Playin’ at the Zoo

Hi Friends,

Today Marie Kirby and I played music on the porch of the Once Upon a Farm exhibit at the Memphis Zoo…and we made the babies bounce!  That’s our measure of success, you know?  If the toddlers toddle by and they can’t help but bounce up and down and wiggle, we know we’ve got the beat right on….and that’s what we did today.  
Marie played her Rick Thum professional model hammered dulcimer, and I accompanied her on guitar.  Marie has been learning to play the hammered dulcimer over the past year, using Rick Thum’s song-of-the-month lessons.  The music notation in each of Rick’s lessons is leveled.  He provides the most basic notation for melodies, and he also provides a fancier/more complicated version of the notation for each song.  Lucky for me, Rick designates the specific guitar chords to be played, above the appropriate place/measures in the written notation.  So….for me…a beginner accompanier…it’s pretty simple to follow Rick’s musical instruction and play the rhythm/backup guitar while Marie melodically makes the music she plays on her beautiful hammered dulcimer.  
The weather in Memphis was perfect today.  There was a lovely breeze blowin’ in through the farm porch rockin’ chairs that were continuously being filled by visitors listening and resting and rocking in time….at times adding special effects with the rocking chairs’ squeek creeeek squeek creeeek squeek creeeek….
Several people asked what the instrument was and got up close and personal with the hammered dulcimer strings….wanting a good look at how Marie was making the beautiful music they were hearing as they stood watching or happened to just be walking up to the porch as she was finishing up a tune.  
For me, it was great practical experience to play the back-up guitar bit.  It was my first full-2-hour set of strummin’ for real in front of folks….and, guess what?  I was VERY TIRED at the end of the afternoon.  
I’m really thankful that the Memphis Zoo allows me to play on the porch.  The experience is fantastic…and always a great test of musical endurance and whether I/we can get the babies to bounce as they go by….and it feels so good to do it, as I love to make music, and I especially love to see people smile.  
Marie and her friend will be back on the porch next Saturday, May 24, 2008, at 1:30 p.m., and she has invited me to come along.  Hope to see you there!

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