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Reaching Out to Spouses

Reaching Out to Spouses

by Linda Ratcliff

Taking the time to sit down and listen to your spouse play the dulcimer will show your love and support even more than spoken words. – Linda Ratcliff

Reaching Out to Dulcimer Players’ Spouses
Music is a powerful force in our lives and creative pursuits can add an exciting dimension to them. But what if playing a dulcimer is the creative outlet your spouse or partner has decided to pursue? If you’re not particularly creative, or you’re just not interested in dulcimer music, this is not something you will enjoy doing together. So how can you be supportive?

  • First understand that your spouse’s passion for playing the dulcimer adds meaning, joy, and purpose to his/her life – and it can do the same for you. Whether your spouse is into painting, sculpting, dancing, writing, singing, playing the dulcimer, or any number of other creative pursuits, it’s important to be supportive and show interest in what they’re creat
    • Ask your spouse what he/she has been working on that week, and take time to sit down and listen.  To the right is a photo of Ted Yoder’s family sitting outside, listening to him play an arrangement of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that he had been developing over the past week.
    • Compliment your spouses ability to express him/herself musically.
    • You can ask your spouse how they think they are doing, but it’s too easy for a musician to be overly self-critical, and feel he is no good. Give your spouse a good pep talk from time to time, and mention any progress you’ve noticed. Just a few words of encouragement will go a long way.
    • If your schedule allows, go along with your spouse go to jam sessions. And maybe you could go out for a nice dinner together on the way or afterwards for your own reward.
    • Even though you think you might be bored, go along with your spouse to out-of-town festivals. You could research the town or city where it’s being held before you leave, and find other interests to pursue during the day when your spouse is busy attending the workshops.
    • After a jam session or dulcimer concert, discuss your impressions – what tunes you liked or didn’t like, what surprised you, what touched your heart.
  • Play dulcimer CDs at home or in the car, so you will begin to connect with that style of music.

Bored Out of Her MindOn the other hand, you will discourage your spouse who enjoys playing the dulcimer if you do these things.

    • Complain about how irritating it is to listen to dulcimer practice.
    • Keep your spouse so busy with social activities related to your own interests, there is no opportunity for your spouse to attend jam sessions, festivals, or even practice.
    • Tell your spouse he/she is spending too much time with the dulcimer, and not enough time with you.
  • Pressure your spouse to play in front of others before he/she is ready.

Make this into a family endeavor, and your musical relationship will strengthen further. For example, get bongos or a wood box cajon … a box you sit on and keep rhythm. My husband learned to strum chords on the autoharp so he could play along with me at home. I called out the chord names, and he followed along the best he could. He also built a bucket bass, and was able to play along with that at jam sessions.

 

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.

Happy dulcimering,
Linda
 
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Posted by on June 15, 2018 in subscriber news

 

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Hug Someone with your Dulcimer

Hug Someone with your Dulcimer

by Linda Ratcliff

One day, someone is going to hug you so tight that
all your broken pieces will stick back together.
– Author Unknown
Hug Someone with Your Dulcimer

I used to be an awkward hugger.  Oh yeah … it looked like a hug from the outside, but  there was nothing real about it.  There were just a few forced pats on your back, a bit of nervous smiling, and I might have been rolling my eyes behind your back.

But then I joined a church that was big on hugging, and I got a LOT of practice. Over time, I changed from being an awkward hugger to being a sincere hugger … a hugger who actually reaches out to people now for a hug (and sometimes realizes too latethat they’re still at the awkward hugger stage).

When I was thinking about the progress I’ve made with giving and receiving hugs, I realized that I’m still shy about playing my dulcimer for people.  And the light came on in my brain.  There are so many parallels!  

  • Hugs give people joy.  Music gives people joy.
  • Hugs give people comfort. Music gives people comfort.
  • Giving someone a hug makes them feel loved.  Playing your instrument for someone, especially one on one, makes them feel loved.
If you lack confidence in this area, start with something easy.  Hug the folks at a nursing home with your music.  You will be playing for people who appreciate your company and won’t judge.  I remember the first time I played for my aunt’s friends at her nursing home … she cried the entire time.  I still don’t know if it was because my playing was so bad, or she felt so loved.  
Seniors singing and playing with me
NOTE:  When I play for a “captive audience” like this, I always take along some percussion instruments, so they can play along with me.  I quickly get more comfortable in the environment, when I can see how much fun they’re having.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.
 

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You Need New Input!

You Need New Input!

by Linda Ratcliff

You don’t have to wait for inspiration to hit.  It’s easier to be inspired when you’re hanging out with other musicians and playing along with them.
– Linda Ratcliff


We go to Nashville a couple of times a year, and one of our favorite things to do in Nashville is to visit the Bluebird Cafe.  We’ve stood outside under their blue canopy in the rain for as long as two hours, waiting without a reservation, hoping to get inside.
Over 70,000 people visit the Bluebird annually, many of them as a result of seeing the Bluebird Cafe in the TV series “Nashville”. Or they may have read about the club in publications such as Southwest Spirit, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times. Some heard it mentioned by artists such as Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Kim Richey, Faith Hill, Amy Grant and Vince Gill – all of whom have played there over the past 31 years – at this tiny, legendary club.

Every show features four songwriters.  Some are already famous, and some are still hoping to be noticed by a talent scout. On our last visit, we were seated at a table with two successful songwriters who were friends. I was curious about why they were attending the show, rather than being IN the show.  So I asked, and this is what they told me.

You can’t expect new output if you don’t get new input.  In other words, you can’t sit in your living room, music studio, or outside with the birds for hours on end and expect inspiration to strike. You’ve got to get out in the music world, listen to other groups playing, interact with other musicians. Then you will find motivation and inspiration.

I have the signature of every musician who played that night, plus the signatures of the two songwriters. I can’t remember their names and I sure can’t read their writing. But I will never forget their advice and will continue to seek new input.  How about you?

As always, if you have any questions, always feel free to ask Steve or myself.
Happy dulcimering,
Linda
 

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