Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Just hammerers

After getting a hammered dulcimer, to learn how to play I . . .

took lessons from a teacher.
looked for, but couldn't find a teacher, so I taught myself.
couldn't find a teacher and have almost given up.
didn't seek a teacher, but bought books to get started.
just played around with it until I got it.
I'm still looking for a teacher.
didn't have scheduled lessons, but attended festivals where I took classes.
Total votes : 321

Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Dan Landrum » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:05 pm

The thread about whether or not it is better to teach yourself or find a teacher has me wondering how most Everything Dulcimer HD'ers got started.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby kwl » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:34 pm

How about an option for those of us who have not had a teacher but have taken some workshops at festivals?
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Dan Landrum » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:48 pm

Good idea Kwl. Done.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Dan Landrum » Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:49 pm

Oops. I messed it up when I put the new choice in. I guess I shouldn't have done that. Vote again please, and sorry.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Alanrichie » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:06 pm

I chose four, (books) and seven (festival workshops). I expect I would progress faster and further with a teacher to encourage, cajole and generally be a critical pair of ears. The lessons from festival workshops tend to fade quickly unless one is provided with good hand-outs; and a few prepared souls ask if they may record the session for their personal use.

There's also the option of Youtube videos and CDs produced by some teachers.

Sunday 19 October 2014: Wow! I posted this four years ago a lot of water has passed under the bridge! I'm glowing after returning home from the fifth annual New Mexico dulcimer festival after a two year interval. The embers still glow I need to blow them gently to flame again. I know now I would really benefit from having a teacher. I'm happy if I remember just two or three technical exercises to help me become much more familiar with the instrument . . . at least I'm no longer afraid to join jam sessions.
Quite happy to pick out phrases I can play or drone or if all else fails whack the goatskin!
Last edited by Alanrichie on Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Martin » Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:58 pm

I'm 100% self-taught, and I'm sorta glad it worked out that way. I tried to get in touch with a teacher in the area and ask if she could teach me a couple of Rich Mullins songs, but she never replied. I think her info was outdated. I'm glad that I taught myself because now I feel like I have my own style of playing. I like to watch other people play, and I probably learn more from that than I would lessons themselves. I'd love to go of a festival, but the only HD festival that comes around always happens the first weekend in May, and I'm always busy the first weekend in May (there is a huge spring ballet that my wife is involved in every year, and I'm always stuck with the kids...but I don't mind at all!).

I work full-time, and I have two small children, so I really don't have a chance to get together with people to play; however, I think that this has made me a better player. I don't really depend on other folks to "back me up," so I've been forced to make arrangements sound as "full" as possible. For the most part, I enjoy playing with others; however, all of the days of playing in bands has left me content playing alone...that is until my kids get old enough to strum a guitar. :D
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Mistydawn » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:54 am

Since I know how to read music and am by nature a DIYer, learning from books has been my main source of instruction. When I first started playing HD, I was involved with a dulcimer club so I was able to get some pointers from other HD players. Playing in ensembles of mixed instruments has also helped my skills. It doesn't seem like there are a lot of benefits for me from the workshops I've attended at festivals, which are usually short and feature many players of various abilities. They're good for ideas, but then one needs to spend additional time studying and reinforcing the concepts independently.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Corky » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:12 am

I picked a couple but none of the above was actually correct for me.

I started because a Friend dropped off a ginger and a vcr tape of a bel-may lesson.
When I ask why she said cause I was the type to play and love the mountain dulcimer and due to her illness she could no longer play.

i learned the three songs on the tape and then when I tried to return her dulcimer to her she said she would NOY take it back till I owned my own.
She gave me the number of a man in Lowell AR that made hers and after a while I went there and came home with two.

But then a co-worker told me about her SIL that teaches for free so I called her.

She still gives me lessons but she says it has now been reversed and I am giving her lessons. We are having fun.

She put me onto the Ozark Folk Center workshops and I took both of those this year.

So I am self taught...to a point.
Teacher taught...to a point.
And also still learning from workshops and on line.
So...where do I fit in? :lol:
Oh yeah...I have bought beginner books from three great players too.
and have about a million tab sheets and books and getting more all the time.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby gscratch » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:53 pm

my very first instrument was built by me from a kit. I have a fair amount of musical experience (singing, guitar, etc), so I got Maddie MacNeil's book, and taught myself with it. I've also taken quite a few workshops at festivals.

my observations are three:
- first, I tend to play the arrangement of a particular tune that I learned either from the book or the workshop, which sometimes makes it difficult to play at jams.
- second, I find that my technique is different (sometimes significantly) from that of others who have taken individual lessons. It took me a while to figure out what "left hand lead" means, much less, am I playing that way
- and third, I tend to play tunes that others don't know; either, an "HD arrangement" of some tune I know, and, conversely, I don't know a lot of the tunes that other know (which again, makes jams more difficult for me)

I don't know if these are necessarily good or bad; as I said, just observations.

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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby forums » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:55 pm

corky, you are talking about your learning the mountain dulcimer.
but this is the hammered dulcimer forum.
just thought you might like to be aware of that... ;)
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby JanisL » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:19 pm

Bought my first HD with nothing more than Linda Thompson's brown book and feeling overly confident. Dad inquired a few months later whether I'd found a teacher. Well no, not yet, to which he replied "Teach yourself and you have a fool for a teacher." A lot to be said there, although I know he meant well...still love him! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, especially when you are dying to play and have no one close by to teach.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby GWentland » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:01 am

Well, initially I taught myself how to play, and I could play pretty good I guess, but I took workshops, and they helped me grow as a player. I plan on attending more workshops, and I am a member of the "Dulcimer School". I am learning things at the school that I missed along the way and it's fun. I have fun playing my dulcimer. How many people, do you think, who checked a box, feel that they are done learning and have totally mastered their instrument.
So, I think there should be a box that says, I have taught myself, I have learned many things from friends and workshops, but I still have more to learn. That is the box I want to check.
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