Reaching Out to Spouses

by Linda Ratcliff
Taking the time to sit down and listen to your spouse play the dulcimer will show your love and support even more than spoken words. - Linda Ratcliff
Reaching Out to Dulcimer Players’ Spouses
Music is a powerful force in our lives and creative pursuits can add an exciting dimension to them. But what if playing a dulcimer is the creative outlet your spouse or partner has decided to pursue? If you’re not particularly creative, or you’re just not interested in dulcimer music, this is not something you will enjoy doing together. So how can you be supportive?
  • First understand that your spouse’s passion for playing the dulcimer adds meaning, joy, and purpose to his/her life – and it can do the same for you. Whether your spouse is into painting, sculpting, dancing, writing, singing, playing the dulcimer, or any number of other creative pursuits, it’s important to be supportive and show interest in what they’re creat
    • Ask your spouse what he/she has been working on that week, and take time to sit down and listen.  To the right is a photo of Ted Yoder's family sitting outside, listening to him play an arrangement of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that he had been developing over the past week.
    • Compliment your spouses ability to express him/herself musically.
    • You can ask your spouse how they think they are doing, but it’s too easy for a musician to be overly self-critical, and feel he is no good. Give your spouse a good pep talk from time to time, and mention any progress you’ve noticed. Just a few words of encouragement will go a long way.
    • If your schedule allows, go along with your spouse go to jam sessions. And maybe you could go out for a nice dinner together on the way or afterwards for your own reward.
    • Even though you think you might be bored, go along with your spouse to out-of-town festivals. You could research the town or city where it’s being held before you leave, and find other interests to pursue during the day when your spouse is busy attending the workshops.
    • After a jam session or dulcimer concert, discuss your impressions - what tunes you liked or didn’t like, what surprised you, what touched your heart.
  • Play dulcimer CDs at home or in the car, so you will begin to connect with that style of music.
Bored Out of Her MindOn the other hand, you will discourage your spouse who enjoys playing the dulcimer if you do these things.
    • Complain about how irritating it is to listen to dulcimer practice.
    • Keep your spouse so busy with social activities related to your own interests, there is no opportunity for your spouse to attend jam sessions, festivals, or even practice.
    • Tell your spouse he/she is spending too much time with the dulcimer, and not enough time with you.
  • Pressure your spouse to play in front of others before he/she is ready.
Make this into a family endeavor, and your musical relationship will strengthen further. For example, get bongos or a wood box cajon … a box you sit on and keep rhythm. My husband learned to strum chords on the autoharp so he could play along with me at home. I called out the chord names, and he followed along the best he could. He also built a bucket bass, and was able to play along with that at jam sessions.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.
Happy dulcimering, Linda



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