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Violin lessons! Ocean & Monmouth Counties!

September 6, 2019 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

Being a musician runs in my blood.  I was born into a musical family, playing music & singing.  As a small child, I figured out chords on my Aunt’s little, Baritone Uke, & sang along with my Grand-dad, Mom & Aunt.  Then after we moved to Colorado, my Dad made me a mountain dulcimer.  I was 8, but playing the mountain dulcimer became an unquenchable passion. My bedtime prayers always ended with… “and let me learn to play the dulcimer better.”   In retrospect, that mountain dulcimer – was the best Christmas gift ever.  Today, I am fortunate enough to have a few beautiful dulcimers… a Jerry Rockwell Baritone dulcimer,  a Bear Meadow Concert Grand and 2 lovely Dave Fields… I still take great joy in the sweet tones of this instrument… and find I write most of my original songs – first, on dulcimer.

Then, I took the baritone uke chords I knew,  & applied them to my dad’s guitar.  He had a fancy guitar, and I really wasn’t suppose to play with it… but I very carefully took it out, and played it whenever I could, after school.   My Mom showed me a few chords and I took off with it…  I bought a $2 classical guitar at a garage sale when I was about 14… and played that old thing for years.  Then, many years later, my Mom got me a beautiful,  Taylor 855 12 string, with action like butter… and I just love it.

In 4th grade, my school fortunately had a music program, so I joined the orchestra.  I will never forget the look on my Mom’s face – when I walked from the bus stop, taking the short cut through the corn field, lugging a cello.  Though we didn’t have a lot, my parents scraped the money together to make sure I could attend the 2 weeks of summer music camp – at the University of Illinois, each summer.

I happily stayed with classical music, joining various orchestras, spanning from that first school orchestras, into an adult baroque orchestras, to finally landing in the Ocean County Adult Orchestra here in NJ.   But when we moved to Ohio – I had to put the classical world on hold, but I kept my mountain dulcimer & guitar with me.

It wasn’t too much later – that I found an old, German violin in a 2nd hand shop. I latched onto it and quickly applied all my cello skills to the MUCH smaller, and TONS easier to fit into the car – violin.   Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the violin.   At this point Philip & I had begun searching out every Irish cd we could find, and we discovered found Kevin Burke, Martin Hayes, Maurice Lennon, Junior Crehan, Bobby Casey and more… and we found great bands like Silly Wizards, Danu, DaDannan, Arcady… and the list goes on and on.  So again, my desire to play violin – became unquenchable.

Philip, the kids and I attended Irish Arts Week in the Catskills for way over 10 years… and I took lessons with awesome violin / fiddlers such as Tony Demarco, Willy Kelly, Patrick Orseau, Kevin Crehan, (Jr’s grandson)  and many more.  Philip… in the span of all these years… first began with the Bodhran – an Irish frame drum stretched with goat skin.   He became a wicked good bodhran player and would drive the fiddle tunes while I played.   Philip then quickly gravitated to Irish whistles, and a wooden, Irish flute…  and finally his love for Uilleann pipes got hold of him, and now he’s quite an accomplished piper…

    I most thoughtfully gave Philip a bouzouki one year for his birthday… & we took turns playing it… but I fell in love with it – because it’s rather similar to a chromatic dulcimer!  In hindsight… it was a rather selfish gift… haha… but we love it!

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Philip took me out to the now gone – but at that time, very popular shop called “Mandolin Brothers” in Staten Island – where he got me a beautiful, sweet toned,  1918 Gibson mandolin.  I always loved to play violin in the car, when we took road trips, but  sometimes I’d accidentally poke him in the head with the bow…   so a mandolin was MUCH better for me to play in the car, while Philip was driving!

Add to this whole crazy mix, there’s a ‘herd’ – of soulful, native American flutes… in all different, and complimentary keys… that are super easy to grab & play – whether we’re out by the garden bonfire on cool summer night, or watching the sunset off the front porch… a native American flute duet is often ringing through the night here… <3  It’s  haunting, and beautiful notes drift on the air… like Loons, singing on a shadowy, summer lake.   So needless to say,  this house has musical instruments -EVERYWHERE!!!

I can say quite joyfully… that our kids have grown up too now, in this musical family, & all of them play instruments.  Often nights, we sit on the porch together, and instruments come out and we just enjoy playing tunes or singing together.

The photo below – was our first ‘musical’ family photo. Abbie plays cello – & toured Europe with her orchestra;  Em plays guitar, fiddle & sings… & Philip Jr – plays stand up & electric bass… and pretty much any stringed instrument he puts his hands on, in various tunings.  Was so happy he asked to take the Baby Taylor guitar -off to college with him.

Amazingly, even mostly grown up now – I just have to smile at the realization that all our kids have found relationships with friends & partners who share a love of music!  (Em even married one of my fiddle students!) Abbie… however, with now 4 babies… doesn’t have as much time as she’d like for music… but she will again soon, I know it!  And her husband’s Mom – is one of my dear, musical friends!   And my Mom – learned to play dulcimer a few decades ago… and we just have such fun playing tunes together. Ahh, this all – just makes my heart SO happy, music is such a good thing!!!!

    

SO…  Where am I going with all this?  As many folks ask me:  “What’s the difference between violin & fiddle?”  My answer always is:  It’s the WAY you play it.  And I’d also add… I believe a classical violin is played with the eyes, because you read the music and follow the bow direction.   vs.  A fiddle… which is played from the heart, because most of the time, the tune’s in your head, and you just play from memory.  As the tunes ARE played from memory, I believe the tunes will reflect your feelings at the time you play it.  This is how I perceive it.

So OK… when did I begin teaching Violin?   I began teaching violin – ‘Irish fiddle’ to be more precise… in 2002  when I was asked to replace the current, but retiring – violin teacher at an Irish Step dance school in Spring Lake, NJ.  I accepted the position &  taught there for 1 year.  I had a large, wonderful group of students, but when the school year ended in May, and the Summer began…  many of my students wanted to continue with their lessons for the summer… and so – teaching violin out of my home – began.

Since 2002…  I’ve taught homeschooled, pre-school, elementary, intermediate, high school, college & even graduate students.   I have many adults, and many retired students who are following their life long dream to play violin.  I’ll never forget one of my students called to inquire about lessons, and said his dream was to play violin (fiddle) on his porch some day.  I get that… it’s one of my favorite past times! But must say, one of my most favorite, beloved students – was a fine lady – who I taught for years… she was a local librarian.  Sadly she had a very bad stroke, but I spent years then,  and helped her get herself back to playing violin.  She was one of the most rewarding students I’ve ever had the joy to teach. Seeing her joy, in regaining her abilities to play again… brought me joy.  It was a labor of love. I truly – honestly LOVE teaching violin, and love sharing  Irish tunes, traditions and style with my students.  I share my secrets to playing, and making it achievable for them, to the best of my ability.

I’ve worked very successfully with students who have learning disabilities, autism or ADD.  I believe music is a universal language that I seem to be able to speak – quite fluently… and I take joy – in sharing what I can with my students so that they can learn to speak the musical language and find the joy that I find.

I currently have availabilities open for group lessons or private lessons.  Violin, Mountain dulcimer, or beginner guitar.  I’m open minded & flexible.   So… give me a holler if you’re interested!  Let’s make it work for you!!!    Contact me at  WinterCastSnow@gmail.com or Jmylod@Gmail.com

Tunefully, Jennifer

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Music… in the mind, body & soul…

July 10, 2019 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

5 months since I’ve last posted… life gets so busy and there’s not enough time in the day, to sit and write so much anymore.  Yet the music is still running like wildfire – in my veins.

Though do I sit & write… or fiddle out tunes on my dear beloved fiddle?  Ah, there’s something about that old fiddle of mine… & it incessantly calls me – and I love it…  no… I yearn for it actually.

It draws me more than the mountain dulcimer, or guitar…  even more than my sweet little 1918 Gibson mandolin…. which I do love madly.  Reaching deep into the dark, long abandoned corners of my musical mind…  I can still hear the now – long quiet, deep & somber echos – of my beloved cello… which sadly, is propped up, untouched in abandoned solitude.  It’s beautiful, but now represents nothing more than an ornament… as it no longer holds an appeal for me – especially when I consider it’s classical piquancy…  and that list of rigid rules and sharp, knife like edges of competition in the orchestras… oof… No thank you!  That doesn’t muster any inclination within me – to pick that cello back up – again.

I love the freedom of the fiddle… & relish the sweet solitude of sitting on the porch swing – and fiddling out anything and everything that comes into my head.  But too, I also love the companionship of other musicians – and weaving the music together from our hearts…  lifting each other up – to bring the tune to life.  Which is why I tend to love the Irish tunes… as they have so much history… stories, folk lure and feelings.

It’s so hard to even put into words – but I can physically feel it – when a tune begins to breathe…  when the uilleann pipes and the fiddle fuse into one -holding the melody;  then the mandolin and sometimes a tin whistle or flute – brings in the dancing counter melodies that tip-toe in an amongst the melodic notes of the pipes & fiddle…  then this foundation – is raised & supported – by the skillful weaving & twining together of chords & progressions that ring between guitar, octave mandolin and bouzouki, that floats and tilts the major & minor chords – adding pleasant and unexpected diversions that draw quick glances from the other musicians,  & sometimes make eyebrows raise, with unexpected delight.

I love when a tune grows like this, and comes alive… pulsing with the steady beat of the bending, goat skin of the bodhran.  So… for me, in each tune – to be a part of lifting a tune up – whether by myself, or with musical friends, and making the tune breathe – is one of the most magical & rewarding things of playing music & being a musician… and it’s an amazing feeling – to be part of, & play music with friends who actually get it.

One evening, not long ago, after a night of playing music with a very dear friend, Frank Curran, who sadly and unexpectedly passed away recently…  said to me  “Jennifer,  I love the SPACES – you put between the notes… ”      Wow… what a beautiful perspective!   That is what got me thinking about all this.  Those spaces…  I’ve never  had any interest in machine gunning out notes… playing them in rapid succession when playing a tune…  but rather, I enjoy giving each note – the space to shine.  But must clarify… that sometimes – sure, the tunes do get running fast & furious – and the notes become like marathon runners – in the last 50 feet of the race… but there’s still got to be breathing… not run the tune into the ground till it’s dead.  The notes have to have swing and life… which is (to me) is important to keep contained in the music… and which is what I believe raises the tunes up.  Idk if any of this makes sense at all… Ahh… maybe it’s just ramblings.

But – what spurred this on? As a little girl, my parents had a friend who use to come visit, & he’d tell us stories about how he jumped out of air planes, into fires.  He was some sort of elite type of fireman – from the forests of the Western US.   His name was Gene… (Jean?)  and he use to bring us meat wrapped in brown paper – elk or moose – that my Mom would cook up.  We were pretty poor, so meat was kinda a big deal.  But whenever Gene came through town… he always had his vehicle, packed with instruments that he would take out & play.  Days were spent playing music & Gene would say… “Jennifer, go get your dulcimer”  Or “Go get your uke and come play music with us.”   Wow. Even just typing that now,  my heart still leaps at the memory.  I could play lots of chords on that little baritone Uke,  and sing all the songs from my Dad’s old, worn, Pete Seeger song book.  

I remember singing  “It takes a worried man, to sing a worried song”…  which, in retrospect was a pretty odd song for a little girl of 7 years old to sing…  but I could also sing  “Wayfaring Stranger” “Down in the Valley” and a lots of other songs which I still sing today.  My Dad’s ‘reel to reel’ recorder would come out and get set up – and they’d record their music with microphones… which I thought was just the coolest thing ever.    I loved listening to the music – even after I went to bed.  Idk what ever happened to Gene… but he was always a pretty cool visiter.

Once, I remember hearing what I thought – (from my 8 year old perspective) – were gypsies… We were living in Colorado.  The fire was crackling… and my parents were sitting by it, playing cards.  Being sent to bed,  I lay in the darkness – breathing as quietly as I could… listening for bears.   I was SOO afraid that bears, or some other hungry, wild creature might get me… or worse, get my Mom…  (#fearsOfAnOnlyChild)  But as I lay there in the darkness… the sudden, sweet, jingling notes of a mandolin – came drifting to me in the air.

Then, gentle guitar chords joined… then a tin whistle & a fiddle – blending with the mandolin’s sweet song…  and all the notes melded into the sweetest music I’d ever heard.  The music drifted down from the mountain – dancing down along the wooded incline, of the night-shadowed mountain.   I listened to their music for a long time, forgetting my fears of the bears – instead, listening and dreaming as the gypsies played tune after tune through the night.  I wished I was part of that.

Now I AM… a part of that… and I am one of those fun, wild, musical gypsies…. with the music drifting into the air…

and quite happily, playing music with amazing friends… lol… Hum…  It’s interesting where we travel in life…  and fascinating the paths we traverse, and who crosses our paths, comes into our light,  and into our life… (as long as it’s not a bear…  I’m good with all this)… lol… not that I have anything against bears… )

Well… that’s it for now!  Enjoying the summer… which is fleeting so quickly!  Loving my gardens… herb beds, making kombucha, tinctures and salves, lovin’ the chickens,  & playin’ tunes… camping, laughing, dancing and living life to the fullest… why not, this isn’t a dress rehearsal.

Tunefully… soulfully… thoughtfully…

Jennifer

 

 

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St Stephen’s Green Public House

February 19, 2019 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

Every Tuesday night – Year Round – at St Stephen’s Green Public House, in beautiful Spring Lake Heights, NJ

I lead the music along with Philip on Tuesdays, and we play traditional Irish music & songs – from 7:00 – 10:00 pm….  This is the BEST Irish pub on the Jersey Shore… and a place you won’t want to miss!   It’s located in the beautiful “Irish Rivera” of Spring Lake, on the Jersey Shore.

So come enjoy the excellent menu, and fine spirits – at the beautiful  “Green”

 Play traditional Irish music?  

Come sit in with us for a tune or two!

 

 

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During these cold, quiet, winter months…

February 7, 2019 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

I’ve never been adverse to the cold, or winter… but rather – I find a great degree of comfort in the quiet, dark, days – where the demands of the gardens & outside chores, have been greatly diminished, or gone temporarily dormant…  while laying quietly & patiently, under the white frost & snow, for Spring to come & renew them once again.

So I’m striving to deepen my level of knowledge this winter… regarding herbs & their natural benefits, applications, and what can be gained from their use.  My interest, primarily spurred on – with my goal to keep healthy chickens…  (and keep us healthy too).  But this is my first Winter with chickens – and the sweet little hens all seem to take it in stride, & I’m the one that’s anxious for them.  I do dote on them greatly.   The cold’s been vicious this year, but I’ve kept lots of deep bedding in the coop, clean straw in their run (so they don’t have to get their little feet too terribly cold)… and I’m always working at keeping their health & immune systems strong with good food, fresh veggies & – the best herbs I can get to compliment all of this.  It’s a lot like I do for the family and the ‘girls’ seem happy about it all, as I’ve not even seen any slowing down with their generous giving of their beautiful eggs – this winter.

Of course, I’ve had 3 people ask me if they can live in my little glamour, chicken coop… and if I’ll cook for them too… haha.   It is a cozy, clean little coop – and I’m happy – espeically in the bitter temps we’ve had this winter – that the reflective, insulation we put up – inside, under the wainscoting – has kept the coop about 15 – 18  degrees warmer than the outside temps – and the humidity is staying low!   Yay!

But it has been bitterly cold, and sadly, my outside time is a bit more limited than I’d prefer.  But I’ve turned my mind to fascinating reading & research – and I’m happy I have the time to explore all my interests.

Of course I’m still writing poetry & songs…  & creating & learning new tunes, and teaching – and learning from teaching… (which always amazes me – how I find such a reward in giving &  teaching others)…  but I’ve really stretched my mind this winter –  stretched it, to the farthest extents of even my own imagination… and I’m finding even those very boundaries – are expanding almost daily… pushing into endless, wonderful discoveries.   I’ve travelled deeper into researching herb – compiling the medicinal qualities & the mind, body & soulful benefits – of each herb… haha… I guess I’m kinda taking my kitchen witchery – to the next level.

I’ve had great success drying the bountiful bunches of herbs & beneficial flowers that grew so abundantly in my gardens last summer.  I enjoyed the task of routinely collecting what grows each week, in bunches – & putting them up to dry.  I did this right up until late Fall…  when that first hard frost, put a stop to my endeavors.

But still, I salvaged as much as I could, before the winter’s frost nipped everything down. I potted & brought as many of the plants as I could, inside to the garage, and I kept a few cherished herb plants, & some flowers I didn’t want to do without. They actually thrived pretty well in the sunny corner there.  I know…. it looks like a total, messy disaster… but it was actually pretty organized – for a cluster of chaos!  I like to think of it as ‘artfully disheveled’…   haha…

But I used the salvaged herbs & flowers I’d brought in – right up till – well… actually until today… when I decided to cart all the spent plants – out to the chicken run… and let the ‘girls’ have at it’ – with whatever was left of the herbs & flowers.  Boy, they are efficient, working, little machines! These chickie girls, when it comes to cleaning up – their work can’t be matched!!!   They picked the plants clean… and then they proceeded to scratch and turn up the soil in my planting containers… thus making my future work this coming Spring… so much easier!

But I have truly enjoyed using all the herbs – in cooking, & making relaxing teas that aid in immunity boosting tonics, as well as tapping their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant uses, helping joint pain with antiseptic salves, and even relief from colds.  Not to mention… sprinkling it all – liberally into the hen’s feed & nesting boxes too.  I’d gathered enough to use as a beneficial, all natural supplement, that was immune boosting, an insecticide & rodent repellant.  (And I only had 1 foolish little mouse… who thought he could crash in the coop for winter… nestling down into the deep straw… but when the girls found him… well… let me just say – the blood was spattered up the walls from their feast).  Not a speck of hyde nor hair was left of him… for those hens are tenacious hunters!  Google “chicken eats mouse” on youtube if you want the details… YIKES!  It’s insane!

But I just love the fresh herbs…and each day – the coop – smells SO good!  Fresh straw, and herbs… and my home made, all organic cleaning liquid that I make with Orange, cinnamon & cloves – & well… the coop doesn’t smell like a coop.  So why so much care?  Because it feels great to know they’re getting the best and most wholesome benefits I can provide, and they’re being fed a wonderful, healthy diet… and the large, beautiful eggs they so generously give us each day – are the best quality for us.

So though music runs – as it always has, thick through my veins, this is yet another prism of the diamond I am…. And yes, my fiddle is always on the kitchen counter – while I’m prepping meals, or drying herbs & jarring them for medicinal purposes in slaves, teas and nesting box mixes…  as well as my beloved batches of kombucha, home made yogurt & breads, fermenting sour kraut, kefir and fire ciders!

I can honestly say it’s been one of the best winter’s ever… and when I’m waking each morning… before dawn… (though it IS – tough – occasionally,)  I’ve found that heading outside in that early morning light

… to let the hens out -to start their day… even in the bracing, icy morning air… it makes me feel incredibly grateful & hugely alive,  as I watch the dawn wake the world.  And as I’m greeted by the sweetest little hens… who honestly approach each morning with such eager enthusiasm – it’s a wonderful reminder to me – to embrace each day.   But I’m so grateful too, that I have the luxury to follow my dreams, interests and desires –  and I”m SO thankful that I can continue my journey in learning, growing and developing.

I honestly, don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I set out to accomplish each morning – and yet at the end of the day… with dirt under my nails… messy hair – (usually stuck with at least 1 piece of straw…)  and either paint spattered, or flour, or rosin dusting my sleeves…  I honestly fall asleep each night – really happy.   It’s been a long time since I could honestly say that… and I’m so truly grateful.

Tunefully… Jennifer

 

 

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Time to rekindle… as Autumn returns.

October 20, 2018 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

Summer’s hot days and humidity are finally gone and Autumn is finally arrived… and in retrospect, though I’m an avid fiddler… and play tunes every day, teach fiddle lessons & gig… I realized there wasn’t as much music this year – out on our front porch – as there usually was.  Somehow, I realize now, the projects, chores and work weighed in a bit more than expected…

Starting out last Spring, with bright eyes & great expectations with all we wanted to do… we somehow allowed the (although exciting & beneficial) projects to become just a bit more consuming – than we thought…  and they ended up taking more time… but thankfully now… these monster size projects – are finishing up!

But this summer was truly a season of tremendous growth & accomplishment… and it’s a rewarding realization, to look back at everything we did & planted, that has since flourished & prospered.  Though, even into October…  I’ve continued forward with the goals we set, and I put in quite a sizable addition to our existing herb bed, where I planted about 100 cloves of garlic – for a Winter crop… so things continue still, to grow.

The harvesting of the fragrant herbs, were a real joy to collect through out the summer… and I do love my handmade, antler basket that a dear friend made for me. It’s great for the harvesting…  though in winter, it works nicely for my yarns and such!

The veggie garden’s spent now, but hopefully – my medicinal herb garden will hold on a little while longer as the days get colder.  I hope to get one more good harvest from the plants that are still thriving in the chilly days – and I’ll get their greens snipped, bundled and hung onto the big, old drying rack – before the hard frost nips everything down to the ground.

But the realization just recently hit me…  as the wood stove was fired up again, and my old “beloveds” as I like to call them…  (a comfortable, well worn, old fiddle & my sweetest voiced mountain dulcimer)  have come creeping out from their remote perches…  where they’ve sat quietly… waiting most patiently for me – all summer long…

     

It’s with a joyful swelling of my heart… to hear Philip’s native flutes & whistles… following suit… gently joining into the chorus… and coming forward to bask tunefully in the warm and golden glow of the first, Autumn’s evening fires.   And like a treasured, unforgotten memory… I smiled as I felt their strings under my fingers again… and heard Phil’s comfortable and familiar melodies – lilting & melding perfectly – in-between my notes, even after such a long season apart.   I predict it will be a tuneful Winter… and I can’t wait!

tunefully,

Jennifer

 

 

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