Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday's Muse

Whilst we deliberate how to begin a thing, it grows too late to begin it. ~ Quintilian

Friday, November 25, 2016

CTO... Rumble Strips on Route 66 Play 'America the Beautiful'

I want to Check This Out!

East of Albuquerque, near the village of Tijeras, NM, on the famous Route 66, there is a set of rumble strips that will play 'America the Beautiful' if you drive over them at 45 mph. Anyone traveling that way this Thanksgiving weekend?!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday's Muse

You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There's another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity. ~ Bill Gates 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Chord Inversions are Mind Blowing

"That's a D chord??" he exclaimed.

It's true. My students are often incredulous when first introduced to the idea of chord inversions.

It's easiest to study this at the instrument, but I'll try to put it down in words here. Perhaps you can follow along with a hammered dulcimer in front of you. For simplicity's sake, let's use a major chord as an example. Consider the D chord mentioned above. To create a major chord, simply play the 1 3 5 of the major scale:
  • Start with the first note of the D major scale. You should be on a marked D. This is the "1", also known as the "root". It's the note that names the chord we are creating.
  • Now skip a note of the scale and go to the third note, aka the "3". You should be on F#.
  • Now skip another note of the scale and go to the fifth note, aka the "5". You should be on A.
Play those as an arpeggio...1-3-5  [D-F#-A]  Congratulations! You just played a D chord in the root position.

Now, get this radical idea. You could play those notes in a different order.

No matter how those three notes are arranged it's still the same chord! Same notes, same chord, different order.  If the "root" is the lowest note played, the chord is said to be in the root position. If the root is NOT the lowest note played, the chord is said to be inverted.

So, [D F# A] is the root D chord. [F# A D] and [A D F#] are inversions of the D chord.

Here's the naming rule:

  • if the root is the lowest note played, it's a root position chord
  • if the third of the chord is the lowest note played, it's a 1st inversion
  • if the fifth of the chord is the lowest note, it's a 2nd inversion

There are patterns that make this easier to see and put into practice on the hammered dulcimer, but that's a big topic for another day! or maybe a lesson or three with your favorite teacher.

PS: The most important thing to consider when naming a chord inversion is the lowest note played. It doesn't really matter in what order the rest of the notes fall. Also, as you begin to add more complex chords to your musical repertoire, the more notes a chord contains the more inversions are possible!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday's Muse

If children are not introduced to music at an early age, I believe something fundamental is actually being taken from them. ~ Luciano Pavarotti

Friday, November 11, 2016

CTO ... Biology of Music

Our brains our wired for music.

Check This Out... You may have heard that studies show music to be effective in the treatment of certain health problems. Research also suggests that harmony, melody, and rhythm invoke distinct patterns of brain activity and growth in young children. The brain actually grows in response to musical training, sort of like a muscle responding to exercise. Check out the details here:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ken Kolodner Coming to the Triangle on January 8, 2017

Here's something to look forward to after the holidays...

My long-time teacher and mentor, Ken Kolodner, along with his son, Brad Kolodner, will be doing a mini-tour of North Carolina after the first of the year. They will be landing in little ol' Pittsboro on Sunday afternoon, January 8, 2017, ready to play some music... and you're invited!

Based in Baltimore, this father-son duo combine exceptional talents to produce an innovative take on traditional and original music played in the old-time style. With Ken on hammered dulcimer and fiddle, and Brad on clawhammer banjo, banjola, gourd banjo, fiddle, and vocals, they perform tight and musical arrangements that communicate a real passion for the music. An added bonus... bassist Alex Lacquement will join them to round out the sound. It's sure to be a toe-tapping good time! Check out this youtube video for a sample of Ken and Brad's music: Skipping Rocks

And how about this? Ken and Brad are pleased to announce the release of their third CD together, The Swift House. They will be performing from the new recording! We'll be part of the cd release party!!

You don't want to miss this. The fun will begin with an afternoon of hands-on instruction. After all, music is not a spectator sport! Ken will teach a hammered dulcimer workshop while Brad teaches a clawhammer banjo workshop. Come learn a tune. Practice some embellishments. Pick up a few tips and tricks to enhance your playing. You're bound to learn something new.

That evening, Ken, Brad, and Alex will perform in concert at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, Pittsboro. Sue Wilson (That's me! local hammered dulcimer player and teacher) and Betsy Kraus (on concertina) will be the 'warm-up' band. Who knows who else will be tapped to share the stage?! It should be quite the variety show!

Be sure to bring your acoustic instruments to the concert, because afterwards there'll be a jam session. I know it's Sunday night and all, but we gotta have a little fun. Let's play some music together!

Sunday, January 8
Geared to advanced beginners and intermediate players, but all are welcome

Hammered Dulcimer w/ Ken Kolodner
2:00 - 5:00pm
Pittsboro Community House
65 Thompson Street, Pittsboro, NC
Cost: $40

Clawhammer Banjo w/ Brad Kolodner
2:00 - 4:00pm
N R Wilson's office building
767 West Street, Pittsboro, NC
Cost: $30

Sunday, January 8, 7:00 - 9:00pm
204 W. Salisbury Street, Pittsboro, NC
Jam session to follow
$15 in advance, $20 at the door

For workshop or concert reservations:
Make checks to "Ken Kolodner"
Mail to Sue Wilson at PO Box 940, Pittsboro, NC  27312

To pay by credit card, contact Ken directly by calling (410)746-8387. Small fee may apply.

After Monday, 11/14/2016, you may also purchase reservations at

For further information, write to Sue at
or telephone Sue at (919)542-5854

Be sure to visit the Ken and Brad website at , and look for them on Facebook at Ken and Brad Kolodner.

Bring your friends! Spread the word! The more folks, the more fun! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Monday's Muse

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr