Beautiful Dreamer

While sorting through stacks and stacks of dulcimer tablature that I have accumulated over the years, I ran across a partially finished version of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer.” This is one of my favorite Stephen Foster’s songs. It is very melodic, beautiful. And I see why I never completed the tablature — it is difficult to play on the mountain dulcimer.
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More Galax-Style Dulcimers; Primer on Changing Strings

After attending the Galax-style old-time string band jam in Virginia in May, I became intrigued with this type of dulcimer and decided to learn more about them. Could I tune one of my own dulcimers to DDDD above middle C to get the same sound? It meant changing strings–several times. Here’s how it turned out.Measuring Length from Bridge End - _0531

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Galax-Style Dulcimer: Playing the Appalachian Dulcimer in DDD Tuning

I recently visited my mother, who lives in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and was fortunate to sit in on a Galax-style dulcimer and old-time string band jam. I was told that the dulcimers would be tuned to DDD — all the strings pitched to the same note — for this jam.Galax Dulcimer and Old-Time Fiddle Jam - IMG_9103 Continue reading

Library Book Comes Alive to the Music of the Dulcimer

Last summer our librarian dulcimer member, Bonnie, lead a very successful community out-reach program, “Teaching Children to Play the Dulcimer.” This summer she had the creative idea of reading a book to the children and adding dulcimer music to go along with the story. She selected the book, “Giraffe’s Can’t Dance,” by British author, Giles Andrease, with illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees.Bonnie and Book - IMG_9483_1

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Meet the Performers: Joe Collins

Our annual Lagniappe Dulcimer Fête in March brings dulcimer players from all over the country to teach workshops and perform in concert. It’s a good way for local members and dulcimer players to become introduced to new music, ideas and techniques. As always, I am impressed with the talented musicians that come join in our festival. I’d like to share some of what I learned.  Meet Joe Collins.Joe Collins - 1 - IMG_7870 Continue reading

Paul Andry’s Mardi Gras Music for the Dulcimer

Mardi Gras comes early this year–February 9, 2016. This is carnival time in south Louisiana — parades, pageantry, costumes, balls, parties, king cakes. We play many of the traditional Mardi Gras songs on the dulcimer and I credit the tablature for the music to Paul Andry of Mandeville, Louisiana.
Paul Andry - IMG_2465_1 - 2015 Continue reading

Greensleeves on the Dulcimer: Carols for All Seasons

I look forward to the holiday season each December, especially the music. Christmas carols have been a part of my holiday tradition for as long as I can remember. Carols are melodic and joyful–even the sad ones–and it is difficult to pick a favorite carol. One is “What Child is This?” which is set to the melody of Greensleeves, an old English carol. This minor song sounds beautiful when played on the mountain dulcimer.Carol and Candles and Nutcrackers - IMG_6498 Continue reading

Silent Night’s Story; Sing and Play Dulcimer in the Key of G

The music to “Silent Night”, was composed at the last minute for a Christmas Eve Mass in 1818. However, the organ was broken. At the evening service, the priest and organist sang the song accompanied by guitar and choir. The Christmas carol is a fitting song to play on the mountain dulcimer; but let’s play in the Key of G so we can sing along. Pump Organ - IMG_6077_1 Continue reading

Playing Duets on a Baritone Dulcimer

My new baritone dulcimer from McSpadden Dulcimers has provided a chance to try out playing several songs. Songs with a deep pitch such as Grandfather’s Clock especially sound appealing when played on a baritone dulcimer. I thought of lullabies, too. Here are two duets for baritone and standard dulcimer along with an explanation of the tunings used. Bill Taylor Dulcimer - IMG_4705_1 Continue reading

Tuesday Nights at the Library and Tips for Playing the Dulcimer

Bonnie Guelfo, Children’s Librarian at Bluebonnet Library in Baton Rouge, observed that there are really no places in town to teach children how to play the dulcimer. So she offered a summer class at her library branch to introduce children how to play the dulcimer. Cardboard Dulcimer - IMG_3937_1 Continue reading