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"Real Banjo Music"

Monday, February 20, 2012

I have always wondered why some folks must argue about what about what "Real Banjo Music" is. I love the banjo's voice and have, for many years, expressed and relayed my feelings by listening to others play it and by playing it myself. I listen to many genres and styles of music.  I enjoy some sounds and don't like some others.  I believe "Banjo Music" is too restrictive a term to describe either the instrument or the art form.

Music is the art form that uses organized sound to express and convey an emotional idea. It is produced on physical tools such as external musical instruments or body instruments such as the human voice.  The banjo plays music. To deny both the banjo and the music a free range of instrumental or genre associations and possibilities unfairly stifles and prevents a natural evolution of the art.

There are music lovers who like the traditional banjo sound that comes from using a music genre's original techniques. There are also those who like banjo music played with a less common genre busting experimental approach.  Neither group's tastes and opinions about banjo music are wrong.  They are only wrong if they express closed minded, self righteous and rigid opinions  about the validity of some musical interpretation they don't like. They are also wrong if they attack a person's intelligence or moral character if they express an opposing taste or opinion.

An artistic creation is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. It doesn't need validation from a person or group in order to exist. The evaluation of a creation's meaning and quality depends upon on an individual art lover's unique tastes and interpretation. 

We all should respect and accept people with differing tastes, beliefs and opinions. Agree to disagree, if necessary. There is room enough for every unique individual and their wonderfully diverse musical loves and expressions in that great Banjo and Music Lover Land.  

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Genre: Traditional
Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Genre: Old Time
Playing Style: Clawhammer and Old-Time

Genre: Jazz
Playing Style: Other

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Playing Since: 1960
Experience Level: Expert/Professional

[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: musician and teacher

Gender: Female
Age: 111

My Instruments:
Most fretted instruments, voice

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
I like too many to want to type in.

Classified Rating: not rated
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 12/19/2005
Last Visit 1/19/2016

Diane Sanabria, "Banjo Queen of the Pioneer Valley," has been wowing audiences with her unique fiery banjo playing for over twenty-five years.
Her life's vocation is the result of a potent combination of her parents' creativity genes. She recalls speaking Music first, and then learning English as a second language. Formal arts training began at four years old with classical accordion lessons from her musician father. The rest is herstory:

Diane is an award winning performer and educator who is a veteran of New York's High School of Music and Art. She developed her fretted instument skills under the guidance of classical guitar virtuoso Jerry Willard. She was then a classical guitar performance major at SUNY Stony Brook. American music, folklore, and banjo studies with the Red Clay Ramblers' Tommy Thompson inspired and fueled her music's stylistic, cultural and philosophical odyssey in the summer of 1975. She later earned a degree in music education from the University of Massachusetts, and is honered for her teaching excellence with her bio inclusion in "Who's Who of American Women".

The traditional music, dance and folklore community is a vibrant part of Western Massachusetts' cultural brilliance. This reputation is largely due to the vision and dedicated works of members of the Pioneer Valley Folklore Society. The society's 1980's projects greatly enriched the community's educational and entertainment offerings. PVFS projects included artist residencies in the schools, workshops and concerts, as well as research and publications about folk arts, artists, and cultural history. Valuable archived documentation of the region's cultural history exists today as a result of PVFS' legacy.

Diane contributed to this important education and documentation through her artistic and intellectual input as a PVFS board member, artist, educator and author during that decade. The Banjo Queen earned her royal title when she became the first and only woman to place first at the now legendary Newfane, Vermont banjo competition.

She has lent her musicianship, creativity, quick wit and sense of humor to groups such as Rude Girls, Speakeasy, the Briar Hill Ramblers, and duo work with Lyn Hardy. She also plays and calls for contra and square dances throughout the New England area.

The many musicians she inspires through banjo or guitar lessons affectionately address her as Queenee, and much of the clawhammer banjo style you hear in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts has roots in Diane Sanabria's playing style and teaching.

Diane's professional resume reflects a wide range of music interests and skills. Her students include members from an eclectic list of social groups, generations and abilities. She worked as an artist in residence and music specalist in the valley's public schools for a decade, and currently enjoys her position as banjo instructor at area colleges such as Amherst and Smith. She is also the founding mother and director of BanjoMucho, an eccentric and lovable turn of this century mostly banjo community band.

Folk music's memorable melodies help maintain its' vital role in a community's cultural identity and legacy. The Banjo Queen helps maintain her vital role in this community's cultural identity and legacy by keeping an analytical and truthful ear on history's memories, putting an intuitive and forgiving finger on popular culture's current pulse, and sustaining a hopeful, open minded creative vision for the invisible future.

Diane Sanabria teaches music lessons at her studio in western Massachusetts. Downtown Northamton's summer main street is often decorated with the sounds of her banjo streetplaying tunes. Stop by and say hello, toss a greenback dollar into the banjo case, and offer her a double espresso. You can then request your favorite song and probably engage her in a lively philosophical rant about almost anyhing.

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