In the Appalachian Mountains – a strong part of our American heritage was wrapped up in songs and music that were birthed on the porches and back yards and shared only from person to person. These front porch musicians played a variety of percussion instruments and object found in a home… like spoons and washboards, and a variety of stringed instruments which are easy to move from place to place.. (This image was found among an excellent synopsis by irisholdtime.com of the location, history and development of the music from this region.)
Much of this music and heritage may have been lost, except for a select few who saw the beauty, and the history, and the cultural significance of this music. One of my favorite to listen to is David Holt, who took it upon himself to seek out those musicians who remained in their homes up in the mountains, not famous to anyone outside the region… and patiently interviewed and learned all they had to share. In just under 30 minutes, David Holt sums up generations of real history with stories, songs, music, and people that fill out the history of this part of our world, of our country. 28 minutes may seem a bit long to consider, but this is riveting storytelling with music, and it is WELL worth watching.
To learn MORE about the people and music of the old Appalachian music, there are LOTS of videos on You Tube of interviews with these original musicians. Search under David Holt, and banjofolk. Or just check out his website, www.Davidholt.com
You may also enjoy some of my previous blog posts in relation to this style of music:
Melodies and More on a Mountain Dulcimer – see different ways dulcimers are played
Got Spoons? Play Them ! – see a video of a spoons player and get some ideas for fun at home !
The Fine Art of Playing the Washboard – includes a video of David Holt explaining how he learned to play the washboard, and one of him playing with a master, Washboard Bill.
The 5-7 year old students in the second year of our Level 5: Kindermusik for the Young Child program study Appalachian folk music as they continue their music studies, while learning to play melodies on their own two string dulcimer. We LOVE exploring these fun songs with nonsense words and silly animal stories, and making up our own new verses to sing in between playing the chorus on our glockenspiels. We LOVE using our musical memory to pick out familiar songs on the dulcimer. We LOVE exploring REAL instruments that are used in this folk music, like washboards and spoons, as well as the banjo, guitar, fiddle, and the mountain dulcimer. And we LOVE hearing the masters of this music and their stories. That is one of the reasons we LOVE David Holt and what he has done to make this part of our culture accessible to us.
This Appalachian music helps us learn how making music becomes part of a person’s daily life, part of a person’s heritage, part of a person’s soul.