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How to teach lap dulcimer

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Ma-K 10 Mar 01 - 06:32 PM
Sorcha 10 Mar 01 - 09:09 PM
Ma-K 10 Mar 01 - 11:26 PM
Sorcha 10 Mar 01 - 11:45 PM
GUEST,Fred 11 Mar 01 - 12:14 AM
Sorcha 11 Mar 01 - 12:19 AM
Pinetop Slim 11 Mar 01 - 10:17 AM
georgetownboy 11 Mar 01 - 11:46 AM
Sorcha 11 Mar 01 - 11:58 AM
Ma-K 11 Mar 01 - 01:54 PM
Ma-K 11 Mar 01 - 02:07 PM
Bernard 11 Mar 01 - 04:51 PM
Arkie 11 Mar 01 - 05:04 PM
NH Dave 11 Mar 01 - 05:51 PM
Pinetop Slim 11 Mar 01 - 07:57 PM
Bernard 13 Mar 01 - 12:42 PM
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Subject: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Ma-K
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 06:32 PM

Next Post family nite the closet dulcimers will be out. Do you have a basic plan we could use to get them going and keep them going? Favorite music to start with? Only one or two are playing now. Thank you much.....Mary K


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 09:09 PM

Go get little "sticky dots" and put numbers on them. Stick them on the fret board under the strings. Start by showing them how to strum......innie, outie (or push pull/forward back, whatever) Then show them how to hold the noter with the thumb up against the fretboard.

Then, have them do both at once without trying for a tune, just up and down the frets with the noter while forthing and backing with the pick.

Traditionally, Go Tell Aunt Rhodie seemst to be the first dulcimer song, but any simple tune will do as long as they KNOW it in their heads so they can hear when they are on the wrong fret. You should practice calling out fret numbers to the rhythm of the song ahead of time, so you can do that when you get them all going. Sing the tune using fret numbers instead of words.

Then pass out sheet music to the chosen tune WITH THE FRET NUMBERS MARKED ABOVE THE NOTES. Make them practice looking back and forth from the music to the frets and fretting will come pretty fast.

Then, pass out fret marked music to another song that everyone knows, like Twinkle Little Star, and let them go at it alone for a while.

I have discovered that sometimes it helps to stand behind a person and gently move both hands for them (by holding their wrists) until they get the hang of using both hands in different directions. I've had 5 year olds, and adults who never touched an instrument in their lives playing tunes in 30 minutes using this method.

Sounds fun, wish I could be there........


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Ma-K
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:26 PM

Thanks Sorcha. Sounds like a good plan. No one has ever shown me how to do it right. I use my thumb not a noter so I will have to learn something new to. Do you slide a noter or lift it between notes? ......Mary K


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Mar 01 - 11:45 PM

Slide it. That is what gives the characteristic "whistle" of the lap dulcimer. If you lift it, you will lose the notes. Hold the noter ( a length of 1/4" hardwood dowel works well) in your left hand so that about an inch or so (maybe less) sticks out. You want your thumb on top, sort of canted to the right just a little. The noter should be long enough to brace the butt of it against the heel pad of your thumb.

Put the free end of the noter on the melody string(s), and brace the side of your thumb against the fret board. You hold the noter steady because it is braced at the heel of your thumb.

Bracing the thumb is one reason why higher fret boards are reccomended. Cripple Creek dulcimers have notoriously low fret board, McSpaddens have an extremely high one.

I read music, but I play lap dulcimer by fret numbers. The only hard part is learning note lengths if you don't read music.


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: GUEST,Fred
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 12:14 AM

I wondered for a minute if Mary K. was my cousin, Mary Catherine, but then realized it wouldn't be because she is married to McSpadden!


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Sorcha
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 12:19 AM

Hey Fred! Mary Catherine is way cool! Several years ago she helped me flim flam my husband into buying my McSpadden dulcimer! (and Lynn thinks she walks on water too)


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 10:17 AM

Wow, Sorcha, that's as cogent an explanation for using a noter as I've ever read.
Ma-K, I'm just guessing that Post family nite is at the American Legion post and that a patriotic song might catch on. Here are my numbers for "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in DAA tuning (the one where you tune the bass string to the desired tone, strum at the 4th fret and match the other two strings to that sound):
3,3,4,2,3,4,5,5,6,5,4,3,4,3,2,3.
My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. 7,7,7,7,6,5,6,6,6,6,5,4,5,6,5,4,3,5,6,7,8,6,5,4,3.
Land where my father died, Land of the pilgrims' pride, From every mountainside. Let freedom ring.


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: georgetownboy
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 11:46 AM

A few comments from an old goat that you might not want to hear. The dots on the instruments might be okay for a little while, and noters might be, too. But don't cripple new players with your ideas. I bought my first dulcimer in the mid 70's and have been playing it steadily since then. As one travels around the country to the many dulcimer festivals, he will find that most players use their fingers to fret the instruments, noit a noter. Low actions make this kind of fretting easier than high actions. Shorter string lengths make for easier chording. Teach your beginners any way you like, but don't inculcate them with your personal ideas about what is the "proper," or "only" or "right" way to play. This is not meant as criticism, just another point of view.


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Sorcha
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 11:58 AM

Well, of course, gtboy. If you actually have students that come every week, you can introduce that stuff. There are also natural strummers, and natural finger pickers.I can't use my finger for a noter, I have tried, and chording involves learning the chord patterns. That is not done in a day.

However, Ma-K was looking for a quick and easy way to introduce a bunch of people to the instrument, and what I described is the quickest, easiest way to get a group playing tunes. It's also the "Traditional" way to play, for what that's worth, (grin).

Oh, and I forgot to say, stick to Ionian for a while. You don't want to confuse them too much with tunings for a while!


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Ma-K
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 01:54 PM

Pinetop, The Post I was talking about is a Boy Scout Explorer Post. I guess they call them Venture scouts now. Boys and girls from 14 to 21. We have whole familys involed so we have all ages,from babys to my husband and I(young 70's) Thanks for My country tis of thee..Mary K


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Ma-K
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 02:07 PM

Gorgetown....I have always used my fingers like you. So far we haven't had anyone that uses the noter but I would like to know how if they want to try it...And we will play in Ionian. If they want to try something else they can try I after they know how to play. Thanks..Mary K


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Bernard
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 04:51 PM

The Highland Fairy Lullaby is a great tune for dulcimer, only five notes!

0 |3 . 3 |5 . 5 |7 . 7 |5 . . |7 . 7 |5 . . |7 5 3 |4 . . |. .

0 |3 . 3 |5 . 5 |7 . 7 |5 . 4 |3 . 3 |4 . 5 |4 . 4 |3 . . |. .

The '|' is a bar line, 3 beats to a bar, numbers are dulcimer fret numbers, and dots are the 'counts' on the notes. |5 . . | means a 3 beat note on fret 5, |5 5 5 | would mean 3 individual notes on fret 5...

The melody starts on the third beat of the bar, like 'Amazing Grace'.

I play it 'fingered' (using chords), but it works equally well using a noter.


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Arkie
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 05:04 PM

Sorcha has given some good advice. The noter simplifies things a little yet when one becomes proficient at it has a nice sound as you pick up all the additional notes the noter slides over. I'll re-emphasize something Sorcha said about playing tunes your students know. Learning fundamentals of the instrument and a tune at the same time just doubles the frustration. You will probably find that youth actually pick up the playing much quicker than adults. They tend to learn pretty fast. Also I am pleased to see the recommendation of the Ionian tuning. Though I've played a lot in the Mixolydian tuning, even when it wasn't cool, if anybody can remember that far back, the Ionian tuning gives the dulcimer a distinctive sound and there is much that can be done with it. It is a particularly good tuning for beginners because lower notes can be played on the melody string and one does not have start searching on the drone strings for them or you have to start the tune higher on the fretboard to keep the lower notes on the melody string if you use Mixolydian. As for Lynn and Mary C., both are good friends and have done a lot toward making the world a better place by putting dulcimers in so many people's hands.


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: NH Dave
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 05:51 PM

Ask Caroline or Sandy Paton if they still have any Howie Mitchell book & cassette/records combinations on playing the Mountain Dulcimer left. At one time shortly after they started to change over to CDs they still had a few of these great learning combinations.

These teach both strumming with noter and pick, and various picking styles while using other fingers to fret the various notes. If it is an rush situation perhaps they will record their master tape onto cassette for you and send it along with a book.

Dave


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Pinetop Slim
Date: 11 Mar 01 - 07:57 PM

Bernard: Can you point me to a midi or wav or something where I can hear Highland Fairy Lullaby? Your tab is easy to follow, but I want to make sure I've got it right. A friend asked me to play at a Fairy Festival in June and it seems like an appropriate tune for the event.


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Subject: RE: How to teach lap dulcimer
From: Bernard
Date: 13 Mar 01 - 12:42 PM

There's been a thread on it recently, but here's the 'Mid2txt' version...

MIDI file: HIGHFAIR.MID

Timebase: 120

TimeSig: 3/4 24 8
Key: G
Tempo: 120 (500000 microsec/crotchet)
Name: Melody
Start
0240 1 62 100 0120 0 62 000 0000 1 67 100 0240 0 67 000 0000 1 67 100 0120 0 67 000 0000 1 71 100 0240 0 71 000 0000 1 71 100 0120 0 71 000 0000 1 74 100 0240 0 74 000 0000 1 74 100 0120 0 74 000 0000 1 71 100 0360 0 71 000 0000 1 74 100 0240 0 74 000 0000 1 74 100 0120 0 74 000 0000 1 71 100 0360 0 71 000 0000 1 74 100 0120 0 74 000 0000 1 71 100 0120 0 71 000 0000 1 67 100 0120 0 67 000 0000 1 69 100 0600 0 69 000 0000 1 62 100 0120 0 62 000 0000 1 67 100 0240 0 67 000 0000 1 67 100 0120 0 67 000 0000 1 71 100 0240 0 71 000 0000 1 71 100 0120 0 71 000 0000 1 74 100 0240 0 74 000 0000 1 74 100 0120 0 74 000 0000 1 71 100 0240 0 71 000 0000 1 69 100 0120 0 69 000 0000 1 67 100 0240 0 67 000 0000 1 67 100 0120 0 67 000 0000 1 69 100 0240 0 69 000 0000 1 71 100 0120 0 71 000 0000 1 69 100 0240 0 69 000 0000 1 69 100 0120 0 69 000 0000 1 67 100 0600 0 67 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:Melody
M:3/4
Q:1/4=120
K:G
D6|G4G2|B4B2|d4d2|B6|d4d2|B6|d2B2G2|A6|-A4D2|
G4G2|B4B2|d4d2|B4A2|G4G2|A4B2|A4A2|G6|-G4||


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