Playing the bones

Oct. 02, 2013 @ 10:45 AM

Isothermal Community College students were introduced to a unique style of music during a Culture Cafe event on Tuesday.

Becky Cleland and Ben Seymour, the husband and wife team that make up the group called Gingerthistle, demonstrated how to play the bones during the event that was hosted by the school’s Team for the Advancement of the Learning College (TALC) Cultural Events Taskforce. The group hosts a cultural event once a month.

“We do this to open people’s minds and expose them to things that are new to them,” said Kathy Ackerman, dean of arts and sciences. “We also want to celebrate how much talent there is around our area.”

Cleland and Seymour have been performing traditional Celtic and Appalachian folk since 1980 and have produced four recordings. They have performed at a variety of venues including the Loch Norman Highland Games at Lake Norman, Festifall at Walnut Grove and Appalachian Folk Festival in Roanoke, Va.

During the event on Tuesday, Cleland demonstrated the fine points of holding the bones to make a desired sound. The couple gave out shims for the audience to practice with.

“It’s kind of neat. It’s not like any other instrument you play,” Cleland said. “You kind of set up a condition so that gravity will help you play them. It’s hard for people to get that and they usually just try to bang them together.”

Cleland said there is usually only a few people that can accurately learn the playing method.

“The best reward is seeing somebody get it and begin to play,” Cleland said.

After the demonstration, Cleland and Seymour played some examples of their music for the audience.

For more information about Gingerthistle visit

To view a video of the performance visit this link HERE.