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