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Playing the Mountain Dulcimer Booklet

By Jeffrey Allen Lambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny Wiley Dulcimers and Kits

615 High St

Hazard, KY  41701

http:/www.jennywileydulcimers.com

 

Playing The Mountain Dulcimer

Made Easy

New Revision

By Jeffrey A Lambert

~~New Cover – Same Great Lessons – Lower Price ~~

Introduction

 

First, let me thank you for your interest in the mountain, lap or Appalachian dulcimer.  The mountain dulcimer is in the midst of a great revival!  It has found renewed popularity throughout the world.  Persons of all nationalities are discovering the "sweet music" of this grand old instrument.

 

LESSON ONE

Learning the Components

Our first project on the trip to learning to play this age old instrument will be familiarizing ourselves with the components of the mountain, lap or Appalachian dulcimer.

 



 

LESSON TWO

Holding Your Dulcimer

 

The dulcimer should lie on your lap with the peg-head toward your left hand or side.  You adjust the instrument, raise your knees up and down until it is level, get comfortable and you are ready to play!

 

 

 

 


 


LESSON THREE - NOTER, STRINGS AND STRUMMING

Learning to hold the pick and "Noter"

 

PICK:  I recommend a "thin" style flat pick.  I personally like the triangle shaped pick.

 

Hold the pick in your right hand firmly but gently between your thumb and forefinger.  Imagine trying to hold a little bird.  You do not want to crush it but you do not want it to fly away.  "Firm but gentle."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Noter

 

The wooden noter is held with the left hand.  I cradle the noter in the bend of the four fingers and use the thumb to apply pressure on the first finger so the noter is firm and does not slip around.  The noter is used by many dulcimer players to "note" the melody string(s).  By moving the noter from fret-to-fret, you can create a beautiful sliding sound.

 

 

 


 

The Strings

The strings nearest to you are String 1 (on a four-string dulcimer - this is the first two strings - they are real close together). I always tune to the DAA or Ionian tuning, so the first string is "A". The 2nd string is also "A". The 3rd string (it is the biggest string) is tuned to "D".

 

Strumming

Notice on the "fret board" there is a "strum hollow." This is the obvious place near the end of the dulcimer where you strum the instrument. Over the "Strum Hollow" you can strum the strings with your thumb, a thumb pick, or a flat pick. I suggest a "Flat Pick" like the one included with your dulcimer. Always strum all the strings.

Simply strum the strings with your pick ... in time you will develop your own style of strumming - do not get discouraged!

LESSON FOUR

Tuning the Mountain Dulcimer

 

How important is learning to tune the dulcimer?  If you never learn to tune your dulcimer, you will not become an accomplished dulcimer player, nor will you find pleasure in playing an out-of-tune instrument!

 

The standard tuning for "Ionian" style is "DAA."

Using an Electronic Tuner

 

3RD STRING: We will begin with the "big" string, the third string, or the "wound" string.  This is the string furthest away from you.  I recommend you tune that string to a "D." 

 

I know this might appear to be a mystery, but trust me - - it is not as hard as it sounds.  I suggest you become the proud owner of an electronic tuning device.  You can purchase these at any music store.  There are a variety of styles and prices.  Find one you like and can afford. 

 

I use the "KORG GA-1" tuner.  This is a good inexpensive tuner that works well. 

 

 

 


Notice the "D" in the viewfinder.  I adjusted the third string with the geared tuner until the "D" was highlighted.  Notice there is a small green dot in the top center of the tuner.  This tells us that the tuning is perfect.  If you are slightly high or low, red markers appear and guide you until the string is tuned exactly on "D."

 

 

 

1ST AND 2ND STRINGS: The other strings are tuned to "A."  One string at a time, adjust the geared tuner on the Peghead until the "A" is highlighted.  Then fine tune until the green dot appears.

 

 

 


 

 

The title of this tuning is called "Ionian" or DAA.

The strings on your dulcimer should be:

            1st String(s) or Melody String(s): "A"

            2nd String: "A"

            3rd (Big or Wound) String: "D"

Go through this process a few times making minute adjustments until your instrument is tuned perfectly.  If you are using the KORG GA-1

Tabulature

In every song in this book, you will notice numbers over the words.   The numbers correspond to a fret on the dulcimer.

For example, if you see the number "3" that will mean you hold string 1 (remember, these are the first two strings on a 4 string dulcimer) directly behind the 3rd fret.

DOWN IN THE VALLEY

 

Place your index finger of your left hand on the “3” (the space behind the 3rd fret – or the 3rd space from the top) and strum all four strings.  Move to the 4th fret, try again, then the 5th fret, and try again.  Remember to strum all four strings.

 

Let’s give Down in the Valley a try. 

 

IMPORTANT  Strum all four strings!!!!

 

0

3

4

5

3

5

4

3

4

Down

In

The

Val-

Ley

Val-

Ley

So

Low

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

2

4

6

4

 

 

 

 

Hear

The

Wind

Blow

Dear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

5

4

3

 

 

 

 

 

Hear

The

Wind

Blow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0-3

5

5

4

3

1

0

 

Amaz

-ing

Grace

How

Sweet

The

Sound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

3

5

5

4

7

 

 

That

Saved

A

Wretch

Like

Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

7

7

3

5-4

3

1

0

I

Once

Was

Lost

But

Now

Am

Found

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

3

5-3

5

4

3

 

 

Was

Blind

But

Now

I

See

 

 

 

 

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