Morning Class Descriptions

Help me decide what level I should be in

LEVEL I SKILLS - New Players - Carol Crocker

Hooray! You have chosen to begin the exciting journey of learning how to play the mountain dulcimer. During our week at Dulcimer U you will be introduced to and become familiar with basic skills for a new or beginner player. 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.

Some topics will include:

-- How to hold, tune, and care for your dulcimer
-- Basic strumming techniques
-- Becoming familiar with basic music reading skills including note values and time signatures
-- How to read dulcimer tab and play by ear
-- Explore playing basic chords that will help when playing with others (or even in a jam!)
-- Explore some left-hand fingering techniques
-- Learning about other tunings, DAA, DAC, and DGD

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!

Contact Carol Crocker if you have any questions regarding this class.


LEVEL II Skills - Beyond Beginner - Steve Eulberg

This course is designed for players who have a little bit of experience with the dulcimer and know how to play a few songs but wish to gain more knowledge and a better foundation in playing techniques. Most of what we will do will be in 1-5-8 or DAd tuning, but we may re-tune as well. Our work together this week will include:

-- How to acquire songs (ear, eye, tablature, recordings,)
-- Rhythm Boot camp (Right Hand)
-- Left Hand Fingering exercises
-- Left Hand Chord Exercises
-- Learning some common chord progressions
-- Playing solo
-- Playing with others
-- Playing with a noter is not just for beginners anymore.
-- What is a capo and what can I do with it?
-- What about these extra Frets?
-- Playing with a 1+ fret
-- Playing without a 6+ fret

 At the beginning of the summer I will also provide a recording for you to listen to some of the tunes that we will use to develop our growing comfort and skills on our dulcimers.

Questions about this class?  Contact Steve at



Level III Skills - Lower Intermediate - Janita Baker

This class will focus on improving the overall musicality of your playing and explore ways to more easily learn and play your music.  We will painlessly learn some useful music theory and work on skills for effective lead and backup as well as continuing to work on embellishments, timing, fingerpicking, flat picking and strumming techniques.

In addition to the Level III skills set, this class will explore ways to improve the musicality of your playing by learning new techniques and polishing up the old ones.  You already know know to play the dulcimer and have the basic skills to read tab and play a variety of songs using some basic chords.  We’ll take the next step and learn how to find more options and methods to enhance your playing and understanding of the fundamentals of how the mountain dulcimer works.  We will look at different tunings and styles of playing using a wide variety of musical genre including celtic, traditional and classical arrangements.

The class will work at a pace that is comfortable and encouraging for all the participants; we will enjoy and experience lots of laughter and lots of music.  The primary focus of the class is to provide everyone with the techniques and knowledge needed to confidently advance to the next skill level.

If you have questions or need more information about this workshop feel free to email Janita at:


LEVEL IV Skills - Upper Intermediate - Tull Glazener

We'll start off by learning how to take standard music notation, in any key, and translate it to full chord/melody style dulcimer tab (no previous ability to read music required).  Once we have a basic arrangement, we'll then learn how enhance the tune by using a number of chord embellishment techniques.  We'll also talk about ways to create multi-part/ensemble arrangements by adding bass lines, harmony parts, and counter-melody parts.  We'll explore ideas to help you play more smoothly and expressively, using both left and right hand techniques, such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, flat-picking, vibrato, and dynamics.  Playing in other keys will also be covered, both with and without a capo.

Questions about this class should be directed to Tull at


LEVEL V Skills - Beyond Intermediate - Rob Brereton

Please read this description carefully and be sure that you are comfortable with the skills listed for levels I-IV before registering. There will be little or no class time dedicated to reviewing the skills you should already know.

Looking for a challenge?  Much of the Level V class will be about taking what you’ve already learned, then expanding and applying that knowledge in different and more creative ways. The class will attempt to give you the skills to really “own" your dulcimer and start to develop your unique style.

Some of the topics will include advanced chords and how to substitute these chords for common chords, modes and capos, how to smooth out your playing, arranging in standard and non-standard tunings (including the 1-3-5 chromatic tuning), fingerpicking in four strings, and lots of room for questions you might have.

This class is a “must” for those players who are looking to progress beyond the intermediate level.

For more detailed information on this class, please contact Rob at


Appropriate for Level III+ players

The bass dulcimer is a magnificent addition to the mountain dulcimer family and adds a needed foundation and tonal warmth to standard dulcimer groups and music jams. Perhaps you've been pretty intrigued with its sound but haven't quite figured out how to best utilize it yourself to its maximum potential. In addition to discovering the bass dulcimer's qualities as a solo instrument, participants will explore its strengths as an accompanying instrument especially in mimicking the techniques used by the upright or electric bass player. The class will first master the alternating bass line which fits the bulk of the traditional mountain dulcimer repertoire. Participants will continue each day with adding another type of bass line accompaniment to their vocabulary including walking bass lines and patterns that fit genres like blues, boogie woogie and rock 'n roll. Time will also be allotted for discussing how to perform as an accompanist for a solo vocal or as a duet partner with a standard dulcimer player. At each stage of the process, time for practical applications of each skill will be incorporated including bringing in other instructors to play standard instruments for live practice on the bass. Prerequisites: bass dulcimer with 1+ fret, ability to perform barre chords efficiently, and knowledge of chord shapes. Oh, and come expecting to have fun!


Dulcimer Traditions  All Skill Levels Welcome - Don Pedi

A well researched and entertaining presentation of the history of the mountain dulcimer and the music played on it.

Quotes, folklore and personal stories provide a feeling of warmth and humor to the proceedings.

A collection of antique, vintage, replica, and contemporary dulcimers will be on hand.

The lecture / demonstration portion of the class will utilize these instruments to present music reflecting the times they were built, or represent.

There will also be slide shows, video, and recordings of influential players and builders of the past, and up to the present time.

Included will be an in depth comparison of playing and building styles and the contributions of people involved both pre and post "folk revival".

Each day we will play and/or sing along to a few dulcimer arrangements of music appropriate to the day's presentation.

Tab, as well as methods and playing techniques will be provided.

Don can answer any questions you may have about his class by e-mailing


Composing for the Mountain Dulcimer - Aaron O’Rourke  Levels III-V

If you’ve ever tried writing an original tune and thought, “I can’t do this. I’m not a writer,” or “Everything I write sounds like the songs I already know,” you are not alone. In this class, you will learn a few different systems that make writing your own music very doable, musical, and original. You do not need to have any previous experience writing music to take this class. All that is needed for this workshop is a mountain dulcimer, familiarity with all the skills covered in Levels I and II, and a desire to create new music.

In this workshop, we’ll explore tools to help you write music in different styles from soft aires to upbeat fiddle tunes and more. As the week progresses, you’ll have more freedom to go in whatever musical direction you desire with plenty of guidance and support. Along the way, we will discuss left and right hand technique as it applies to playing your compositions. We’ll also use writing music as a way to explore chord shapes and different ways of navigating the fretboard.

While it is not required that you perform any of your compositions for the class,  this is a great opportunity to share some of your work with classmates and get feedback in a fun, supportive atmosphere.

Keep in mind that when you are the composer, you can make these original compositions as simple or as advanced as you’d like! If you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at I’m looking forward to making music with you!



Everyone welcome – no dulcimer playing skills necessary

In his course, participants will build a McSpadden Sweet Song dulcimer. You can do this even if you have never done any woodworking! Ed will guide you through each step of the process and will provide all the forms, tools and materials needed to construct the dulcimer.

This is an excellent opportunity for spouses of mountain dulcimer players or anyone interested in learning the mountain dulcimer construction process. In addition, students will receive the satisfaction from playing an instrument that they personally built. You will end up with a well designed, easy-to-play, great sounding instrument that will give you years of satisfaction.

This course will require both the morning and afternoon sessions each day to complete the dulcimer. Due to space limitations and sharing of tools, the class will be limited to the first eight students to enroll.

In addition to the class tuition and other expenses, each student will pay a $200 fee to cover the cost of materials, supplies, tool usage and the forms on which to build the dulcimer. This fee will be paid to the instructor on the first day of class.

If you have any questions regarding this course, Ed can be contacted at


FROM PLAYER TO TEACHER: Best Practices of Mountain Dulcimer Instruction: YEAR ONE – Judy House Appropriate for Level IV & V skill players

*There are three prerequisites to enrolling in this course. Two online evaluations must be passed with at least 85% mastery - one on Music Theory and the other in Tablature Reading and Writing. A recorded performance of the potential candidate playing a dulcimer piece must be submitted as well. Submissions can be in the form of MP3 audio files, MP4, AVI or MOV video formats and delivered by way of e-mail attachment or link to YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Contact Larry Conger at for further information.

Let’s say that you have the opportunity to introduce the mountain dulcimer to a group of beginners. Where do you start? How do you go about it? What skills do you need to include first? How do you reach the students? Do you need a plan?

The focus of this course will be on effectively teaching the rank beginner.

Some of the topics include:

-- Basic teaching and learning principles
-- Learning preferences and styles
-- Writing behavioral objectives
-- Putting together plans of instruction
-- Teaching techniques appropriate for beginning students
-- Selecting and/or designing developmental activities for your students
-- Developing support materials for your classes
-- Setting a good example of playing techniques for your students
-- Promoting yourself as a teacher of the mountain dulcimer

Once you’ve had this class you will be more confident in leading a dulcimer group or working with your club. This class will give you the tools to help you develop your ability to teach and be more effective in communicating dulcimer skills to others in a more organized and sequential manner. Year One is the core class for those interested in teaching the mountain dulcimer. (Participants must also successfully complete Year Two in order to receive a certificate from the Continuing Education Department at Western Carolina University.)

The inclusion of required electives will ensure that you receive a basic working knowledge of music theory, tablature reading/writing, constructing a lesson plan, mastering strumming techniques, explaining rhythms, leading a jam, and developing comfort with performing. Participants will also observe master teachers in actual teaching settings.

This class will be taught by Judy House with input from some of our other experienced workshop leaders. Judy has spent over 40 years teaching numerous subjects to students of all ages and mentoring teachers as well. Geared toward Level IV players and up, this class is not about improving your playing skills, but about how to teach beginning playing skills successfully to others! Join Judy to learn how to be an effective planner and teacher of beginning dulcimer so your students become successful players who will ultimately come to know and understand your love for the mountain dulcimer as well.

Contact Judy at if you have questions regarding this class.

If you are interested in receiving certification for this course from Dulcimer U and Western Carolina University, please review the course requirements.


FROM PLAYER TO TEACHER: Best Practices of Mountain Dulcimer Instruction: YEAR TWO – Joe Collins Appropriate for Level IV & V skill players

Prerequisite: successful completion of Year One curriculum. Students must also submit a lesson plan at least two weeks prior to the start of Dulcimer U as described at the end of the Year One coursework.

The Year Two curriculum is limited to only those participants who have successfully completed the Year One course. The instructor, Joe Collins, is the originator of the idea of a teacher certification course at WCU and began the curriculum writing process which has evolved with the input of other respected dulcimer educators. The result is a unique quality course, perfect for the seasoned educator as well as the novice, and the only one of its kind in the nation.

The major addition to this year’s curriculum is the creation and implementation of an original lesson plan written by the Year Two candidate. Required electives in Year Two ensure a basic working knowledge in analyzing dulcimer techniques, developing your musical ear, modal theory, and mountain dulcimer history/traditions.

Year Two candidates will also participate as peer tutors for beginning participants at Dulcimer U and help lead “Turtle” and “Inchworm” jamming sessions.

For questions about this class, contact Joe at

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