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Category Archives: lessons

Posts about dulcimercrossing lessons, free stuff, learning mountain and hammered dulcimers

Map Out Your Practice like a Workout

Map Out Your Practice like a Workout

by Linda Ratcliff

Map out your practice session out like a workout.
When athletes are getting ready to go for a run, they usually warm up first with some stretches to loosen their muscles. Then they walk for 3-5 minutes, gradually working up to a brisk walk, then jogging, and finally breaking out into a full-steam-ahead run. As they end their run and the workout, most athletes cool down by walking briskly at first and then slower, and finally ending with a few more stretches.

For musicians, a pretty common scenario is to start with scales as a warm-up. I like to start with arpeggios up and down my hammered dulcimer. These exercises serve to loosen up your muscles and get your brain thinking about technique. Next you should move on to the “working” part of your practice time, where you plug away at new tunes. Finally it’s fun to cool down by revisiting some old favorite tunes that you already know well.

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

 

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Are You a Teacher?

Are You a Teacher?

by Linda Ratcliff

A good teacher is like a candle.  It consumes itself to light the way for others.
– Unknown

Are You a Teacher?

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up soon on May 8, 2018. If you are a dulcimer student with an awesome teacher, you might want to start thinking of a way you could surprise your teacher on this occasion. Maybe you could learn a new tune – all on your own. Or maybe you could give your teacher a handmade gift certificate for a dinner out with you; the gift of time is always the best gift.
The Great Teacher
Steve and I also want to support dulcimer teachers around the world, and show our appreciation for their dedication. These are some of the benefits we offer to teachers who join as members of Dulcimer Crossing.

  1. A list of National Musical Education Standards and how our lessons address them.
  2. Scholarships for TEACHERS at these festivals: Colorado Dulcimer FestivalKentucky Music Week, and Western Carolina University (which has a Mountain Dulcimer Teacher Program).
  3. Scholarships for young STUDENTS at these festivals: Colorado Dulcimer FestivalKentucky Music Week, and Western Carolina University.
  4. Scholarships at festivals for all students: Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering.
  5. A special subscription rate for you.
  6. A special subscription page with a reduced rate for your students.
  7. Access for teachers to the weekly video from mentors: Habits for Your Healthy Musical Habitat.
  8. An invitation to share your tips in 30-60 sec videos. We may include them in the weekly video: Habits for Your Healthy Musical Habitat.
  9. In addition, you may wish to consult with Steve Eulberg for our Teacher Mentoring Program via Skype – a service of Owl Mountain Music, Inc.

Steve Eulberg
All of these benefits are also listed on our website here. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.

 

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Free Lesson: Jam Session Strategy

Free Lesson:  Jam Session Strategy

by Steve Eulberg

My mother was right.  Boredom is a choice.

If I am bored in a Jam Session because the other players are playing the tune too fast, or too slow, or too many times (is that even POSSible?) do you know whose job it is to fix that?

MINE.

In this free lesson, Steve offers a suggestion about what do to participate, support the other players AND keep yourself awake and interested in a jam session.

Try it and let us know how it goes for you!

 

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Learning to Learn Free Lesson

Learning to Learn Free Lesson

by Steve Eulberg

We often overlook the basics, don’t we?

How DO we learn?

Of course there are many different learning styles and we bounce between them as individuals, but Steve presents some ideas here that you might find helpful in learning new tunes on your instrument.

Try them out and let us know how they go for you!

 

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Time for a Tune-Up

Time for a Tune-Up

by Linda Ratcliff

When something seems unbalanced and out of rhythm, just a song can tune things up in a moment.  The power of music is therapy.
– Anthony Liccione

Time for a Tune-Up

Tuning a hammered dulcimer for the first time can be pretty intimidating. The first couple times you tune your dulcimer it may take quite a while, and you’ll think it was very difficult task. But, with practice, you will get the hang of it and soon you won’t even think twice about tuning.

I use a chromatic electronic tuner to make the job easier, and Steve and I recommend the Snark™ Dulci-Tuner. With these senior eyes, I find the display to be very readable, and it slips right over the hammered dulcimer tuning pin. You can read more about the tuner in Steve’s blog here.

You can order the Snark™ Dulci-Tuner from Steve by clicking on this link

Snark™ Dulci-Tuner

In the Absolute Beginners section at Dulcimer Crossing, our lesson called String-Side UP addresses many of the questions and issues you may have with tuning your hammered dulcimer. Video #17 covers the mechanics of tuning. Video #18 includes 4 tips to help with tuning, and addresses issues if you are experiencing difficulty trying to get both sides of your bridges in tune.

In addition, we offer The Tuning Game on our FREE page, to motivate you to practice your tuning more often. 

The Tuning Game

The thing to be careful of is when you are tuning a string is to make sure you are turning the the right tuning pin. If the needle on the electronic tuner is not moving, STOP! You are on the wrong string, and may turn too far and break it.

Some people ask if they need to tune their hammered dulcimer EVERY time they practice. I find when my dulcimer is in perfect tuning, I play better and practice longer. If I only have about 15 minutes to practice, I usually skip the tuning. But when I’m going to have a serious session of working out a new tune, I tune first and then warm up. Here’s some tuning guidelines you might want to keep in mind.

    1. Give your dulcimer a thorough tuning at least once a week – don’t ever let it get way out of tune.
    1. Always carry your tuning wrench and electronic tuner in your dulcimer case.
    1. Turn the tuning pin SLOWLY, while softly plucking continuously.
  1. Give your instrument a final checkup by matching the tones of your octaves at each bridge marker.

String-Side UP
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.

 

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Teacher or Self-Taught?

Teacher or Self-Taught?

by Linda Ratcliff

A self-taught man usually has a poor teacher and a worse student.
– Henry Youngman  

 

Teacher or Self-Taught?

I am pretty much self taught. Peggy Carter got me started with a few lessons in Houston. And then I joined Rick Thum’s Song of the Month Club to learn several jammin’ tunes over time. And I had the opportunity to attend a few festivals in the early days. But, for the most part, my arrangements are self taught. 

What do you think … is that the best way to go?

I went online to see what others say, and found a wide variety of comments. Those in favor of having a teacher said …

    • I progress faster and further with a teacher to encourage, cajole and generally be a critical pair of ears.
    • A teacher already knows and can explain what you might spend hours trying to learn from the internet.
  • A teacher can point out details you would likely never notice yourself, such as how you hold your hand/fingers or if your rhythm is unsteady.

Those in favor of being self-taught said …

    • I’m glad that I taught myself because now I feel like I have my own style of playing.
    • I like to watch other people play, and I probably learn more from that than I would from the lessons themselves.
  • I like to “homeschool” my music lessons. I have learned to play several instruments by simply watching videos on YouTube.

I have TWO suggestions.

1. If you don’t want to take weekly lessons, it’s perfectly OK to self-teach for a month, then book a one-hour lesson to get pointers on your technique, areas for improvement, and suggestions on exercises. If you don’t live near a teacher, there are several who will Skype a lesson with you, including our own Steve Eulberg.

2. You could sign up for lessons online with Dulcimer Crossing. Then you can set your own schedule, and login to learn new tunes when you have time. You can cancel at any time, but you probably won’t. We keep a steady influx of new lessons coming in, and you won’t want to miss a single one.

Taking lessons or not, PRACTICE will be the main thing that makes the difference with your dulcimer skills. No teacher can change that. And make sure you spend time learning the songs you love – which might not be the tunes most dulcimer players are playing. Nothing kills your motivation like trying to learn tunes that don’t interest you. 

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

 

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Peekaboo Waltz for Hammered Dulcimer

Peekaboo Waltz for Hammered Dulcimer

Steve Eulberg has created a new lesson for this delightful old-time waltz, the Peekaboo Waltz to be played on the hammered dulcimer.

This lesson features two different ways to play chord back up (such as Steve plays in his duo Fiddle Whamdiddle with Vi Wickam) as well as a fancier solo version.

Subscribe to DulcimerCrossing.com to have access to the whole lesson set!

OSOTCover

 

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