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

Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Drachirryz » Fri Sep 09, 2011 2:56 am

Started with books (and cassettes and CDs). The nearest teachers were about a 40 minute drive from my home, so didn't stay with lessons too long (may or may not have been a good idea). Attended Spring Fling a few times to get some theory and to fill in some gaps.

I hope Dan L. comes back to Spring Fling. Oops! I guess that wasn't a question :)
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Lakme » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:24 am

Another option - I bought cds and learned to play by ear from them.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Larry Tom » Wed May 09, 2012 3:57 pm

Hi Folks,

I'm new to Everything Dulcimer and its forums, but this poll intrigued me, so I participated. When I finally decided to add the hammered dulcimer to my repertoire (after hearing it for the first time some 20 years earlier) I found out that I lived in an area where there were three great performers/teachers ... Karen Ashbrook, Ken Kolodner, and Maggie Sansone. I took lessons from Maggie. That was a great experience, and set me on a good course.

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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby mrchips » Thu May 10, 2012 2:33 am

Anyone can learn the basics of any instrument by themselves with all the books around. Taking formal lessons goes further than that. Often you just dont get what a book may be saying but in 20 seconds of watching somebody, it will take.. Teachers will almost always make learning an instrument far faster than going it alone. Playing style is something that no book can fully describe. In addition nothing written can fully describe a sound, you have to hear it. :lol:

Thats NOT to say you cant learn from a book but as text isnt sound it usually takes longer.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Peter Tommerup » Wed May 16, 2012 5:43 am

Actually, sorta "none of the above."

I was a student of Guy Carawan's (early HD revival player) when he taught at a college in Southern California for 6 months out of every year (the other 6 months he spent in Eastern Tennessee at The Highlander Center). I fell in love with the HD from listening and watching him play it in the folklore class I took from him in Fall 1973. Then I took his "Appalachian external studies" program the following semester. This allowed me to observe his playing a lot more as I followed him around Appalachia. I also met Malcolm Dalglish and Sam Rizzetta at that time through Guy, and recorded and observed their playing. I also met John McCutcheon at that time, but I'm not sure if he was even playing the HD yet. If he was, I didn't catch him doing it.

I did attend several workshops taught by Malcolm and Sam in the 1970's, took some workshops at the "Summer Solstice and Dulcimer Festival" in Los Angeles, and had a lesson with John McCutcheon about 2002. Other than that, I did a lot of listening to recordings, tried to duplicate what I was hearing, and adapted it to suit my tastes. Ultimately, I came up with a style that includes lots of "compound flams" (sorta a la Dalglish), arpeggios and double stops, to name a few characteristics--a kind of "chord melody" approach to the HD.

Anyway, that's a thumbnail sketch of how I learned and what I came up with as a playing style. Back when I was getting started, there weren't even any dulcimer festivals. You had to be pretty inventive, self-reliant, and in the right place at the right time to even discover that the HD existed. :D

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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby BenQ » Wed May 23, 2012 1:34 am

I was at a folk music festival many years ago, and I saw someone playing a HD, so we got to talking about it as I had never seen one before. We ended up getting married, and I still have the girl and I still have that HD.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby lynngehringer » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:16 am

There are no teachers or even any players that I know of in this area. I hate to admit but after all these years, I am still probably a beginner 2. :( This is the year I am really going to learn. I have been watching instructional videos on YT and am getting a nicer new to me dulcimer in June. Hopefully, by Evart, I will be in a better place. My grandchildren both play better than I do. Give me a keyboard and I am fine but my mind has still not wrapped itself around the hammered dulcimer.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Dulci-Mama » Sun May 26, 2013 8:30 pm

I had piano lessons and played flute in band as a child, so I could read SMN. It was a bit tricky getting the hang of the layout. I got Madeline macneill's book and went to town. There is a teacher in my area, but it's 25-30 miles away, plus I have a teenage son where my money goes! I signed up for dulcimer school but didn't stay as I got busy with work, and I found that to be the best bang for the buck, plus you can look at videos anytime. I want to eventually get back with that program.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby curliegirlie89 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:28 pm

I am super new to the HD. I bought a Songbird Meadowlark last year and Mel Bey's You Can Teach Yourself... because I didn't feel that we could afford to spend the money on lessons (all extra money goes to therapy for our special needs daughter). I'm still working the basics (including a decent stand). I think I would make faster progress if I could find a teacher because having regular lesson would keep me focused and make me find the time to practice. It's too easy right now to be distracted by other things, but I'm determined to learn. Any guidance would be appreciated. I found Dawn's instructions for a scissor stand on this site, so I'll be busy this week.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby Heidi » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:09 pm

CurlieGirlie89 -

A couple of tips that I received when I first started that really helped were:
1) Place the instrument somewhere as convenient as possible and play it whenever can. It doesn't matter if you only have ten minutes. That's fine. Have at it! There are all sorts of little snips of time to be had. Facebook can wait, go play! It's way more fun.
2) When you've "played it right" stop. Walk away and give it a minute to sink in. - - This was particularly helpful when I first started and it seemed so darn hard.
3) Practice playing while not looking at the strings. You can cover it with a thin towel or shut your eyes, whatever works for you.

A couple that I know now, but didn't know then:
1) Tuning will get easier with practice, but do NOT spend a lot of precious time on it when you are starting out. In general, you should not tune more than once per week. Maybe less when you are just beginning. When should you tune? When you can't tell if you played the right notes, or when the dog begins to howl. - In time, most of us find tuning to be soothing and meditative.
2) Tuners are kind of funky. They tend to jump around a bit and it can be frustrating. Use your ears as well as the tuner. Match the second string to the first.
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Re: Teacher or Self-taught: a poll

Postby zoeyku » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:57 pm

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

Postby Walden » Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:16 pm

I hadn't stopped to realize it till I saw this poll, but I never even bought a book on hammered dulcimer. Some years ago, when I started on the other kind of dulcimer I bought books, but I found that Mel Bay's beginner books were mostly all the same. A few introductory pages, and the same 15 public domain songs. That said, their 99 cent "Music Pocket Book" series was usually a pretty good value. Maybe I'll run off and get one of those for h.d. :D
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