Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Triumph of Death, oil on panel, 46 x 63.8 in., 1562, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Music- including blues – speaks to major crises,  and pandemics are no exception. The influenza epidemic of 1918-19 spawned many blues songs. Perhaps the most memorable of these is “The 1919 Influenza Blues.” We begin with a recent article by Shalom Goldman in Informed Comment, reprinted here with the permission of the author and publisher. Continue reading “BLUES IN TIMES OF PANDEMIC”

A WORD FROM YOUR DIRECTOR (2) by Stewart Hendrickson

Recently my life has taken a major new turn. This began with placing my wife in memory care last November at Aegis Living at Rodgers Park in Queen Anne (Seattle). Our large 4-bedroom, 3-bath house seemed too much for me, so I bought a condo in Ballard (Seattle), emptied the old house and put it on the market for sale. This consumed all of my energy for almost three months (the house is now sold!), and I am adjusting to a new life. Needless to say, I have had little energy or time for the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society. Now the corona virus (COVID-19) has added new complications. Continue reading “A WORD FROM YOUR DIRECTOR (2) by Stewart Hendrickson”


It sounds like some kind of game, but “kinesthetic” refers to learned movement that becomes automatic. I’ve been writing about it for years. It’s the result of consistent and focused practice; the point at which a specific sequence of movements becomes a kinesthetic habit is the point at which you can feel the effort decrease, the flow of the music improve, the ability to play expressively increase, and you get the feeling that your movements are on “autopilot”. Professionals know all about this, and it’s at this point and beyond that music playing becomes the lovely thing that makes music playing look easy. Continue reading “CAN YOU LEARN MUSIC KINESTHETICALLY, by Laurie Riley”

CELEBRATE WINTER, by Stewart Hendrickson

When I grew up in Southern California I had no idea of seasons. Aside from the fact that there was no rain from May through September, and some rain in the other months, we had no weather, only climate. It wasn’t until I moved to Illinois for graduate school, and later lived twenty-eight years in Minnesota and twenty-three years now in Seattle, that I learned to appreciate the seasons. Although my favorite season is summer, the other seasons remind me that life is cyclical. The inexorable turn of the year with its different seasons reminds me that life also changes. Each decade is different as we move from youth to old age. Continue reading “CELEBRATE WINTER, by Stewart Hendrickson”


Modern research shows that music stimulates the brain. Music listening and performance are enhanced by the way we use both parts of our asymmetrical brain. Understanding how this works is the key to enjoying music, learning music, and improving your performance. Continue reading “MUSIC AND THE ASYMMETRIC BRAIN, by Stewart Hendrickson”

FIDDLE MUSINGS, by Stewart Hendrickson

When someone asks me how long I have played the violin, I tell them about seventy years. But that’s not true. That includes about forty-five years that I didn’t play at all. About twenty years ago I started playing again, this time the fiddle and not the violin. Much of what I had learned as a kid came back to me, but then I had to learn all those tunes. Learning to play the fiddle (or violin) is really a life-long process; one never arrives at the final destination, but it is the journey that makes it worthwhile.
Continue reading “FIDDLE MUSINGS, by Stewart Hendrickson”

KEEP MUSIC LIVE AT THE COUTH, by Stewart Hendrickson

The Pacific Northwest Folklore Society has produced a distinctive series of live music concerts at Couth Buzzard Books since May, 2010. The last concert on Sunday, June 9, with Claudia Schmidt is an example of what we do best: a renown performer in a small intimate space – fifty-two people that Sunday – at the same level allowing maximum interaction between the performer and audience, pure acoustic sound with no obtrusive electronics, and all for a very affordable donation. With the generosity of Theo Dezielak, owner of the Couth, we get a free venue along with refreshments and some friendly baristas to serve us. But we need to talk about the real cost of live music at the Couth and how best to sustain it. Continue reading “KEEP MUSIC LIVE AT THE COUTH, by Stewart Hendrickson”

THE RIVERS OF WASHINGTON, by Stewart Hendrickson

Columbia River Gorge facing east toward Beacon Rock

The Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Stilliguamish, Shoalwater, Columbia, Copalis, Clearwater, Kalaloch, Klickitat, Humptullips, Hamma Hamma, Hoh, Dosewallips, Dungeness, Puyallup, Pilchuck, Physt, Quillayutte, Queets, Grey Wolf, Yakima, Taholah, Tieton, Naches, Elwha, Raft, Moclips…  When I first moved to Washington I was amused by the recitation of rivers in weather reports of flooding. There ought to be a song there. In fact, there are several. Continue reading “THE RIVERS OF WASHINGTON, by Stewart Hendrickson”


A painting on an ancient Greek vase depicts a music lesson (c. 510 BC)

Why Teach Music?
Music is a science
Music is mathematical
Music is a foreign language
Music is history
Music is a physical education
Music is all these things, but most of all music is art

That is Why We Teach Music:
Not because we expect you to major in music
Not because we expect you to play or sing all your life
Not so you can relax
Not so you can have fun
Not because we expect you to major in music
But so you will be human
So you will recognize beauty
So you will be sensitive
So you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world
So you will have something to cling to
So you will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good–in short, more life.
Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living unless we know how to live?

That is Why We Teach Music!

TOM LEHRER – Mathematician and Musical Satirist, by Stewart Hendrickson

Sometime in the late 1970s there was a student/faculty talent show at St. Olaf College where I taught chemistry. My colleague Dewayne Wee, a piano professor in the music department, and I decided to perform a song. We wanted to look very professional and appear musically cultured, so we dressed in formal tuxedos. Dwayne sat down at the grand piano, and I stood beside it and began to sing a beautiful love song: Continue reading “TOM LEHRER – Mathematician and Musical Satirist, by Stewart Hendrickson”