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Mountain Dulcimer WORKSHOP


Downloadable PDF file

MD – “String Side UP!" (NO Experience)

The basics:  The names of its parts; holding it; tuning it; basic strum pattern w/ focus on rhythm; learning simple melody by ear and by tab.  Work through several simple tunes – “Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Bile them Cabbage” & “Aunt Rhody.” (All tunes subject to change at leader’s discretion)           BEGINNER – No experience              DAD

  *Beginners I - DAD - String Side Up - Basic Melody and Basic Strum - Learn how to understand your instrument, how to hold your dulcimer, hold the pick, hand positioning and how to get started playing simple melodies by ear and by tab.  Work through several simple tunes – “Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Bile them Cabbage” & “Aunt Rhody.”


  *Beginners II - DAD – The Strum – We will continue to work with simple melodies developing your rhythm and learning different strum patterns. These techniques will give you skills and to provide a platform for all of your future playing as rhythm is basic to all styles of music.


  *Beginners III - DAD – Let’s go a-Chording - In this class we will learn how to use chords to enhance the tunes and songs and allow the student to explore the fret board.  We’ll also look at hand-placement that allows the player to comfortably manage the changes.  Once again we’ll use several simple tunes building on your repertoire.


  *Beginners IV - DAD - Mountain Duct Tape - Put all that you've learned together and have fun!  We’ll put your new skills to the test and play some new, fun tunes in the melody-drone and chord-melody styles.

                                        *Also given with Bonnie Leigh, CMP



MD – The Zen of the MD, Rythym

This workshop re-enforces strumming and rhythm techniques to increase your skills and to provide a platform for all of your future playing.  We’ll learn the fundamentals of rhythm, strumming, angle and hand placement, speed, and tone.  The goal of this session is to have the learner comfortable with strum-hand technique so s/he can concentrate on the music.                 BEGINNER/NOVICE/ALL  


"Moving Between DAD & DAA" (ending the “controversy”):

This workshop will discuss why & when you might use these alternate “D” tunings along with some very basic discussion of “modes”:  We’ll learn to retune with and without a tuner. Using several simple tunes – E.g.; “Bile them Cabbage,” “Aunt Rhody” & “Old Joe Clark” – we’ll demonstrate the advantages of each tuning.  (All tunes subject to change at leader’s discretion)     Come tuned in DAD.      Beginner/Novice


Playing in DAD

Tuning in DAD - Work through several simple tunes – E.g.; “Bile them Cabbage,” “Aunt Rhody” & “Liza Jane.” Continue to work with melody adding basic DAD chords; exploring and understanding the keyboard.  Using tunes like “Old Joe Clark,” Holy Manna” and “Sadie out the Back Door.” (All tunes subject to change at leader’s discretion)             BEGINNER/ NOVICE            Come tuned in DAD.      


Playing with a Capo on the MD

What the capo is for; reasons you might use a capo; playing tunes with the capo and getting familiar with the fretboard while using the capo.     NOVICE                 Come tuned to DAD.



We will focus on rhythm (in traditional and old time it is central to the tune); continue to work with melody adding basic chords; exploring and understanding the keyboard and use of the capo playing tunes like “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” “Seneca Square Dance,” & “Soldier’s Joy”.                  NOVICE                 Come tuned to DAD.


Manx Tunes as collected by Carol Walker

Learn some “new” tunes from the Manx (Isle of Man) tradition as collected and tabbed by Carol Walker and develop your playing skills in the process.            NOVICE-INT          Tunings DAD & DAA

** This workshop given only if Carol is not presenting


Play WITHOUT Tab?!?!    

Learn how to break down a tune/song in its component parts in order to play it “by ear” without the aid of tab or sheet music.  We’ll take some common tunes and learn to play them by ear and then, well… we’ll jam!   

NOVICE-INT                          Come tuned in DAD.


NOODLING (and a way to remember it)

Have you ever played something and thought, “I wish I could remember that!”  Take a few minutes and let yourself go with your MD. If you hear something you like (and you will) learn how to write it down to remember and develop it into a theme. Knowledge of TAB not needed - we’ll learn it.   DAD   Novice/Intermediate – or ALL


USING WHISKEY TO Develop your Skills on the MD

Or “5 Keys & 5 Tunings +”:  Using “Whiskey Before Breakfast” we’ll focus on the use of the capo and alternate tunings, playing across the fretboard and strengthening rhythm.       NOVICE- INT            Starting in DAD


Appalacian Fiddle Tunes for the MD         

Learn some “new” Old Time Appalachian fiddle tunes (Shove the Pig’s Foot a Little Further in the Fire, Sugar Hill, Gray Squirrel Eating’ Up the New Ground Corn, etc.) with attention to timing, rhythm & playing up to speed we’ll explore the keys of D & G and maybe A.  Capo required.    INTERMEDIATE   Tunings in DAD & DGD, use of capo


The “Little Tunes” of Don Pedi

Learn several “little” tunes that come from the western Carolina’s, east Tennessee Appalachian region as collected by Don Pedi with attention to different tunings (DAA, DGD, DAC, DGC, and other alternates for more comfortable singing. We’ll also discuss timing and tempo.  NO capo required.           INTERMEDIATE     Starting in DAD

** This workshop given only if Don is not presenting


Christmas songs and Tunes for the MD

Working in the keys of Dm, Em and?? Come learn some great and perhaps unusual tunes for the winter holiday season re-tuning to DAC (Dorian scale), DAF (Phrygian), EBD, EBG and other related tunings.  This will challenge your playing in the melody-drone style.       INTERMEDIATE     Start in DAD


Developing your Hand skills (Or ways to make your fingers love you – in time)

Picking patterns, Arpeggios & triplets – patterns and repetitions for your right and left hands that will make you a better player.                   INTERMEDIATE    DAD


Wayfaring Waltzes:

In this workshop we’ll learn some of my favorite waltzes that my band, Wayfarer’s & Company play including Maiden Creek Waltz, My Own House, and Shepherd’s Wife’s Waltz.                             Novice & up/All Levels              come tuned to DAD and bring a Capo (re-tuning to DGD may also occur)



For those who have never jammed but want to or for those who’ve attempted to join a jam but felt frustrated… We'll discuss some basic "jam etiquette" and share common, easy tunes/songs with one another around a circle. Focus on solid rhythm, playing together and having fun communicating with the music. Come and enjoy interacting with other players.   ALL levels & instruments

(come tuned to D - no paper required but bring your common, tabbed tunes if you are more comfortable with that) 


Jam leader:              

Slow Jam (Beginners) or just plain old Jam (Experienced Jammers) - Come and join the fun in an informal jam session playing tunes familiar and common to dulcimer and old time jams. All instruments welcome. Come tuned to D.      AFTER NOVICE & UP


(New)Playing Well with Others: - also team taught w/ Carol Walker

Folks often get stuck when even thinking about playing with others with questions like, “How do I play with other instruments?” …or “What if the play in a key other than D?” …or “What if I don’t know the tune?” …or “I’m not good enough to keep up.”  In this workshop we’ll discuss and explore ways to make playing with others less uncomfortable and offer ways to make it more enjoyable.  We’ll discuss, demonstrate and practice some basic techniques to improve your hearing, visual cues and ways to fit in whether in an informal jam or in a musical ensemble/band/etc.  Come join us tuned to D.                               Novice & up/All Levels   


Singing in the Tradition

Tuning: varied

Description:  Presentation/discussion & singing of traditional songs, ballads, gospel songs and hymns…

a-cappella and accompanied by the MD.  All Levels


I can also adjust and modify workshop topics to meet the needs of your festival/group/event.

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