In our THIRD unit of Kindermusik for the Young Child, we study musical instruments, styles and cultures from around North America. We start with the unique music from the Appalachian Mountains. Students are introduced to a wide variety of objects that they may have never considered as instruments – spoons, for example, a musical saw, a jaw harp (who sees or hears one of those these days?).
But, by far, the students are intrigued by the use of a washboard as an instrument. I can play a bit of fun rhythms in class. But the real “current” specialist in this instrument, and all sorts of old time music instruments, is David Holt. For an EXCELLENT history of how this music developed, you simply MUST see his website: www.davidholt.com , and click on “The Roots of Mountain Music”.
In this video, David introduces (by picture) the oldest person in the world, Susie Brunson. Susie was happy to share her music with him, but longed to hear “a good washboard player at least one more time”, so she convinced him to play it, and taught him how to set it up, and play it right – with thimbles.
There are many fine musicians that have used this instrument in the past, and David Holt has made it his life’s goal to interview all of the “masters” of their art, and to learn from them, allowing generations of music and song, to be passed down another generation. And he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge with further generations.
In this next video, he interviews William Cook in West Palm Beach, Florida. William Cook, is known as “Washboard Bill” and is “the world’s best washboard player”. Just check out his instrumental set up. The interview was in 1988 when Cook was 82.
That ought to give you a special taste of that Mountain Music, and leave you wanting to find one of those special “lingerie” washboards. I have TWO to play in MY KIndermusik class, with thimbles or spoons. Don’t you wish you were in my class to try them out ?!