face. Then I think about next year, and my delight increases. I look forward to continuing involvement in the organization as I attempt to fill Gary Bell's shoes as the next president. Plans are nearly complete for the Winter Retreat (watch the Yahoo group for updates SOON!). We're adding a slow jam and an Irish jam workshop this year, plus lots of other great workshops. Mark your calendars for January 20th!

Thanks for all the ways you have each shared your gifts with this community. You are the BEST!

-Erin Mae, VP

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