Posted tagged ‘mandolin instruction book for a child’


November 28, 2011

        This post is to update folks on my art projects. As my last post indicated, my brain cancer diary in now on Amazon. We also hope to publish it in a booklet form soon. You can look it up in Amazon under Kindle Store and “Brain Cancer Boogie.”

“Grandpa’s Mandolin Book,” a coloring book for children of all ages, is now at the prototype stage. It still has some flaws and will go through at least one more revision before it goes to press. A half-dozen prototypes are in the hands of musicians, both professional and amateur, for advice. I hope it will be available after the first of the year, no later than late winter. More details are in my blog archives.

I am almost finished with my final edit of “Acquisition Syndrome.” After that it goes back to my editor Dorrie for her final touches and then on to my agent and the publisher. We are still on track for a spring release. I always liked old Bones Robertson. In this story he shows more than ever how to be decent person but not be trampled on. The lessons were so powerful I felt compelled to pass them on before I’m out of here. (There is no evidence my time is near, so don’t worry yet) In addition there is plenty of bluegrass subplot here, this time with more banjo in the mix. (Can’t have bluegrass without banjo huh? (( except for the “Manzanita” LP perhaps) 

“The Kid and Dr. B” A mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge that also features story-telling and a bit of doctor advice. I anticipate early spring on this one.

In January 2012 I plan to start a mandolin instruction book with Wayne Benson called “Practical Theory for Mandolin.” It is based on Wayne’s lesson plans. ((I have taken from him once a month since late 2007)  I plan to devote most of 2012 to this project. This book is designed for the amateur mandolinist who wants to get involved in jam sessions, be in regional bands and play for small festivals, church socials, fundraisers, and private parties. A working subtitle might be “How to play Mandolin if you thought you could only play the Radio.” So if you want to sound like Wayne, my pal Darin Aldridge, “Cuz” Alan Bibey, tone master Adam Steffy, rocking Sam Bush, Darren Nicolson of Balsam Range, red-hot melody man Emory Lester, Mike Marshall or Chris Thile….well, this book alone will not do it; be prepared to start young and spend six hours a day.

        Instead this book is designed for folks who do something else for a living but still want to play the best they can. I am of the opinion that if you start the mandolin as an adult, have a job, kids, bills, etc that it is unrealistic to for most of us (me included) to expect to play at a top shelf professional level, but my hope is this book will allow you to approximate that level of play after you learn some fundamental improvisational skills out of Wayne’s play book. He is going to proof every stage of this project because it is based on his knowledge and lesson plans. 

        After 2012? Who knows? I might be a little less productive on the blog for the rest of this year. My wife loves Christmas, (I call her “The Christmas Queen”)  the kids and grandchild will be in, and I love the holidays with all of them. I will be in touch though so don’t give up on me.

Dr. B


A Coloring Book for Both Children and Adults

October 9, 2011

        Over the next month to six weeks I plan to update you on my artistic projects in the works. I’m going to do this in the rough order that I anticipate their release.

The first of these projects was inspired by the announcement that we were going to be grandparents. As soon as we got the news my son and daughter-in-law appointed me as lead mandolin instructor. (when the time comes and if the child shows interest; I will not push but will lead by example) After they broke the news I’d lay awake at night and dream of the best way to teach a child music. I had some experience. I taught my boy mandolin, banjo, and guitar and he his mom learned the bass together. My daughter took piano and  played violin and bass in the high school orchestra, and picked up some mandolin and guitar from me.

        Our kids turned out fine but I broke a lot of the rules. I always read that you should not be a friend but a parent to your children. I pretty well ignored that one. We were best friends. Of course I was nothing but a large child who was fortunate to have a decent grown-up doctor brain.  In fact, after she was in about the third grade my daughter ’bout half raised me. (My boy helped too, esp on the golf course) My only rule of music was if the venue wasn’t suitable for a child I didn’t sign up for the gig. Consequently I played a lot of church suppers, charity fundraisers, small festivals, and private parties. We didn’t do the bars or “drunk fests.” So after all those years I had a dream we could put some of our family ideas in a format that could be transmitted by the printed word. The result of all that was a children’s coloring book for both children and adults.

So you might ask what does that mean? Well this book could be approached on several levels. The initial prototype will be strictly an old-fashioned coloring book. On their own a child could color in all the pictures, have fun, learn a little music, and not hurt their development. (In medicine we always say, “first, do no harm.”) However, to take it to a higher level, the book is designed to be an interactive adventure between an adult and a child. By going through it in a systematic fashion and following the instructions the adult will also learn some basic music. It is my belief that even an adult with no background in music whatsoever could teach their child or grandchild something about the mandolin and music in general via this coloring book if they follow each step of the adventure as prescribed.

        Think of it almost like a treasure hunt. And remember; I’m nothing but a big kid. If nothing else you’ll have a lot of fun. I took Jesus, family, heart attacks, cancer and big GI bleeds seriously. Most of the rest of life was a whimsical lark for me. I played music at the highest level I could, but I figured if I missed a note no one died. This little book adheres to that philosophy.

        I had my banjo pal Kristin Scott Benson look over some very early versions of this book. It appealed to her even more as a mother of a four-year old than it did on the basis of her experience as a professional musician. She thought the book had a lot of potential to bring people to understand the fundamentals of music and even if they had no training or background in it. I also talked to the great jazz and Scruggs banjoist Alison Brown of Compass records about the project. She has not seen the early prototype yet but said she would be glad to try it out on her children, which is a thrill to me. Check out Compass Records. They have a fine roster of traditional artists. Compass’ll keep you pointed in the right direction. 

This prototype will not be an expensive item. If it is well-received then we may get it on iPad and other applications. I will say that any book that finds a way to integrate Pythagoras, ancient Greek theories of scales and harmony, Bill Monroe, Roy Huskey Jr., the light spectrum of the rainbow, and mandolin music in a simple enough manner that a child could put the concepts together and do it all from one little coloring book, well……it’s a fun project and I guess it would take some old doctor with a big imagination and too much time on his hands to dream it up.

        Again, I’ll try to present my projects in the order that I think they might see publication. I hope this one will see press by the first of next year. I would love to have it by Christmas but I think that is a little optimistic. Look for posts from me every Monday for a while about what all I’ve got in the works. I appreciate your interest in my work. After I turned up with a brain tumor and did not have the full-time doctor gig I had to do something to feel useful. My music, art, and the writer gig are all a big part of that. I will only be a part-time Doc until next summer when I finish chemo. I hope to get my books off the ground by then so if I improve and can return to full-time Doc status my artistic projects will already have legs and I can concentrate on my patients. In the meantime, if it weren’t for Faith, Family, Music, and writing I don’t think I would have coped with all this nearly as well. Bless all of you for being a part of my healing.

Dr.  B