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Mountain Dulcimer WORKSHOP


Downloadable PDF file

BEGINNERS FROM SCRATCH: (as a package or individually)

MD1 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.”


MD II - DAD – Continuing the Path

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.


MD 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.


MD IV - DAD - Mountain Duct Tape - (Beginner V/BEGINNER-Novice)

In this workshop we’ll put what you've been learning together, play a few simple tunes and have fun!  We’ll also take time to talk about practicing and trouble-shoot any questions you might have.


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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

" DAD? DAA? You decide." (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


Common Tunes 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)              

                ADV BEGINNER/ NOVICE                   Come tuned in DAD.          


“Old Time” Songs & Tunes for the MD       

Learn 3-4 simple, not-so-familiar, Old Time Appalachian songs/tunes and their background. We’ll also focus attention to timing, rhythm & singing.  Beginner/Adv. Beginner/Novice/Intermedate                             Tuning in DAD


Learning by Ear, “Knee to Knee”

For many, playing by ear is a daunting task.  We’ll demystify this idea and discuss and practice ways to play tunes you don’t have music for “by ear” using the time honored tradition of repetition, repetition, repletion (Arlo Guthrie calls it “the Bor-In Method”).  We’ll start with a few simple & familiar tunes and then try a couple that you probably have not heard before. Bring a recording device/phone.  Beginner/Novice      Come tuned to DAD


*Tunes in G You Should Know – Key G – DGD tuning

DGD is a great tuning for playing traditional tunes. It lends itself to Melody-Drone playing and is a lot of fun. Tunes used will be fiddle tunes, waltzes, and maybe a ballad or 2. We’ll also discuss playing in the key of G using the Capo and the advantages of each approach.  If you’ve never played in this tuning before, we’ll talk about the process of re-tuning from DAD and answer any other questions you might have.                                Novice or Intermediate



Have you ever played something and thought, “I wish I could remember that!”?  Or you are playing a familiar tune and discover a riff that really makes it sound great?Take a few minutes and let yourself go with your MD. If you hear something you like (and you will), learn ways to retain and develop it.                 Novice/Intermediate – or ALL                            DAD  


WHISKEY … all over your dulcimer

…exploring the possibilities of this instrument

Or “4 Keys & 5 Tunings …and more:” Using the tune, “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” we’ll focus on the use of the capo, alternate tunings, and playing across the fretboard. We’ll also get to know the tune and strengthen your rhythm.  This class is designed to help you better understand the breadth of this “simple” instrument.       NOVICE- INT       Starting in DAD


Hymns from the Sacred Harp

Sacred Harp, or shape note songs/tunes/hymns were typically written in the diatonic (do, re, mi…) scale lending themselves to play nicely on the mountain dulcimer.  We’ll explore several tunes and tunings and also look at the power and poetry of these old songs. NO capo required but prepare to retune.          NOVICE- INT         Starting in DAD


Some Common and not-so-common Appalachian 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


Fun Tunes from the Southern Appalachians

Learn several fun tunes that come from the western Carolina’s, eastern Tennessee Appalachian region (source: Don Pedi) with attention to different tunings (DAA, DGD, DAC, DGC, CGC, etc. and other alternatives for more comfortable singing. We’ll also discuss timing and tempo.  NO capo required.             INTERMEDIATE     Starting in DAD

Christmas songs and Tunes for the MD (in minor keys)

Working in the keys of Dm, Em and?? Come learn some great and perhaps unusual tunes for the Christmas 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)

Tools to train your hand skills 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) 



For those who have jammed, or want to, but desire to add something more. What can we add to the jam to enhance the experience for us and others? Discussion of counter melodies/harmonies, rhythm, back-up chording. We’ll also discuss, repertoire, etiquette and jam types.

  ALL levels & instruments  (come tuned to D - no paper required) 



Many dulcimer players want to Join the Jam but are not familiar with many of the traditional tunes often played in a jam.  Dulcimer groups have a fairly large common repertoire they play from and this class will work toward helping the musician learn tunes and discuss resources to develop/expand their “jam base.”.   ALL levels & instruments


Playing Well with Others:

Folks often get stuck when even thinking about playing with others with questions like, “How do I play with other instruments?” …or “What if they 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

A presentation/discussion about the singing of traditional songs, ballads, gospel songs and hymns…  a-cappella and accompanied by the MD. Explore what singing is in the American tradition. We’ll give examples and resources for your interest. We’ll also allow some time to identify and explore your own traditions.              All Levels

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

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