I see. You're obviously from a very musical family. I'm the only one in my family who ever pursued an instrument seriously. In HS I needed to decide whether I wanted to become a professional trumpet player or a physicist, but I ultimately chose physics. I have always loved traditional music, and I work at a naval nuclear propulsion lab near Pgh. Around my 50th birthday, i finally scratched the itch and took up the banjo. I've been picking Clawhammer style for about 11 yrs now, but I recently started to become involved in a Civil War reenactment unit, so I got curious about minstrel style. Bought my first minstrel banjo last week, a Jim Hartel Levi Brown model. Thus far I've been tuning it as if were a regular Old Time banjo, in "A" or in double "D," only two and a half tones lower. Eventually I'll to play in minstrel tuning and learn the down stoke style.
I hear you about the phone. I was a professional bassoonist for 30 years, gave that up and took up the double bass. I had to give that up when I injured my right thumb. Banjo started as therapy and became a passion. I'm also a reenactor, Colonel of the 6th Regiment ANV. Maybe we'll run across each other on the field some day.
Cool! It seems we have at least a couple of interests in common. I "belong" to the 9th PA Reserves, but I plan to do a civilian impression, as I have back and hip issues that prevent me from marching or "fighting." I'm getting my right hip replaced next month on the 14th. The left one was done back in January of 2011. My other serious pastime is pocket watch collecting. I've written a book and numerous research articles on early American made pocket watches from the 1850 to 1875 period, which have been published by the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors. Nowadays, I am specializing in American watches with Civil War presentations or provenances. I have three so far, which belonged respectively, to a Lieutenant in the 25th Michigan Infantry, a Major in the 12th Indiana Cavalry, and a private in the 33rd Texas Cavalry (a.k.a. "Duff's Raiders").