Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's Your Angle?

People who know me might be surprised to see the angle at which I'm practicing this week.

Nobody told me how to set up my dulcimer when I started playing back in 1995. A Goldilocks approach seemed to make sense ... not too steep, not too flat ... just right! Then I began to experience neck and shoulder pain. I met Tina Gugeler at the Swannanoa Gathering in 1998. She was playing at an extremely steep angle. She suggested I give it a try. It didn't adversely affect my playing and it helped relax the tight muscles, so I continued in that style for many years.

The extreme angle was a topic of conversation. Some of you may remember the SG year that Wes Chappell, of No Strings Attached, grabbed a handful of Skittles (or was it cherry pits) and turned my strings and sound board into a game board! No damage done.

Fast forward to 2008. I met Dan Landrum, also at the Swannanoa Gathering. He was my teacher there for three years. He convinced me to try a more flat angle. It felt weird at first, but I continued to experiment back and forth over the years. Now I prefer a more moderate to flat angle, and as a result of all that mixing it up I find that I have a lot of flexibility when it comes to the position of the instrument.

For some pictured examples of extreme angles (including pics of Tina Gugeler and Dan Landrum) and more on the subject, read this blog post by Steve Eulberg:   Angle of Attack?

There's no right or wrong way. It's personal preference. I agree with Steve ... experiment!  Try different positions in different situations. Find out what works best for you. Let us know what you discover!

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