Pocono Dulcimer Club

MD Workshop Descriptions

PDC Home
H & P
Music & Tab
Contact Us
Stoney Ridge Strings Capo
Favorite Links
PDC Notes (blog)

Click HERE for Printable MD Workshop Descriptions

Mountain Dulcimer Workshop Descriptions
                                                       Note:  3 Non-Dulcimer (ND) Classes this year (below)

Aubrey Atwater

9:00am – M4           Improvising on the Mountain Dulcimer                                All Levels

Related to playing by ear, learn to play along with the group in an informal, loosely structured manner. The workshop will discuss how to improvise with chords, lead and bass note playing and will articulate some of the tricks and structure behind what appears to be pure artistic "happening."     

10:30am - M13        Reverse Tunings!                   Intermediate/Advanced

What is a reverse dulcimer tuning and why use one? Come find out! Aubrey will present songs in Reverse Ionian, Aeolian, Mixolydian, and Dorian. You’ll be surprised at how interesting, great-sounding, and easy it is!

2:30pm – M21         Playing with Four Equi-Distant Strings                 Intermediate/Advanced

Aubrey plays a number of songs with four equidistant strings although she considers herself to be a "three-string" player. Explore the idea of separating the two melody strings, adding another drone and creating new chord flavors.


Elwood Donnelly

9:00am – M5          Songs of the Carter Family in D-A-D                     Intermediate

Discover the wonders of this early pioneering American country music group whose songs have bewitched music fans and players for decades. Using songs from Elwood's songbook, Such Singing You Will Hear, participants will use the noting stick, chords and finger-picking styles to build a repertoire of these glorious songs.

2:30pm - M16       Finger-Picking for the First Time                           Beginner/Novice
Elwood will provide a framework for finger-picking simple tunes on the mountain dulcimer in D-A-D. Participants will learn basic patterns for vocal accompaniment as well as methods for finger-picking in common and time signatures.


Bonnie Leigh

9:00am – M3          Do you See the C?                  Novice 

Venture into the world of C.  While learning some new songs we will go into chords in C.  

Come tuned to DAD and we’ll get you into DAC.

2:30pm – M18        Celtic Music                            Novice - Intermediate

Learn some Celtic songs you may know, or ones you heard someone play and wished you could.  

Come tuned to DAD. We’ll also work in DGD

4:00pm – ND27      Healing Music         All Levels -Everyone

Understand the power of music and how to use it for different situations in a person’s health.

This will be a discussion class, feel free to bring and ask questions.  


David Fox

10:30am – M14      Carin’ and Feedin’ your Mountain Dulcimer …or, I Broke a String!  Now what?                                ALL levels

How to take care of your instrument, including tuning (and retuning) in the different keys, changing strings, where to put strap buttons, how to fix minor problems, how to recognize major problems (to take them to a Luthier), and answers to your questions about your instrument.

2:30pm - M20         The Minimalist Approachor, Clean Up Your Act!

Dave has developed his style of playing by combining ideas borrowed from other dulcimer players and also from his experience with many other types of instruments, styles, and music.  His style of playing is not technical, it’s more simplistic and “clean”.  He will present several thoughts, tips, and suggestions that will help you develop a style that won’t get muddied up by “too many notes”.  We may also touch on some alternate tunings, as well.


Ellen Pratt

9:00am - M6          Deciphering Songs By Ear                      Novice to intermediate

Have you heard a song and wanted to know how to play it? We will learn how to figure out which key a song is in, then decipher a song or two by listening and writing it down a bit at a time. Bring a capo and come tuned to DAD.

10:30am – M9        Dulci-robics                                            Advanced beginners

Proper playing posture and stretches will be combined with exercises on the fretboard to smooth out your playing. This class is geared toward. Come tuned in DAD.

4:00pm – ND26      Appalachian “Crankies” (Appalachian Folk Art: the art of the moving picture)   All levels

This workshop is all about art and music combined. We will illustrate a favorite ballad on a hand held cardboard “crankie” and make the ballad come to life. Bring your favorite ballad-with the lyrics (I will also have copies of several ballads with me). Everything you will need to create a miniature Crankie will be provided. No dulcimer required for this class! (1 to 1+ hours).


Jeremy Seeger

9:00am – M2          How are you “wired" for music? – All levels

How you make music is directly related to how your neurological wiring is. Bringing your goals of making music in alignment with that will create more pleasure making music and bring you in to a better presence when you’re sharing your music with others.

4:00pm - ND23       An introduction to BAVX (balance, auditory, visual exercises) – All levels

These exercises integrate our body and brain. Strengthening our non-dominant side and increasing our ambidextrousness as well as our internal sense of rhythm. All important in making music. 


Ken Longfield

4:00pm – M24        History of the American Dulcimer all levels

This workshop will explore the murky history behind the origin of the mountain dulcimer. Participants will learn about European ancestors of this instrument and its development in the United States. The discussion will include variations of regional dulcimer design, the lives of early builders, and playing styles. This workshop is suitable for those who do not play the dulcimer. Dulcimer players who attend will be able to play some old time dulcimer tunes.


Kristin Gitler

10:30am – M10        Dancing Fingers                      Novice

Let’s get those fingers dancing!  We’ll learn how to do hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides, and where and when to add them to a tune.  DAD. 

2:30pm – M19        EAE Tuning for the Key of A                   Intermediate

I came across this tuning by accident while trying to arrange a tune and get all the notes, and I fell in love with it!  Come see why we might use this tuning for playing tunes in the key of A - we’ll learn some chords, and a few tunes.  Come tuned to DAD, and we’ll learn how to tune up to EAE without breaking your strings! 

4:00pm – M28        Lively O’Carolan Tunes                           Advanced

Turlough O’Carolan composed many beautiful tunes, and in this workshop we’ll focus on a few of his livelier compositions.  With their often slightly quirky melodies, they can be a bit challenging, but great fun to play once you’ve mastered them.   We’ll start in DGD.


Nick Platco

10:30am - M12       Happy Hour!                           Novice and Up

Expand your dulcimer playing by learning the 1-3-5 dulcimer tuning. With this tuning the dulcimer becomes fully chromatic. The 1-3-5 tuning allows you to play the “missing” notes on a standard mountain dulcimer without adding frets, strings, or using capos. During this hour you will learn  to play several “happy” tunes such as Cindy, Oh My Darling Clementine, My Old Kentucky Home and others.  Come tuned to DF#A.

2:30pm - M17       Introduction to Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer Intermediate

The session will focus on 12-bar blues in several keys while tuned to DAD.  Chord progressions, rhythm patterns, turn arounds and writing lyrics will be discussed. Hat and glasses are not required.


Nina Zanetti

9:00amM7           Gentle pizzazz!                       Advanced

Description: Playing slow, lovely tunes doesn’t have to mean “easy” or technically boring! We can add a bit of sparkle, without detracting from expression, in our slow pieces by incorporating some advanced technique, such as: bends, harmonics (“natural” and “artificial”), vibrato, tremolo, muting, and other special techniques for both right and left hands. We’ll practice the techniques and then learn some tunes that show how they can be incorporated into an arrangement.                                 Tuning: DAD

10:30am - M11       What Chord Do I Play Now?                  Novice  

Description: Do you know your basic chords (key of D), but don’t know when to use which ones when you’re trying to play along at a jam? We’ll combine some gentle ear-training with just a little bit of theory, to gain confidence at hearing chord changes and “hearing” which chord to use. There will be plenty of opportunity to practice by playing along with some simple tunes.      Tuning: DAD

4:00pm – M25        Tunes from Playford’s “The Dancing Master” (1651 – approx. 1728)                 Novice to Intermediate

Description: Playford was not a composer, but rather a publishing enterprise started by John Playford (1623 – 1686). The Dancing Master (first edition 1651) is a wonderful collection of Renaissance tunes and dance instructions for country dancing. These lively tunes sound great on mountain dulcimer!         

Tuning: mostly DAD



Kim Jennings

9:00am - M1            Discovery 1 - 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)

Bob Mallalieu

10:30am – M8         Discovery 2 - The Next Step - Strumming!

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.

Norm Williams

2:30pm – M15        Discovery 3 – Adding Chords and playing chord-melody style

Taking some of the tunes we’ve learned, adding chords while playing melody and incorporating the rhythms you’ve learned.

Jonah Talbott

4:00pm – M22        Discovery 4 – Putting it all together

Let’s take some familiar tunes and just play.  This is the chance to take what you’ve learned so far and have fun with it.



Carol Walker

9, 10:30, 2:30 - MMC              New Dimensions -- Intermediate / Advanced -- DAD tuning - capo required

In this concentrated 3-session workshop for intermediate and advanced players, we’ll fine tune your skills and take your playing to a new level. Concepts and techniques will be taught sequentially, with each session building on material taught in the previous session -- participants are expected to attend all three sessions.  Limited class size gives ample opportunity for individual support and guidance.

   Session 1 -- Left Hand Techniques

Anchors and slides, smooth chord transitions, vibrato, hammer-ons / pull-offs / grace

notes / ornaments, unconventional chord fingerings, string bending, optional extra frets (demonstration and discussion only -- not required for this class)

   Session 2 -- Right Hand Techniques
Fingerpicking styles: brush/strum, 3-finger “lute” style, 2-finger “harp” style; Flatpicking, pick strum, dynamic variation, RH Fretting, 2-hand tapping, harmonics

   Session 3 -- Prep, Practice, Present!

Melody placement, alternate chord shapes, chord substitutions, unexpected “delicious” chords - dissonance/resolution, drawing out melody against harmonic background, expressive techniques, tempo, dynamics, rubato, practicing with purpose.

   Your packet of music from the three sessions will include an extensive and varied collection of familiar favorites treated in a completely different way, along with new, unfamiliar tunes that will challenge you, all of it adding new dimensions to your technique and repertoire. The result will be exquisitely beautiful playing, stylistically reminiscent of the best classical and jazz finger-style guitarists; you'll create a mood that will have your audience exclaiming, "Wow! I never knew a dulcimer could sound like that!"



Faculty Bio's

Return to Festival Page