Tuesday mornings have fast become my favorite day of the week because its when I play dulcimer with the Appalachian Strings, a group of forty or more people gathered together to celebrate their love of music and their appreciation for one another. This week we celebrated Peg’s 95th birthday, and she danced with Manny, also 95, as we played the Last Cheater’s Waltz. The tune sounds much sweeter than the title suggests.
To look at Peg and Manny making music each week, you would never guess their ages. At one point when our leader asked for volunteers to bring refreshments for another event Peg piped up, “I’ll bring the fruit.” If I live to be their age, I hope I have the good fortune to belong to a group like this, a bright spot in people’s lives offering a couple of hours each week of friendship, caring, joy, and laughter. In fact, I can’t imagine living without music.
Some of the tunes we play are very familiar to me, pieces like “You are My Sunshine,” “Whispering Hope,” and “Amazing Grace.” I remember my grandfather singing them when I was a little girl. Other pieces are becoming new favorites, “Carolina Waltz,” “Waltz Across Texas,” “Beautiful Brown Eyes,” and the “Spanish Hymn.” I wonder what the story is behind songs with titles like “The Fiddler has Played His Last Tune” and “Gray Cat on a Tennessee Roof.” And it’s interesting to see how many songs contain references to alcohol, like “Vodka for Breakfast” and “Grand River Whiskey.”
Our bass player wears a Minnie-Pearl inspired hat, complete with the price tag hanging down on one side.
The group isn’t limited to dulcimers. In addition to the bass, there are violins, mandolins, guitars, and harmonicas. Together, we make beautiful music. Or at least it sounds that way to us!