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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's in Your Closet?

What’s in your closet?  Well, in my closet I have: an African drum called a Djembe, two Chinese flower drums, hand drums of various sizes, a rain stick from Bali, a stringed instrument from Thailand called a sueng, pan-pipes from Peru, recorders of all sizes, a two headed drum from India called a dhol, a tambourine from Turkey called a daf, glockenspiel, xylophones, metallophones, harmonicas in various keys, a jaw harp, a banjo, a guitar, an electric bass, two Yamaha synthesizers, a portable Hammond organ, an accordion and most recently an acoustic/electric mandolin.

I guess you could say that I’m a collector of instruments, or, as my husband says, an instrument whore.  I can’t seem to own enough instruments.  My weakness are the folk instruments like the accordion and flutes that are so universal.

I am a kindergarten through 8th grade general music teacher.  My students are accustomed to me playing different types of instruments in our music lessons.  They learn how to play small patterns of rhythm, melody and harmony (ostinati) on xylophones and metallophones, and various kinds of percussion and how to play as an ensemble and therefore accompany themselves in school programs.  I enjoy introducing  different kinds of instruments and showing them how they work.  I don’t always know how to play the instrument but that never stops me.

Some years ago I was teaching in an East Bay private school and had a particularly surly and uncooperative group of 8th graders.  There were 42 of them!  One day I brought in a case and just set it down in front of the class making no mention of it.  Naturally hands went up . . . “what’s in the case?”  My response, “Oh this?  Let’s get through the lesson today and IF there is time, I’ll show you.”  That was the most cooperative, attentive and productive lesson we ever had.  The time came for the unveiling of the mystery.  I hoisted up the case onto a desk -- whew! It was so heavy!  I clicked open the clasps -- you could have heard a pin drop.  I slowly opened the case and pulled out . . . . an enormous concert sized accordion!  The gasps, the woe’s, and then the realization “hey, that’s what Erkel plays!”  I showed them how it worked and we took turns wearing it (especially the boys because it was so heavy), pushing buttons, and pulling on the bellows.  I asked them if they thought I could play the accordion and they all said “NO WAY” and I said, “true but is that going to stop me from playing for you?”  they said “NO WAY”.

In Fleetwood Mask, the opportunity to play mandolin on a a couple songs has come up.  I have a mandolin now.  Do I know how to play it?  Not really!  Will that stop me from playing it?  NO WAY!  Now I need to find out how to squeeze in bagpipes.  I don’t have those yet and I MUST have them!

Barbara Martin

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Learning I’m So Afraid…and Keeping it Real

I heard this song for the first time while viewing the live performance on The Dance DVD.  As is often the case with songs written and sung by Lindsey Buckingham, the sincerity of the lyrics and heartfelt authenticity behind the extended solo are unmistakably personal - this is classic Lindsey.  I don’t know the specific nature of his struggle, but it was clear to me that if I’m going to sing and play this song with any emotional legitimacy, I’m going to have to tap in to something that’s all mine to make the words painfully personal.  This is not a song you can sing based on technical precision; rather, it’s a song you must sing with your heart.  As I said, it’s classic Lindsey.

I don’t mean to get too heavy about this, but as a tribute band we’re looking for every opportunity to capture what’s authentic.  In learning “I’m So Afraid”, my journey as a recovering addict allows me to make these lyrics incredibly personal. Phrases like “I’ve been alone all the years, so many ways to count the tears” and “I’m so afraid I’ll live and I’ll fall and I’ll die” are not overly dramatic. They are simply honest and true as I look back on my life before 1995 and getting clean. 

The lyrics are only half the story.  The slow, heavy tempo and use of minor chords give the song a haunting characteristic to match the painful lyrics.  Lindsey drives hard through two verses and passion-filled choruses before punctuating the song with an extended guitar solo in classic-rock fashion.  Unlike Lindsey, I use a pick for most of my solos. Nonetheless, this dramatic melody (partially based on pentatonic scale) allows me build the solo, climbing up the neck toward a crescendo hanging on a high, screaming bend in classic Lindsey style.  This climax exemplifies the painful release of all the memories and associated fears that go with being in recovery.  As I said, to be authentic I had to make it mine.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stevie gets a wardrobe change!!!!!!

Hi All!

Stevie is having her seamstress Miss "M" step in for a bit of Costume  re designing this week! After all for Ms. Nicks its all about the shawls! So working with my designer, we are incorporating a few more shawls in our sets! "Stand Back " will have  the traditional and amazing gold polka dot and black fringe shaw,l while the Gold Dust shawl will be revamped into a more rocking Gold Glitter! And Stevie will have a new red layed chiffon beaded skirt to send the audience into a trance when she twirls!

To our fellow Maskers, what was YOUR favorite shawl/outfit that Stevie wore and why????