Mike Moxcey ©2001

What is a Dobro?

This lesson covers This is the most fun and most exciting because I usually show up with five or more instruments. It's often the first lesson I do so I give a quick overview of families of instruments. I play the Ukulele, Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo, and Dobro but the information imparted could be easily done with just a Uke and Guitar.
  1. Three Families of Musical Instruments

  2. Guitar is next.
    I ask what instrument this is, then

    Then I pick If You're Happy and You Know It while talking about how nice the guitar sounds. Every class I've ever done, even 3-year-olds, recognizes the song so they get excited and can hardly wait to sing. Ask if they sing, "if you really want to show it" or if they sing, "and your face will surely show it."

    After the complete song (I usually play two verses, then move to mandolin and play two more for preschoolers), then I discuss how we made noises from all three instrument families. There was my Guitar for strings, hand-clapping and foot-stomping or knee-patting for percussion, and what did we do for Wind? I reinforce the soundbox concepts in older classes by saying my voicebax is bigger so I can make lower notes and my lungs are larger so I can make louder notes.

  3. Mandolin: is smaller than Guitar (like the Uke) but has steel strings. Is unique because of the pairs of strings. I finish If You're Happy and You Know It then discuss how we used the three families of instruments.

  4. Banjo: is next. Similar in size to the Guitar and with the same type of strings, the difference in sound is due solely to the difference in soundbox. The banjo has a resonator that looks like a drum. Talk across the top of the banjo to hear the echo.

    Put on the fingerpicks and show how they fit your fingers and then demo the twang sound.

    I play three verses of She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes then say that's the end of the song (Usually I have a poster or papers with all the extra movements and sounds the kids make so they know I'm teasing).

  5. Dobro. This is shaped like a guitar but it has a banjo resonator stuck inside of it. Looks like a big face. It was invented about 50 years ago by the Dopero Brothers who cut a hole in a guitar and put a banjo resonator in it. It is played with fingerpicks like the Banjo but you use a slide. Show it, then strum across the strings and slide up. Then make eerie Halloween sounds. I finish She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes then display the handout suitable for coloring which shows a Guitar + Banjo = Dobro and also has little pictures of the Ukulele and Mandolin and various picks.

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