By DL PERRIN
The food bank in LaGrange got a healthy donation thanks to several people who were willing to learn to play an instrument last weekend.
“This long part is the neck, the rounded end with the hole is the body; these are the frets and strings,” said Sharrie George, a music instructor from Cleveland, Ohio, who was teaching beginners how to play the ukulele.
Some of her students were holding the instrument for the very first time. In less than two hours they learned how to strum, chord and play a full song.
The classes last weekend were sponsored by Northeast Indiana Folk Music & Instrument Gathering Inc. and Simple Sounds, a music store in Shipshewana. This particular gathering was named The Dulcimer Workshop, but the classes covered everything from autoharps to penny whistles. Their annual workshop is set up to accommodate beginners, novice and advanced musicians culminating in a concert to raise money and collect donated food for the LaGrange food bank.
“We did quite well with donations and collecting food — but the audience was smaller than last year,” said Leora Torrey, NEIFMIG president. “All the students and instructors had a great afternoon of music, learning and jamming with fellow musicians.”
“I have never played an instrument in my life,” said Dave Geertman from Holland, Mich. “We were vacationing in Branson, Mo., and walked into a music store. My wife fell in love with the hammered dulcimer and intended to buy one. I had no interest at first. While I was standing around, the salesman showed me how easy it was to play the regular dulcimer. I really enjoyed myself and bought one on the spot. I’ve only had it two months. We came down here this weekend so we could both learn more.”
The NEIFMIG jam sessions happen every third Saturday of the month in Shipshewana at the Van Buren Inn from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The musicians swap information, plan events, play music and work with new musicians on their skills.
The musicians and wannabe musicians all share one thing at their gatherings — they love acoustic instruments and folk tunes.
Simple Sounds and the NEIFMIG are dedicated to promote learning and appreciation of folk music and encourage playing acoustic instruments. Gary Zehr and his wife Linda bought their music store, Simple Sounds, 11 years ago. They are avid musicians and folk music fans. They enjoy supporting and participating in all the NEIFMIG activities.
“We are a folk music store,” Gary said. “Only acoustic instruments are sold, no electric. We sell instruction books, music paper, song books and every type of accessory. We exist to encourage the beginner to get started playing an instrument. If you walk into our store you will find something musical to buy.
Folk instrument and music enthusiasts can find a place to listen, learn or jam almost every week across Northern Indiana. These gatherings are almost all free of charge and take place at six different locations from Angola to South Bend and points in between. To find out the times and locations of other groups go to the NEIFMIG website: www.neifmig.weebly.com.