Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Contest!

A decision was made this week for the next up-and-coming band member. For the last year or so she's been playing fiddle, and the progress has been fairly slow. She likes it, but is at a slight disadvantage. First, she doesn't have the perfect pitch of her brother, so the finger match to sounds doesn't happen quite as quickly. Additionally, she simply prefers to sing than to play a song on an instrument, and fiddle is more of a solo melody instrument, instead of one mainly for accompanying. She knows she can join the band singing, but it likely appears, at her age, to be forever before she can play anything on that complicated fiddle well enough to join in.

We played with the Dobro before, but never really jumped in with a real attempt to learn it, since we were mostly doing fiddle. However, recently we started a family contest (more below) in order to jump start everyone on learning more tunes for the events this summer, and I decided to give a go at having her join in, with the Dobro. Our first song selection was "Old Dan Tucker". It is a 3 chord song, and good for teaching her to use a steady strum, while placing her slide down on the right fret at the right time.

She is too young for regular lessons and I don't think there is a teacher out there who has a method for teaching Dobro to a 6-year-old, so guess who has a skype Dobro lesson next week in order to learn it first, then transfer it down to her? Mom, of course. Yay me. More on the plate. It will be fun though. I'm looking forward to diving into this with her.

However, a determination to stick with the fiddle in addition to the Dobro showed up this week, when she saw the beautiful addition to the band that arrived for her brother yesterday!

The sound is GORGEOUS!!! I honestly cannot get enough hearing him play. Deep and rich in tone. Wow! Mary hears it too and cannot wait to get a nicer fiddle. She has a 1/4 size fiddle sitting in the shed back in Colorado, and I gave her 3 songs to learn before then and we'll pull it out. It's cute and we'll put on some nice new strings. This way she continues, but we'll not push it. I think she'll eventually make a great Dobro player, and if I can get her changing chords, I can get her accompanying the band on a few songs much sooner than I can get her playing fiddle to the level of her siblings.

So here are the contest details. Each week (or two, if we're busy), Dad will pick a song everyone must learn a good break on, in whatever key he says, picking keys where the kids can design the most stylistic breaks, and in a key good for singing. At the end of the week, the cleanest and most stylistic (not fastest) player wins a week off dishes and picks dessert. Dad can choose to divide it in two, giving the dessert winner to the "most effort", which gives Mary a chance to join in. In fact, she won this week and we'll be making her choice in dessert, apple dumplings. Katie won this week's week off dishes, but it was a close call. She played her break a bit more cleanly than Sean. I would have picked Sean, though I liked Katie's, break. I may be biased towards the sound of that fiddle. Alex had a fine break, too, but she didn't realize we were learning both verse and chorus breaks, so she had just added the verse part, which was a little weak compared to her very well played chorus break.

Mom has to play, too, which is why Dad judges. I don't expect to beat them, since they have more time to practice and are more advanced in their skills at this point than I am, (besides, when Daddy is the judge, I a doomed), but if I ever best them, I get a week off cooking dinner. Ha! Even if I never win, making myself participate keeps me on my toes.

This next week the contest is for "Happy Land" in the key of "D", and we'll formally arrange "Old Dan Tucker" with harmonies. Meanwhile, Alex and Sean are dishwashers for the week, and we all get apple dumplings!

Finally, we're having a nice break sticking around this week at Medina Lake, outside of San Antonio. Lots of activities here at the RV park and another set of homeschooled kids who live on the road with their parents. There are some teenage girls and a couple younger boys with bicycles, and they've been constant companions. There have been games of cops and robbers, night time "spy" games under a beautiful sky, and more. The park has had bingo games (Sean won a free breakfast for tomorrow morning playing bingo just now), and a wienie roast we jumped in on and played for last night. Dessert was s'mores for a quarter. Can't beat that!

Monday we play for a church, and Thursday we're playing for a homeschool group, then we head to New Braunfels where we'll hopefully meet up with Papa and Grandma!

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of the weekly contest. It's win win all round and a great motivator.

    Mary has a good voice. I hope she has loads of fun with the Dobro.

    Could we get a listen to Sean's new fiddle?? Please :)