My Banjo Journey

My interest in the banjo started when I was in my 20’s. Whilst at College in South Wales my Dad saw an advert for a banjo for sale and suggested I buy it as I already enjoyed playing violin and guitar. I spent the next summer trying to learn to play it. I found it heavy and the cheese-wire like strings hurt my fingers but I persevered. When I put together the rolls ( a simple repeated finger picking pattern)  with the chords and played my first Bluegrass tune I remember my Dad saying “The rhythm isn’t right. It goes like this” I didn’t know how he knew because he’d never played the banjo! But he was right. When I played it like he suggested, the music suddenly came alive, had this swing and started to roll along. The seeds of of my passion about the banjo had been sown.

I now have a nice light open back maple banjo with softer strings – not costly – but just right for me!

My Ukelele Journey

My Dad gave me his ukelele that he had bought for the princely sum of £18 before my parents moved to France. I hung it on the wall in our hall along with a ukelele my husband had bought back from Ireland. To me they were decoration and nothing more! If I tried to play them I was most unimpressed by the fact that the notes didn’t seem to ring true.

Then I met Jane who had been given a ukelele as a present and asked if I gave lessons. I decided to give it a go and learnt the chords along with Jane. I passed on my Jennie strumming patterns I had gathered from my guitar playing days, my expertise to help people develop their voice and my innate musicality. The longer I have taught Jane, the better friends I have become with my ukelele, realising  that although the way it is strung can feel annoying and confusing (!) many great chords are easily accessible. So then to the feeling that it doesn’t always ring true . . .well it doesn’t (!) but I forgive it. There is something raw and homespun that I like about the sound now.  I plan to explore the bigger ukeleles – the tenor and the bass – I know I will have to learn completely new chord patterns but I think it will be worth it.