The Civil War remembered on the dulcimer
The Spencer Public Library will welcome "The Dulcimer Guy," Mike Anderson who will conduct two programs in conjunction with the summer reading program June 7. Children are invited to attend, "Songs, Stories and a Boingy Boingy Thing," at 2 p.m. and adults with an interest in history are encouraged to check out, "Musical Instruments, Music and Stories of the Civil War," at 6 p.m.
"I tend not to add to any of the songs because there are too many people who know the material," Anderson said. "Some of the popular songs are: 'Rally Around the Flag,' 'Battle Cry of Freedom,' 'Aura Lee,' 'Dixie' and possibly 'My Old Kentucky Home.' Many members of the adult program audience will be familiar with them, they might have sung these songs in elementary music class."
Anderson, who works as an entertainer at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois, attempts to use music similar to what the soldiers might have used during the war to relay Union and Confederate soldiers' daily accounts of the conflict which divided the nation for more than four years.
"I hope the audience gets a respect for what some of these guys were going through," Anderson said. "I think people will be exposed to a little bit of history and some new information through my performances. Most importantly, I hope they come away with a smile on their face."
Anderson said the Civil War was one of the most prolific times for American songwriters inspiring more music to be composed than from any other single event in American history. Many of the songs were originally produced as sheet music before becoming part of the oral tradition which helped the songs to be passed down through the generations.
Spencer Public Library adult program coordinator Robin Munson said these programs are part of an effort by the library staff to feature musical performances this summer to coincide with this year's summer reading program theme, "Libraries Rock."
"Music is universal, especially with children," Munson said. "Children can get more involved through music. Music is very interactive. A lot of adults are interested in history so this program really has broad appeal. I think through music, people are able to retain a bit more, enjoy what has been said and maybe even remember. When you are dealing with history, it can be drab and boring, but bringing in music can lighten it up."