It Only Takes a Spark

by Linda Ratcliff

The first instrument I learned to play besides the piano was the guitar. I attended a Catholic church at the time, and had played the organ for years at our church. But a couple of nuns wanted to bring the worship music up to date, and they introduced playing guitars at church (but NO drums yet). What a concept!!!

I got a new guitar, an Alvarez, and learned some basic chords. I was on fire … practicing until my sore fingertips could take no more. When I could play in about 3 keys, the nuns let me join them on guitar in the worship service and one of the first songs I learned to play at church was It Only Takes a Spark, written by Kurt Kaiser in 1969. The tune is based on James 3:6.

It only takes a spark, to get a fire going (going)
And soon all those around, can warm up in glowing (glowing)
That’s how it is with God’s love (A–hh!)
Once you’ve experienced it
You spread his love to everyone;
You want to pass it on (pass it on, pass it on)

I remembered that song and my passion for learning a new instrument when I got my very own personal copy of Steve Eulberg’s new dulcimer book, First 50 Songs You Should Play on Mountain Dulcimer. To be honest, I hadn’t read the list of tunes. I just wanted the book because Steve built the arrangements, and I always want one of anything Steve does. I was actually expecting a book full of the old fiddle tunes from the 1850s that we commonly play at jam sessions.

Was I ever surprised! First of all, the table of contents included not only well-known traditional tunes, but ALSO popular folk and pop tunes. And they weren’t just simple arrangements with the melody line only (which I also expected). Steve’s arrangements include the tabs for playing the chords, the chord names above the tabs, and the words below the tabs.

I was on fire. I hadn’t picked up my mountain dulcimer for a long time – focusing more on my hammered dulcimer and keyboard recently. I tuned ‘er up and got started the very same day I got Steve’s book. You might say, the book was the spark that got my fire going again.

So what if we changed the words to the hymn?

It only took a new dulcimer book, to get my fire going (going)
And soon all those around, will warm up in glowing (glowing)
That’s how it is with playing a dulcimer (A–hh!)
Once you’ve experienced it,
You spread your love of the instrument to everyone;
You want to pass it on (pass it on, pass it on).

If I have sparked your interest in getting your own, autographed, copy of the book




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