Three Cheers, Ireland!


I did threaten to post non-music stuff regarding my personal thinking, so I’ll share the following thoughts on Ireland’s decision to recognize same-sex marriage.

“Why any government is in the marrying business is beyond me…..”

This comment  (on a banjo forum, of all places) puzzled me. And so I post herewith my response, edited but slightly from what I posted there.

It seems to me that the explanation to the poster of this statement is quite apparent: States recognize marriage because it is the state that must deal with the legal issues that accompany marriage:  Property ownership, divorce, taxes, inheritance, parental rights, cohabitation, etc. are some of those issues.

When a church takes on the role of enforcing such laws, one has a theocracy, and for most of us in the US, that is anathema, as we comprise so many different religious beliefs.  Any single religion’s laws would be totally irrelevant and thus unjust to many people.

There are, of course, religious institutions that recognize various states of “holy matrimony,” but couples can be, and often are (my wife and me, for example) married without involving religion whatsoever.  Thus, if a club or a church decides to pronounce a couple as “married,” it falls to the state to decide what this means vis-à-vis its laws.  The institution that “married” the couple (or group) has absolutely no say in those legal aspects, and can figuratively wash its hands of the matter if it so wishes.  By definition, it is only the state’s recognition that determines if a couple is “legally married.”

Right now, in my State of residence, North Carolina, any “ordained minister” can perform a legal marriage ceremony. Some years ago, my wife joined the Church of the Latter Day Dude and is ordained as a “Priestess.”  She has performed marriages in NC, marriages which remain fully accepted as legal.  Later, I joined an organization called GodSwill Ministries and am ordained in that “church.”  I, too, can legally perform marriages in NC (though I have not yet done so, I am available, of course!).

Throughout civilization, a couple’s pledge to each other–frequently in the presence of friends and family–has been “marriage” enough for all romantic and moral purposes.  Only with the advent of organized churches was this somehow assimilated into their purview.

What the majority in Ireland has decided is legally to recognize marriages of same-sex couples and grant them the same legal consideration as any other married people.  Who else should we wish to have such legal say?

Have fun! (Or else)

I think our educational system does us a disservice when it comes to private music instruction. Essentially, the former is predicated on “right” or “wrong,” and in music there is no “right” or “wrong.”

Most people approach their music lessons as they would the taking of a math course, with the expectation of being judged and graded, and having to pass “tests” to show their increasing proficiency.

Well, music–and especially banjo music–just doesn’t work that way.  I tell my students right at the outset that I have no expectations for them: any expectations are strictly their own.  I do not hold them to some measure of improvement–all I want them to do is to have some fun.

And that’s what it’s all about.  In 50-some years of teaching, I have had but one beginning student who already had a gig lined up.  He was a studio guitarist who had accepted a job playing banjo for a commercial jingle.  He told me he hated the banjo but needed to learn one short piece for a studio session in six weeks (he did).

Other than that, not one of the thousands of people I’ve taught was trying to learn on a timetable because he had a deadline.  Instead, everyone has said he was doing it “for himself.”

So to me, that means there is no pressure, and that my job as a teacher is to try to make the learning journey fun, for there is no destination.

Taking music lessons is far too expensive to be a frustration.  If you want to pay lots of money to be frustrated, I recommend golf.  You should “practice” your instrument because it’s rewarding and fun. (I put the word practice in quotation marks because I highly recommend not regimented practicing, but playing, instead–please see my 5 June 2015 blog on just that subject.)

I tell folks that if they drag their instruments out the day before their lessons, thinking “Oh, yeah, I guess I’d better practice this thing” they will never learn to play.  The folks who do learn to play are the ones who can’t put the instrument down.  And why is that?  Because it’s fun, not a chore.

So relax, have fun.  Experiment, noodle around.  Try to do that which pleases you.  And if you’re not having fun, please tell your teacher–something has to change, or you’ll just lose interest.

And that’s no fun at all.

I’m a Horrible Blogger

OK. I started a personal blog many years ago, and it withered on the vine.  I, as do all Banjo Hangout users, have blog space available at and I seem to be able to remember to get around to posting something there oh, maybe about once a year.

I just haven’t been very good at this, I fear… *sigh*

But I do post some things in threads and have come to realize that I repeat many things dealing with my teaching of the guitar and banjo.  Therefore, having more time in my retirement, I figured I might as well post some of those things here on what remains of the ZEPP Country Music, Inc. website, which I have promised a number of people that I shall maintain sans commercial content.

So, now I shall yet again endeavor to post some music-oriented blogs here, on my very own site.  I can’t promise that I won’t cut and paste some stuff from posts I’ve made, but at least things will be here in one place.  Likewise, I don’t promise this will be entirely music-oriented, as I suspect I’ll mention a few things about life and my philosophy.

Oh, I should also point out that my keyboard has had neither a “wIMG_20150519_142549404_HDR” nor a numeral “2” key for the past couple of years, thanks to the claws of a standard poodle who stood on my laptop.  So if one of those characters (or their shifted equivalents, “W” and “@”) seems to be missing somewhere, please feel free to use these to insert as needed: wwww 2222 WWWW @@@@

And if anybody actually reads this, who knows, I might continue…