The fiddler who fiddles with this blog

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Selinsgrove, PA, United States
Beverley Conrad is a writer and musician who has played the fiddle for most of her life and she's no spring chicken. She performs regularly in her home state and beyond and teaches others how to play. She lives in the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. She also likes to cook. For more about Beverley and the fiddle visit her website at Fiddlerwoman.com

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Dog Has Fleas

Which would be the tuning notes for a ukulele.  I've tried to teach myself ukulele but have never gotten very far with playing anything even passably on it.  Once again, too much of a learning curve to remember where the notes are for melody as well as chords which are totally different than those on a fiddle or a guitar.  I have too many years of being a one trick pony - just a fiddler - to try to add anything too different to what I know.

So today I had to got out to Harry the Vet's office to pick up flea dabber stuff because my dog has fleas. I threw my banjo in the car. If Harry is not too busy sometimes he'll play music.  He's a musician as well as a vet and has two guitars and a stereo record/cd player in his office as well as the things you need to take care of cats and dogs, maybe an occasional bird or guinea pig, but mostly cats and dogs. But for answering questions from people over the phone which rang a lot, it was a pretty slow day so I said, "Hey, Harry, I bought a banjo."  "Do you have it with you?"  "Yep.  It' in the car."  "Well, go get it!"  So I did.

Straightaway Harry sat down and started to play it.  Surprised me!  I knew he played guitar and clarinet but not the banjo!  I took note of how he was strumming it.  Right arm braced on the head, all four fingers strumming down.  Note to self:  learn to do that.  He started chording and plucking out notes, naming chords which I could see were wrong from how he was naming them so I told him about the difference between the Irish banjo and tenor banjo and how one was tuned like a fiddle.  He picked up the difference right away.  He knows a lot about chords.  As well as being a vet and guitar player he's also the band director for the local city band.

The phone rang.  Harry said over the phone, "Hey, Bev's here.  You know Bev.  She brought her banjo!"  I said, "Who's that?"  "He said, "My Dad.  He's on his way over."

Soon enough in came Harry's father.  91 years old and still getting around on his own!  Straightaway he sees the banjo and says, "Play me 'The Robert E Lee!'" which I know of, but I don't know how to play it.  But I do know how to play "Hot Time in The old Town Tonight" but not sing it, but can at least "Da da da..." the melody along to the chords which are pretty snappy.  So I played that.  Then I played "The Girl I Left Behind" - just plucking out notes, mind you, but pretty quickly nevertheless. Harry said he and his Dad will have to stop up to Purseil's and hear us play.  I'm going to learn "Robert E Lee" just for his Dad.  A challenge.  A goal to strive for.  Oh!  This banjo is great fun.

Then Harry got his tuner out and tuned my banjo properly and he said he thinks it's always best to tune a fretted instrument a wee bit flat - just a wee bit - because playing the frets makes you go a wee bit sharp.  The new tuners (old tuners but better than the compression tuners that were on this used banjo when I got it) were sticking a little so Harry went and got some sewing machine oil out of the back and we oiled the tuners.  They work better now.

Then I went home and put the flea stuff on my dog who is doing much better now.  Thanks for asking.  

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