Across many Christian worship traditions, tunes from Welsh composers are favorites. The Ash Grove comes to mind, but from my survey, when researching and writing my book Dulcimer-Friendly Worship, Vol 1: the season of Advent, the tune that won the popularity contest of being the setting for so many hymns in so many ecumenical traditions is HYRFRYDOL by Rowland Prichard.
We are excited that our instructor, Karen Mueller, has provided us with both a strummed AND a fingerpicked lesson for our students. Watch as she introduces this tune and the lesson series:
This tune also appears on Steve’s Hark, the Glad Sound! recording which you can listen to here. (The 2nd tune in the Medley on track #12)
Members of DulcimerCrossing.com get access to ALL of the lessons ALL of the time!
If you want to play your Appalachian mountain dulcimer in the old traditional style, you will use a noter on the melody string(s), leaving the other 2 strings open to create a drone sound. We have developed several lessons that use a “noter,” so we decided to add a new separate category for these at Dulcimer Crossing: Traditional Noter Style.
If you have never used a noter, you should start with our introduction to the Traditional Noter Style here. In this series of 14 videos, Steve introduces the traditional noter/drone style of playing, shows us some of the tools (noters) that he uses, and explains how to use the noter with different tunings.
Here is the complete list of the lessons lessons we offer that use a noter.
Are you bored of being bored, because being bored is BORING?
Say NO To Boring
Have you ever been to a jam session and wondered how many times they’re going to repeat the same tune?
Have you ever gone to the nursing home to share your music, and watched your audience nodding off to sleep – bored by your performance?
Just as “gorgeous” is the ultimate compliment for a woman, “boring” is the most dreaded description of a performance a musician can hear.
So let’s say “NO” to boring, and spice up our playing with variations and ornamentations.
When playing a tune, try to think outside the box to create something that’s all yours and totally fresh. As a matter of fact, why don’t you just throw away the box? Keep your audience (and yourself) on their toes. If you’re playing through the tune three times, don’t feed them the same arrangement each time.
Here’s some suggestions on how to do this.
Play the melody an octave higher.
Play the melody an octave lower.
Change up the rhythm. Add syncopation.
For one verse, change the melody to a minor key if it was written in a major key. Or turn the minor key melody into a major key melody.
Add chords, instead of just playing the melody line alone.
Add a drone. On the hammered dulcimer, this can be a high octave drone, a low octave drone, or a 5th drone.
Play chords as arpeggios, especially where there is a half or whole note.
Listen to fiddlers playing the tune on YouTube. Note how they go over-under-and around the melody line. See if you can duplicate that sound.
If you know it, use it. Take a trick you learned for another tune and apply it to the song you’re arranging.
Challenge yourself to turn a well-known song into something completely different that represents your own musical influences and tastes better. At Dulcimer Crossing, we offer two lessons for our hammered dulcimer players on how to arrange and embellish a tune.
Keep in mind, if you’re playing with others … play WITH the others. Don’t use any variations you created that might clash with what the group is doing. Save those ideas for when you’re playing solo.
And here’s one final piece of advice. Arranging should be fun, so don’t get bogged down with trying to make your arrangement too difficult. Stretch your abilities so you will grow technically, but also know your limits and play within them.
If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.
How Many Dulcimers is TOO Many Dulcimers? I recently watched a video in which Vince Gill talked about his collection of antique Martin guitars. He has still quite an impressive array of guitars, although he lost 50 in the Nashville flood of 2010. But, of all the rare and valuable guitars in his collection, he said the guitar he treasures the most is his father’s guitar (shown in the photo). >
Watching the video reminded me of my own obsession with instruments. It’s an addiction … I’m always wanting one more. It’s difficult to look at the posts put up on the dulcimer groups’ FB pages that show photos of another dulcimer up for sale, or one that someone just finished building. They just fan that flame of desire and I find myself mentally checking my finances and the space left in my home.
But how many dulcimers is too many dulcimers? I already own a 1995 Master Works hammered dulcimer, a beautiful mountain dulcimer and picking stick – both built byJerry Wright, a Yamaha guitar, two harmonicas, and a ukulele. What more could a girl want?
Well, I think I really need a resonator dulcimer (dulci-bro) and a baritone mountain dulcimer. We offer lessons at DulcimerCrossing for both of these, so I could learn to play them! I would like to have a backpack hammered dulcimer that would be easier to carry around. And I’ve been without a keyboard for 10 years now, ever since we started living full-time in an RV. We’re back in a home finally, so there’s space for one now.
Here’s what I think.
If I’m content to just mess around with a variety of instruments for fun, the only limit I might have would be my finances. But I need to be careful that I don’t personify that old phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Now you won’t ever hear me say, “I’ve mastered the hammered dulcimer.” I can always see where I need to work more on certain techniques. But the spirit behind the words holds true. If I have too many things on my plate, i.e. too many instruments hanging on my wall, then I might not actually get anywhere with any of them.
I’d love to hear from you! What do you think? How many dulcimers or instruments do you own? Do you actually play them, or are they just a good conversation starter when folks come over to visit?
We see the trophies, not the sweat. We see the diplomas, not the years of study and homework. We see outstanding performances, not the hours and hours of practice.
by Linda Ratcliff
The Iceberg Illusion I came across this illustration and it really resonated in my heart. There is this glamour around success that seems to appear when you have “made it.” Although I work behind the scenes – writing newsletters, uploading lessons, and answering student inquiries, the rest of our Dulcimer Crossing teachers are “out there” in the public eye – teaching workshops, leading jams at festivals, or performing in concerts. We all look up to them, admire their skill, and dream of the day we can play as well as they do.
Our teachers performing at the Colorado Dulcimer Festival The iceberg illusion would have you believe our teachers never went through failure, never struggled, never felt discouraged. They seem to play with ease, flying through sections of tunes we STILL haven’t mastered at top speed. And they appear to be totally relaxed, not at all nervous, actually very comfortable when playing in front of a crowd.
How do they do that???
The truth is, their success has probably only come after challenges, days of discouragement, and even failures. They have learned the hard way that there are no short cuts, and there is no such thing as an overnight success. Our teachers have spent years developing their skills, practicing for hours, staying up nights developing material for workshops or private lessons. They have put in a lot of time and hard work, with dedication and self-discipline. This is the glue that holds it all together.
If you’re struggling, feeling discouraged, perhaps thinking you’re never going to succeed in playing through a tune without mistakes, don’t give up. Think of the iceberg! And keep building your repertoire – one tune at a time.
and comfort for the picking hand (demonstrated by the right) … while the fingering hand (demonstrated by the left) moves in a predictable pattern between chords.
We will be using Beethoven’s familiar Ode to Joy as our Theme.
It is said that it takes 21 days to ingrain a new habit, and there are 30 days in the month of April.
We’ll EMBED this habit for good in 30!
What do you get?
(32) different Fingerstyle Exercises Demonstrated in a Video, with a pdf handout, and an Audio demonstration tracks, each delivered every day.
At the end of the class you get an interactive PDF Workbook with all of the Class Materials, a zip file of all the audio files and access to the video archive.
You have all of the exercises, because of your daily practice, wired into your hands, ready to play any song that you decide to play.
How do you access these lessons?
There is a new lesson posted in the Patron Feed on Patreon for your special tier of sponsorship AND Daily delivery to your inbox.
Once a week Zoom Webinars (Sundays 4/7, 4/14, [SATURDAY 4/20 at 2-3 pm PDT] and 4/28 from 1 -2 pm PDT) You can record these on your computer for future reference.
Email consultation–ask the questions which arise. I’ll get back to you with responses as soon as I can.
Upload your video for comment and guidance
Continue your New Year’s Resolution and use this class to keep it!
Is this Class for me?
It IS for if you are frustrated with your stop-and-start, or 1-step-forward, 2-steps-back “progress.”
It IS for you if you are ready to dedicate 10-20 minutes a day, EACH day in April, to develop the skills that have been eluding you.
There is a Limit of 25 Students so that I can give each student the attention they need and deserve.
It is only offered in April, so the successful student will be able to dedicate the time and attention to invest in their fingering skill development for just ONE MONTH, with results that continue for years. There is a Limit of 25 Students so that I can give each student the attention they need and deserve.
As we’ve been watching all the dulcimer groups on Facebook, we have noticed the same question keeps popping up everywhere.
People who are new to playing the dulcimer, and those who have just moved to a new community, are looking for a dulcimer club to join. Since EverythingDulcimer.com is no longer active, our handy list for finding clubs has gone away.
And so we have made it our personal mission to create a complete and up-to-date list of all the dulcimer clubs in existence – not only in the United States, but also worldwide.
You will see that we have listed as many clubs as we know about so far, but hesitate to also post the contact details as the information we have may not be current.
To publish accurate contact information, we have included a form on the Dulcimer Clubs page so you can send us the correct information for your group.
It is best if you have a public “face” to which we can link. If you could provide the link to your webpage or Facebook page, that would most suitable. However, if you don’t currently have this set up for your club, we are requesting your permission to upload an updated name, phone number, and email address as the contact information for your club.
We have already made great progress with the page for Texas (since Linda lives there), so you could click on that state to see our vision for how the finished pages will look.
Any help you can give us with getting this worthwhile project off the ground surely will be appreciated.