Monday, July 2, 2007

Tuning the Dulcimer

Yesterday was an exciting day. First and foremost, I took my car for a test drive (yes, I bought it without driving it first; as anyone who knows me will testify this is one of my personal peculiarities) and nearly ran it into my house! The brakes locked up on me. I skidded across the driveway and threw up a lot of gravel. I forgot to adjust for the era of the car and pump the brakes (which is how I was taught to drive, by my mother, but my husband had told me not to do that anymore with modern cars). After that we decided to try to fix why it was running so rough (racing, then stumbling nearly to the point of stalling, then racing again) by removing the air filter cans and taking everything out, checking the air filters, and putting them back on. The car was much happier without the cans but you can't leave them off, so when we put them back on it went back to being fussy. So Steve says the next thing to do is to test the fuel line.

After all that excitement, Steve took Natalie to the old fashioned sing-along and ice cream social at the Community House, where they had a great time. I stayed home and watched The African Queen and then tried to teach myself how to play the dulcimer, since it's part of the lesson plans for this week. At Artsfest two years ago, I had decided that it was to be Natalie's first musical instrument (she was fascinated by the display tent and we spent the better part of an hour there) and wrote it as part of her Bridge curriculum when she turns 6. I also recently got a lead on a good horseback riding teacher for children and she lives just up the road from us! But, aside from putting the dulcimer in my bedroom so I would remember to play it, I hadn't done anything with it since I bought it. Last night I got it out for the first time. I tried to tune it on my own, using the music for Hush Little Baby (included in the how-to book) to check and see if it sounded right. I don't know how good of a job I did. It was fun, though. I guess I need to find someone to teach me more about music. My friend Jenn is coming down this week, and bringing her violin so the kids can see her play it up close. I think they will really like that!

Anyway, the plan this week is to study Australia and so we are starting with Susan Whitehead's summer curriculum (from Spiritual Syllabus) called Fire Flower Flamers and the Earthy Men. There is a Morning Song in there that I tried to play for the children this morning. After letting them fool around on the dulcimer for a while, they headed outside to play and I am making lunch. After naps it will be time for the story included in her book, and dress up time. She focuses on dressing up in this book. I'd like to use this week to get out of storage (and mend) our fairy costumes and set up a mirror in their play space and some pegs to hang them.

P.S. You can find video directions on how to tune a dulcimer online. And, if you'd like to buy one, I recommend visiting my friends at Hand Crafted Dulcimers.

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