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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. Specialized Morning Classes are listed here.

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 if you have any questions regarding this class.


LEVEL II - Beyond Beginner Skills - 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 (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


Level III - Lower Intermediate Skills - Karen Mueller

This Class is currently Full. Email to be placed on a waiting list after you have registered for an alternate class.
At this level, you have a handle on the basics and are ready to move on and explore more ways to strengthen your playing. You are comfortable reading tab and using simple chords to enhance the melody and play backup with others. We will build on that knowledge to add more chord positions on the fretboard and learn they why and how (also known as theory) of using them comfortable and effectively in chord-melody playing and in jamming.

We'll also explore a wider range of strumming rhythms to really make the music dance, and how to choose the best strum pattern for each style of music. Speaking of styles, we'll be covering a range from folk, gospel, bluegrass and old-time to calypso and Celtic, including airs and jigs (6/8 time). A variety of techniques will be used, including strumming, flatpicking, and fingerpicking, with discussion of how to create easy arrangements yourself with these techniques. Hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides will be taught, and used to make your playing smoother and more musical.

In order to continue to learn and grow after you get home from the workshop, we'll discuss ways of developing effective practice habits. We'll even look into how to make friends with the metronome and use it to strengthen our playing.

Throughout this class, there will be continued attention to how our ergonomics work when we play, in the form of our position and posture, relaxed right and left hand movements, and effective fingering. We'll be sure to build in short breaks to stand up and stretch. The focus will be on connecting with our dulcimers and having a good time with the music and each other.

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


LEVEL IV - Upper Intermediate Skills - Jeff Furman

This Class is currently Full. Email to be placed on a waiting list after you have registerd for an alternate class.
The theme of this class is, "Playing Beyond the Notes!" At this level, 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, variability, and creativity into your playing? Do you want to improve your ability to play with others? If the answer to these questions is yes, this class is for you!

Topics covered during this class will include:

  • Working on left hand techniques to improve smoothness of your playing
  • Improving right hand techniques to help with mood and creativity
  • Improving your ability to play and choose ornaments, and to add variability to your playing
  • Strong emphasis on improving your left hand fingering for better accuracy, fluidity, connecting notes and sustain
  • Exploring the many uses of chords including finding melodies and harmonies, adding tasteful backup, and varying chord voices to enhance your music
  • Emphasizing concepts and techniques for playing more expressively
  • Getting more comfortable with playing higher up the fret board (you paid for the whole dulcimer, might as well use it!)
  • Playing in keys other than D and playing in tunings other than DAD to expand variability and interest in the music you play
  • Emphasizing listening while you play rather than just using your eyes!
  • And more!

Please bring a capo to this class.

If you have any questions about this class, please contact Jeff via email at:

Be sure to register early since space is limited! This is a popular selection and Jeff's classes are always well-attended. See you in Cullowhee!


LEVEL V - Beyond Intermediate Skills - Sarah Morgan

Please read the entire description before enrolling in this class. No time will be spent reviewing the skills you should already know.

This class is for folks who want to go beyond the tablature and truly master the mountain dulcimer! Each day we'll start by focusing on a different aspect of your playing and correcting bad technique habits. You can expect to get lots of tips and tricks that will instantly improve your playing. From there, we'll learn one to two tunes that put our newfound techniques into practice.

Topics include:

  • Developing a smooth, consistent, and interesting strumming hand as well as pick selection
  • Developing an articulate, smooth system of fingering
  • Drills and exercises that will clean up your playing and help build muscle memory that will reduce mistakes
  • Playing melodies across all three strings
  • Impressive and fun techniques such as harmonic bends, left hand brushes, and trills
  • Learning tunes by ear (I'll teach the tunes phrase by phrase, handing out tab at the end)
  • Arranging and writing intros and interludes
  • Easy, simple, and instant improvisation techniques

Repertoire will include some of my favorite, lesser-known Appalachian fiddle tunes, hymns, folk songs, as well as one or two ensemble arrangements.

If you have questions about this class, please contact Sarah at





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