Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Published 8:43 AM by with 4 comments

Meet Ariana

As I think I wrote somewhere earlier on my blog, ever since June I've been attending a bluegrass jam at a local music store that happens every other week. It's free for any musician, professional or amateur, to come join, or even for folks who simply want to listen. Rather than play guitar (my primary instrument for nineteen years) I wanted to use this time to improve my very limited skill on mandolin. My mandolin was from a pawn shop several years ago but it's only been within the past two years that I've been performing on it or really working to get better.

Occasionally I will go into this music store to purchase guitar strings or music, or to check out instruments with my students, etc. I've been getting to know the guys who work there, especially the one who leads the bluegrass jam, himself a talented multi-instrument musician. The jam has been HUGELY helpful! Bluegrass is a new realm for me as a classical musician. Watching the other mandolin players there is certainly a humbling experience; my use of a pick is pretty laughable still, even though my left hand plays the frets tolerably well, and I am learning the chords along the way. Lately I've even been attempting to learn some of the melodies of the songs we play. There's no music, of course, so I write down the names of the pieces and look up the ones I like later at home. I am in awe with how many pieces all these musicians have memorized! Hundreds, I bet.

Anyway, long story short... the leader of the bluegrass jam, after we were done last night, said, "Hey, I have something to show you. Come check it out before you leave." I was super tired after a long day and an evening of teaching, but I am always up for looking at a cool instrument. He's showed me some amazing instruments before, including a parlor guitar built over a hundred years ago that still sounded beautiful (and was smooth as butter to play!).

When I came over to the counter, he handed me a gorgeous little mandolin. I instantly fell in love with it! It's smaller than mine, with a quiet tone that sang sweetly. There's no way to identify what brand it is, no sticker on the inside or factory number or name plate. But it had character. There are dings and scratches all over; it had been played often for a long time, after already being a decades-old instrument. After I was playing it, the guy said, "Someone a long time ago gave it to me for free. I played it for a while, but it hasn't been played as much recently, and after seeing you come here week after week playing that cheap mandolin, and knowing that you're a musical person on the guitar, I figured you also needed a mandolin that will help you play musically. If you like it, it's yours, for free."

I was dumbfounded. When I tried to protest, he said, "No no, I am just passing on the instrument! Folks have given me plenty of instruments for free, and in turn sometimes I give them away too. You have no idea how many instruments have come and gone in my large collection. You've been showing that you're really into playing mandolin, so you should have a decent one."

Tears came to my eyes. I tried to stammer thanks as best as I could. He waved me off with a smile.

So now, I have this amazing lady, and she is A Lady, in the best sense of the word. The name that is coming to me for her (I name all my instruments!) is Ariana. It will take some adjusting to get used to playing the smaller neck, but I am excited to learn! Someday maybe I will have the opportunity to pass on one of my instruments to someone who could use it. Until then, I will be extremely grateful for this community of musicians I am part of who support each other, and do my best to do justice to this beautiful instrument that is now mine.

So blessed. So thankful.



Anonymous said...

Two beautiful ladies.

Lyssa said...

That's really sweet of you to say : ) Thank you! I think Ariana is the prettier one, though, because she looks good no matter what!

Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom said...

Awww, I love your mandolin and what a beautiful story to go with it.

How awesome and precious that he gifted you with something that he was given. Lovely <3

Thank you for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

Wishing you a lovely week.

Lyssa said...

Thank you, Jennifer! I agree, I love that he passed on a free gift that he received : )