RSS

Skill Levels? How do I compare?

Skill Levels? How do I compare?
by Steve Eulberg

All of us ask this question at some time or another.

What is my skill level as a musician?  What is my skill level on THIS instrument that I am learning to play?

From a practical perspective, this is how many festivals and workshops ask us to assess ourselves as we enroll in classes and workshops.  I learned this first hand when I started the Colorado Dulcimer Festival many years ago.  This was the question asked both by the students and the teachers with whom we contracted to provide instruction as we asked them to aim their workshops to particular skills levels, so that all ranges of experience and abilities would be addressed, challenged and supported.

This is also the question which led us to create the Flow Chart above to help people navigate through all the many lessons we have at DulcimerCrossing.com to help them reach their musical goals.

At one level this question also boils down to:  “How do I compare with other players?”   (I personally feel this is a less important comparison than this:

“How do I compare with my desired goals as a player of this instrument?”)

But we’ll leave that philosophical discussion for the moment.

Below are the Skill Levels that I developed for the Colorado Dulcimer Festival and they continue to guide the lessons that we provide at DulcimerCrossing.com

About the Skill Levels

To help you pick the best workshops for your experience, all of our workshops are classified by the skill level of the material. Although you’re welcome to attend any classes you’d like (and there will be no test), you’re likely to get more from classes designed with somebody of your skill in mind.

Mountain Dulcimer (MD)

Absolute Beginner MD: No previous Dulcimer experience nor musical background necessary.

Beginner level MD: You know how to hold your instrument, and can strum and play some simple tunes. You may not feel confident yet, but you love the music that your instrument can make! These classes will help you learn some chords, gain more comfort with your instrument and your ability to find and play tunes by ear and from music and tablature.

Intermediate MD: You have the skills of the previous levels and you’ve learned the basics of strumming and reading tablature, you need to expand your playing techniques and musical theory. Learn to embellish your basic music with hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides; to adapt an arrangement with different chord positions; to play in and modulate to different keys with and without a capo or retuning; to flatpick and fingerpick a tune. You can find play in different tunings.

Advanced MD: You have the skills of the other levels plus the ability to play at least 4 chords in DAD or DAA tuning, to use 2-3 fingers (left hand), and be comfortable with at least 2-3 basic rhythms, utilize melody runs on all the strings using scales, then adding arpeggios and patterns from within chords, as well as a strummed chordal melody.

Hammered Dulcimer (HD)

Absolute Beginner HD: No previous Dulcimer experience nor musical background necessary.

Beginner level HD: You know how to hold your hammers, the basic layout of your Dulcimer and how to play within the box, and are comfortable playing some simple tunes by ear and/or music. These classes will help you learn some chords, gain more comfort with your instrument and your ability to find and play tunes by ear and from music and tablature.

Intermediate HD: You have the skills of the previous levels and you can play some simple chords. These classes will help you with ornamentation, finding those occasional weird chromatic notes, and hammering techniques.

Advanced HD: You have the the skills of the other levels plus the ability to lead with either hand, play by ear and/or music/tablature. You are very familiar with the layout of your dulcimer and can play in several major and minor keys.


What do You Think?  Do these match with your understanding of your self-assessment?  Do you have further suggestions?  Please let us know in the comments below.

 

Tags: ,

Bing Futch

Bing Futch

by Linda Ratcliff

I think one of our favorite mountain dulcimer players is Bing Futch. You never know what’s gonna happen next at a Bing Futch show. Using Appalachian mountain dulcimer, Native American flute, ukulele, drums and electronic effects, he deftly navigates the varied waters of traditional and modern Americana with passion, wit and a genuinely huge heart for sharing music with a crowd.

Bing can often be found teaching music workshops at various festivals and colleges, presenting music education programs at schools and libraries and producing episodes of his video podcast “Dulcimerica” which has been viewed by over a million people worldwide and is currently in its 10th year. This weekend, on Friday and Saturday, he can be seen performing at the Carolina Balloon Festival in Statesville, NC.

This year, at the 2017 Evart Dulcimer Funfest, Bing Futch closed the Friday night show playing Bricks in the Wall, with a bunch of friends including two other well-known favorites – Stephen Seifert and Butch Ross.

To see this quality of jamming’ and more, start making your plans NOW to attend the next Funfest, July 19-21, 2018, in Evart, Michigan.

Website: http://evartdulcimerfest.org/

As always, if you have any questions, always feel free to ask Steve or myself.

Happy dulcimering,
Linda

 
 

Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude for dulcimer!

Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude for dulcimer!

by Steve Eulberg

I’ve always been drawn to this lovely prelude by Frederic Chopin, and being able to arrange it and play it on mountain dulcimer feels awesome!

I have been been hard at work filming and editing this lesson for mountain dulcimer players on DulcimerCrossing and am delighted to report that it is finally ready!

Chopin wrote this piece in the key of Dflat, and I am playing it in that key, tuning everything 1/2 step lower to Db-Ab-db, but the musical score is written in the more familiar key of D (D-A-d tuning).

This piece requires the use of the 1+ or 1-1/2 fret for the C Part, and a couple of bent notes.

As always, you can access all of the lessons in this series by subscribing to DulcimerCrossing here.

 

Tags: , , ,

Blue Water Thinking

Blue Water Thinking

by Linda Ratcliff

Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.
– Dorothy Parker


My husband and I moved this week, and we now live in our RV on Watts Bar Lake in Tennessee. We have a beautiful view of the lake, right out our back window. Actually, we’re parked on a peninsula, so we can see water from every window in the RV.

I began to wonder if the change in scenery would have any impact on my creativity, so I did some research. I found an article about how our surroundings impact creative thinking by Professor Juliet Zhu. She says that environmental factors such as color, lighting, and noise can trigger our creative thinking processes and productivity.

 

With regard to color, after in-depth research, Prof. Zhue determined that if a task is detailed and accuracy-orientated, red is more helpful. But when the main task is more creative in nature, blue is better. Her suggestion for sparking creativity is, when there is a creative task to do in your computer, change the background image on your desktop to blue skies. She calls this “Blue Sky Thinking.”

And so … I’m wondering if I apply a “Blue WATER Thinking” approach to my practicing, would there be a similar effect? I’m going to stand in front of the dulcimer with my hammers at attention, look outside at our beautiful view of the blue water, and see what happens. Anyone want to make a prediction?

 
As always, if you have any questions, always feel free to ask Steve or myself.
Happy dulcimering,
Linda
 

Tags: , ,

Original Music on DulcimerCrossing

Original Music on DulcimerCrossing

by Linda Ratcliff

Ability is what you’re capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.  


Original Tunes by Steve Eulberg

Sometimes we forget to count our blessings.  And one very BIG blessing we have at Dulcimer Crossing is Steve Eulberg.
He is our co-founder, teacher, performing artist, and song-writer.  Several of our lessons feature original tunes by Steve. 

Plus, ALL but 15 of the backing tracks for Premium Members are original tracks.

I think my favorite tune of Steve’s originals is Elk in the Meadow because we have lived with elk right outside our RV.

When we spent the summer in Estes Park, every day the elk would come spend time in the meadow where we were parked and lay down for a nap. Our little dog inside would go crazy with them laying right outside her window. Sometimes the baby elk would peek in the back window to see who was making all that noise.

And now, take a listen to a song Steve wrote called (6 String) Mail Order Bride! My husband and I like to sing every chorus along with him.

As always, if you have any questions, always feel free to ask Steve or myself.
 
Happy dulcimering,
Linda

 

 

 

Tags:

Are You Hooked on Dulcimers?

Are You Hooked on Dulcimers?

by Linda Ratcliff

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
– Unknown


Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” So what do you think about the most? What’s close to your heart?  For many of you – it’s all about your dulcimer and dulcimer music, dulcimer events, dulcimer friends, dulcimer accessories. Here’s a little test to check your dulci-meter.

You might be hooked on dulcimers if …

  • When you get in the car, you pop in a dulcimer CD.
  • You have a 10” 3-ring binder full of tabs for your favorite tunes.
  • Before you step out the door, you have pick up your dulcimer and play a minute or two.
  • You get cranky if you can’t find time to play your dulcimer.
  • When friends come over, they have to listen to you play your dulcimer.
  • If your spouse says, “Let’s take a trip,” you google “Dulcimer Festivals.”
  • Every time you go to a dulcimer festival, you buy more dulcimer books, accessories, and CDs.
  • The majority of (all?) your FB friends are people who play the dulcimer and you follow all the dulcimer groups.
  • If you play hammered dulcimer, you have 25 sets of hammers.
  • You’ve watched every single YouTube video with a dulcimer in it.
  • You own a mountain dulcimer, a chromatic dulcimer, a dulci-bro, a bass dulcimer, a courting dulcimer … you get the idea.
 

Now this is just my personal opinion but, as far as addictions go, this isn’t a bad one to have. But that’s because I had to answer “yes” to … well … to be honest … just about every one of those questions. I think Steve would answer “yes” to quite a few as well. What about you?

 
As always, if you have any questions, always feel free to ask Steve or myself.
Happy dulcimering,
Linda
 

Tags: ,

Papa-Daughter Concert Window Highlight

Papa-Daughter Concert Window Highlight

by Steve Eulberg

Back when I gave my daughter a Backyard Dulcimer kit for Christmas when she was five, I don’t even think I could have imagined the joy that playing a full concert set together would bring to this Papa’s heart!

Recently we gave an Advent concert on Concert Window and this is the highlight video of one of our family’s favorite tunes:  Mary & the Baby (Sweet Lamb)  [My $25 Patrons have access to the entire archive video of the concert on Patreon]

This traditional tune was collected in Texas where it was part of the Christmas Watch tradition of singing through the night until the dawn broke on Christmas morning.

twasmooncovMy recording of it on ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime is also featured in one of my Advent Daily Devotions for Day 17 of Advent.

I also teach a Mountain Dulcimer Lesson of this tune on DulcimerCrossing.com which you can see previewed here.

Kaitlin chose to paint that dulcimer a vivid hot pink color (a choice which she has alternately embraced and by which she’s been embarrassed at different ages).  But it is a profound joy to share something which is near and dear to my heart with someone who is near and dear to my heart, and who has employed this love of her own in her work as a hospital chaplain.

 

 

Tags: , ,