Well, I have managed to open my mouth once more and gotten myself involved in the December 9th Christmas in Mt. Healthy 2017 project. This free event includes multiple venues in Mt. Healthy’s historic business district, (all within an easy walking distance of each other) and will offer opportunities to kids and adults for fun, holiday shopping, crafts, and food and drink. All events are free, with exception of a minimal charge for materials to make a glass Christmas ornament at Hilltop Glass Creations. Visitors are encouraged to consult the Facebook event page “Christmas in Mt. Healthy 2017” for details and a link to an interactive map for all of the locations. Free public parking lots are indicated on the map.
This time I have dragged Susan Shook, our resident mandolin player, in with me. Susan and I are actually a very small part of the multitude of activities going on all over Mt. Healthy that day. We will be playing at Brothertons Family Restaurant from 12:30 til 1:30 but just take a look at all the stuff going on!
Paul R. Young Funeral Home 5 – 8pm
68th Annual Nativity Open House
7345 Hamilton Avenue
• Nativity with live animals and lifesize wax figures
An interesting fact that I didn’t know… the wax figures were made by Paul Young Sr., who learned this craft at Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks in London in the 1940s, after he completed military service in WWII
• Horse drawn carriage rides
• Yuletide Brass Quartet
• Historic house tours
Hilltop Glass Creations Holiday Open House 11 – 4pm
1588 Compton Rd.
• Make your own glass ornament (nominal charge for material)
• Shop for glass working supplies
• Check out class offerings
• Music and Refreshments
Covered Bridge Antique Mall 10 – 6pm
7508 Hamilton Avenue
• shop for that special gift
Village Artisans Café 10 – 6pm
7420 Hamilton Avenue.
• Holiday popup featuring locally handcrafted goods.
Three Dogs Kouzina Greek Restaurant open 11 – 8pm
7417 Hamilton Ave.
• Greek holiday special dish and dessert while supplies last
Brotherton’s Family Restaurant open 7am – 9pm
7517 Hamilton Ave.
• Bluegrass Christmas music 12:30 – 1:30pm
with Kitty McIntyre and Susan Shook
• Enjoy a home cooked meal during your visit
Aquatics & Exotics
7513 Hamilton Ave.
• 2 p.m. Shark feeding in the in-house 17,000 gallon shark tank
• Serving hot chocolate to the humans
• Shop here for any and all aquarium needs
Studio 914 Hair Salon
1612 Compton Rd.
• face painting 3 – 6pm
• specializing in all hair types, colors, and textures
3rd Annual Mt. Healthy Renaissance Ornament Swap 4 – 6pm
7601 Hamilton Avenue
• Trade your old holiday trimmings for ‘new-to-you’ ornaments
Fibonacci Brewery Holly Jolly Hour from 8-9pm open noon til midnight
1445 Compton Rd.
• Enjoy a craft beer at a family friendly nano-brewery
• Starting April 4, 2018, Appalachian Grass will be playing at Fibonacci Brewery from 7 – 9pm on the first Wednesday of each month
Hope to see you there!
Howdy! Join Vernon McIntyre’s Appalachian Grass this Saturday, Nov 11 at the Fairborn Eagles Hall, 509 Sports St in Fairborn, OH. Good food and adult beverages available on site.
Also, mark your calendar for Nov 25, 2017 (the Saturday after Thanksgiving). Appalachian Grass is playing at the York Street Café, 738 York St, Newport, KY 41071. Housed in a SPECTACULAR historic building in downtown Newport, the York Street Café is a restaurant, a lounge, a venue for music, an Art Gallery, and a repository of unique architecture and artifacts from the building’s long and fascinating history. Admission is only $5. We pick from 8 til 12 so get a nap before you go; I plan to! If you need details, you can find them online at http://yorkstonline.com/ or call them at 859-261-9675.
Be there or be square!
Just a quick reminder about a couple of upcoming showdates with Vernon McIntyre’s Appalachian Grass.
This Friday, Nov 3, we’re picking at JC’s Cornbread Palace, 1719 S. University Blvd in Middletown, OH 45044. Music starts about 6 and our showtime is 8pm. Refreshments available on site. There might be a donation requested at the door, I am not sure.
Saturday, Nov 11, takes us to the Fairborn Eagles Hall, 509 Sports St in Fairborn, OH. Showtime is 6 til 9pm and refreshments are available on site. There might be a donation requested at the door, I am not sure.
Saturday, Nov 25, we are at the York Street Café, 738 York St in Newport, KY 41071, showtime 8pm and cover charge $5. I am all excited! This is my first gig there and I have heard so much about the building, the décor, and the good food! Check out details, photos, menus and more online at http://yorkstonline.com/.
Hope to see you soon!
Lesson 3 – Define whole steps and half steps
You might ask why should I concern myself with music theory in general and scales in particular? My personal reason for caring about theory is that a small bit of knowledge makes the road towards mastery of your instrument so much easier. If you know something about musical key structures, you most likely won’t have to ask ‘what is that off-chord?’ If you know something about chord structures, the whole world of vocal and instrumental harmony is open to you. If you know something about scales, you’ll have all kinds of interesting riffs to use in building your own personal, creative breaks on songs and instrumentals. And to do all this, you have to know how to build a scale; and, to build a scale, you need to understand whole steps and half steps.
First, let’s review all the note names on the piano keyboard. Take a look at this diagram and make sure you’re confident of all the note names.
Now, let’s define the term ‘half step’. Simply put, if two notes are adjacent to each other on the keyboard, they are a ‘half step’ apart. Adjacent means they are right next to each other and you don’t have any notes between them. Refer to the following diagram and you will see that B and C are adjacent to each other (no note between them). So, B and C are considered a half step apart.
Refer to the next diagram and you’ll see that E and F are adjacent to each other. E and F are also considered a half step apart.
Refer to the following diagram and you’ll see that C and D are NOT adjacent to each other; the note C#/Db is between them. C and D are NOT a half step apart.
Refer to the following diagram and decide if G and G# are a half step apart?
Ask yourself, are these notes adjacent to each other or do I have to skip a note between them? Answer is no, I don’t have to skip a note; they are adjacent to each other and are therefore a half step apart.
Refer to the following diagram and decide if F# and G are a half step apart?
You don’t have to skip a note so they are adjacent to each other and are indeed a half step apart.
Refer to the following diagram and decide if C# and D# are a half step apart?
You have to skip a note (D) between them so they are NOT a half step apart.
Refer to the following diagram and decide if Bb and C are a half step apart?
You have to skip a note (B) between them so they are NOT a half step apart.
Here is a table for you to complete as a quiz on the material we have covered so far. Fill in the second column with the note name that is a half-step above the note in the first column.
Answers are below.
Now let’s define the term ‘whole step’. Look at the diagram below. If we start with C, you have to skip a note (C#) to get to D. So C and D are considered a ‘whole step’ apart.
Let’s do another pair of notes. Start with F. Skip one note and only one note (F#) and land on G. F and G are a whole step apart.
Let me guide you through the next example. Start with B. What note is a whole step up from B? To find a whole step up from B, you have to skip the adjacent note (C) then take the next note, which is C#/Db. So, C#/Db is a whole step up from B.
What note is a whole step DOWN from B? The black note A#/Bb is adjacent to B; skip that one. What’s next? If you said A, you got it!
Here’s another quiz for you. Fill in the second column with the note that is a whole step above the note in the first column.
Here are the correct answers.
It’s the middle of the week and I KNOW you’re ready for a change of pace! Join us this evening for Weekly Wednesday Bluegrass Night at Pit to Plate BBQ, 8021 Hamilton Ave. in Mt. Healthy, OH 45231. Enjoy some lively bluegrass entertainment while dining on award winning BBQ!
Remember, Saturday, Oct 7 is DevouGrass Festival.
Organized as a fund raiser for the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, DevouGrass is lots of fun for the whole family. Enjoy a whole day of live music featuring Vernon McIntyre’s Appalachian Grass plus other fine regional bands. Partake of good food, shop the hand made crafts, and let your kid/grandkid revel in a variety of activities. All this while raising funds for the Children’s Home and the DevouGood project! Bring a lawnchair.
Hope to see you there!
NAMING the BLACK KEYS on PIANO
First, let’s review the white notes on the piano keyboard. Take a look at this diagram from the last lesson and make sure you’re confident of the white note names.
Got it? OK, let’s talk about the black keys. Again, notice the repeating visual pattern of the black keys as you go left to right on the diagram. First, there is a set of 2 black keys with the white key D between the pair. After a pair of adjacent white keys (E & F), there is a set of 3 black keys alternating with the white keys G & A. Then another pair of adjacent white keys (B & C).
The pattern then repeats, starting again with the set of 2 black keys, a pair of adjacent white keys (E & F), a set of 3 black keys, and finally a pair of adjacent white keys (B & C). This pattern runs across the width of whatever keyboard you have.
So far, so good. Now for the names. I think this is where alot of folks get confused.
Any one black key has two possible names, a sharp name (symbol #) and a flat name (symbol b). How’s THAT for confusing? Let me say that again; any one black key has two possible names, a sharp name and a flat name.
Having dropped that bomb on you, let me try and clarify it for you. Notice there is a black key between C and D. Since the black key is to the right of the C, its sharp name will be C#. All black keys adjacent to C and on the right side of C can be called C#. In general, move right from a particular note, add ‘#’ to the name of that note.
Since that same black key is to the left of the D, its flat name will be Db. All black keys adjacent to D and on the left side of D can be called Db. In general, move left from a particular note, add ‘b’ to the name of that note.
Remember, the name C# and the name Db refer to one and the same note. Which name you use will depend on the musical context; I will deal with that question in a later lesson. For now, let’s just get solid on what each black note might be called.
Let’s name another black key. Consider the left-most of the set of 3 black keys.
This black key is immediately to the right of F so its sharp name will be F#. It is immediately to the left of G so its flat name will be Gb.
The short version of this pattern is ‘Move left from a note, add b to its name; move right, add # to its name’. Extending this pattern to all the black keys, here is the complete set of names.
If you want a hardcopy of this lesson, you can find a PDF here: Naming the Black Notes on the Piano.
To test your understanding of this pattern, fill in this blank chart. Don’t peek!
We are looking forward to the upcoming DevouGrass Festival on October 7! Held at the beautiful Devou Park Bandshell in Covington, KY, the festivities start at noon with some lively bluegrass music by Vernon McIntyre’s Appalachian Grass. Other musical performances by fine regional bands are scattered throughout the afternoon. I always enjoy browsing the interesting hand-made crafts and the fine food booths. Some folks prefer to kick back on their lawn chairs and just enjoy the shows.
One of my personal favorite things about the Festival is the Circus Mojo. These guys (and gals) put on a top notch mini-circus complete with clowns, juggling, and even a trapeze artist. However, the BEST thing to me is that, at the end of the show, the kids in the audience get to try out some of the acts! It is a hoot to watch!
DevouGrass Festival is a fundraiser for the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky. Come enjoy the day with us and support a good cause at the same time!
NAMING the WHITE KEYS on PIANO
Although your interest is probably NOT in piano music, I am going to use the piano keyboard for this lesson in Seat-of-the-Pants Music Theory because the musical patterns I want to discuss are so visually obvious on piano. These same patterns are also true on stringed instruments, but are not as neatly laid out in front of you. So let’s start with some visual patterns on piano.
Notice the repeating visual pattern going left to right.
First, there is a set of 2 black keys with a white key between the pair. Then there are two adjacent white keys with no black keys between them. Next comes a set of 3 black keys alternating with white keys. Then there are two adjacent white keys with no black keys between them.
The pattern then repeats, starting again with the set of 2 black keys, then a pair of adjacent white keys, then a set of 3 black keys, and finally a pair of adjacent white keys. This pattern runs across the full width of whatever keyboard you may have. Counting both black and white keys, a full size piano has 88 keys. Some smaller electronic keyboards may have as few as 25. But, they all will have the pattern of black and white keys I have described.
Now, let’s put names to the keys.
In this lesson, I am going to deal with note names for the white keys only. I will deal with names for the black keys in a later lesson. The white keys are named with letters in a repeating sequence of A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. When you get to G, the next white key is called A and the pattern repeats.
Further, when you go from any letter to the next occurrence of the same letter, that interval is called an octave. Here are the note names applied to my keyboard diagram; I have marked two octaves of C with red letters.
Notice the pattern of where each letter falls:
‘C’ is always immediately to the left of the pair of black keys
‘D’ is always the next white key to the right of C and there is a black key between them.
‘E’ is always the next white key to the right of ‘D’ and there is a black key between them.
‘F’ is always next white key to the right of ‘E’ and is adjacent to the ‘E’
(no black key between them)
alternatively, you can view F as immediately to left of three black keys
‘G’ is always the next white key to the right of ‘F’ and there is a black key between them.
‘A’ is always the next white key to the right of ‘G’ and there is a black key between them.
‘B’ is always the next white key to the right of ‘A’ and there is a black key between them.
‘C’ is always the next white key to the right of ‘B’ and is adjacent to the ‘B’
(no black key between them)
Although you can’t tell without hearing the note played, the sound (pitch) of the note will be progressively higher and higher as you move from left to right.
If you want a hardcopy of this lesson, you can find a PDF here: Naming the White Keys on Piano
To test your understanding of these patterns, here are a several quiz questions. Check yourself against my diagram AFTER you fill out yours. Here is the blank diagram for you to use in answering the quiz questions.
And here are the questions:
- Fill in all the notes named C
- Fill in all the notes named A
- Fill in all the notes named E
- Fill in all the notes named G
- Fill in all the notes named F
- Fill in all the notes named D
- Fill in all the notes named B
I had never heard of bluegrass music until 1974 when my brother Andy took me to Kings Row, a neighborhood bar featuring nightly performances by ‘The Appalachian Grass’. Andy was taking banjo lessons at the time and wanted me to convert my classical violin training to bluegrass fiddling. I listened to Paul Warren kick-off the Martha White Theme on Flatt and Scruggs Carnegie Hall album. I listened and listened. I didn’t get it. It wasn’t written in music notation; I couldn’t play it if it wasn’t written down. Andy slowed the record down to half speed and I listened and listened again. I still didn’t get it. So much for my career as a bluegrass fiddler.
Vernon McIntyre played banjo with the Appalachian Grass. He was excellent. As ignorant as I was about bluegrass, Vernon’s fierce concentration and almost frantic attack on his banjo captivated me. I was too shy at the time to speak to him or any other band members; in my eyes, they were ‘bigger-than-life stars’.
I moved away from Cincinnati and lost track of Vernon McIntyre and of the Appalachian Grass for several years. During this time, Vernon started playing guitar instead of banjo and became lead singer in the band. He kept picking and singing for nightclubs, festivals, colleges, fairs, and private parties all across the U.S. and Canada. He built a good reputation as a banjoist, guitarist, singer, and all-round entertainer. I still hadn’t met the man and I still couldn’t play the Martha White Theme.
In 1981, I settled back in Cincinnati and Andy finally introduced me to Vernon and the rest of the band. Vernon asked Andy for my phone number, but Andy said, ‘Lord, no, you’re not going out with my sister!’ Andy was then called out of town on business, so I grabbed the opportunity and I gave Vernon the number.
We spent a lot of time together that summer, and finally, I started learning some bluegrass fiddle. Vernon can’t play a fiddle; anyone who has heard him will testify to that. But, he can hear how it should be played. He spent hours singing melodies for me, showing me notes on the guitar and helping me find them on the fiddle. He encouraged me and told me I could get really good someday. I thought he was nuts. But, I had already made up my mind I wanted to be with him and wanted to be part of the band and the travelling. So I kept plugging away learning the play the fiddle.
My first show with the Appalachian Grass was in 1983. I was terrified. My knees were knocking and my fingers started shaking; I could barely play what little stuff I did know. All the guys in the band were very patient and supportive and for that I thank them all.
Vernon’s lifelong love and my new-found love of bluegrass have totally changed the course of my life. Through bluegrass music, I found Vernon who is now my husband; I have been encouraged to try things and think about things I never tried or thought about before; I have met people who have welcomed me into their homes and fed me like one of their own even though I had never met them before. After a childhood in the suburbs, I finally discovered the joy of biscuits and gravy, fried ‘taters, and Martha White cornbread.