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Category Archives: mountain dulcimer

posts that are designed specifically for mountain dulcimer players

Baritone: New Lesson Series

Baritone: New Lesson Series

by Steve Eulberg

The Baritone Mountain Dulcimer, tuned A-E-a, lower than the standard, adds a rich voice to the tonal range of dulcimer playing.

baritonecover.jpg

I won my Baritone in 1998 at the Walnut Valley Festival and it began my journey to explore how this instrument, tuned in a familiar way (1-5-8) could play with others when it sounds so different.

This brand new lesson series, Introduction to the Mountain Dulcimer has just been added to DulcimerCrossing.com.  I am excited to be joined by my duo partner Erin Mae Lewis for this series.

Click on the video to watch in the introduction.

Become a subscriber and have access to ALL the lessons in this new series!

 
 

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Face Your Fears (at home!)

Face Your Fears (at home!)

by Linda Ratcliff

Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it.
That is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to CONQUER fear.
– Dale Carnegie

Face Your Fears (at home)!

 

It will surely happen eventually if you attend jam sessions.  The lead will go all the way around the circle and finally, to your dismay, it will be your turn.  You try to laugh it off and pass the lead on to the next person in the row, but the others won’t hear of it.  They are insisting.  It is your turn to take the lead and they want you to get started.

Even though you aren’t literally on a stage, you are immediately struck with stage fright. Your mind goes blank and you can’t even think of a tune you know. Your heart is racing, your mouth is dry, your voice is shaky, and you are blushing, trembling, and sweating all at the same time. As a matter of fact, you think you might just pass out.

To overcome your fear of leading a tune at a jam, I recommend that you practice for that moment. At home … alone. And you say, “How on earth is that going to help? There’s no pressure at home, and no consequences for mistakes. If I mess up, I can just start over again.”

Well, what if we created some consequences for errors at home too? Now, I’m not suggesting you be locked in the closet for an hour every time you play a wrong note. But there are things you can do to increase the level of tension at home, and that will get you more accustomed to playing under pressure. This process won’t eliminate mistakes you might make because you don’t know the piece well enough. But it will reduce errors you make simply because you are so nervous.

Here are suggestions that may sound silly, but I promise – they will work.

    • Play a game called “Almost Home.” Make a little game-board on a piece of paper with 4 to 8 boxes.  Name the first box “Start” and the last box “Home.” Then divide your tune into 4 to 8 phrases, matching your game-board.

      When you play through the 1st phrase perfectly, advance a coin one box. Now play phrases 1 and 2 together. If you make a mistake, you move the coin back to square ONE and start over. But if you play those two phrases perfectly, advance the coin one box, and try to play the first 3 phrases in a row … advancing the coin one box each time you succeed, but back to “Start” each time you fail. The closer you get to “Home,” the more the tension will build as you try to play the entire tune correctly and move the coin to the last box at “Home.” 

    • Set your iPad or cell phone up to make a video of yourself playing the tune you would play at a jam.  Pretend this is a video that is going to be on YouTube for 1,000’s to see.
    • Practice with and in front of another dulcimer player or family member.Play tic tac toe with that person, but you can only make a mark on the tic tac toe board if you play a section perfectly. Otherwise you miss your turn, and the opponent can fill in another box.
    • Fake it ’til you make it. Have you ever seen someone’s face when they’ve made a mistake? Even if your ear didn’t catch the wrong note, you know something happened by the horrified face. Practice playing all the way through, even if you make mistakes, but don’t flinch. Make a video of yourself to be sure you’ve succeeded.
  • Practice in the dark. One thing that often throws me off is, when the lighting is different from what I’m used to at home, I can’t see my strings. Get used to playing without having to visually monitor every move. Teach yourself muscle memory.

Well, that’s about all the ideas I can think of. Do you have any suggestions? 

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

Theatricum Botanicum

Theatricum Botanicum

by Steve Eulberg

While on tour in southern California in August, DulcimerCrossing instructors, Erin Mae Lewis and Steve Eulberg arrived early for their gig, Peter Alsop’s Kids Koncerts (Dulcimer-Wellcimer) at the “magical treehouse” of Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum.

SetUpTheatricumBotanicumErinMae

Erin took these photos as we prepared for the pre-school kids concert on Sunday morning.

As Erin relates in this highlight video from their recent Concert Window show, Steve was playing this new composition, inspired by the setting, during the sound check for his guitar.

She came to the stage from the second floor green room and joined in to complete the tune, which they named for the location that inspired it.

This Highlight Video will also be available on the Live Events page at DulcimerCrossing.com.

Enjoy!

 

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Chord Wizard Tool

Chord Wizard Tool

by Steve Eulberg

Have you ever wondered how to find a particular chord you are looking for?  You might be familiar with a couple of fingerings for your favorite chords, but then there is that “weird” one that the music calls for and your musical chord theory is a bit rusty.

This one is for you!  Tom Strothers has created this interactive webpage as tools to help mountain dulcimer players.

Diatonic Chord Wizard This page has an interactive Fret Finder Tool, below which is a tool to find the notes on the 7-note fretboard, and then once you choose the chord you are looking for and choose the Fret Finder, the possibility for finding the notes (by their fret numbers) shows up on the fret board.  (This also includes the 6+ fret.)

Chromatic Chord Wizard This page is like the Diatonic one, but assumes a Chromatic fretboard (or 12-tone scale.)  The functionality is the same.

One additional benefit for the Chromatic page is that it can be set up for 4 Equi-distant strings configuration which is popular for some players.

Well this is simply AWESOME!

Take this out for a spin and let us know what you think!

 

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Mountain Dulcimer Sighting!

Mountain Dulcimer Sighting!

by Steve Eulberg

It is always exciting to uncover or bump into another dulcimer sighting, in the course of one’s daily life (and/or internet searching!)

In this video there is a visual and audio sighting of Frank Profitt playing and singing the ballad Barbara Allen from 8:46-11:09.

His part of the video footage is from the Alan Lomax Collection

The Theme:  The Cultures of the Scots-Irish in the New world, the role that music plays on both sides of the Atlantic, during the passage across the sea and  today.

For further bio about Frank Profitt and his music see Folk-Legacy Records.

 

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“Try to Make ANYthing that happens…

“Try to Make ANYthing that happens…

by Steve Eulberg

…into something of Value.”

–Herbie Hancock

Jazz Pianist Herbie Hancock tells a story of something that happened when he played

a “wrong” chord during Miles Davis’ solo.

This video is from Herbie’s MasterClass.

This is some GOOD advice for more than just jazz music.  It is for ALL music.

And for life.

(Thanks to Lois Hornbostel for sharing this on Facebook!)

 

 

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Learn More from Mistakes

Learn More from Mistakes

by Linda Ratcliff

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
– John Powell


I Learn More from My Mistakes Than Successes.
Do You?

 
I love to play through a tune perfectly, time after time, but lets get real – in my world, that simply doesn’t happen.  I fail to play a tune perfectly more often than I succeed. But mistakes can be good. In every mistake, there is the potential for growth. They can help me, if I will just take time to do the work.  For example …

Mistakes help me to think laterally.  There may be a skip and a jump with my hammers that just isn’t working.  Repeating the same mistake over and over is just teaching my muscles to follow the wrong path.  So I usually try to think of another approach for playing the same run or chord.

Mistakes reveal my weak areas.  If we’re honest, we have to admit that we all have weak areas.  I still can’t do a smooth “multiple bounce roll” with my left hammer.  And I’ve tried.  I always have to plan my arrangements so that technique lands on the right hammer.  Wouldn’t it be better if I started developing that skill with my left hammer too?

Successfully correcting a recurring mistake builds confidence.  When I finally begin to play through a section correctly, and without slowing down through the part that was giving me a headache, I feel ready to give myself a new challenge.  I am encouraged by knowing my desired outcome is one measure or one section closer.

Mistakes build character. When we’ve “messed up” enough times, a musician can go one of two ways! We can choose to throw in the towel, pack up our instrument, and lean it in the corner. Or we can learn from the experience, gain confidence, build character, and become more of the musician that we ideally wish to be. 

I choose to keep on keepin’ on, until I can play through successfully.  How about you?

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

Happy dulcimering,
Linda

 

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