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Workshop Descriptions

Here are the workshop and masters class descriptions for the Key West Dulcimer Fest. Workshop sign-up will begin shortly!

Stephen Seifert

Learn to Play Mountain Dulcimer the Homegrown Way
Experienced Beginner and Lower Intermediate
DAD Tuning
Bring Capo

When I first was learning to play the dulcimer, I didn't know any tunes and I was terrible at reading tab. I wasn't about to let that stop me from making music. I will share with you a number of methods I used then and still use today to learn and develop right and left-hand playing techniques. You don't need to be a good reader or have a good ear to make the dulcimer sing. I will show you exactly what I'm talking about. The handouts will make sure you don't go home unclear about the process.

Variations on Silver Bell
DAD Tuning
Bring Capo

This isn't the Christmas tune. Silver Bell was written in 1910 by Percy Wenrich, also known as "The Joplin Kid." I'm bringing a couple different versions as well as a few variations to spice things up. This is a great show piece that been an instrumental classic for years.

Exactly How to Come Up with Cool Licks and Endings for Your Arrangements
DAD Tuing
Bring Capo

How to Use Chord Shapes and Arpeggios to generate cool licks, runs, riffs, and endings to flesh out your arrangements. We'll cover slow and fast tunes. The suggestions here will not be vague. I've been using this method for years whenever I need something cool and unique. There will be plenty of written examples.

How to Master Complex Rhythms Once and For All
3-hour Master Class
Sunday - 9-12 am
While all levels are welcome, the emphasis will be on experienced intermediate to advanced topics.
DAD Tuning
Bring Capo

Topics for the right and left hand (but mostly right) will include counting, internalizing the beat, straight vs. swing, crosspicking/flatpicking, Irish jigs, triplets, syncopation, rubato, playing ahead of/behind the beat, and learning to love a metronome. I've been studying rhythm and right-hand work for a long time. I'll make sure you've got a good foundation then I'll show you just about everything I know about executing accurate and interesting rhythms on the mountain dulcimer. A good number of tune excepts will be used to make sure you get what I'm demonstrating. You've got plenty of tabs, make sure you've got the rhythm.

Gary Sager

Beginning Techniques- Beg/Nov (DAd)
Familiarizing yourself with the instrument
Strumming and picking techniques
Reading tablature
Some simple tunes

Learn some easy waltzes with or without chords

Fiddle Tunes-Beg/Int (DAd)
Learn some easy fiddle tunes with or without chords.

Karen Mueller

1. It's Time for Paddy's Day!
Mountain Dulcimer, adv. beg./int., DAD.
Start working on Irish tunes now to get ready for St. Patrick's Day! You'll learn a variety of traditional Irish dance tunes and how to back them up, including jigs, reels and polkas.

2. Learn a tune: "Heart of the Heartland" by Peter Ostroushko.
Mountain Dulcimer, int./adv., DAD
This beautiful waltz was the theme of Ken Burns' "Lewis and Clark" series. We'll look at it two ways, first strummed, then fingerpicking.

3. Autoharp songs and tunes, all levels. This workshop will be tailored to the levels and interests of the class, and can range from the basics of strumming to more complex rhythm accompaniments and melody picking. Please come with your autoharp in tune and bring a thumb pick and two fingerpicks of any type. Any kind of autoharp is fine.

Master's Class - Sunday 10 am to Noon

"Playing Well With Others"--Karen Mueller
This class is for all instruments from advanced beginner level up. We'll work on beautiful and interesting arrangements for group playing that include the melody, chords and harmonies, provided in mountain dulcimer and autoharp tab, and notes and chord charts for hammered dulcimer and other instruments. If there is another instrument that you need tab for (mandolin, guitar, uke), let me know in advance so I can bring it. This will be a lot of fun, and you'll be amazed with the results that you can bring home to your group or club.

Jeff Hames


Flat Picking Basics

Description: This workshop is designed to help you understand the basics of flat picking and how to get the sounds you want as you flat pick.
Song: Wildwood Flower
Tuning: DAD
Requirements: Please bring a tuner to class.


1.) A Little Bit Of Dolly – Dolly Parton Classic

Description: We will take a beautiful classic written by Dolly Parton and add some basic embellishments
Song: Wildflowers Don’t Care Where They Grow
Tuning: DAD
Requirements: Please bring a tuner to class.

1.) Cool Grove

Description: Let’s bring it up to speed with some added hot licks and modulations.

Song: Down Yonder
Tuning: DAD
Requirements: Please bring a tuner to class. Have a good knowledge of the fret board

David Beede

“Classical Style” three finger picking – [Index, middle and ring with the thumb anchored.] We'll cover all the fundamentals of the style in the context of the old English melody “Parson's Farewell” & some take home tabs will be introduced for home study. Intermediate

“Tips and tricks with sticks” or “Unnatural Acts with Dulcimer” – We'll explore unusual ways to get music out of the box. Galax capos, beaten dulcimer, a jazz tuning to make you an instant lounge singer, some egg tricks including a “one man band” with drum & egg. Be prepared to loosen up and have some fun. Nov. & up.

“Plays well with others” - come explore the pleasures of blending dulcimers with other simple instruments. Bass box, gourd banjo, harmonica, psaltery, whistle, Native American flute, snoot flute & more... Nov. & up

Susan Trump

Calypso Anyone? Intermediate and Up (Adventurous Novice players welcome.) DAD tuning
Learning songs using the calypso strum and variations will be a great way to focus on the right hand and develop some real independence. We'll explore some that you know and some new or old tunes from the Islands and maybe an original tune as well!

Singing with the Dulcimer - Novice and Up
Song accompaniments can be as basic as playing chords and strumming, or creating harmonies and countermelodies and using your instrument as a singing partner. Come and learn how at either level.
DAD tuning AND maybe a capo.

***Beginnings, Endings and In-betweens - Intermediate and up
Let's spruce up your arrangements by learning to add interesting introductions, interludes and endings to your tunes and songs. We'll be thinking about chord progressions and rhythmic patterns and using them in a new way. DAD tuning

“Master/Intensive” class for Novice/Low Intermediates
Sunday 9-11 am

"Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You" Discover and understand the fretboard. We'll find notes and chords, and understand the 'root' of the chord and simple chord shapes. Many light bulbs go on when I teach this one, so come and be en”lightened”! It's really fun! Novice, Low Int. DAD Tuning

Rick Thum

Syncopation: Int. and up
We will learn the song "Pleasure House Rag" and will then explore several
syncopation licks on hammered dulcimer. The song will really enhance what the class is
teaching. This technique adds a lot of fun to your songs.

Exploring Embellishments: Beginner and up
I will be teaching several embellishments. I will also change the way you
think of embellishments. We will do some brain storming to find and
explain lots of embellishments. Come prepared with questions on how do I
get this or that sound. This can be a very fun class with some very
creative techniques coming out of it.

Learn the song "Front Porch Waltz" Int. and up
We will learn the song "Front Porch Waltz". It is based on my chord
patterns and will help reinforce your chord playing.

Master Class: Advanced beginners and up: Sunday 10 a.m. - 12 pm - 2 hours
Chording and Arranging: An easy way to learn what to do with those chords
and how to do it. We will learn how to pick chords for a song and how to
spice it up with some fancy chords and how to know which fancy chords and
when. I will teach you the tricks we use to make playing those chords
easy. If you have ever wanted to make your own arrangements this class
will teach you how. See you There.

Aaron O'Rourke

Scales and Exercises: Improve your right and left hand technique, learn to play more relaxed and get more familiar with the entire fretboard all at the same time. Investing time in correcting bad habits that may cause tension, physical pain, and stop your music from having flow is well worth the time and it will improve all the tunes you already know! (All levels)

Composing and arranging for Mountain Dulcimer: Whether you can play three or three hundred notes per minute, regardless of technical ability, writing your own music can be very fulfilling AND very approachable. We’ll talk about ideas for inspiring creativity as well as how to optimize your composition to fit the dulcimer fretboard. (Intermediate/Advanced)

Introduction to Playing Backup: In this workshop we’ll borrow techniques used on mandolin, bass, and guitar for accompaniment. A few very basic chord shapes will be introduced and we’ll talk about accenting different beats with your accompaniment. (Novice and up)

Robert Force

latin rhythms and syncopation

Most American folk music– especially the traditional– emphasizes the down beat. This workshop addresses how to recognize and play on the off-beat with an additional emphasis on incorporating syncopation. We will explore the use of descant parts, learning to hear and play on the off-beat and how to incorporate these rhythms to make melodic lines stand out. Appalachian folk songs will be recast to become reggaes and calypsos. We will also explore contemporary compositions which reinforce this style of playing– ending up with a raucous Samba in which everyone plays a part. Very fun! Intermediate.

lead lines and improvisations

This class is about having musical conversations. These are the opportunities in a song when you are freed from technique and your own musical voice "comments on" and embellishes the tune. You open yourself up to the other players, allowing room for improvisation and "lead line" development. This workshop opens the door to understanding that there is a perfect note or phrase which, if played at the right time and with the right inflection, opens the doors to perception for both player and audience. Suggested for moderate to advanced level players.

bootcamp for dulcimer

This workshop is an introduction to the flatpick and strumming techniques for strengthening the wrist and voicing strings using different angles of "attack". Tempo, understanding uses of timbre, synchronizing the melody and varying rhythm will be used while "grouping" sets of notes which work sequentially toward building songs and mastering tunes. The course follows the first five chapters of In Search of the Wild Dulcimer. This is a very dynamic foundation course in rhythm, tempo and strumming techniques. Especially recommended for beginners.

master class: stages and staging-- the art of presentation. This class is about being confident and relaxed as a performer; understanding stage etiquette and using this to build a rapport with your audience. You are there because of them; they are there because of you. So: Who are you when you step up there? Also discussed will be techniques for setting up microphones, talking competently in technical jargon to sound reinforcement people, setting up microphones, use of monitors, auxiliary direct boxes and other stage hardware issues. Thursday - 2-4 pm.

Bing Futch

1. Beginning Mountain Dulcimer With Bing - Get to know the mountain dulcimer and what you can do with it. Covers the basics of picks, strums, strings, tuning, scales, tablature and more! Beginners.

2. Flatpicking Fun - Pick melodies across the strings and learn the secrets of playing "inside the box" with scale exercises and a focus on pick direction, finger placement with pick/strum techniques. We'll work on a couple of fiddle tunes to practice. Intermediate to Advanced.

3. I Got Those Mountain Dulcimer Blues -
Woke up this mornin', all my dulcimer played was the blues
woke up this morning', all my dulcimer played was the blues
I'll give you chords, scales, licks and rhythms
for playing the blues, you'll want to use!
Intermediate to Advanced.

Masters Class - if enough people are interested, I'll conduct a two-hour workshop on Native American flute. Must have a F# flute for the class - I have very nice Island Flutes available from $45. E-mail
if you'd like to take this course. Thursday the 28th at 3 pm. 2 hours

Tull Glazener

1. "Hymns and Gospel Tunes" - we'll spend this hour learning a number of traditional spiritual songs. Be sure and bring your singing voices as well! D-A-d tuning, capo may be required for some arrangements. INT and up.

2. "Tin Pan Alley Tunes" - Tin Pan Alley is the name given to a collection of New York City-centered music publishers who dominated the popular music culture of the United States from the late 19th century through the 1930's. Many songs produced during that time are still popular today. We'll learn a number of tunes from that era, and also a bit about the history of the music publishing industry. D-A-d tuning, capo may be required for some arrangements. INT and up.

3. "Using the 1+ Fret" - if you've added a 1+ fret to your instrument, and now are wondering what to do with it, this class is for you. We'll talk about the whys, wherefores, and uses of this handy addition, and learn a number of tunes that take advantage of it. (If you don't have a 1+ fret, you can add a "temporary one" using a paper clip and some scotch tape!). D-A-d tuning. INT and up.

"Master's Class" for 2 hours on Sunday morning (1/31/10) 9 am to 11 am.

Master Class - "Creating Dulcimer Tab from Standard Music Notation" - in this 2 hour class, we'll learn how to translate standard music notation, in any key, to the dulcimer fretboard and create full chord-melody arrangements. No previous ability to read standard notation is required. Bring a dulcimer (tuned D-A-d), and a pencil with a good eraser!

Butch Ross

Just enough Theory to make you dangerous (Beg-Nov)

Show Off! Cool (and useful) sounds you can make with your instrument.
(Int - Adv)

Take a Sad song and Make it Better: Using Simple Embellishments to
turn "tunes" into "arrangements." (Int.)

Masters Workshops:

Introduction to the Box Method 1: Flat Pick and First Position
(Nov-Adv) -- this contains flatpicking techniques similar to Gary
Gallier and Terry Lewis' work Thursday - 1 pm

Introduction to the Box Method 2: Kitchen Girl and the flurry of Notes (Int-Adv) Thursday - 3 pm

Dan Landrum

At Your Fingertips: Hammer techniques to improve speed, control, strong hand vs. weak hand issues and rhythmic accuracy in playing.

Bent: How to bend a note up to pitch (yes, up). We'll explore this little used technique along with other hand damping tricks.

Instrumental Creations: It was probably the sound of hammered dulcimer that inspired you to become a player. Let that same inspiring sound fuel your creativity in this workshop on writing your own instrumental compositions. We'll focus on how simple improvisation can be the launching pad for inspired original tunes.

Lois Hornbostel

1. "Cajun & Zydeco Dance Music" (Early Intermediate thru Advanced)

2. "Playing by Ear and Loving It." (Beginner thru Early Intermediate)

3. "Multicultural Music for Mountain Dulcimer" (Advanced Beginners thru Advanced)

Master Class with Lois Hornbostel - "A Graceful Left Hand for Smooth Playing" DAd tuning. Advanced Beginners & up.

Thursday - 1 pm - 3 pm. In this 2-hr. class we will look at the workings of our left hands to make our music smooth and articulate. We will learn some specially-selected music designed to bring out the beautiful tone of your dulcimer with individual help from Lois on wrist and hand positions, left-hand fingerings, sustaining notes and increasing volume with the left hand, and trying different inversions of chords for comfortable and efficient fingerings. We'll play some Irish slow airs, a waltz or two, and something a bit faster to use some hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides.

Guy George

1-Intermediate Hammered Dulcimer - Island Rhythms for the HD - learn an island tune and a cool calypso rhythm for a back-up too.

2-Intermediate pennywhistle - Island tunes for the pennywhistle and harmony parts too.

3-Beginning pennywhistle - Learn to play the easiest instrument to carry on the beach. I'll have some inexpensive, great sounding whistles there.

4-Intermediate Steel drum - Island tunes - we'll learn some Island tunes and backup chord rhythms on the steel drum - Jumbie jam pans will be available for sale.

5- Master Class -- Learn to play the steel drum ... learn to play the steel drum .. we'll learn some cool tunes and also where the chords are so you can give your dulcimer group that 'Island" sound any time you want. Cost - $200.00 - when the workshop is over, you keep the steel drum. If you fly you can pack the steel drum in your suitcase without the cardboard case to take home. I'll have some lightweight cases there for the pan too that will fold up in your suitcase. Thursday - 10 am


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Great Times!

We had a BLAST at this year's Gathering and are already making plans for 2014!  Thanks to everyone who joined us - we hope you think back on these few days and smile at the memories.  Plan on joining us again next January!

2013 Key West Dulcimer Gathering - 1/24 - 1/27

The 2013 Key West Dulcimer Gathering will take place January 24th - 27th at Casa Cabanas (2510 Harris Ave.) in Key West, Florida!  The low-key nature (pun fully intended) of the 2012 event worked so well that we've decided to stick with that formula; whoever shows up, shows up and will be welcomed with music, fun, great food and the beauty of wintertime in the sub-tropics of the United States.

No registration fee is required and with the workshops on mountain dulcimer, Native American flute and ukulele (perhaps even guitar), you simply pay as you go.  Or nap on the deck.  Or go snorkeling - it's all your call.

The dynamic duo of Butch Ross and Bing Futch will be on staff and ready to help you learn as you have fun - or is that have fun as you learn?  Either way, it's going to be a good time as we enjoy lots of jamming, an honest-to-goodness Cuban cookout, some sightseeing and whatever else may come into play;  this is Key West after all.

Get the best room rates and informatio…
The Key West Dulcimer Gathering is just around the corner and we're starting to get excited about spending four lovely days in the place that you see in the picture above.  (That's Smathers Beach, by the way, and we'll head over there at least once.)

There's no registration fee - merely point your GPS to 2510 Harris Ave in Key West and plan on showing up sometime on Thursday, January 24th.  Nothing is planned yet - that's completely up to those who arrive!  Butch Ross and myself will be on hand to lead jams, offer private lessons and see who's interested in what.  Once we have a consensus, we'll know what kinds of workshops to put together and when to offer them.

Now, if you don't have a place to stay yet, contact Sheri Cabanas at Conch Republic Concierge (305) 294-6019.

Other than that - prepare to have a blast in the tropics!  If you're joining us later than the 24th, text or call me at (407) 342-1447 and I'll let you know where we're at if …