Friday, July 9, 2021

CTO ... Hammered Dulcimer in One State One Score

Hey, Check This Out! One of our own trapezoids of the triangle and his dulcimer have a cameo in the NC Symphony's One State One Score collaborative video project featuring Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" melody from Symphony #9. Can you spot him?? Way to go Mark!

Here's the link:

Monday, May 3, 2021

Monday's Muse

Music – what a powerful instrument, what a mighty weapon!  ~ Maria Augusta von Trapp


Monday, April 26, 2021

Monday's Muse

 Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ~ Berthold Auerbach

Monday, April 19, 2021

Monday's Muse

 The only way to do great work is to love what you do. ~ Steve Jobs

Monday, April 12, 2021

Monday's Muse

Does this sound like a lot of work without any guarantee of success? Well, yes, but it also calls into question our definition of success. Playing the cello, we’re more likely to realize that the pleasure is the practice, the ability to create this beautiful sound; not to do it as well as Yo-Yo Ma, but still, to touch the hem of the gown that is art itself… I got better at closing the gap between my hand and my head by clocking in the hours, stacking up the pages. Somewhere in all my years of practice, I don’t know where exactly, I arrived at the art.  ~ Ann Patchett

Monday, April 5, 2021

Friday, April 2, 2021

CTO ... Black Mountain Music Fest to be held onsite October 16-21

Yes! Save the date... October 16-21, 2021. Plans are in the making.

Check This Out ... The contract has been signed with the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC. New protocols and setup are in place. Registration is expected to begin by the end of April.

Those who did not get a refund from 2020 will have the option to carry last year's registration payment forward to this year.

2021 will be a "transitional" year. Some things will be different... but overall the same good old time with all our dulcimer friends! Stay tuned for more info: Black Mountain Music Fest 


Monday, March 29, 2021

Monday's Muse

 Nothing in music is hard, only unfamiliar.  ~ Kenny Werner

Monday, March 22, 2021

Monday's Muse

Music imprints itself in the brain deeper than any other human experience... 

... Music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.  ~ Oliver Sacks

Saturday, March 20, 2021

CTO ... In Concert: Ken Kolodner with Mary Lynn Michal

LIVE! from Sandbridge Beach, VA 

Check This Out ... Ken Kolodner and Mary Lynn Michal will be performing Ken's arrangements of traditional and original music on twin hammered dulcimer, hammered mbira, and fiddle.

Friday, March 26, 2021 - 8:00 - 9:00pm EST
Tickets must be purchased in advance. The cut-off date for sales is March 24

ALERT: This will be a high demand event, and this concert series, sponsored by DPN (Dulcimer Players News), limits the virtual audience on Zoom to 100 listeners. If you're interested, better jump on it!

Friday, March 19, 2021

CTO ... Another VW

Virtual Workshop, that is!

Our friend, Marya Katz, writes to let us know that registration for the Pocono Dulcimer Festival will begin this Sunday, March 21st at 12 noon EST. She's one of the featured teachers on hammered dulcimer.

Check This Out ... Don't live near the Poconos? No worries! There's no need to travel to enjoy the 18th annual Pocono Dulcimer Festival. It's being offered virtually this year, the weekend of April 22-25, 2021. To register, go to the Pocono Dulcimer Club website and click on the Register link.

Because workshops are expected to fill quickly, participants are advised to make a plan early. Check out the "Schedules and Descriptions" page. Choose and write down your desired classes. When registration opens you'll be ready to jump on it!


Monday, March 15, 2021

Monday's Muse

 Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.  ~ John Wooden

Monday, March 8, 2021

Monday's Muse

 The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.  ~ Walt Disney

Monday, March 1, 2021

Monday's Muse

The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.  ~ Dalai Lama 

Friday, February 26, 2021

CTO ... Join the NC Symphony

Need a reason to tune your instrument this weekend?

Want to be part of the whole?

Check This Out .... The NC Symphony invites residents of North Carolina to be a part of a new initiative called One State One Score, a virtual video project for folks of all ages, using Beethoven's "Ode to Joy"arranged for many different instruments and skill levels. Just pick a score for your instrument of choice and your experience level.* Create and submit your video. Maybe you'll be featured in the final compilation!

All musical instruments welcome!

Download the music. Upload your video. Deadline Monday March 1 Check it out!

* I'll give you a clue ... there is no hammered dulcimer score. I chose the beginning piano score upon which to base my hammered dulcimer arrangement.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Monday's Muse

When Yo-Yo Ma makes a mistake while performing, he says he often thinks about how Julia Child would react when she erred in the kitchen: Oh, the chicken's fallen on the floor! Yes. Oh, well, pick it up and put it right back. "And you know what?" he says. "Everybody's with you."

For Ma, musical performance is not about showcasing his technical flourish, but rather about extending hospitality to the world. "The greater purpose is that we're communing together and we want this moment to be really special for all of us," he says. "It's not about proving anything. It's about sharing something."

Friday, February 19, 2021

CTO ... Current issue of DPN on the way!

DPN is an acronym for Dulcimer Players News, a quarterly print magazine featuring sheet music, tablature, articles by and for musicians, festival information, plus a sampler CD ... for lovers and players of mountain and hammered dulcimer. It's our connection to the greater dulcimer community, and is delivered right to your mailbox! 

Check This Out ... Already subscribe? Yay! DPN vol.47 #1 is on its way to your mailbox. When it arrives, editor Ashley Ernst reminds us to take a look at the address label on the back. If it says "Last Issue" please renew promptly!

Don't have a subscription? Subscribe TODAY so you won't miss another issue!

Monday, February 15, 2021

Monday's Muse

 Excellence demands effort and planned, deliberate practice of increasing difficulty.  ~ K Anders Ericsson

Thursday, February 11, 2021

It's a Question of Quality

Ready to take your playing to another level? Do you even know what's stopping you?
Take a look at your practice habits. Ask yourself two questions:
Am I practicing enough?
Am I intentional about my practice?

Consistent and deliberate practice is crucial to mastering the hammered dulcimer. It's no secret. We all know that in order to improve we must practice ... a lot. It's pretty easy to track how much we practice, e.g. count minutes practiced, count practice sessions completed, check off old and new tunes as you play them. But what about the deliberate part? How do we track how well we practice?

Well, that requires getting serious about identifying strengths and weaknesses. It requires focusing on tasks that improve the weaknesses, possibly finding a mentor who has already lived it... somebody who will stand by your side and point out what you need to do to improve. 

While there is some gain to be made simply by playing tunes and maintaining play lists, if we are to truly master the hammered dulcimer we must understand the patterns unique to its spatial layout and understand the theory behind those patterns. There IS a method to the madness!

On May 4, 2018 I wrote about my teacher / mentor, Ken Kolodner, and his book, Chord Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer. At the time, he had just released Edition #3. From that blog post:

"I am thrilled that Ken has recently put together a book that contains everything you need to know to master the hammered dulcimer. Those are BIG words, but seriously, there's a LOT in this book!"

Since then, the content in that book has been extensively tested in the field. Armed with lots of student feedback, Ken collaborated with Mary Lynn Michal to make significant revisions to the book. The new iteration, released last fall, has a new name: The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered  Dulcimer, and what started as a nine-page flip-chart has morphed into 100+ pages!

But don't let that scare you off. The book is very usable and approachable. Ken and Mary Lynn, with the help of tech guru Laurie McCarriar, have added more content and new graphics to clarify music theory as it relates to the hammered dulcimer. Included are practical examples and exercises to get the ideas out of your head, into your hands, and onto the instrument. It's a great tool to help identify what you do and do not know and guide you to increased knowledge, leading to improved performance at the instrument.

Of course, self-motivated players can work through this book on their own, but there's help available! If we've learned anything during this past "covid year" it's that technology is our friend... making it possible to join, learn, share, get feedback, and ask questions from a real person - all from the comfort of home.

Here's your online connection to mentorship: Mary Lynn Michal is currently teaching a 40-week "live" video class through 2021, working through the entire hd theory book in bite-sized portions. I'm sorry to report that the "live" class is full and already underway... BUT all classes have been recorded and are now available for on-demand viewing! And participation gets you access to online discussion boards with Mary Lynn and other students.

On-demand works just fine for me and my unpredictable schedule. Mary Lynn is an experienced and talented teacher. This series of video lessons gives me the structure I need to really put in the work. How about you? Are you ready to DO IT?

Join Mary Lynn Michal and Laurie McCarriar on their new site, HD Homeland .... and take it from there!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Monday's Muse

 A year from now you will wish you had started today.  ~ Karen Lamb

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Take Inventory

February 2nd... a big day. Groundhog Day!

Rouse the Spouse and I were wondering yesterday morning, what about that groundhog? Where did that silly tradition come from? Lo and behold, all was revealed during my daily facebook feed scan.

Here's a big explanation of what Groundhog Day is all about, as seen on facebook, posted by Doug Elliott. I found it quite interesting. I assume it's all true! :-)

Who knew? February 2nd is a "cross-quarter day" marking the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Early February is the time to take inventory of supplies. Check your stored food. Check your woodpile. Check the hay in the barn. How's everything holding out? February 2nd is the halfway point of the cold weather and if you’ve still got half your food and supplies left in the beginning of February, you should be good until spring.

This made me think that February 2nd might be a good day to take inventory of my practice habits. Instead of checking how fast it is dwindling, though, I'll be checking on how it's adding up! Mind you, I'm not going back to December 21 (winter solstice). I'm looking at progress since January 1. I didn't like that my practice had really fallen off in 2020, so my initial goal was simply to get back at it. How am I doing? Here are the numbers:

     31 Days in January (i.e. opportunities to practice that I'll never get back)

     18 Practice Sessions - broken down as follows:

week 1 3/7 days

week 2 7/7 days

week 3 3/7 days

week 4 5/7 days

1,110 Minutes spent practicing

  35.8 Average # minutes practiced per session

It's important to have measurable goals, so I actually do track my practice sessions. These numbers don't lie! They help me answer some important questions, like "Am I satisfied with my efforts?"  "Am I doing the best I can?" "Why is it taking me so long to learn this tune?"  These numbers give me a real starting point. I think I can do more, but I'm going to take it in baby steps. Best to keep goals measurable AND doable.

So, my goals for February will be:

  • increase the average # of minutes practiced per session to 40
  • increase the number of practice sessions to an average of 4 per 7 days
Have you taken inventory of your own practice habits lately? Are you satisfied with your efforts? How might you improve? Would love to hear how you keep yourself motivated and on track. Let's go play!

We’ll dig down and we’ll dig deep,

We’ll find that whistlepig where he sleeps

Oh Groundhog!


Monday, February 1, 2021

Monday's Muse

 How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  ~ Annie Dillard

Friday, January 29, 2021

CTO ... QuaranTUNE 3.0 coming next week!

No more time to procrastinate! Still thinking about participating in this virtual dulcimer festival? Whether you're looking for a workshop or the opportunity to kick back and enjoy a concert ... time is running out!

Check This Out ... Registration closes tomorrow, Saturday, January 30th, 8:00pm EST for the weekend event scheduled for February 5-6, 2021. There are still workshops available, along with four concerts featuring 10 hours of music. And remember, the concerts are not just for players. Share the link with your music-loving friends!

Register for workshops and buy concert tickets here

Monday, January 25, 2021

Monday's Muse

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

~John O'Donohue

Thursday, January 21, 2021


It's still January. There's still time to wish you all a happy new year! As the calendar page turns, many of us will take time to turn inward, reflect, make a plan to establish good habits ... begin again.

I bet many of you are optimistically approaching the dulcimer, aiming for more, better, improved practice habits in the coming year. 2020 really messed with my music practice. It was a combination of things, certainly not a lack of time! Priorities shifted. I spent more time in solitude with other creative endeavors, mostly at my sewing machine. We took our camper trailer and traveled across the country for extended visits in Colorado, not once, but twice this fall. I took my dulcimer, but it was hard to focus. I had total replacement of my right hip in late September. Two weeks later the Sandbridge Hammered Dulcimer retreat with Ken Kolodner and support crew Mary Lynn Michal and Laurie McCarriar was certainly a bright spot, zooming old and new friends and the music into my home, providing good structure and reason to get going after surgery. But it took weeks to really feel comfortable at the instrument again. Actually, there were plenty of digital opportunities in the dulcimer world last year... most notably, the well-attended QuaranTUNE virtual dulcimer festival, proving, if nothing else, that humans are adaptable!

Thankful to say that I'm back at it, reviewing previously mastered tunes, getting back to the basics with scales, arpeggios, harmonization exercises, and learning those new tunes from the Sandbridge retreat.

The big surprise is I'm also adding 15 minutes of piano practice to my music schedule. As a kid, I played the piano a lot. It was my escape. Mind you, I'm no master pianist! But since taking up the hammered dulcimer I haven't found time to do both. In recent years, though, I've made a point of getting the piano tuned in December, anticipating a house full of family who might like to play or sing carols ... and then I have fun playing Christmas music all month.

During this past very odd holiday season I enjoyed playing music from Tschaikowsky's ballet, The Nutcracker. I have a book of selected pieces arranged for piano solo by Harry Dexter. The book cost 75 cents back in the day. It has a pink cover. Anybody else remember it, or have a copy?

Amazing how one can get out of physical shape for playing the piano. At first, there were passages where my brain and my fingers felt absolutely disconnected. Then, there was a muscle in my upper left arm that became tired and sore after playing less than 15 minutes. All that has improved! Plus, I'm getting better at reading the notes on those outer ledger lines. 

You heard it here first... my goal is to learn all eight pieces in that book by next December. I'm hoping that experience playing the hammered dulcimer will somehow inform my playing of the piano, and vice versa. I know that at the very least I am getting back to something that used to give me quite a lot of pleasure. Wishing you joy in all of YOUR 2021 endeavors!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Monday's Muse

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

QuaranTUNE 3.0 Registration Opens TONIGHT

QuaranTUNE 3.0 is coming February 5-7, 2021. Registration OPENS tonight, Wednesday, January 13, 7:00pm EST. 

For those who don't know, QuaranTUNE is the virtual dulcimer festival that came into being last year in response to the social distancing required by COVID-19. Offering a plethora of workshops, concerts, and more, it's the music fix we all need, zoomed directly into our homes!

Go to the website, Read how it works. Check out the list of instructors and classes. Make your "wish" list, then submit your registration. Keep in mind that there are size limitations to the classes. Those taught by sought-after teachers fill up quickly! You can add concert tickets and additional classes to your order anytime before registration closes.

Registration CLOSES at the stroke of midnight EST January 30.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Monday's Muse

 Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.  ~ Arthur Ashe

Friday, January 8, 2021

CTO ... Sandbridge HD Spring Retreat "Relaxed" Week - still some spaces available

Been thinking about attending one of Ken Kolodner's Sandbridge Hammered Dulcimer Retreats, but not sure you're ready for the "intensive" part of it? Here's your chance!

Check This Out ...  There is now a week designed specifically for first-timers who would like a more relaxed pace. Scheduled via Zoom this spring, the class will run March 28 - April 2, 2021 ... and there are still a few spaces available.

The socially distanced conditions during the COVID pandemic have demanded new and creative ways to "gather" in the dulcimer community. Unsure about video conferencing? After attending the online version of Sandbridge this past fall, I can assure you that Ken and his assistants, Mary Lynn Michal and Laurie McCarrier, truly have the zoom thing figured out. The silver lining? More students than ever are able to enjoy the benefits of Ken's teaching ... no travel required, and the price is right!

It's a new year. Perhaps "play more music" or "get serious about the dulcimer" is on your resolution list. What are you waiting for? Check it out!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Monday's Muse

 And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke