Banjo

All posts tagged Banjo

You may be weird, but are you ‘make a fake baby announcement to celebrate your new instrument’ weird?

Published July 17, 2018 by Malia

I’m so exhausted right now, but the house is making weird noises, and the dog is restless, and it’s all very unsettling. It was really unnerving when she sat on the bed and stared at the door and refused to budge. Thanks, dog, I need more anxiety…

Here’s a fun fact about my youth that quite a lot of people don’t know. I mean, the people that were around in my youth know, but anyone who met me after summer of ’03 is unaware of this. Actually, I just realized I have to start this story back before I was born.

I was born into a musical family. My mom plays piano, drums, and autoharp, and she has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. My dad played the tuba in the Navy band, but he was also in a country western band that the Navy sent out to play gigs. He and my mom had their own band as well. This all was years before I was around.

Growing up my folks played and sang together a lot. Once I got old enough, their duo turned into a trio. Mom played autoharp, dad played guitar, banjo, and mandolin. We’d sing together at all kinds of things. Churches, town festivals, nursing homes, etc… After I moved out to go to college, we didn’t really play and sing together anymore. Every great once in a while we’d do a number, but it was a rarity.

Recently, the instruments have come out, and we’ve been practicing again (with a few new additions to the group. We’re now a quintet).

Dad rocking the banjo

Mom makes it look so easy (it’s not)

A little over a week ago, I got to rehearsal early, and I was watching my dad play the banjo. A thought suddenly struck me, in my nearly 34 years of life, I’d never asked to try the banjo. I’d tried every other instrument in the house, but the banjo always seemed almost sacred to me. I think it had something to do with it being such a part of my dad, I didn’t want to accidentally damage it. Besides which, I’ve had years of epic fails trying to play stringed instruments (I have fat, small, stubby hands which doesn’t help at all). The closest I get to even minor success is the piano. I’m a brass and woodwind girl. Give me any of those instruments and I’m golden. I’m not tooting my own horn (pun definitely intended), I really do have a gift when it comes to brass and woodwind instruments. They just make sense to me.

Anyway, back to my story…I’m sitting there, and I asked my dad if I can try the banjo. He handed it over to me, equiped me with picks and gave me a very brief lesson on how to pick. And y’know what? My fingers understood. My parents were thrilled.

I didn’t think much more about it, until last Saturday. Last Saturday, I was given a precious gift. My own banjo. I was given it, with the explanation that “You need to get the music back in your heart.” Which was much more true than I wanted to acknowledge. I’m realising that I’ve tried to purge almost everything to do with music from my life, which would probably shock those who knew me years ago. I don’t handle emotional pain well, I box it up and hide it deep inside myself.

I’ve been practicing everyday. There’s something very soothing about practicing the picking pattern dad taught me. Trying to play the assbutt C chord is less soothing. D isn’t much better. A7 is awesome, but open G is my current favorite. Yesterday, in an attempt to be funny, I posted the following image to Instagram:

Kermit, of course, is in honor of Kermit the Frog; and Martin is because of Steve Martin. Two very important banjo players (apart from my dad).

So, now I play banjo. 2018 has definitely had it’s fair share of surprises.

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Wherein I do something to a Christmas song…

Published December 18, 2012 by Malia

So, it’s a week until Christmas.  Yay!  I’m actually enjoying the Christmas spirit this year.  I’m just so thankful to be with my family, it’s going to be a fantastic holiday.

Last Friday night I drove home from Grand Forks, and arrived in Omaha around midnight.  The next morning I got up way earlier than I wanted so that I could rehearse music with my parents.  We were doing the music at our church’s over-40’s Christmas party.  Now, many years ago, my parents and I performed our take on gospel music quite regularly.  However, it’s been about 7 years since the last time we performed anything for anyone.  I had a grand total of one rehearsal with my parents going into the music presentation on Saturday night, and it didn’t go too badly.  I managed to get video of the performance, and I thought I’d share part of it tonight.  (Hopefully, I’ll be able to share the gospel music part in a few days.)  Here’s the video of my family covering the Christmas “classic” Leroy the Redneck Reindeer:

My mama is playing the autoharp and dad is playing the banjo.  I’m not playing an instrument (although, I’m about to get serious about learning mandolin), but I am singing with the group.  It was a lot of fun.

This song has been a bit special to our family, because my Grampa’s (the one who passed this summer) first name was Leroy.  The first time we performed this song was for him at family Christmas many years ago.

That wasn’t the only reminder of Grampa Saturday night.  Every year for Christmas we’d give Grampa a can or box of ribbon candy.  As long as I can remember he always got ribbon candy.  Well, at the party on Saturday night, there was a white elephant give-away.  My dad picked a package, and when opened found it was a box of ribbon candy.  The exact kind of ribbon candy that we got for Grampa.  It was a bittersweet moment.  Kind of seemed like Grampa was looking down on us, letting us know he’s thinking about us.