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Can a modest fiddle tune change the world?

If David were alive today, I believe he would have been great friends with Jamie Laval--they would have had much to talk about.

During Laval's 2015 TED talk, he intersperses astonishing fiddle playing between making the case for the myriad ways traditional, live roots music has the power to connect us across time and space while generating interpersonal connections in surprising and gratifying ways.

Laval notes that the performance of a simple fiddle tune resonates with our souls. [Music] bridges the gap between the performer and the audience. People respond with your passion and take in interest in your dreams. People invariably leave the show in a happy frame of mind. (Notice the smiles on the audience's faces whenever he plays.)

He describes how the "rich, social movement" triggered by a public performance generates energy way beyond standing on a stage. Once a performance is booked, newspapers and radio reporters begin writing; local artists design posters and print shops get busy printing posters, flyers and tickets. Parents, friends and relatives of the performer call one another to urge them to attend the performance.

Fiddler Jamie Laval explains and demonstrates the power of fiddle tunes in his 2015 TED Talk.
Fiddle virtuoso Jamie Laval. Photo used with permission.

Those who take their children may see them dance unabashedly to the music. Often, additional musicians open for the performer; the ripple effect continues. Laval knows that a kind of magic takes place whenever people turn off the t.v., disconnect from the internet and immerse themselves in what interests them: when we do that, the world opens up to us.

If you are not a dulcimer player, you may not realize that many of the tunes fiddlers play are also played not only by professionals by by amateurs in dulcimer clubs across the world. (You'll read a bit in Pluck how how old-time "songcatchers" helped save historic fiddle tunes for us to enjoy today.)

If you are an amateur dulcimer player, Laval's talk is meaningful for you, too. Every time you and your dulcimer friends perform at a school, or at a nursing home, or for a community event, you touch more people than you may realize and bind them together through music.

Listen all the way to the end of Jamie Laval's talk to hear the important lesson he has learned from a lifetime of sharing his joy for playing. The next time you worry about a little mistake here or there in your performance, remember what he says to help you focus on the marvelous ripple effect your own modest little tune will have.

I have listened to Laval's TED presentation numerous times for its richness in music and spirit. David Schnaufer 's life is a testimony to the truth behind Laval's words and music. Perhaps he would have given a similar talk had he lived long enough to reflect publicly on the power of a niche instrument--the mountain dulcimer-- to shape his own Life Journey and to resonate with people around the world.

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