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Category Archives: mountain dulcimer

posts that are designed specifically for mountain dulcimer players

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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Hug Someone with your Dulcimer

Hug Someone with your Dulcimer

by Linda Ratcliff

One day, someone is going to hug you so tight that
all your broken pieces will stick back together.
– Author Unknown
Hug Someone with Your Dulcimer

I used to be an awkward hugger.  Oh yeah … it looked like a hug from the outside, but  there was nothing real about it.  There were just a few forced pats on your back, a bit of nervous smiling, and I might have been rolling my eyes behind your back.

But then I joined a church that was big on hugging, and I got a LOT of practice. Over time, I changed from being an awkward hugger to being a sincere hugger … a hugger who actually reaches out to people now for a hug (and sometimes realizes too latethat they’re still at the awkward hugger stage).

When I was thinking about the progress I’ve made with giving and receiving hugs, I realized that I’m still shy about playing my dulcimer for people.  And the light came on in my brain.  There are so many parallels!  

  • Hugs give people joy.  Music gives people joy.
  • Hugs give people comfort. Music gives people comfort.
  • Giving someone a hug makes them feel loved.  Playing your instrument for someone, especially one on one, makes them feel loved.
If you lack confidence in this area, start with something easy.  Hug the folks at a nursing home with your music.  You will be playing for people who appreciate your company and won’t judge.  I remember the first time I played for my aunt’s friends at her nursing home … she cried the entire time.  I still don’t know if it was because my playing was so bad, or she felt so loved.  
Seniors singing and playing with me
NOTE:  When I play for a “captive audience” like this, I always take along some percussion instruments, so they can play along with me.  I quickly get more comfortable in the environment, when I can see how much fun they’re having.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask Steve or myself.
 

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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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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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New Lesson! Asika Thali

New Lesson! Asika Thali

Neal Hellman is providing us with a new lesson that features a 4-Equi-Distant String set-up (but could also be played on a mountain dulcimer in the familiar DAdd tuning.)

This song comes to us from South Africa where it was sung regularly as part of the freedom struggle under apartheid rule.

This is Neal’s introduction to the tune.

Subscribe to DulcimerCrossing.com to have access to this an all of our other lessons!