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

boldly go where we have gone before...

Postby forums » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:07 am

curious as to why 2 of them show up in bold, at least in my browser (IE8).
any significance to the bold?

edit: just figured it out.
the 2 in bold are the 2 that i had picked.
getting old i guess.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby LawDawg » Sat Nov 20, 2010 4:10 pm

I started out (back in July) teaching myself after reading a couple of internet articles to get my bearings. I was lucky to have a very good dulcimist at my local Irish session who I could observe, but our schedules did not- and still don't - align well enough to get together for a lesson. She occasionally shows me something during the session, but that isn't the best environment for learning! ;)
I have attended a workshop and a festival, and have joined Dulcimer School - I'm not sure if that could be considered lessons or festival classes - and I have gained a lot from all of these. But I guess it has been mainly a process of listening and observing, then figuring out how to apply what I have heard and observed.

First post, by the way - this seemed a good place to start! Hello to you all, and I am happy to be here!

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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Dan Landrum » Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:53 pm

Hi Sam,

Great to see you here.

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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby dulcimom » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:34 am

There are no teachers in my immediate area, so most of what I have learned was at festivals and by using teaching books/cd's, etc. I don't read music, so the hammered dulcimer has been a lot more challenging for me to pick up, combined with the fact I don't have much time to practice right now. I would like to see festivals offer HD classes for beginners, that allow you to stay with one teacher the entire time, or even two teachers. More than that is almost overwhelming. While I have learned a lot from all of the teachers I have had at festivals, I would like the chance to stay with one or two for the entire weekend, to really get things down, rather than start from scratch with every teacher. Just my two cents.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby njt4hd » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:01 pm

Bought a couple books at first, but found I couldn't read music and play dulcimer simultaneously especially with all the embellishments. Picking out a melody "by ear" was a piece of cake.

Participating with a group of folks playing other acoustic instruments (guitar, autoharp, banjo, mandolin, fiddle) has been my most effective learning method. Workshops at festivals have been extremely helpful for learning patterns and techniques, but playing along with a group as backup, and occasionally as lead, provides me the best opportunity to expand my ability level.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Sheena » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:26 pm

Just (yesterday!) started taking lessons from Ken Kolodner. He teaches a class every year during winter break at my university. I'm renting my instrument so I'm not 100% sure I'll continue after this class is over...but how could I not take advantage of living so close to a really great teacher?
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby JRandolph » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:15 pm

I bought a few books to get started, but mostly play by ear. With lot's of accomplished HD players in my vicinity, I had plenty of good examples to follow, along with a few festival workshops for a boost. I mostly arrange my own music now.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Chrisz » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:42 am

I am fortunate to live in an area where there are teachers galore, and good ones at that. I began lessons which lasted for four years, combining reading sheet music and learning by ear about 50/50%, and I recorded almost all of my lessons after the first year or so. This proved to be invaluable, because I lost my teacher to a brain tumor several years ago. His instruction and inspiration continue to push me when I listen back to those ratty little tapes, and I feel lucky to have had the chance to study with him.

The tunes we worked with were usually quite complex and gratifying to play, but when I actually started playing in a band our repertoire was made up of completely different material, which I basically had to learn from scratch. Fortunatly the predominat keys were still A and D, so at least I knew where I was on the instrument, and could fake my way through pretty much anything (could and, uh, still do...).

My feelings about instruction are that, in addition to learning tunes, it's important to learn how to be a musician (even an amateur one), and, although one could certainly get through a ton of material on one's own without an instructor, sometimes we learn a lot more than songs from our teachers. I learned to play with concentration and confidence, to pay close attention to how my part functions in the group's sound, and to respect the players who came before me, since it was their work I was building upon. I was also taught that if you can learn to play without looking down at your instrument then you can devote more time to watching the gorgeous babes dancing in the crowd, an element of performance which is probably neglected in most self-study courses...

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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby folkfan » Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:09 pm

Since I can read SMN but not really to play from most HD book that I bought were too much for my HD play style.

I've found that my MD tab was easier for me to use as a simple number system translated to any of the keys on the HD very simply. And as with the MD, I'm really not into embellishment or ornamentation, my goal is a simple singable melody.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Scout » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:56 am

After following Maggie Sansone around the Maryland Renaissance Faire and watching her closely, I bought a hammered dulcimer and some books and taught myself. Being a percussionist and keyboardist to start with, I figured it would not be too hard.

Playing is not hard, sure enough. Tuning, on the other hand, takes a lot more time than I'd thought. Good thing I actually enjoy finding that harmonic sweet spot.

A large portion of my iTunes collection is hammered dulcimer now. Just love that sound.

Still, I'd love to take lessons, but I don't live in an area where lessons are readily available.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby justjat » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:29 am

There isn't an option for YouTube and Facebook 8)

I always knew I'd never find a teacher - the HD is very uncommon in the UK - particularly where I live. It was quite a feat to get hold of the HD I wanted (Dusty Strings D45 - took several months but it is GORGEOUS!).

I have bought books, one of which is rather useful (a yellow exercise book by Linda Thomson), but mostly I trawl the internet for videos - I use tutorials by Ted Yoder, Joshua Messick & Dan Landrum amongst others, I video my efforts to keep track and to force myself to improve and I ask a lot of questions (Ted Yoder is a great teacher).
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby dulcilove » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:56 pm

My love for the dulcimer started when a lady at our church played the dulcimer for the special music. When the worship service was over, I cornered her with a lot of questions. We became acquained and she invited me to go to Evart with her that year. I went and became hooked on hammered dulcimers, she said if I bought one she would teach me to play. I did and she did I took lessons about 6 months, and then I pursued by myself. Still loving it, what beautiful music the HD makes. I had some background in music, used to play the organ and piano in church, have them in my home as well as a keyboard, and now my hd by Mike Allen.
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