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Morning Class Descriptions

Choose one class from the list below. Your morning class will meet each morning, Monday-Friday with the same instructor.

Help me decide what level I should be in

Level I – New Players – Laurie Alsobrook

Welcome to the world of the Mountain Dulcimer!  You have chosen to begin the exciting journey of learning how to play this lovely instrument...or perhaps you are dusting off the dulcimer that you have not played in years.  New or almost new to the dulcimer, this is your class! Goals for the week are for you to be able to play several simple and familiar dulcimer tunes and to come away with basic mountain dulcimer playing skills that will allow you continue to play, expand on what you have learned, and add to your repertoire for the mountain dulcimer. Come enjoy learning to play the mountain dulcimer in a relaxed and encouraging environment…enjoy the music and enjoy the fellowship with other dulcimer players!

Don’t have a dulcimer?  Western Carolina University has several loaner dulcimers available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Email Bobby Hensley at to reserve your instrument for the week. Questions about this class should be directed to Laurie at

Level II – Advancing Beginner Skills – Carol Crocker

 It’s been a good year enjoying and exploring your new dulcimer skills as a beginner. Now you’re ready to take your dulcimer playing to the next level. This class is just for you as you continue your dulcimer journey and expand your confidence in playing with new skills.

  • Review Level I skills
  • Expand left hand fretting skills including across the middle and bass strings
  • Continue to improve and strengthen right hand strumming skills
  • Explore flat picking and finger picking skills
  • Gain confidence in playing two and three finger chords
  • Introduction to using a capo
  • Playing in other tunings
  • Continue to hone listening skills and confidence in playing by ear
  • Begin looking forward to the next level as you increase your confidence in playing

Come enjoy playing the mountain dulcimer in a relaxed and encouraging environment….enjoy the music and fellowship with other dulcimer players! Contact Carol at  if you have any questions regarding this class.

Level II, III, IV & V -Beyond the Tab – The Mechanics of Music – Jim Miller

This class is designed for players who are proficient at playing tunes from TAB but would like to explore how music works on a deeper level. We’ll take a look at the nuts and bolts of music and discover the “whats and whys” of what goes into playing.  It will offer a musical toolbox, allowing the player to gain a greater understanding of the mechanics of playing, and gain a greater appreciation of why we play. We’ll start with a basic introduction of music theory as it applies to the mountain dulcimer. Covering scales, modes, intervals, chords and chord progressions, this will form a firm foundation for the rest of the class. Next, we’ll spend some time developing our musical ear. We’ll learn how to recognize musical intervals, melodies, and chords and see how chords and melodies relate to one another. This will provide an excellent basis for learning to play by ear. Reading musical notation will be the next topic. This covers reading notes on a staff, timing and rhythmic structure, note values and key signatures. Finally, we’ll spend some time with rhythm, playing different world rhythms and having fun exploring the many and varied ways rhythm can improve our playing. We’ll conclude each day with a jam session, applying the concepts we have covered that day. By the end of the class, hopefully, you’ll be able to turn off your iPad, throw away your mountain of TAB, and join the jam, playing and enjoying Music.

Jim can answer any questions you may have about this class.  Contact him at

Level III – Lower Intermediate Skills – Irma Reeder

You’ve enjoyed discovering your dulcimer, playing songs, and learning some of the basic skills.  Now you’re anxious to be moving on, learning more, building on your foundation.  What’s next?  During our week together, we’ll take some time to review and reinforce what you have learned then move forward playing music together while we explore chords up the fretboard and find out how to start playing more smoothly. Each day will bring a new focus:  left hand positions, chords in three different parts of the fretboard, timing, how to move smoothly and what that means, the basics of strumming, flat and fingerpicking, and introducing the capo.  We’ll play songs that helps us to practice these ideas, together and playing in parts (melody, some harmony, and accompaniment). By the end of the week, you’ll have new skills that will add sparkle to your playing, and send you forward on your dulcimer journey.  You’ll have a packet of handouts, arrangements to enjoy, and new ideas to add to your music.

Required:  pencil, picks, music stand, capo, standard dulcimer tuned to DAD. Irma will be glad to answer any questions you may have regarding this class.  She can be reached at

Level IV – Upper Intermediate Skills – Jeff Furman

You already know how to play the mountain dulcimer.  Now, do you want to enhance what you already know and build new skills to improve even more?  Do you want to learn how to put more expression into your playing?  Do you want to add more creativity to your playing?  Do you want to touch people’s heart with your music?  Do you want to learn to listen more while you play? If the answer to these questions is yes, this class is for you! Jeff has drawn from his highly acclaimed classes to put together a week full of concepts, techniques, exercises, and repertoire to help you learn to play “beyond the notes.”

Topics covered during this class will include:

  • Working on left hand techniques to improve smoothness of your playing
  • Improving your ability to play and choose ornaments and other embellishments, and to add variability to your playing
  • A strong emphasis on improving your left hand fingering for better accuracy and tone, smooth transitions and connecting notes, and getting good sustain.
  • Exploring the many uses of chords including finding melodies and harmonies, adding tasteful backup, hearing chord changes and knowing what the chords are, playing by ear, and more.
  • Exploring concepts and techniques for playing more expressively
  • Emphasizing listening while you play, rather than just using your eyes, to help you with personal expression.
  • Getting more comfortable with playing higher up the fret board (you paid for the whole dulcimer, you may as well use it!)
  • Playing in keys other than D without retuning
  • And more!

If you have a particular tune you would like to enhance, please bring it with you and we’ll help you with your expression. Please bring a capo to this class. This is a popular selection and Jeff’s classes are always well-attended.  If you have further questions about this class, feel free to contact Jeff at: See you in Cullowhee!!

Level V – Beyond Intermediate Skills – Mountain Dulcimer Mastery & Musicianship – Butch Ross

Please read this entire description before registering for the class.  No class time will be spent reviewing and reinforcing the lower level skills you should already be comfortable with as a seasoned player. The dulcimer is NOT a simple instrument. It’s NOT a primitive instrument. It’s NOT a limited instrument. It’s just a very efficient one.

This class description is by design somewhat vague as the makeup of the class will be driven by the wants and needs of the attendees. We will talk about personal goals and do some skill assessing on the first day and then build the curriculum from there. That said, there are some things students can absolutely expect will be covered. You can expect this to be a safe space!  This will be a tremendous opportunity to grow and develop as a musician with others who share your ambitions. More pragmatically, we will discuss rhythm and how to teach yourself to improve it. We will touch on the ergonomics of holding your instrument, fine-tuning fingering to maximum efficiency. Fretboard knowledge. Picking, strumming, flat picking and finger picking. Music theory (but only as it applies to the dulcimer in the most pragmatic ways). If you’re interested in arranging, transcribing or even composition, we’ll discuss that. We’ll play in other keys while tuned to DAD. I will show you how to make cool sounds on the instrument and why you would even want to. In short, we will explore the length and breadth of what the dulcimer is capable of, and it’s A LOT more than you might think.

A capo is a must. 1+ fret is a must and an 8+ fret is preferred. If you use a double melody string, let’s give that up for the week.

This is all my secrets revealed. You will not be able to play like me at week’s end, But you will know how to get there if you choose to. You’ll understand how much the instrument is capable of and how to use it to express YOUR visions, YOUR ideas, YOUR musicality. This class won’t be easy BUT it will be do-able. You WILL get there.

My goal is NOT to make you a mountain dulcimer player, but to be a musician who happens to play mountain dulcimer. This class does expect you to do some homework, but ample time will be provided in class as well to absorb concepts.  There will be handouts, but also bring a notebook of some sort plus any tunes you may be working on.  Finally, recording devices are very welcome and encouraged.  And I will set aside some time at the end of class to demonstrate/review what we’ve done, so you can film it with your phones if you want.  Any questions about this class please write me make sure that you include the words “Dulcimer U” in the subject line. This is gonna be a blast! 


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