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Local church gives free bluegrass lessons
Norma Denty leaned over six-year-old David Baas to place his fingers in the correct position over a guitar. Her husband Jeff sat alongside David’s 11-year-old sister Erica picking a string.
“You can play a song using just one chord,” Jeff said as he produced a familiar camp song.
The Dentys and others who play stringed instruments – guitar, violin, mandolin and banjo – offer private instruction in the downstairs area of St. John Lutheran Church.
Instruction in the bluegrass genre is not limited to the young. Larry Baas came with several nieces and nephews who live nearby.
Over in a corner Rev. Thomas Phillips, himself an accomplished violinist, strummed a banjo with Larry Edwards.
The Hilltop church is the third in the city where these musicians take time to work with others - working out of St. John for eight weeks.
They also visit Baptist churches on the Southside and Eastside.
The main thing Denty likes to see out of such sessions is a positive Christian experience with adults, something, he said, that does not happen often in the area.
“They’ll pick up some instruction,” said Denty, who chose a career in computers because it was more financially secure than being a musician.
All the instruments lining two rows of tables in the church basement were donated or purchased with donated funds.
After several minutes on the guitar, Erica joined Jim Ross for some instruction on mandolin as brother, David, watched.
In another room their nine-year-old sister Jordan was getting a lesson in playing the violin from Nelson Bartel as Westland High School junior Abigail Adams warmed up with the scales.
Not all the students come from the immediate area. Twelve-year-old Nick Daniels, holding a banjo, attends school in the Teays Valley School District in Pickaway County.
“I play the piano and clarinet,” Daniels said. “I tried the trumpet, the trombone, the flute, the sax. It didn’t work out.”
According to Ross, the musicians are talking about also offering songwriting opportunities and see how it all fits together.
Sessions at St. John Lutheran Church are free and all the instructors volunteer their time.
They gather at St. John every Tuesday at 4 p.m. People of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate.
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