Hooked on Bluegrass

Aissa "AJ" Lee

First, I should say that I like the way Bluegrass music sounds. It kind of has an upbeat and I really like that. It makes you want to dance and clap your hands sometimes. I really want to be a mandolin player because it has a lot of fancy notes.

My mom hoped I would sing and play an instrument so she started me on a ukulele when I was 4. Then I moved onto a mandolin from there. She tuned the uke to a mandolin tuning and I learned a couple of chords. When my fingers were strong enough to handle the steel strings of the other instruments, I had fun learning more things. When you’re little, you don’t really know about acoustic instruments because there is so much more rock and electric playing going on. That’s what you see on TV a lot.

Actually, I’m finding out that each time I go somewhere, I am enjoying the Bluegrass music more. For instance, I like the teamwork involved and how a set can come together with a bunch of young players like myself. I hadn’t been playing with Molly and her brothers, Victor, Angelica, the Varners and Scott (to name a few) for many months. But when we do get together, I enjoy talking and being with everyone.

In Frank’s camp, Kids on Bluegrass, it involves a lot of working together. So if one person messes up, we have to do the whole thing over again. What I have learned from this is that if someone is counting on you, you should try to do your best. When I practice with my friends, it’s not the same as being on stage. I feel like I’m at home playing with them. When I’m all alone, I try to practice riffs repeatedly. Sometimes I play a song and I hear a part that seems simple, and I want to change it to something more interesting. Right now I don’t know my scales that well in different keys, but I’ve been getting more used to them.

One of my goals is to meet people that are better than I am and maybe get some tips from them. Another one of my goals is to at least sing or give a talk on the Grand Old Opry Stage. I like traveling to different places because sometimes the festivals are in different states and they might be in a state that I’ve never been to. For now, I want to continue playing Bluegrass music because it brings me joy and hopefully to other people.

(posted 6/28/2008)

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