This is what I have been up to lately. =)

Hello, one and all! I thought it was about time I wrote another post to let you all know what I have been up to since my last post which was oh so long ago.

First, though, I would like to thank all my followers for hanging in there with me and all the new followers that have decided to read what I write here. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Okay, where to start with my news. I have no particular order in mind so I will write as things occur to me since this is not meant to be a timeline but more of a list of things I am or have been doing.

I am still doing soundboard duties at my church but now I have been learning how to run the presentation software that puts images and words up on the screen at the front of the church via the laptop and projector.

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So, this means that pretty much every weekend I switch between either of these jobs. Last weekend I was on sound and it looks like this weekend I will be too unless something happens and they need me on the laptop.

I had a woman from the congregation come up to the Soundbooth last Sunday and express her pleasure in the music and quality of sound she was hearing.

Some exciting news on the soundboard front! Our church will be getting a brand new mixer (soundboard) with 24 (edited)32 channels. Our current board has 14 so this one will be much bigger and newer.

I am excited because it means I get to learn how to control this new one and we won’t have to push the system as hard since there will be more than enough space and power which will make my job easier in the end.

Along with the new board, we are getting professional powered speakers and a new flatscreen monitor for the booth. When all this new equipment arrives I am going to feel like a kid at Christmas. LOL 😀

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This is the mixer we are getting it is a Yamaha MGP32X 32 channel board.

Now, on to other news, I finally got our taxes completed and filed with the government. It is April and tax time in Canada. We have until April 31st technically but since it falls on a Sunday this year the government will still consider taxes filed on time if they receive it by May 1st.

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I don’t like to leave it that late but it is a pain getting all the paperwork and receipts etc. together and filling out the forms and I dread it every year. I am so happy it is over for another year.  🙂

I have also taken on the job of getting all the music sheets together and organized for our church. Oh, what did I get myself into there!?

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I had to put them in order and fill binder after binder worth so that the songs would be easy to locate for each musician or singer that went looking for a particular song.

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That has been a huge undertaking that I have invested hours upon hours doing and I am thankful to report that the job is just about completed. I have to retype the indexes for each binder and take the whole huge box of binders back to the church.

Not to worry, I am taking time out from all these jobs to not only work on my YouTube channel and relax a bit too.

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My channel now sits at 830 subscribers at last count and I am gaining roughly three to four more each day. It seems ever since I hit that magic number, of 500 subscribers, my channel growth has been snowballing.

If you would like to come over and check it out for yourself I will put a link here (it will open in a new window to leave your reading of this post uninterrupted.)

Susan Millard’s YouTube Channel

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Of course, I am relaxing sometimes as well as I mentioned. I have been doing a lot of reading and doing some adult coloring. This is keeping me relatively stress-free for the most part while I tackle all these large jobs with paperwork.

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I have also been continuing to practice playing my mandolin. I am happy to say that my left-hand fingers are all nicely calloused which makes it easier to play for longer.

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I am currently working on different strumming and picking patterns to use with the mandolin. These instruments are not usually played like a guitar as they are meant for a different type of music; namely bluegrass and fiddle tunes and the like.

I have learned a total of 10 or 11 chords so far and am getting pretty proficient at switching between them. This has proven to be a difficult task, to teach me how to play using books and the internet.

A metronome has been a recent purchase to aid in my strumming and picking so that I can keep time properly, so that is helping I think. It was on sale for $10 at our favorite music store marked down from $28.95! That kind of deal I could not pass up.

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As for the book, I am writing for my grandson, Ethan, I am still plodding along working at getting that done as time permits. I have the basic storyline down and have some names picked out for the dragon although I have not decided on THE name yet, not for certain.

Getting the wording just right is proving to be tougher to do than I thought. The words need to be simple and I need to capture the story in maybe 15 pages maximum. A majority of those pages are going to be big beautiful pictures with great detail.

I do have the materials collected to put this book together but figuring out just what it is going to say and look like is frustratingly difficult. But, I will persist and work that out and get it done. It is for Ethan after all! 😉

Oh, my husband and I have just started seeing a new dentist right here in town so we no longer have to travel half an hour each way to and from North Bay for appointments.

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Yay! Our new dentist is kind and easy to talk to about our teeth and takes our point of view into account when it comes to planning treatment.

We have also had several good references from the people we know here in town who go to him. We both had a cleaning done today as well as a new patient exam by Dr. Wong.

Well, I think that does it, for now, you are pretty much up to speed with what I have been doing with my time while away from my blog. Again, thank you for being there and for stopping by to read my posts. I do appreciate all of you, so much.

Have a wonderful day/night wherever you are – until next time. 🙂

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I Am Finding That Being Part Of A Community Is So Important To Me

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It occurred to me that this, the topic of community, would be a great thing to blog about as I come back, once again, from an extended absence from my blog.

What has kept me from blogging this past almost month has been a community, my local faith community, and the commitments I have made to them.

My last post was on January 27th and I wanted to fill you in on what my February has been like thus far. First, though, I want to offer my deepest apologies for the lack of posts.

I have been more fulfilled and happy this past month, even though I have been extremely busy to the point of not getting to blog as much. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy blogging.

I plan to continue blogging but my posts will be as I am able to write them. If you are following this blog please know you have my thanks and I enjoy talking with you in the comments.

You will continue to be notified when I post a new blog. I hope that by expanding my time spent in my community I will have more topics and thoughts to share with all of you.

In one sense by being away from my blog, at times, I will actually be bringing more to it when I do write posts. At least that is my hope.

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The reason being part of a community is so important to me is because I feel like I am part of a team, that my contributions and volunteering of my skills matters and they are valued.

That is an amazing feeling. I think we are all hard wired with the need to belong.

From February 1st until today has been an extremely busy time for me. As many of you know I run the soundboard at our church. I also help clean the top floor of the church every week.

This means I have to be there for worship practice in order to set the correct levels ahead of Sunday morning’s services. We usually practice once a week on a Tuesday night.

Last week we had two practice nights during the week because we are introducing new songs to our church congregation. Our congregation consists of mostly elderly men and women.

These folks are so used to singing hymns and as a result, our church is not attracting any younger people in the community to come out and join our church or hear the gospel.

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The younger people are looking for a place to worship with a more contemporary feel and more upbeat music. So, the plan is to slowly (we are talking baby steps here) introduce new songs that are just that.

There will be a great deal of the music the congregation knows and loves but one new song will be added to the mix. That new song will then be repeated every Sunday for a few weeks so that people can learn and become familiar with it.

We started this Sunday (today as I am writing this) which, as I mentioned, was the reason for extra practice this week. It seemed to go over well but we shall see if the pastor gets much flak before next Sunday.

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On top of the soundboard and cleaning I do at the church I have been asked to take pictures of all the special events held at the church. These photographs will be posted on the church website.

The pastor explained it to me as a kind of free advertising to show anyone visiting the website that our church is active and doing things.

It is hoped that the pictures will help make others feel welcome and make them curious enough to come out and join us to see for themselves what we have to offer.

All I need to do is take the pictures as there is someone who takes care of the website and posts the Sunday message audio file on it every week. I record this as part of my duties on the soundboard.

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There have been two special events at the church this month and a third one began tonight.

On February 5th we held a free movie night to show a screening of the movie God Is NOT Dead 2. There was a modest turnout for the movie and I tried my best to take some photos even with the low light conditions.

On February 11th we held Valentine’s Day Dinner (actually just ahead of Valentines Day) which included a half hour of worship songs prior to going downstairs for a full roast beef dinner.

That was an event where I wore a couple of hats; soundboard and photographer. The music portion of the evening was an extra half hour of music to practice on top of our regular Sunday worship.

The man in the bottom picture holding the coffee pot is our pastor. His name is Pastor Dave Johnston.

Tonight, February 19th we began a six-week course entitled Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage. My husband and I attended this same course at our previous church many years ago.

We are attending this one as well since it is a good refresher and the speaker is hilarious to listen to while getting his points across loud and clear.

Besides, I am the official photographer and once again this is a low light situation so I must try to get the best shots possible.

I must take photos all while respecting that attendees may not want their photo taken for a website given that this is a marriage seminar. Here are the photos I took tonight.

I am thankful that there are five more Sunday nights to try and get better photos before they are posted to the church website.

Anyway, on top of all this activity at the church, I have been creating videos and uploading them to my YouTube channel, answering emails and watching what I can of other YouTubers videos that I am subscribed to.

I am pleased to say my channel is finally starting to take off; I am gaining subscribers, 726 at last count, and doing a little better in the financial department.

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I have also been working on my storybook for Ethan here and there when I can. I now have a name for the dragon Ethan befriends and a rough outline of the story.

Next up is the plotting of what the wording on each page will be and the general layout of the book. From there I will get down to practicing drawing Ethan’s likeness in the various poses that the wording suggests.

I will also need to create a dragon that looks friendly and yet can transform into a fierce companion ready to come to Ethan’s aid when he needs him.

In my spare time, that is after all of the above plus doing dishes, cooking meals, doing laundry (in other words – life) I have been doing a fair bit of reading.

Reading is my favorite pastime by far. Doing more reading was one of my New Year’s Intentions and on that score, I am happy to say I am achieving what I set out to do.

This year’s Goodreads Book Challenge I have set 40 books as my goal. So far this year I have read seven books, that is two books ahead of schedule. Currently, I have a further two books on the go. The one I read at night before sleep and the other I read during the day.

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It is now eleven o’clock at night and I will end this post here so I can proofread and edit in order to publish it to my blog.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by to read my thoughts today/tonight. I really appreciate you all being out there. Until my next post – remember it is important to do what makes you happy. This is not a dress rehearsal…this is life and it is too short to spend it unhappy. 🙂

Wrapping All The Way Was A HUGE Success!

 

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I am extremely pleased to report that the play was performed for a packed church for both performances. Saturday night was the premiere and Sunday morning was an encore.

We shot video both times and I am waiting for the final go-ahead for approval to upload the Saturday evening event to YouTube so it can be watched along with the others you can find up there.

Some parents have yet to agree to that happening. None of the kid’s names are listed in the credits of the video. Either way, as I understand it, each cast member will be given a copy of the play on a USB thumb drive as a memory of their part in it.

The kids just saw the videos tonight during their regular Kids Club Tuesday night meeting. I am told by the director that they are very pleased with their efforts and had a lot of fun.

Saturday night we got underway at 5 P.M. sharp and it took about half an hour start to finish.

After the play ended and the kids had taken their bows there was thunderous applause and a standing ovation from everyone in the audience. A few minutes later they sang their final song as an encore.

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At the end, the Pastor presented the director (his wife) with roses for all her hard work and dedication.

She, in turn, thanked all who helped bring this play to reality and of course God for providing the children. At the beginning of October, there were only 3 children interested in being part of the cast.

All across the stage were 16 kids each with an integral part of the story. That is a miracle in itself, 13 more kids agreed to be in the play and they practiced every Tuesday night plus a couple of extra run-throughs right up to opening night.

In very short order they mastered complex dialogues, songs, actions to those songs, who they interact with and where to be on stage.

I am incredibly proud of these guys for getting up there and giving it all they had.

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I would be struck dumb with stage fright, I am sure. The girl who played Sparky had her cat die the night before the play and woke up the next morning to be told about her cat.

She still showed up and soldiered on even though she was grief stricken. Just amazing…I am in awe of all of them.

The children were sent downstairs to change out of their costumes in order to preserve them for the next morning’s encore performance. Shortly after that, their families were sent down to be with them.

There were tables reserved for the cast and their family members so that they could sit together during dinner. Aside from that, there were dishes, silverware and cups etc. for 175 people in all.

The Amish community was hired by the church to cater a full turkey dinner buffet style. All one had to do was file past the serving tables and be asked what you wanted to be added to your plate.

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There was a choice of white meat and dark, stuffing, peas, carrots, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls (both white and whole wheat) and butter.

There were people circulating among the crowd serving coffee, tea, and an orange drink. As soon as your meal was done there was someone who showed up to inquire if you would like dessert.

Dessert was a scoop of ice cream and a chocolate cupcake drizzled with marshmallow and caramel was beside it on the plate. Mmm, it was delicious.

Sunday’s encore performance of the play took place instead of the usual sermon. There were gremlins in the midst during that time.

The CD used to play the music that the children sing to, at one point, did not sync up correctly and they had to eventually go on without one horn blast to announce the Queen of Tuneville.

The audience laughed off the glitch and the children took it in stride and continued on. In the end, they received another standing ovation!

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Hubby and I were surprised at the church when we were there practicing for this Saturday’s worship (Kevin will be playing guitar up front and I am going to be on Soundboard again) as part of our Christmas Eve service.

Mary came up to us and handed us a present for Christmas and the card attached thanked us for all our work on Wrapping All The Way.

We were given two mugs with scripture on them and a large tin of Quality Street Chocolates. Mmmm…who doesn’t like getting spoiled? LOL 😉

There will be a Christmas Day service at the usual time too but I will be staying home to welcome my son, his wife and my 2 1/2-year-old grandson. They will be traveling  approx. 3 hours up to see us for the day from their house down south of us.

When my husband is done playing for the Sunday service he will be home to join us. Their plan is to get an early start on the trip up here so they can spend the better part of the day with us before having to return home.

I am looking forward to taking lots of pictures and video of the little guy since they stay small for such a short time.

Seeing pictures of him I am amazed at how much he looks like his Dad at that same age.

We are having ham this year. Frankly, we are done with poultry for a while and I am thankful that I did not have to cook or clean up a turkey dinner.

I am looking forward to seeing my son, daughter in law and grandson. It has been a long time since seeing them last.

Their gifts are waiting for them under the tree and I can’t wait to see them open them on Sunday. That to me is my greatest joy…seeing others opening gifts more so than opening gifts given to me.

I will end this post here as there is a lot of house cleaning and baking I want to get done before they get here.

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But first I want to wish everyone reading this a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. If you celebrate something else I wish you a happy one of those as well. 🙂

Thank you for your support during this first year of my blog. I appreciate each and every one of you whether you are following my blog or just happened to stumble upon this post on your first visit here.

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Tomorrow Night It’s Curtain Time!

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The Kids’ Club Christmas play has it’s opening night tomorrow night at our church. The play is titled Wrapping All The Way and it tells the story of Jesus’ birth in a manger, the true meaning of Christmas.

There are several videos on YouTube if you would like to look it up and see basically what it is about and what it looks like. Just type ‘Wrapping All The Way’ in the search.

We have been practicing several times a week and our last run-through will be tonight at 6:30 p.m. before tomorrow night’s official production.

The play will begin tomorrow night at 5 p.m. and right after the play we all go downstairs for a full turkey dinner being put on by the church.

Everyone is welcome – the entire cast, the production team (which includes me on the soundboard and my husband who will be running the video camera) and all members of the audience whether they attend our church or not.

I took some pictures of the stage to give you an idea of what it will look like. Once all the permission forms are handed in pictures and video can be taken of the children performing the play.

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All safety steps are being taken to protect the children’s identity when it comes to sharing any photos or video of the night.

Things were a little rough in the beginning but now the children have their parts down and are beginning to shine in the spotlight. They are getting better at using the microphones, making my job easier.

The youngest cast member is just 6 years old and she is a dynamo! Wow, she has a great singing voice and not only knows her lines but pretty much everyone else’s.

She is a natural born actress. Her role is a dual one; playing Tanzie the star of the gift wrapping station in the town square and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The story is basically one of a fictional town called Tuneville where the citizens like Christmas so much they declare every day to be Christmas Day.

They get so caught up in the excitement, gifts, and commercialism of the holiday that they forget what the true meaning is. So Tanzie tells them the story of Mary, Joseph and the angels heralding the birth of Jesus.

 

I am excited to be on the team helping to bring this play to life and I must admit a little nervous too. I just don’t want anything to happen that will detract from all the hard work these children have put in.

We have a whiteboard right next to the soundboard that has this written on it in red marker. “God gave you His best what are you giving Him?”

That always gives me pause to think every time I sit down at the controls. It is time to head off to the church for our final practice so I will finish and post this now.

Thanks to everyone that stopped by my blog to read what I had to say today.

Why Google is my friend!

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Today’s post is inspired courtesy of another selection from 365 Days Of Writing Prompts

Google and rescue operation What was the last thing you searched for online? Why were you looking for it?

The last thing I searched for online was a Peavey RQ 2314 14 Input Reference Quality Compact Console. It is the make and model of the soundboard at our church.

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Why was I looking that up, you ask? Well, because our worship leader asked if I would be interested in learning how to use it.

Every Sunday we have a group of musicians up on the stage leading worship. Usually, there are two electric acoustic guitars, a harmonica, two singers and a piano player.

This Sunday there will be a piano player, a harmonica, two singers, two electric acoustic guitars, an electric bass guitar and a set of acoustic drums.

There are two people in the sound booth, one to run the laptop that puts the words to songs and other messages on the drop down screen via a projector suspended from the ceiling.

The other runs the soundboard that takes what the musicians do on the stage and amplifies, modulates and tweaks the signals from all instruments and microphones.

These signals are then broadcast through speakers also hung from the ceiling so that the congregation can hear a strong, clean sound with which to sing along.

Also on this soundboard is a channel used for a hearing system we have in the church. Assistive listening devices are available for anyone who need them to help hear the spoken word.

Into these devices; only the lapel microphone the Pastor wears and the handheld microphone, that gets passed around the congregation  when it comes time for prayer requests and praise reports, are used.

I was more than a little nervous taking on this challenge and thought that a little research was in order before actually trying to use this piece of equipment.

I wanted to make a good impression since it is an honor not bestowed on just anybody. Only those with a good ear for music and sound are asked; hence the honor I spoke of.

The laptop duties are passed to anyone who is interested in helping but the program pretty much runs itself.

Timing is the only key to successfully running the laptop. Are the words on the screen at the proper time? Do the announcements appear on the screen when the Pastor is saying them?

Using the soundboard, though, that person is in control of what everyone hears; the congregation in the house and the musicians listening to their monitors on stage.

My biggest fear as I take this duty on this Sunday is not messing up with the handheld microphone or with the signal going to the hearing assistance system.

The handheld microphone is the most tricky to stay on top of. Too much on a dial can mean feedback screeching through the entire church,  too little on the dial means a muffled voice that no one can understand or hear.

Adding to the complexity with the handheld microphone is how some people use it. When handed to them everyone holds it differently which means a lot of constant adjusting.

Some hold it farther away from their mouth and the gain has to be turned up. Some almost eat it which means the gain must be turned way down or there will be a great deal of feedback.

The pastor is the main one we want to hear and his lapel mic should pick up his voice and broadcast it properly with the right tones so he doesn’t sound too high pitched or too low pitched.

We had a practice last night with the musicians on stage and I was in the sound booth for the first time ever. I was given a basic rundown of the board and shown how to adjust sounds for each person or instrument.

I don’t think I did too badly…the worship leader playing up on stage told me it sounded all right to him but he could not hear what was coming through to the house.

We would need an independent person sitting in the pews to listen and give their opinion but on practice night, of course, there was no one to fill that role.

Of course last night I was also not able to practice with the handheld mic, the lapel mic or the hearing assistance devices. This is really making me nervous.

So Sunday is going to be nerve-wracking for me until I get either compliments or complaints from the congregation.

What is going to make Sunday even more nerve-wracking is that there is both a baptism taking place and communion afterward. These two occasions do not usually happen at a normal Sunday service.

All I know is that I have been and will continue to do a lot of praying that I do everything correctly and the service goes off flawlessly.

I know, there is the perfectionist in me rearing it’s ugly head again. I can’t help it, though; this is too important to me.

My husband will be one of the musicians on the stage with his acoustic guitar and I really don’t want to mess up the sound and make him sound bad either.

I really am happy to be chosen for this job. I want to be able to help out at the church. My husband and I clean the upstairs part of the church each week and now we each have a part in the service as well.

This will not be an every week duty either; only when this worship leader is on stage. We are part of his crew; his hand-picked set of people to work with.

Some weeks we have guest musicians up there and some weeks there is another worship leader with their own crew.

Wish me luck guys; those of you in the faith, please pray for me. 🙂 Thank you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Progress Update: How I Am Doing With My Mandolin Now

 

LOL, I love that Keep Calm And Play Mandolin Meme…that is what is on my desktop on my computer right now; not that I need it to remind me to play. I love this mandolin!

I have picked it up every day; two or three times a day since bringing it home. Oh, and the picture to the right of it is my left hand fingertips after six days of playing. I am not sure you can see it in the photo but the calluses are building nicely.

Below is a picture of me holding my mandolin. I am thinking of making this my profile picture on Facebook and a few other places on the net. 🙂

 

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All of the research I have been doing on the net has been paying off. Not only have I gotten a fine musical instrument and a heck of a deal on everything that it comes with but I have various chord charts for beginners.

There are a few in the instruction booklet that came with the package but the ones from the internet allow me to print them out full size on printer paper.

This way too I won’t have to flip through the book to find a certain chord.

I have a binder that I have plastic sheet protectors in and I put all my photocopies in there. There is even a pocket on the inside cover of the binder where I have tucked my instruction booklet.

As I collect songs that I can practice and play I will be building myself a journal of sorts that will show my progress from beginning to my current level.

This will help keep things organized and let me find whatever I want to practice on, easily.

The booklet that came with my mandolin takes you through the very beginning of everything and you do not need to have any musical experience to play the mandolin.

So, it begins by showing you the various parts of the mandolin, how to hold it, how to hold the pick, and so on. It then talks about keeping time by tapping your foot and how to read sheet music.

I took music theory in high school and a lot of it is coming back to me althought I do prefer to use songs with the appropriate chords above the words.

I find it easier to follow and if I wonder about the beat or tempo I need only listen to a recording of the song to get the idea.

There are a multitude of videos on YouTube showing how to play certain chords or songs and also some on care and maintenance of your mandolin.

It is from one such video that I recently saw that I learned how to lower the strings closer to my fretboard. I lowered the action, as it is referred to, in order to be able to play easier and not hurt my fingers as much.

Don’t misunderstand…they still hurt, just not as badly. 😉  My fingernails are now kept closely trimmed so as to not interfere with the strings as I form the chords with my left hand. I keep my right hand trimmed the same way too.

This is not a huge deal for me anyway as my nails never seem to grow to any appreciable length without splitting or peeling. They never have been long and beautiful until I got artificial nails put on a long time ago.

Then there were the endless appointments to go and have them filled as my real nails grew out underneath them. I must admit that when I had artificial nails I felt more feminine.

I am glad I got rid of them years ago as they would just complicate playing the mandolin now.

As I explain in my update video I just posted on my YouTube channel (Embedded Below) I am now practicing quick licks that Scotty Grove showed me on his YouTube channel. What is great about that is it involves all the chords I have just learned.

This gives me something fun to try and get better at and while I am doing that I am practicing the chords at the same time. It makes practice a lot more fun and interesting.

Please take a moment and have a look at it. It is just five minutes long and you can see and hear what I have learned thus far.

I will be doing further update videos as I am able and when there is a sufficient amount of new stuff to show you.

 

 

I think the next thing I will have to work on, besides the quick licks, is my strumming patterns. Until you play a stringed instrument you really can’t appreciate how much coordination one must have to keep the beat with one hand and the notes with the other hand, at least I didn’t.

It is quite the workout for the brain and I have a new respect for musicians everywhere. When I think of the many instruments this is true of it leaves me in awe of the people that can not only play but with such skill too.

I want to be that good one day with my mandolin. Thank you for once again stopping by my blog to see what I wanted to talk about today. I do appreciate the support.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section; either here on my blog or on my videos on my YouTube channel. I try to get to every one I receive.

Have yourselves a wonderful day/night wherever you are. Now I must go practice some more and master that F Major chord. 🙂

 

 

Something exciting I am planning…

 

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This is the color of the mandolin I am looking at.

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This is what comes in the box but this is not the same color.

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See how small it is and how comfortable she looks playing the mandolin?

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This is how big and bulky guitars can be.

Hi, everybody! I am excited and looking forward to buying this sometime soon. I have been looking into learning to play the mandolin and doing a heck of a lot of research. Today I went to our local music store to actually look at one and try it out for myself.

Prior to today, I have done a large amount of research on the internet which includes, but is not limited to; shopping around different websites to see what the average price is for these instruments, watching YouTube videos of both people playing music on mandolins and teaching people how to play also discovering the differences between an A Type mandolin and an F-Type mandolin.

At the music store, I found the package pictured above for $249.99 plus tax (Canadian dollars). I actually held one of these in my hands and plucked at the strings trying to judge how comfortable I would be holding and learning to play one.

Verdict isI am stoked. I want to buy one of these for certain now. From my research, I know that I prefer an A Type mandolin. That is the one in the picture (pear shaped). The F-Type mandolin is like the one on the cover of the book you see in the picture with the weird curl up near the neck and the point on the other side of the neck.

The price point at Music City (the store I went to today) is absolutely great for what you get in the package. There is virtually everything I will need to begin playing and taking care of the mandolin. I need to buy nothing more.

Included in the package is the mandolin itself (which is just gorgeous in person by the way), the padded gig bag to store and carry it in, a tuner (to keep the strings in tune), a strap (to keep it secure while I play standing or sitting), a set of strings (spare set should one break), picks (the proper word is plectrum) and an instruction book with the basics to start playing and some beginner songs to try.

I know that Fender is an excellent company with quality products since my husband has had his Fender guitar for years now and not one problem with it in all that time.

The average price on the net for just a mandolin alone (no extras) is between $100 Canadian  for a cheap knock off to $1,000. or more for well-known brands.

There is some consensus that one should not go too cheap on a musical instrument in order to be sure there is enough quality there to ensure you won’t get frustrated and give up on learning due to breakage.

Over the years I have taken a stab or two at trying to learn how to play guitar. I have the advantage of my husband teaching me as well and I just couldn’t commit to it. I found even the smallest guitar too thick and bulky to get my arm over to strum the strings.

Another issue with learning guitar was the pain in the fingertips when it came to pressing down on the strings in order to form calluses. Yes, I am aware there will be some pain with the mandolin too since it has the same sort of strings but the difference is the mandolin is physically smaller.

The neck is narrower and flatter so it will not be so hard for my hand to stretch around it to reach the strings. The size and thickness of the body of the mandolin are smaller as well, shorter and thinner front to back. My arm easily reaches across to the front for strumming.

The strings are paired on the mandolin as well…not eight separate strings but four pairs of two strings. Each pair is treated like one so it will be much simpler to memorize where the note and fingerings are on the neck than the guitar was.

So what makes me think I can commit to the mandolin you say? Well, I have done a lot of thinking about that and have come to realize the profile of this instrument is thinner, shorter and easier to hold and use as I have just outlined.

There is also the fact that I will be on my own learning to play the mandolin as it is different from anything my husband has or has played.

I think these factors will help keep me inspired to train myself between the book included with the mandolin and the online lessons I can get for free. I am looking for an instrument that I can master that is different.

Kevin, my husband, plays both acoustic and electric guitar. He has played some piano keyboard over the years as well. Our landlord, upstairs, plays the acoustic guitar and the banjo.

I am excited to start learning something new. Plus, I will be sinking my own money into the purchase of this mandolin package. I think putting your money down helps with the commitment end of things – you are saying to yourself that you are serious because you are willing to part with cold hard cash.

Hopefully, I will be able to afford one soon or at least put one on layaway to chip away at the total until one day I can take it home. Cross your fingers for me, guys, please? Until then I will just stare at them on the internet and dream. =)

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