Pocono Dulcimer Club

MD Workshop Descriptions

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Mountain Dulcimer Workshop Descriptions

Bing Futch

9:00am – M3              "Make 'Em Laugh/Make 'Em Cry":                             Novice to Intermediate

It takes more than just melody and chords to make a great tune.  By playing expressively, filling each strum, pluck, pick and arpeggio with feeling, you can make music with emotional impact; the very best kind.  We'll look at things technically, using hammer-ons and pull-offs, vibrato, bends, chops and other tricks to ape the human voice.  Then, we'll sing through the instrument. Sound like fun?  We have a blast in this workshop!          Tuning DAD

10:30am – M10        The Secret To Chord Melody Style:                            Intermediate

There is a secret to creating a compelling arrangement on the mountain dulcimer.  It involves keeping the melody as the focus while still allowing for dynamics                 Tuning DAD

2:30pm – M18          How To Play "Juke Joint Hen":                                   Advanced

Alright, you asked for it.  This workshop will endeavor to teach you how to play my version of "Cluck Old Hen" which I call "Juke Joint Hen."  It's on "Dulcimerica: Volume 2" and I've played it on-stage with the likes of Stephen Seifert and Butch Ross; it's one of my most requested tunes and many people have given their own spin on my roadhouse blues approach to this ancient old tune.  In any case, I'll teach you how I do it currently, note-for-note, with all the bells and whistles including bends, staccato accents, rapid slides, one-handed tapping, right and left hand palm muting and, finally, a two-octave solo on the bass string.  This workshop will not @#$%! around; we will be getting after it so bring your game face and a dulcimer with a 1 1/2 fret (you'll need it for the walking bass. But otherwise, you won't need it. Oh. Yeah.)

                                 Tuning: DAD


Bill Collins

9:00am – M5           Old Tunes in New Ways                             Intermediate and up    

Rethinking a familiar tune can be a great exercise in arranging and in stretching your artistic imagination.  A new approach can also bring surprising freshness to and musical life to old warhorses in your repertoire.  As examples, this workshop will include “Cripple Creek” as a slow air, “Whiskey Before Breakfast” in a minor mode, “Soldier’s Joy” as a jig, and “Old Joe Clark” as a waltz.   Tuning:  DAD.   Capo required

10:30am – M12        Carolan’s Farewell to Music                     Advanced    

This workshop teaches an arrangement of Carolan’s last and most profound composition—a lament for his own death.  While the tune is not unduly complex from a technical standpoint, I have found it to be enormously challenging and infinitely rewarding to play.  Besides tips on performance and embellishment, we’ll discuss the context of this melody and the history of its composition.  Tuning:  DAD.   Capo required.

4:00pm – M23          Left-Hand Embellishment Techniques                        Intermediate     

You’re comfortable with basic left-hand finger placement—single notes and chords—and want some ways to dress up a tune, add some ornamentation, and make your playing more personal and expressive.  This workshop will explore slides, hammers, pulls, rolls, trills, open-string harmonics, vibrato, bends, chord chops, and muting.  If there’s time and interest, we can look at using noters and slides.        Tuning:  DAD.  


Carol Walker

9:00am – M6            Tailless Tunes -- Traditional Manx Music                             Advanced 

This tiny island, located in the Irish Sea, is an untapped source of beautiful music with Celtic influences.  In this session, your journey will begin with repertoire selections, including lively jigs and reels, and haunting ballads and lullabies.  I’ll share my photographs of the original manuscripts of tunes collected by the Manx “song catchers” during the 1890s, and of the places where these tunes originated.  We'll follow the evolution of these melodies as they develop into modern day arrangements for mountain dulcimer.  You’ll even learn a bit of Manx Gaelic in the process!                                            Starting in DAD - Various tunings, capo required

10:30am – M9          Baby Steps to Fingerpicking                               Novice  

As a new player back in the early days of my dulcimer exploration, I started looking for other ways to play the instrument beyond the strumming methods I'd been learning.  The answer was to put down the pick and start using my fingers.  We'll practice several different methods of fingerpicking, and apply these techniques to songs you already know.                                Tuning DAD

2:30pm – M15          Dulcimer Player's Guide to Guitar Chords / "Translating" sheet music to dulcimer!                               Intermediate +

How the heck do you play an E-flat major-7th chord or a B-flat 7th with a flat-5th and flat-9th chord on the dulcimer?  You can't.  But, in this "hands-on" session, working from lead sheets and chord charts in various keys, you'll learn how to simplify guitar chords, AND how to transpose them into dulcimer-friendly keys.  No knowledge of music theory required!  Promise!!  (All music selected will be in the public domain.)                                     DAD tuning / Capo required 

4:00pm – M19          Discovery 104 – Putting it all together                           NO experience

This is the chance to take what you’ve learned so far and have fun with it looking at ways to practice once you get home and also ways to seek out others to play and learn with.                       Tuning DAD


Ellen Pratt

9:00am -   M2           Songs for Children                    Novice

Learn some simple songs to play and sing with children such as Froggie Went a Courtin’, Waltzing with Bears, Rattlin’ Bog, Waltzing Matilda or others.                 Tuning - DAD

2:30pm – M17          Ensembles Pieces for 3 or 4 Players                           Intermediate/ Advanced

This class will feature arrangements of jam tunes, modern tunes, and original pieces for trios or quartets. Learn how to listen to your partners so you know where to come in, delve into some dissonant notes, and add in some dynamics to get a well-rounded piece.                                    Tuning - DAD

4:00pm – M22          Less Common Jam Tunes                                           Novice – intermediate

Are you tired of the standard jam tunes? Looking for something new to bring to your group? This class will introduce you to some lesser known jam tunes such as Squirrel Heads and Gravy, Sugar Hill, Sheep Shell Corn by the Rattlin’ of Their Horn, Shoes and Stockings, Rocky Island, or Step Around Johnny.                    Starting in DAD


Jonah Talbott

9:00am - M1                Discovery 101 - Let’s Begin!                           NO experience

While being introduced to your dulcimer, learn the basics of how to hold it, hold the pick, how to tune it, understand and read dulcimer tab and begin playing.                     (DAD tuning)

2:30pm – M16               Three Colonial Tunes                                Novice – intermediate

We'll share a pint of ale as we learn the song "When Jones' Ale Was New". This is an easy, strum across all strings tune with a little bit of melody on the middle string. Next, we'll work on some fingerpicking skills to back up the melody in "Froggy Would A Wooing Go". Come prepared to sing! Finally, we'll learn the Scottish lullaby "Bonny At Morn", another fingerpicking tune. Fingerpicks for your thumb, index, and middle finger are helpful but not required.  Tunes will be in DGD & DAD; capo required.                 Come tuned DAD


Joe Rosolen

10:30am – M8              "Old Joe Clark Boils Down"                         Beginner +

We’ll take these two very well-known songs in the dulcimer play list and take them for a ride! We’ll explore different rhythms, beats and volume as well as using different chord shapes for added color ...and touching slightly on hammer-ons and pull-off's. Learn to feel comfortable enough with these two songs we all know so well and try something new with them. Discover what these songs (usually 1st learned) can do when allowed to flow and change while still retaining the essence of the original tunes. If you are relatively new to the dulcimer or already know some songs and want to "step out" and explore, give this workshop a try and visit these classics with a twist. We're going to take "Boil Them Cabbage Down" and boil it down to "Old Joe Clark"                                  Tuning - DAD

4:00pm – M21               "Playing the Melody on the Middle String"                                 Novice/Intermediate

In this class we will be exploring playing the melody on the middle string & seeing how this way of playing the melody on there can add a different color to a tune just by not using the melody string for the melody.  This can free us up to use different chord shapes (or not) and to have more drone going on as well.  We'll focus on two familiar songs "I'll Fly Away" and "Amazing Grace" two very integral tunes of the dulcimer repertoire, we'll also find a few others as we noodle around.  Add another yet tool to your toolbox of dulcimer tools when you play a song......it's also fun.        Tuning - DAD


Judith Giddings

9:00am -   M4           Cantabile: Make Your Dulcimer Sing:                         Novice-Intermediate

Improve your playing to achieve a beautiful tone and flowing melody.  We’ll cover tips and techniques to achieve sustain and singing tone. Tunes include “Scarborough Fair,” “The Water is Wide,” and “Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch.”    Tuning: DAD

10:30am – M11        Tin Pan Alley:                                            Intermediate   
Description: American Popular Songs of the Early 20th Century. Learn some great songs that were big hits from 1901-1922 and are still well loved today. Tunes include Dawes Melody (It’s All in the Game), If You Were the Only Girl in the World, The Sidewalks of New York.   Tuning: DAD

4:00pm – M24          Copyright & Public Domain: What We Need to Know                                   Level All

Description: Answers to questions on a topic that is often cussed and discussed.  Can I use that song?  What tunes are copyrighted and what ones are in the public domain?  Why does it matter?  What do I need to know as a performer?


Kim Jennings

10:30am – M7              Discovery 102 - The Next Step - Strumming!                           NO experience

Take the next step with strumming; we will work on 3 different strumming patterns and incorporate them into different songs. See how strumming can change a song. We will also work on improving your basic skills while playing together as a group.

2:30pm – M14          Soothing Hymns                                  Beginner

We will learn a few hymns in DAD tuning including: “Be Thou My Vision”. TAB will be provided. (If you want to start playing your dulcimer for others, playing hymns in church is a great place to start!)                    DAD


Norm Williams

2:30pm – M13          Discovery 3 – Adding Chords and playing chord-melody style                           NO experience

Taking some of the tunes we’ve learned, adding chords while playing melody and incorporating the rhythms you’ve learned. We’ll also add a few new tunes.

4:00pm – M20            Learning by Ear                         Beginner/Novice

For beginning players it’s important to be able to not only read tab/musical score but also the be able to listen and pick up a tune. We’ll discuss and practice ways to listen to a tune and develop skills that will help you break it down & hear it.  We’ll start with a few simple & familiar tunes and the try a couple that you probably have not heard before. Bring a recording device/phone.                  Come tuned to DAD



Recording devices are encouraged - A battery powered recording device will be most helpful.

(plug ins may not have access to a power source)

Devices could include an MP3 recorder, H2 or smart phone


Faculty Bio's

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