- Chord Explorations
This article is an introduction to chording on the hammered dulcimer. Diagrams, MIDI sound files, and notes walk you through each exercise, from basic triads through basic shapes to basic progressions.
- Introduction to Modes
Many traditional tunes use one of four modes. Diagrams, MIDI sound files, and notes help you learn where these modes come from, how they work, and what modal tunes sound like.
- Beginning Arranging
This article is an introduction to arranging on the hammered dulcimer. Diagrams, MIDI sound files, and notes walk you through several chordal embellishments you can use to arrange tunes.
- Separated hands
Four simplified techniques for playing melody with your left hand while your right does something else. This article includes diagrams, MIDI sound files, notes, and sheet music.
I teach in my home near Plymouth, IN. I offer both private lessons and occasional group workshops. To find a dulcimer teacher in another area or state, see The Music Teachers List.
Email me to get started, or check the FAQ below.
Questions About Private Lessons:
- What do I need to get started with dulcimer lessons?
To begin lessons, all you need is an instrument along with its accessories (hammers, tuner, tuning wrench, stand) and a notebook.
- What if I don’t have an instrument yet?
Check out my Links page for some information about dulcimers. If you want to compare the work of various builders before you buy, see if you can go to a festival or some stores. If you’re not sure you’re ready to make the investment, ask me to schedule an introductory lesson using my dulcimer; I’ll show you how the instrument is set up, how to use the hammers, and some other basics that will help you decide if this is for you.
- What accessories do I really need?
Most dulcimers come with a pair of hammers and a tuning wrench. Besides those, the most important accessories are a chromatic tuner, a case (even in a case, don’t leave your dulcimer in the car!), and a stand. It’s possible to prop up the dulcimer on a table or ironing board, but you’ll get a better sound and more stability from a good stand. There are many types available — scissors stands are most portable but least adjustable, and completely adjustable stands are heavier and bulkier. Most dulcimer builders offer at least one model of stand.
Other helpful accessories could include a Blitz cloth (available at any music store) to wipe the strings, a duster, extra sets of hammers, a music stand, and an alligator tuner clip (ask at the music store).
- What should I expect from my lessons?
Your dulcimer lessons will be conducted at your own pace, and you also decide the length and frequency of lessons. If you have previous musical experience, it will help — but if you don’t, the dulcimer is a great first instrument.
Beginners start with dulcimer basics: how to use the hammers, how to tune, how the instrument is laid out; scales, exercises, patterns, techniques; and tunes. As students progress and start building a repertoire (I mostly use traditional music with occasional classical pieces or hymns as desired), we work on expression, chords, ornaments, arranging, improvising, and composing (yes, you can). It’s up to you how far you want to go with each of these areas.
If you don’t read music (treble clef), I can teach you; or, we can work by ear. I have notebooks of music I can lend you to copy, or you can buy books or download sheet music from the Internet. If you want to work by ear, you’ll need to buy some blank cassettes.
- Can you teach my kid?
I accept students 10 and older.
- What are the fees?
Lessons are $15 per half hour.