The Great Plains Dulcimer Alliance is a pretty awesome organization. I've been quite impressed with it since I first moved to Wichita and got involved in 2015. There are educational opportunities, performances, and lots of great food and fellowship. Every year, I like to take stock of the things we have accomplished, areas we could do better, and dreams for the future. When we gather together at the Winter Retreat on January 19th, let's all share our ideas together!
At Winter Retreat 2018, we tried some new things - we expanded into "the back room" for some classes and a designated "slow jam" area. This seemed to work, so we are building on the concept for 2019. This year, the open jamming will all take place in the chapel, with a variety of classes and thematic/instructional jams happening in the main building. Workshops seemed to be less well-attended, so we're having fewer of them this year and they will all be in the morning. Please let me know how you like the new format.
Spring Fundraiser was back at Faith Lutheran Church in Derby – this is a comfortable and familiar venue for our club members since we use it for several events every year. We used our club sound system this year, with Bruce Renberger running it. Feedback was positive about this system, so we will likely continue using it for club functions. We brought in almost $500 at this event.
The Warm-Up Picnic held a lot of drama leading up to the event – flooding of the Walnut Valley Festival campgrounds delayed Landrush and left a lot of uncertainty about even having the event. One of our scheduled instructors came down with shingles a week before WUP so we had last-minute schedule and instructor changes. Everything ended up okay and the event went on as planned. The weather was a bit dreary, but we managed to keep everyone dry under the shelters and pop-up tents. One attendee took a spill and ended up in the hospital with a broken hip. Even with all of these challenges, GPDA put on a great event; everyone pitched in to help wherever it was needed and a good time was had by all. Let's pray for less drama this year, though!
At club meetings, a variety of different activities took place including workshops led by club members, rehearsals for the Dulcimer Orchestra and Gospel playdates, slow jams and open jams, and open mics. We also implemented tutors for beginner folks who brought their dulcimers to a meeting for the very first time. Many new players got their first lesson at a GPDA meeting last year. Moving forward into the New Year, my goal is to have rotating activities by quarter planned out in advance, so we all know what to expect each month – I'd love to hear your ideas for these activities!
Finally, GPDA played 12 traditional playdates, 14 gospel playdates, and 6 Christmas playdates. We helped put on one instrument petting zoo and hosted Wendy Songe for a stand-alone mountain dulcimer workshop. We transferred everyone's membership from Yahoo Groups to Groups.io, which has better support and a working calendar.
I'd say 2018 was another great year, and we've got lots to look forward to in 2019! Thank you to each and every member who makes this organization the vibrant, healthy group that it is!
Erin Mae, President