Where is home row?

Just hammerers

Where is home row?

Postby Grandpa Ron » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:15 pm

In the 1980's I built a HD for my daughter. We poked at it for many years. Recently I decide give it a try again and I remembered a old problem.

I play around with lot of instruments, Strings, Reeds and Woodwinds and can usually croak out a tune or two of simple sheet music or by ear. The problem with the HD is there does not seem to be a starting position, that is a place to rest your hands so you know where on the instrument you are starting from.

With the banjo you have a hand on the neck with fingers over frets, with accordion finger resting on certain keys, with the flute you have your fingers over the holes. With the HD I have to look at the music measure by measure, than look at the strings to find the right place to start. In effect trying to memorize the song so I can play it. That works with Mary had a Little Lamb but not so well with O Caroline's Fanny Powers.

So my question is how do you orient yourself to the keyboard so you can keep your eye on the music. Or, for those who remember typewriters, you started with your finger on the home row.
Grandpa Ron
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Re: Where is home row?

Postby Skip » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:44 pm

The bridge markers are probably the best visual locater. As far as touchy-feely, I don't think there is one since unless you start with your hammers at some arbitrary spot. You know the key your going to play in, you pick the appropriate marker then play. I guess it all gets back to familiarity and practice. All the folks I know seem to watch the HD, they seem to know the tune. They go back and forth while learning.
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Re: Where is home row?

Postby Heidi » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:33 pm

The anchor point that you spoke of, doesn't really exist on a hammered dulcimer because you are not in contact with the instrument. This is why, IMO, the HD is harder than most other instruments for the blind or sight impaired to play. Not impossible, but it would be challenging.

Playing the HD uses a lot of relative spacial awareness and muscle memory. The "anchor point" on the HD is ethereal and movable, but for now, as a newer player, try thinking of your marked treble G and/or D as your anchor.

With practice, most players learn to play and read music at the same time. This is accomplished through spacial awareness, muscle memory and also learning when, where, and how to glance away from the music to the instrument and vice versa.

One exercise, after you've really learned a simple tune (that is, the tune is memorized and you've played it many times) is to cover the HD with a light cloth and play the tune without being able to see the strings or markers at all. Playing without looking at the strings or markers will help you internalize the relative positions and it builds confidence.

Happy hammering
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