Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

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Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby MaryColgan » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:57 am

I'm hoping to write to folks about their experiences with teaching young (under 10 yo) players on the hammered dulcimer. Topics like, lesson resources and how to keep kids focused on their learning. I have a 6yo grandaughter who wants to learn. We are just having some trouble with "sticking with it". Mary Colgan (Haslett, Michigan)
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby kwl » Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:38 pm

Mary, it's great to hear about your six-year old granddaughter's interest in the hammered dulcimer. I think sticking with it will be a problem for any young player. Attention span at that age tends to be very short. Be patient, take it in very short steps and keep at it. Help her to have fun while learning and she should progress, but let her take it at her own pace.

Ken
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby MaryColgan » Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:12 pm

She has been persistent at trying to play whenever she is here (once a week). She told me yesterday that her electronic game player has a music program that she had been playing the songs that she'd learned on the dulcimer. She wants to go to Evart with us next summer - I told her that if she practiced and learned enough that she could - that seems to really excite/motivate her. She has been attending our local dulcimer club meetings. The other members have been very accomodating - allowing her to play some rhythm instruments while they play...and playing along with her on "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". :-) I've never given music lessons to anyone...and just feel like I'm not sure what to do with her enthusiasm some days.
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby halfpint » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:00 pm

I haven't taught any children on Hammered Dulcimer, but my children have taken music lessons at young ages. Usually at about ages 4-6, the actual lesson portion where the student is playing the instrument is very short as they have a short attention span. The teachers that our children had would play rhythm games (sometimes using rhythm instruments), music note games and things like that.

Most of their teachers would rather them practice 2-3 times a day for 10 minutes than once for 30.

Does your granddaughter have a hammered dulcimer to practice on at home? That may make a difference since if she can only practice at your home it will take a long time to progress and she might get bored with it.

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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby MaryColgan » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:45 pm

I've been watching for a 12/11 I could get for her to keep at home... I do think that would help in her efforts too... I just do what I can to make it "fun" for her when she's here. It just occurred to me - maybe I should look for some simple christmas songs for her to start learning...that might work to keep her at it too...
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby LarryV » Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:29 pm

I taught my (then) 8 year old last year, with the aim of getting him good enough to perform for his school's "variety" show.

I started him 3-1/2 months before the show - first starting on just scales (up and down) and proper hammering. We only did 15 minutes at a time, because he did get frustrated, but after a few weeks he was doing really well. After the (basic) scale, I threw in a simple arpeggio, and he picked that up right away.

Then we started on a tune - I picked out a nice waltz - "Midnight on the Water".
I broke it down into A and B parts. I wrote the music out for him in numbers instead of notes and put the numbers by the corresponding notes on the dulcimer. I also used a few highlighting colors to mark a few (not all) notes in the song (the 1-3-5-8 and some other notes (I can't remember which)and also had those note numbers highlighted in the same color on the dulcimer.

We started one phrase at a time - I would play it (reciting the note numbers) and then he try it. After he got through the entire A section, I had him play it till he could get through it cleanly. Again, he was only playing 15 minutes (or so) at a time. He'd always warm up with his scales and arpeggios)

Going this way, we finally got through the whole tune. He would often make mistakes, but catch himself, and start over.

After a while he was playing the tune without needing to read the music.

We were going to visit my brother (who also has a HD), And I was telling him it would be neat to play the song for him, but I wasn't going to bring the "cheat sheet" numbers to put on my brother's $2000 Rizzetta Carbon Fiber instrument.
He surprised me by saying he didn't need them anymore and could play the entire song.(this was 2 weeks before the show).

He was still making small mistakes, but was able to get through the whole thing.

The day before the show was a "technical" rehearsal to set the lighting and sound for all the acts. He was the second act after the 4th grader's big opening number.

We set him up in down stage and he started playing. Everyone was really amazed and asked about it - ("what was it?", "How do you play it?")I mean, you don't see too many Hammered Dulcimers in New Jersey. They couldn't get the sound right at first and had to switch out the mic, so he went through it 4 or 5 times, and each time was perfect.

Show time came the next day. I was a little worried, because this time (and I should'v made sure he rehearsed it this way) - he was in front of the closed curtain and when there was light coming from behind him before, there was only a light from in front, and I was worried that he'd have trouble seeing. Also the fact that there were a couple hundred people in the house.

Needless to say, he performed with only a minor mistake - I'm sure I was the only one who noticed. It was definitely one of the acts that everyone remembered.

We've already started practicing for this year - the show's in April and he's looking forward to it. We're going to work on a more upbeat medley of 2 tunes. I think this year I'll have him facing the curtain so everyone can see what he's doing (and the light will be over his shoulder) I'll also put a pickup on the instrument and use a preamp so we don't have any sound issues.

Here are some pictures (sorry, I don't have a youtube video to share - I'll try to get something for this year) -
Image

Image
Last edited by LarryV on Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby CThorsen » Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:50 pm

LarryV,
Beautiful pictures and story! Congratulations on a good variety show!
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby kwl » Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:07 am

Larry, what a great story! I'm glad your son had a successful performance. Thanks for sharing the pictures and the story.

Best wishes.

Ken
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby Jukejackie » Sat Nov 13, 2010 8:17 am

Mary,
Larry has the right idea, keep it simple and stick to one or two songs...things she knows and Christmas Songs are just perfect. Start with Jolly Ole St. Nick and then on to Jingle Bells....that should be her focus until she has them perfectly. Working in small sections and having an Instrument at home is also key....good luck I hope she takes to it and stays with it!
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby LarryV » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:49 pm

LarryV wrote:Here are some pictures (sorry, I don't have a youtube video to share - I'll try to get something for this year)

I found someone who had the video so I posted it on youtube -
Need to note - he picked up the hammers for the first time 3-1/2 months earlier, and this was performed in front of 250 (or more) people.

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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby MaryColgan » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:06 pm

That is SO totally awesome! I love the story and the video! Is he still continuing to learn?? I mentioned to Alana last nite that we *could* try to play Jingle Bells next time she comes over.... she was very excited about that idea. We'll keep plugging away - little time increments at a time - I do think she's interested enough to wanna keep at it....:-)

I'd love to see/hear more about successes with kids, and what got them there! Thanks! Mary
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Re: Kids on Hammered Dulcimer

Postby MaryColgan » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:13 pm

oh, DUH! I just went back re-read the original story post - and do see he's still learning for the April show! DO keep us posted on how he does! Mary
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