The Sun News

Q&A with Elizabeth Garrett

By MICHAEL W. PANNELL Sun News correspondent

Elizabeth Garrett
Elizabeth Garrett

Residence: Perry

Member: Sonic Sounds Dulcimer Club

Q: How long have you been playing dulcimer?

A: Since 2003, so 13 years.

Q: What got you started?

A: I saw a man playing on TV. I started playing with a Macon club at the time, then I joined the group here when it started about 10 years ago.

Q: What's the group here?

A: The Sonic Sounds. We're 10 or so people who get together every week and play. We've had as many as 18 and as few as three. It's nice getting together with others who enjoy playing as much as I do. Plus, we've taught a good many people to play through the years. Some stay long-term and some short-term just to try it out or learn a few things. Some aren't interested in the performing we do.

Q: When and where do you meet?

A: Every Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Centerville United Methodist Church.

Q: What are the meetings like?

A: When we have new players, the first 30 minutes is devoted to beginner lessons. We bring them up to speed. After that, the group works on new music then we all just jam and have a good time.

Q: What sort of music do you do?

A: Old-time fiddle tunes, gospel music, hymns, patriotic songs. Right now we're working on a group of Stephen Foster tunes. One year we focused on music from the movie "Brother, Where Art Thou." We love to play waltzes. I guess they're probably our favorite.

Q: How did Sonic Sounds start?

A: Laneah Maddox, who was choir director at Centerville United Methodist at the time, got interested in dulcimers and started the group. She leads it still. She, Jean Noble and I were the first members.

Q: Do you have dues? What does it cost?

A: There aren't any dues for our group. It's free. We chip in every now and then for supplies and to copy music. But if you want to be part of the North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association -- the association we belong to -- there are dues of $20 a year. You have to be a member to go to the Fall Festival and association events, but you don't have to pay dues just to join us on Thursdays.

Q: Who can join? Do you have to have a musical background?

A: Anybody who wants to play can join. You just need a sense of rhythm. You don't even have to play dulcimer. You can play or learn dulcimer but any acoustic instrument that fits in is welcome: guitar, ukulele, psaltery, banjo, mandolin -- those sorts of things.

Q: How can the group be contacted?

A: You can call Leneah at 912-687-3621 or me at 478-987-4793. Or you can come to a meeting. A good opportunity is to come to a special concert we're having Saturday. We have a workshop Saturday that ends with a concert by Joe Collins from 6 to 7 p.m. at the church. It's just $5 and the public is welcome. It's a good way to hear what dulcimer music can be like plus meet some of the group.

Q: How many do you think you've taught to play?

A: I don't even know. Quite a few. We even have a sturdy cardboard dulcimer that sounds really good we loan beginners to use it while they decide if they want to play or what dulcimer they want to buy.

Q: How much does a dulcimer go for?

A: A good beginning dulcimer runs about $300, then up from there.

Q: What do you personally get out of it?

A: Fellowship. And it's relaxing. Playing the dulcimer is relaxing. We all love the music and the instrument. It's fun. It's just fun and the group is no pressure, just a relaxing time. We enjoy performing but that's mainly to share it with other people.

Q: Where do you perform?

A: We've played in prisons, for nursing homes, churches and church groups. We've done homecomings and weddings, but the group hasn't done any funerals yet. We've played festivals and similar events.

Q: And it's fun?

A: It is. And it keeps your brain active learning new things. Good people play the dulcimer. They're just the nicest people.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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