Dulcimer U Home


138 Cordelia Camp Bldg
69 East University Way
Cullowhee, NC 28723
828-227.7397 tel
800.928.4968 toll-free tel
828.227.7115 fax


2014 Instructors and Performers

Larry CongerLarry Conger

Paris, Tennessee
Dulcimer U Director 

Larry and his wife Elaine are co-directors of Dulcimer U at Western Carolina University. They make their home in Paris, Tennessee where they operate a private music studio, teaching piano, voice, guitar and drums as well as the mountain dulcimer. Some of their instruction includes long distance learning via Skype and Larry's Tune of the Month, a CD lesson by mail.

A graduate of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Larry has been involved with music as a vocation for over 35 years. Besides being a popular instructor at various dulcimer workshops around the country, Larry also served as a church music director for several churches during the late 1970s through the 1990s. He has been a participating artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission's Arts In Education program as well as the Kentucky Arts Council's Teacher Incentive Program, bringing dulcimer music into the public schools.

In 1995, Larry won the Southern Regional Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Mountain View, Arkansas. Three years later, he won the prestigious National Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Winfield, Kansas. Larry has authored fourteen dulcimer books and has three recordings to his credit.

When Larry is not attending to the details of Dulcimer U, he will be helping his wife, Elaine direct the Dulcimer Ensemble elective each afternoon.

Elaine CongerElaine Conger

Paris, Tennessee
Dulcimer U Director

 Elaine is also one of our directors for Dulcimer U. She and her husband, Larry work throughout the year to bring Dulcimer U together in July.

Elaine is a professional music educator and Orff-Schulwerk specialist who has a passion for instilling a love for the arts in young people. Her years as a professional musician, combined with her experience as a classroom teacher give her a unique perspective when working with students.

Her past musical experience includes touring with her own country band, performing on the General Jackson showboat at Opryland in Nashville and touring as pianist and back-up vocalist with country music superstar, Faith Hill. More recently, she has directed and accompanied numerous musical theater productions and even starred in a few herself. Her favorite role to date is as Patsy in "Always Patsy Cline." Elaine also serves as organist/music director for a local Episcopal Church.

Elaine and her husband Larry enjoy performing together and will be participating as part of the evening concert schedule.

Linda BrockintonLinda Brockinton

Alexander, Arkansas
Level III - Lower Intermediate 

Linda returns to the WCU campus after an absence of several years to teach one of our intermediate level skills classes. She will also be teaching various electives during the afternoon and playing on the evening concert schedule.

Linda started her music career at age 11. She played flute and piccolo throughout high school and went on to college as a music/ flute major. She loved orchestra and was a member of the Arkansas Symphony for four years and taught flute for many years.

At the age of 41, on a trip to Branson, Missouri, Linda was immediately fascinated with the sound of a dulcimer so her husband made her one from a kit. She soon began her journey on the dulcimer in Mountain View, Arkansas studying with David Schnaufer, Neil Gaston, Neal Hellman and many other wonderful instructors. Linda soon formed a group called Heartstrings to help spread her love for the mountain dulcimer. Heartstrings played all over the state of Arkansas for ten years.

Linda won the 1999 Southern Regional Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Mountain View, Arkansas. Since that time, three of her private dulcimer students have also won the same contest. Linda went on to win the National Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Winfield, Kansas in 2001 , becoming the first woman to receive that honor.

She also has an interest in Music Therapy. She recently participated with a class of senior medical students at The University of Arkansas Medical Center with the topic being music and medicine. Together with Dr. Terry Harville, she has presented several talks in the Arkansas Library system on the benefits of music and healing.

Linda is primarily a finger style player, although her first ten years was spent strumming every song she learned. She loves left hand work and chord work. She also arranges many songs with multiple parts for ensembles. She has written nine books and produced eight CDs but teaching is still her first love. She teaches all styles, loves arranging and composing her own music. She is in the process of writing a book of her own tunes. Her favorite music is Celtic, hymns and old time music.

Linda is a charter member of the Arkansas Dulcimer Society and also hosts her own festival in Arkansas. The Dulcimer Diva Women's Retreat is held every September. The retreat is designed for those who primarily like the softer side of the dulcimer. Emphasis is on multiple parts, flat-picking, finger-picking and getting to know other ladies with a passion for dulcimer. She teaches flute and dulcimer at her home studio in Alexander.

Janita Baker

Janita Baker

Santa Margarita, California
Level I New Players/Beginner Skills

Janita returns from the 2013 Dulcimer Week staff to again direct the Level I New Player/Beginner Skills Class at Dulcimer U. The demand from students to have her back each year is overwhelming due to her methodical and patient approach to teaching. Janita has expressed a passion for teaching players who are just getting started on the dulcimer and her class exemplifies that passion. Her kind and gentle spirit endears dulcimer players to her almost immediately after the first meeting. In addition to her work with the beginners each morning, she will be teaching a variety of electives for various skill levels during the afternoon sessions.

Janita has been playing mountain dulcimer for over 30 years. Through her recordings, books and appearances at festivals/workshops across the United States she has become well-known for her teaching skills and for Blue Lion Dulcimers, which she builds with her husband Robert. As a solo performer on the mountain dulcimer, Janita presents her audiences with a wide range of musical experiences including classical, traditional, delta and country blues, ragtime, swing and original instrumental pieces. A gifted story teller, Janita delights her listeners with a warm and personal sharing of her music and introduces to her audience and her students the incredible complexity, variety and beauty of the mountain dulcimer.

Lorinda JonesLorinda Jones

Rineyville, Kentucky
Caregiving and Comfort with the Dulcimer

Again this year, WCU is proud to have Lorinda Jones bring her music therapy expertise to Dulcimer U for the third year in a row. Lorinda has been an extremely popular choice to direct this class for the past three years.

As an adjudicated member of the Kentucky Arts Council Arts on Tour Directory, Lorinda is recognized not only in the state of Kentucky, but also nationally. She began performing on the piano at an early age, and soon progressed to other instruments including years of classical music study on the oboe. But it is her passion for American folk music that has been a common thread in her varied pursuits for the past twenty years as a performing and recording artist, and music therapist.

Locally, Lorinda leads the Heartland Dulcimer Club, the Heartland Harp ensemble, hosts a traditional music festival, and has taught hundreds of students how to play both the mountain dulcimer and folk harp. Nationally, Lorinda teaches and performs at music camps and festivals all across the nation, including the prestigious John C Campbell Folk School, Augusta Heritage Week, Kentucky Music Week, and many more.

She is the author of numerous music books, 3 of which are published by Mel Bay Publishing Company, as well as several CD recordings, and most recently a combination audio CD and relaxation DVD, Celtic Passages.

As a music therapist, Lorinda reaches populations beyond the concert stage in schools, assisted living facilities and through related work with the Very Special Arts Kentucky and The Kentucky Center's, Arts-In-Healing program.

Lorinda is known as a gentle and compassionate teacher, and goes out of her way to make every student feel successful. When she is not teaching her morning class or leading them on a local field trip into nearby Sylva, she will be offering various afternoon electives.

Bob MagowanBob Magowan

Memphis, Tennessee
Dulcimer Building Class

Bob’s job at Dulcimer U will be to show participants how to build their own mountain dulcimer from the parts he will provide.

Bob began his luthier career in August, 2000 when he purchased a mountain dulcimer kit, assembled it and began to learn how to play it.  Following that experience he started designing and making his own mountain dulcimers.  He currently constructs Magowan Mountain Dulcimers, which are custom made instruments, at his home in Memphis.
Over the years he has developed an interest in other stringed instruments by repairing all types of bowed instruments including violins, violas, cellos, and he has also worked on guitars, mandolins and concert zithers. To date Bob has built over 100 instruments, mostly mountain dulcimers, but also pickin’ sticks, cookie can instruments, a mandolin and a number of experimental instruments.  His musical interests include old time and bluegrass music and playing dulcimer, fiddle, viola, mandolin and tenor guitar.

Marsha Harris

Marsha Harris

Morehead City, North Carolina
Learning To Play By Ear

Marsha enjoys many genres of music and composing. She plays mountain, bowed, and Banjammer dulcimers. In addition, she plays Native American flute, fiddle and tenor banjo. She enjoys traveling to various festivals to share the experience.

Marsha's first CD, "A Nice Combination" sets the tone for the types of music she enjoys. She shares music through teaching and playing for various events such as weddings, concerts, schools, theater productions, and festivals.

She has received numerous awards at old time fiddle festivals and the North Carolina State Fair Folk Festival for her mountain dulcimer playing abilities. Native American flute has allowed more free expression and has lead to additional collaboration on various music projects.

Marsha joins Annette Abbondanza as a member of "Painted Raven" a Native American flute and world music duo. Painted Raven has released their first CD titled "Season of Lights."

She will be sharing her skills throughout the week on the afternoon elective schedule.

Jim Miller

Jim Miller

Hampton, Tennessee
Master of the Jam

Jim has been playing and performing traditional music for more than 35 years. An accomplished instrument builder and teacher, he has taught workshops at numerous festivals as well as won many awards for his musicianship.

For twenty years, Jim was the owner of the Hampton Music Shop, in Hampton, Tennessee, where he handcrafted over 750 hammered dulcimers. He has played with Celtic, Bluegrass, Swing, Blues and Old Time bands, and has done session work on many recordings.

In addition to being an accomplished performer and workshop leader, Jim also is an enthusiastic jam facilitator (Jam-Meister, Master of the Jam, etc.) who likes to get everyone involved. He plays guitar, banjo, octave mandolin, bass, steel drum, percussion, autoharp, hammered and mountain dulcimers as well as his own off-the-wall musical inventions, which are always entertaining.

Jim holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education and has completed the course work for certification in music education. He teaches 4th grade at Cloudland Elementary School in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, where he leads an after school traditional string band program. He also teaches dulcimer and autoharp in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music program at East Tennessee State University.

In addition to his jamming duties, Jim will be performing on the evening concert schedule and teaching a Music Theory elective.

Anne LoughAnne Lough
Waynesville, North Carolina
Level II - Advancing Beginners

Anne joins the Dulcimer U staff this year to teach one of the morning skills classes. She is a nationally known traditional musician, highly acclaimed for her skill as a performer and educator. Anne has a Music Education Degree from Murray State University located in Murray, Kentucky and a Master of Music Education Degree from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

Over the 35 plus years that she has been teaching and performing, Anne has dedicated herself to the preservation of traditional music, stories and folklore, she now devotes her time to festivals, Road Scholar classes, workshops, performances and school residencies. Her artistic interpretation, sensitive playing style, versatility, creative arranging and skill as an instructor have given her opportunities to share the music and inspire students in major venues of the dulcimer community.

In addition to being a regular instructor of mountain and hammered dulcimer at the prestigious John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, Anne has taught at the Swannanoa Gathering, Western Carolina Dulcimer Week, Augusta Heritage Dulcimer Week, Kentucky Music Week, Ozark Folk Center and numerous other festivals and workshops throughout the country.

Anne has several recordings and more than ten books of dulcimer arrangements to her credit, her Old Time Hymns and Gospel Songs for Mountain Dulcimer being published by Mel Bay Publishing Company. In addition to her recordings recordings, Anne's music can be heard on several Smoky Mountain educational videos, public radio and a recent PBS Christmas Special.

When not teaching her morning skills class, Anne will be offering elective classes each afternoon and performing on the evening concert schedule.

Gary SagerGary Sager

Waverly, Ohio
Dulcimer Doctor 

Gary is the resident “Mr. Fix It” at Dulcimer U, making himself available to do repairs or upgrade work on your dulcimer throughout the week. He will also be one of the largest merchandise vendors in attendance.
Gary became interested in the Mountain Dulcimer in 1991 after seeing David Schnaufer's "Fischer's Hornpipe" video on CMT. He built a dulcimer in late 1991, then began building seriously in 1992 and has been building and playing since that time.
Gary, along with wife Toni are the owners of "Prussia Valley Dulcimers Acoustic Music Shop". Gary has taught playing workshops at Fort New Salem Dulcimer Festival, Dulcimer Doin's in Dayton, Ohio, Buckeye Dulcimer Festival in Ashley, Ohio, The Great River Road Dulcimer Festival in Grafton, IL, Yellowbanks Dulcimer Festival in Owensboro, KY, Chestnut Ridge Dulcimer Festival in Greensburg, PA, Western Carolina University Dulcimer Week and several other regional festivals. Gary and Toni perform occasionally at these festivals.
Gary and Toni have one CD to their credit, "Rats In the Fence Corner", which features an eclectic blend of tunes. Gary can also be heard on Doug Felt's "A Little of This & A Little of That" CD. His first tablature book, "Other Tunes For Appalachian Dulcimer" was published in March of 2009 and features many tunes not normally heard on mountain dulcimer.

Denise BorensDenise Borens

Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee
Administrative Assistant 

Denise is the heartbeat of Dulcimer U, working behind the scenes while everyone is in class to address all of the small details that make the week run smoothly. She can be found in the vendor area selling raffle tickets or helping participants with room assignments, in the classrooms making announcements or in nearby Sylva running errands.

Denise has been playing the mountain dulcimer for 15 years as a member of Three Rivers Dulcimer Club in Waverly, Tennessee and 13 years as a student of Conger Music Studio in Paris, Tennessee. She is a retired generating plant operator and instructor for the Tennessee Valley Authority. If you have a question about anything regarding Dulcimer U, Denise is the one to ask as she probably knows the answer.

Helen BankstonHelen Bankston

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Helen is teaming with her ensemble partner, Peggy Broussard to teach the afternoon elective ensemble workshops this year at Dulcimer U. Helen graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. Music has always been a part of her life and she started by singing and playing piano in her church. She sang in Officer's Wives Clubs in the military and in the international "Sweet Adelines" group in Baton Rouge for 14 years. During this time she was also a member of a barbershop quartet called "Sound Suite". She continues singing in her church choirs and has played English handbells for approximately 20 years.

Helen has been playing the mountain dulcimer since September 1997. After having heard a mountain dulcimer being played on the streets of Asheville, North Carolina, she knew she had to have one. After having taken an adult leisure class on the mountain dulcimer, she and several of her new friends realized they needed a plan to continue with this new adventure. As a result, the Baton Rouge Dulcimer Society, later known as the Lagniappe Dulcimer Society, had its first meeting in February of 1998. Helen served as president of the group for the next 12 years. During that time the Lagniappe Dulcimer Fete was born and is now in it's 13th year.

Helen is also a part of the four member ensemble known as "La Petite Lagniappe" and writes parts for their ensemble as needed. Helen enjoys numerous instruments with her first love still being the mountain dulcimer. Her second love is the bowed dulcimer. She has found the bowed dulcimer enhances the music of the mountain dulcimer unlike any other instrument and enjoys adding its smoothness to the ensemble pieces she writes.

Helen's love of music extends to all parts of her life. For about 15 years she has led a small group of musicians, including dulcimer players, every Monday morning for a devotional and music time for an area nursing home. Helen remarks, "Nothing can compare to seeing senior adults, for whom life has slowed, start singing some of the old hymns they once enjoyed."

Helen was able to assist Hugh Goodwin Elementary in El Dorado, Arkansas, with a grant to purchase 30 student dulcimers for the school. She then was able to be a visiting artist for about four years as she taught both the students and the music teacher the love of the mountain dulcimer.

Her love of music has motivated her to continue to attend numerous festivals every year to further enhance her skills. This all was worth it when in May 2013, Helen won third place at the Rebel State Park Dulcimer Days.

Helen loves ensemble work because it can give all levels of dulcimer players a chance to work together and learn from each other. In her words, "There is a magic in being surrounded by different harmonies and blends in the music which is so different from that of other instruments. There is also an element of safety for the newer player in knowing someone else will catch that note that was missed and all will have a glorious time!"

Peggy BroussardPeggy Broussard

Greenwell Springs, Louisiana

Peggy is a Louisianan, whose parents spoke French before English, so she grew up hearing French and later learned it in high school and college. She grew up with a love of music, especially Cajun music.

Peggy learned multiple instruments throughout her elementary and high school years, becoming the head drum major and student conductor in high school. For five years, she directed a children's choir in her church, and used music throughout her teaching career as an elementary teacher and guidance counselor. Peggy used the guitar as her instrument of choice until her husband, Bruce, purchased a mountain dulcimer for her in Mountain View, Arkansas in the mid 90's. Peggy says, "It was love at first sight, and the rest is history."

Peggy belongs to a very active group called " The Lagniappe Dulcimer Society" in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which has hosted 12 festivals. She have served as president, vice president , festival chairman, and currently is education director of the group. Peggy is also a member of "La Petite Lagniappe," an quartet which plays special arrangements using many voices of the dulcimer such as baritone, bass and bowed dulcimers in addition to standard dulcimers. Their unique and clever arrangements are admired by their dulcimer peers.

For the past 14 years, Peggy has been attending various festivals and workshops, forging many friendships along the way. She recently placed third in The Deep South Dulcimer Championship in February of 2013 in Mississippi.

As with others on our staff, dulcimer music has enhanced Peggy's life tremendously, and, according to her, "will continue to do so as long as the good Lord gives me the strength and time." She loves teaching and playing the dulcimer and also enjoys seeing the joy it brings to others.

Peggy will be teaming up with Helen Bankston to teach a series of afternoon electives focusing on ensemble playing techniques.

Kitty Pentecost

Kitty Pentecost

Gallatin, Tennessee
Vendor Area Manager

Kitty and her husband, Mike come to WCU each year to help with two completely different aspects of Dulcimer U. Kitty's duties include managing our vendor area. She coordinates space with each of the vendors, helps set up tables and assists customers with sales when the vendors are not present. When she is not busy in the vendor area, she can be found running errands around the conference center. She has even been seen making a quick Hazelnut Drizzle Macchiato run to Starbucks! You might even find Kitty sitting in on a class or two as a participant, feeding her dulcimer habit. Her outgoing personality and winning smile always seems to rub off on the participants and staff alike, resulting in the warm and friendly atmosphere that Dulcimer U is best known for.

Kitty managed the Word Processing Center for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship in Nashville before she became a stay-at-home mom to Sarah and Daniel (now grown). She now spends her time tending the garden and playing the dulcimer. Kitty has been a member of White House (TN) Dulcimer Club for seven years and is a private student of Larry Conger.

Mike Pentecost

Mike Pentecost

Gallatin, Tennessee
Sound Engineer

Mike is in charge of providing sound reinforcement for the various activities at Dulcimer U. He learned audio recording, mixing, and sound reinforcement system design while serving in the military. Mike was assigned to the Audio Productions Section of the White House Communications Agency during the Richard Nixon Administration. For three years, Mike traveled in advance of the president both nationally and internationally. He participated in the Nixon visits to China, Russia, and Iran.

One of the many duties of the Audio Productions Section is to provide high quality sound reinforcement and recording services for entertainers that perform at the White House after State Dinners held for visiting dignitaries. Some of the entertainers Mike has setup sound systems, mixed audio or recorded are Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, The Osborne Brothers, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, The Mike Curb Congregation, The Carpenters, Beverly Sills, and the memorable Prisoner of War Dinner with Sammy Davis Jr. and friends.

After military service, Mike returned to Nashville to work in the audio/visual industry. Mike is vice president of Southeastern Sound, Inc., a low voltage systems integrator based in Nashville.

Jeff FurmanJeff Furman

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level IV - Upper Intermediate

Jeff joins the Dulcimer U instructional staff for the first time this year. For many years, he was a familiar face at WCU Mountain Dulcimer Week and we are looking forward to Jeff returning to campus as one of our morning skills instructors.

Jeff is an award winning mountain dulcimer player who is known for his smooth and expressive style. His gentle, humorous, and effective teaching style has made him a popular instructor at numerous dulcimer festivals across the country. Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been playing old time and tradition music since 1980. On the mountain dulcimer, he has a particular fondness for waltzes and Celtic airs. He has been performing for more than 30 years. His technical abilities and musical sensitivity have made Jeff a popular choice for playing on multiple recordings, including music from Ireland, Scotland, the Appalachian Mountains, and American folk tunes. Touching someone's heart with his music is Jeff's most rewarding goal. Jeff describes himself as a musician with a day job.

In addition to Jeff's morning skills class, he will be offering various afternoon electives throughout the week and performing on the evening concerts.

Dave HaasDave Haas

Charleston, West Virginia
Level V- Beyond Intermediate

Dave returns from the 2011 Dulcimer U staff to again teach the more experienced players, something which he loves to do! He has been playing the dulcimer since 1990 and loves to share the dulcimer and its history wit schools, churches, and civic organizations. He has even brought dulcimer music to those in prison! Dave also plays the guitar, sings, and leads music on Christian retreat experiences such as Kairos Prison Ministry, The Walk to Emmaus, Cursillo, and Teens Encounter Christ.

Dave has released four dulcimer CDs, six dulcimer instruction books, and a popular chord chart.

Dave also enjoys teaching science as a chemistry professor at the University of Charleston. One of his favorite activities is to sing chemistry songs (some on dulcimer) with his students.

His teaching experience with the dulcimer includes Kentucky Music Week, Chatauqua on the Wabash, Yellowbanks Dulcimer Festival, Ohio Valley Gathering, and the Southern California Dulcimer Heritage. All total, Dave has taught and performing with his dulcimer in fourteen different states.

If you're not signing up for Dave's morning skills class, be sure to check out some of his afternoon electives and don't miss him on the evening concert schedule.

Judy HouseJudy House

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Learning To Teach The Mountain Dulcimer

Judy joins the Dulcimer U staff for the first time this year to direct one of our specialized classes on how to teach the mountain dulcimer. She was a part of the first class at Dulcimer U to complete the requirements for teaching certification.

Judy first started playing the dulcimer in 1995. In 2010, she was approached by Forsyth Technical Community College to teach the mountain dulcimer in their outstanding Continuing Education department. This class has been a real success story for FTCC. It has continued to meet since 2010 with most of the original students still together and continuing their learning experience. Judy has since added two additional levels of ongoing classes, with two of the classes performing regularly in the Triad area of North Carolina. The group has been featured in both the Forsyth Tech Quarterly and the Winston-Salem Monthly magazine.

Judy is a graduate of Campbell University. She has had an extraordinary variety of opportunities in her career as an educator over the past 40 years, teaching preschool through graduate level classes throughout North Carolina, as well as planning and presenting staff development across much of the state.

She was an early attendee of the well-regarded teacher program NCAT, and served as their representative for the Teaching Fellows Scholarship Program. Some of Judy's other professional experiences and qualifications include being certified as a Teacher Mentor through the program at North Carolina State University, serving as a Reading and Writing consultant for Duke University where she trained teachers to teach reading and writing and did model teaching for Duke graduate students and others. She has also worked with student teaching programs at Campbell University, Meredith College and North Carolina Central University. She has assisted with writing curriculum for Wake County Public Schools, NC Department of Public Instruction, and a special technology program at Duke University. Having been licensed to teach in four different areas by the State of North Carolina, Judy has been repeatedly recognized for her excellence in teaching by both her peers and administrators.

Judy recently completed her dulcimer first tab book titled Patriotic Songs of the U.S. We are extremely proud to have Judy on our staff this year.


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