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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.

Note: The classes listed below are the regular Morning Classes.

Help me decide what level I should be in

LEVEL I - New Player Skills - 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 c.crocker0705@gmail.com if you have any questions regarding this class.

 
Level II Skills (Advancing Beginners) – Laurie Alsobrook

Tired of Bile them Cabbage Down?  Well then, this is the course for you!!  Welcome to Advancing Beginners!  During your week at Dulcimer U, we will focus on continuing your journey with the mountain dulcimer, specifically in:

  • Reviewing and reinforcing beginner level skills
  • Advancing your left-hand skills, both fingering and chording
  • Developing confidence with right hand skills - gaining comfort with your strum!
  • Gaining confidence with two and three finger chords
  • Playing well with others J (chords in the keys of D, G, and A)
  • Providing an introduction to finger-picking
  • Demystifying the capo
  • Developing listening skills to play a tune by ear
  • Getting out of a “jam” in a jam
  • Preparing you for the next level by increasing your level of confidence in your playing

The joy of playing a dulcimer is contagious!  Enjoy this fun class filled with lots of encouragement, laughter, fellowship, and smiles...not to mention beautiful music!!

Questions about this class? Please contact Laurie Alsobrook at alsobrooklp@gmail.com  

LEVEL III Skills with Carol Walker

You’ve been playing your dulcimer for a while, and you’re feeling pretty comfortable with what you’ve accomplished, but now you’re looking for something new and different, something that will take your playing to the next level. During our five days together, we’ll start out by reinforcing and refining the basics you already know, and then we’ll jump right in with lots of work for the left hand, including an in-depth look at chords in all shapes and sizes. You’ll learn my “EZ-PZ” chord system, and then we’ll work towards the more advanced techniques of playing in “chord/melody” style, using a proven and consistent fingering method.

Next, we’ll shift our focus to the right hand, and spend time developing and polishing various strumming and flatpicking techniques. I’ll also show you three different ways to fingerpick, a technique that will add a whole new dimension to your repertoire. With all those “mechanical” elements in place, we’ll next add some special “musical” elements, such as phrasing and dynamics, and we’ll add even more techniques, including hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, which will smoooooth out your playing. Your listeners will say, “Wow! I never knew a dulcimer could sound like that!” (Or, more to the point, your listeners will be amazed at how good you sound!)

On Day 5 we’ll put it all together in the final segment called “Keep Calm and Keep Going,” during which we’ll play with and for each other. You’ll go home with a packet of materials that will include an extensive and varied collection of familiar favorites treated in a completely different way, along with new and unfamiliar tunes that will challenge you. 

We’ll be mostly in DAD tuning, and you’ll need a capo.  Direct any questions about this class to musicladycarol@aol.com

The Sigogglin Flow of Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions – All skill levels welcome – Phyllis & Jim Gaskins

What a wonderful opportunity to learn about our dulcimer heritage through the eyes of a pair of Virginia treasures – Phyllis and Jim Gaskins!  This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity you don’t want to miss!

Phyllis writes - We all share a common journey in life of finding, learning to play, and loving the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer.  Along the way, we have encountered various makers and players of the instrument.  We fell in love with the sound and beauty of these handcrafted instruments. 

The body structures of the instrument and the playing techniques vary, but it all started somewhere. That somewhere is the Wagon Road through the Great Valley of Virginia and into the mountainous regions of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  My journey took me from playing a traditional Tennessee dulcimer to a very different, older Virginia style of playing. 

Through demonstrations, recordings, slides, and actual hands-on activities we will explore the various tunings used by traditional players.  We will listen to and play many tunes and songs.  Each day, we will share stories and tunes using your dulcimer and several instruments from my collection of dulcimers, scheitholts, and hummels from VA , NC, TN, and Germany. 

Contact info: phylgdulci@comcast.net  

 
Arranging Music for the Dulcimer: Making Your Music Come Alive (Level III Lower Intermediate and up) - Irma Reeder

This class is being taught by one of the country’s most imaginative and expressive music arrangers, Irma Reeder of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This is a wonderful opportunity to take your music to the next level by exploring creative ways to arrange the songs you love in a comfortable, hands-on environment.

  • 3-String Standard Dulcimer
  • DAD Tuning
  • Bring a Capo
  • Knowledge of Chords and Keys

Irma writes - At this level, you have a handle on the basics, have a working knowledge of chords and keys, and are ready to move on and explore ways to create fresh, original arrangements. You are comfortable reading tab and using basic chords. We will build on your knowledge of chords and keys to learn how to create arrangements that are uniquely yours. By using various songs throughout the week, we will become familiar with a number of techniques.  Each day we will practice an element, break into small groups to create examples using that element that you will then share with the class. By the end of the week you will have learned six techniques to help you produce wonderful, emotive arrangements. Throughout this class, we will focus on thinking ‘outside the box’, exploring and imagining exciting possibilities that you can add to the music you love.

If you have questions or need more information about this workshop, feel free to email Irma at irmasdulcimers@gmail.com  

 
BASS DULCIMER SKILLS I (Lower Intermediate Level 3 and up) - Jim Miller

In addition to reading this class description, you should also read the class prerequisites at the end of the description.

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 intrigued with its sound but haven’t quite figured out how to best utilize it yourself to its maximum potential.  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 focus mainly on the alternating bass line which fits the bulk of the traditional mountain dulcimer repertoire.  Participants will learn what to do on the bass whether in 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8 time signatures and how to “get fancy” (walk-ups, walk-downs, etc.) between chord changes. There will be time devoted to interval ear training which will allow participants to become not solely dependent on tablature to play bass lines.  A variety of ways to experience these skills will be offered during the week including practical applications like being the lone bass player in a group. As time permits, students will be exposed to other types of bass line patterns that fits other genres of music such as cowboy, blues, boogie woogie, and rock ‘n roll.

Prerequisites: bass dulcimer with 1+ fret, ability to perform barre chords efficiently, and knowledge of chord shapes. Required texts (available in class): “Bass Dulcimer Basics,” by Jim Miller & “It’s All About the Bass Dulcimer,” by Elaine Conger.

Questions about this class? Contact Jim Miller at jimiller5@msn.com  

BASS DULCIMER SKILLS II -  (Level 3 Lower Intermediate and up) - Elaine Conger

In addition to reading this class description, you also need to read the class prerequisites at the end of the description before enrolling.

This class takes your bass dulcimer skills beyond the alternating bass line pattern which fits with so much of the traditional dulcimer repertoire.  (If you’re not fluent with that technique – that is, being able to alternate the 1st and 5th degrees of the scale dependent on the chord, knowing when to walk up or down, and to do both by ear without tablature – then you should consider the Bass I class instead of this one.)

Even though the alternating pattern is the foundational skill of all bass instrument players, man cannot live with just “boom, boom,” right?  In this class, you’ll explore how to make the bass play “back up,” meaning in an accompaniment style while simultaneously adding bass lines. Participants will have additional bass line accompaniments added to their vocabulary including walking bass lines and patterns that fit genres like blues, boogie woogie and rock ‘n roll.

Prerequisites: bass dulcimer tuned DAD with 1+ fret, ability to perform barre chords efficiently, knowledge of chords and chord shapes, and mastery of the alternating bass technique without depending on tablature.

Questions about this class? Contact Elaine Conger at musicwithcongers@gmail.com 

 
Level IV Skills (Upper Intermediate) – Butch Ross

This class is a soup-to-nuts look at playing the dulcimer from the ground up.  We will learn fingering and strumming techniques, chords, improvisation, ear training and even music theory in fun and enlightening ways.

We will take familiar tunes and strip them down to their simplest fundamental elements.  Then we will build them back up to create even more complicated arrangements.  You will learn to strum smoothly, expressively and fast (as fast as you care to anyway) with eye towards learning complete control of your instrument. Learn to play what you hear in your head.

This is a 3-string class in DAD tuning.  A double-melody string is fine, but not necessary.  An instrument with a 1.5 fret is helpful but not required. A capo is required.  We will learn to play in multiple keys with and without a capo, sometimes in the same song.

Learn to play or pick ALL the notes in common fiddle tunes, as well as how to play very sparsely (You’ll be surprised at which one is harder).  Learn when and where to add new notes and embellishments into fiddle tunes without getting in the way of other players.  Learn chords—and more importantly—voice leading.  And finally, learn to make noises on the instrument that just sound cool.

Sound too good to be true?  It isn’t.  But it does take time, and you will change as a player.  Not all of this can be completed in 4 days, but in 4 days you will have learned the tools and techniques to bring your playing to the next level.

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.  Finally, recording devices are 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 butch@butchross.com make sure that you include the words “Dulcimer U” in the subject line.

Questions about this class? Contact Butch Ross at butch@butchross.com  

Master Class with Larry Conger

Please read this entire description before enrolling to be sure that this class is suitable for you.  No class time will be spent reviewing the skills you should already know.  This class is not intended for masters of the mountain dulcimer but is designed instead for those who want to master their dulcimer.  Class participants should be comfortable playing in front of the teacher and fellow class members.
 
The difference between a Master Class and a workshop is in the structure. Unlike a typical dulcimer workshop where the teacher passes out tablature, in this Master Class, participants will bring their own music to class and have the opportunity to receive feedback from the instructor as well as their peers in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. The goal of this class is for participants to refine the music they already enjoy for the sake of improving flow, dynamics, phrasing, overall arrangement, and performability.

Each participant is asked to bring 3-4 pieces they have been working on, complete with tablature, and play these pieces for Larry and the other members of the class. Everyone will be active participants in helping each other grow as Larry, along with other classmates, will offer ideas to explore in an effort to improve the piece. Time will be given for participants to start exploring and implementing the ideas offered in the critique. Time permitting, each participant will have an opportunity to follow up and get feedback of the changes made to the arrangement.

This Master Class is geared towards Level V players and is not limited to solo participants; small ensembles and duets are welcome (aka strongly encouraged) to participate.  The only absolute requirements for this class are a dulcimer and a positive attitude; however, it is highly recommended that all students come to class with a notebook, pencil, eraser, music stand, tuner, and capo.  To help get the most out of this experience, students are encouraged to make their tablature available to Larry and the other members of class to use as a visual reference.

Questions about this class?  Contact Larry at dulcimerican@gmail.com 

 

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