Saturday, December 19, 2015

Music, Oscar Schmidt, and Me

Music, in any form has always been foreign to me.  My mother had a good singing voice and used it in the choir on Sundays at church.  My dad played the guitar and played at barn dances in his younger days.  My brother played the coronet at school and played the drums in a rock and roll band when he was in his twenties.  For some reason I was never a singer or an instrument player.  Music was as strange as a foreign language to me and abstract and beyond my capability.  When I was in the first grade 45 minutes or so was set aside once a week for rhythm class.  The instruments in rhythm class were wooden sticks (each student had two that they beat together at the command of Mrs. Fulton, and two or three tambourines that were issued to the more musical girls in the class).  So for 45 minutes in music class we marched around on the stage in the multipurpose room beating our sticks together and shaking tambourines.  Mrs. Fulton sang do re mi fa so la ti da.  When I tried to be complimentary I mentioned to her that it was a nice song and could she tell me the name of it.  She was not pleased nor amused with my comment and I was directed to stand in a corner for the remainder of rhythm class.  That was the end of my interest in music.  I liked songs that were popular over the years and music groups and listened to them on the radio and that was the sum total of my participation in music.

While at a gun show in Kalispell years ago, one of the vendors had a used electric mandolin for sale for $100.  I have always liked the sound of the mandolin and was tempted to buy the instrument but I didn't.  Last October my friend Dan and I shared a booth at the Little Bear Antique show.  While at the show another vendor had a mandolin for sale.  After short negotiation on price I walked away with a forty year old Ibanez bowl back mandolin.  I brought it home and my wife promptly ordered the book Mandolin for Dummies.  I discovered that my 67 year old mid section in conjunction with a bowl back mandolin without a strap or the capacity to have one was not conducive to learning to play the mandolin.  My arms just aren't long enough.  See the photo below:

Determined to play that fine instrument (the mandolin), and after devouring the book Mandolin for Dummies, where the author mentioned that the bowl backed instrument was better utilized as a wall hanger, my wife ordered a brand new Oscar Schmidt, A Style, mandolin:

I have been practicing diligently with our loyal schnauzer Ernest looking on with curiosity.  I have been practicing Down in The Valley (which requires only two chords, C and G).  My goal is to play the mandolin and make it sound like the mandolin in the song The Vacant Chair recorded by Kathy Mattea:

Wish me luck!

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