[Dixielandjazz] Re:Hardest instrument to learn

Bill Gunter jazzboard@hotmail.com
Thu, 20 Jun 2002 12:38:43 +0000

Hi Listmates,

>I don't know the hardest instrument to learn but I do know the easiest....
>probably washboard!

The washboard, like any percussion instrument, offer the easiest way to 
elicit a noise of some sort by simply hitting it with a stick or whatever 
sort of hammer is handy. Anyone, including infants, can do this simple 
exercise . . . "take a stick and hit it."

But to imply that this is 'learning how to play a washboard' is like saying 
that to fart is learning how to play a wind instrument! This is, of course, 
poppycock, balderdash and a vicious canard!

A washboard, while appearing to be a simple concept, offers as much 
challenge to the musician as learning to play any instrument in the 
percussion section. Elements of phrasing, timing, articulation and 
technique, timbre, all offer unique challenges which only practice and 
dedication can overcome to produce groovy stuff!!!

I am but a mere student, a humble practitioner of the art and the more I 
learn the more I need to learn . . . just like the ax you play!

I listen to such virtuosos as Ralf Reynolds and am only beginning to get 
successful at stealing his licks!

Any discussion of contemporary washboard players must include Stephen 
Joseph, Bob Raggio, and Ralf Reynolds who have advanced the art form from a 
simple whacking on an appliance to an exciting rhythmic element which can 
add color and excitement while it drives a band into one hot chorus after 

And this doesn't even include a discussion of the washboard bands of the 20s 
and 30s which were immensely popular.

Just my 2 cents worth and respectfully submitted,

Bill "Thimbles" Gunter

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