April 30, 2017

Tuning Hack for Scroll-Headed Dulcimer

by Steve Eulberg

The Snark™ tuner is very popular with mountain dulcimer players, for good reason.  It is quick, accessible, accurate and it’s display is very readable.

(This is not an insignificant feature as those of us who continue gathering service stripes in the playing of our dulcimers experience with eyesight that gets weary over time!)

IMG_2445And the handy clip-on feature works very well with flathead mountain dulcimers.

However, players of instruments with the traditional scroll have sometimes struggled with how to attach the tuning clip to the dulcimer so that it can “read” the vibrations and convert them into electricity which then displays how close our vibrating strings are to the desired pitch.

Therefore, when one of my students whose dulcimer has a beautiful, traditional scrollhead showed up for her lesson displaying the tuning hack here, I was delighted and decided I needed to share it right away!

IMG_2444By using her capo on the scroll, she had a location on which to clip her tuner that picked up the vibrations directly and accurately!

She clipped on tuned up and was ready for her lesson in no time!

(This is all the more important, because dulcimers players have taken and adhere to the dulcimer pledge which commits them to the joys of playing their instruments in many different tunings!)


Backing Tracks Library is growing!

We keep adding to our Library of Backing Tracks which are available to our Premium Members.

backingtracklibraryexanding

The two newest are the chord progressions in the Keys of D and G which match the Albert Brumley tune:  I’ll Fly Away.  These were created for the new Bluegrass Dulcimer series taught by Steve Eulberg.

We are continuing to produce these and other resources to assist you in your goals to “Bridge the Gap Between What You Know and Where You Want Your Music to Grow.”

 

 


“I Have to Practice every day…

by Linda Ratcliff

…to play as bad as I do.    —Woody Allen

Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg) is a passionate fan of jazz, and jazz music has often been featured prominently in the soundtracks of his movies. He started playing the clarinet when he was a teenager and actually chose his stage name, Woody, after the famous clarinet player Woody Herman.

Woody will be 81 in December, and these days he is performing with the Eddy David New Orleans Jazz Band.  They play every Monday night at the Carlyle Hotel.


What made me take a closer look at Woody was a quote by him about his own playing: “I have to practice every day to play as bad as I do.” I love his statement because it mirrors the way I feel about my own playing.We all need to practice – and not just to prepare for the next jam session or performance.

Practicing an instrument sharpens your brain, increases your eye-hand coordination, teaches you perseverance, and creates a sense of achievement when you overcome the challenge of learning a new tune.
I’ve also discovered a lot about the history of our country and its musicians by researching the stories behind those old fiddle tunes dulcimer players enjoy.
 (This post originally appeared in the DulcimerCrossing Newsletter.  You can subscribe here)

What is Your Method of Exercise?

swimmingimageby Steve Eulberg

I remember the question from the cardiologist I visited on my 33rd birthday.

I was there because my heart was skipping beats periodically and heart disease runs in my family.

After the stress test failed to produce any abnormalities they concluded that the source of this anomaly may be just day-to-day stress, rather than being physical activity-induced.

So their strategy was to be certain that I was building a strong physical system that could withstand the mental, social and emotional stressors of an inner-city pastor.

But still the question made me pause….

“In what forms of exercise do you regularly participate?”

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “I remember how to spell that word: e-x-e-r-c-i-s-e.”

(There were NO forms of exercise in which I was regularly engaged.)

The following week I began a program of swimming, which has always been my preferred method of exercise:  low-to-no impact, aerobic and using many muscles groups, in addition to focusing on breathing.  That program has continued to this day. Everywhere I have lived and travel, I do my best to find a swimming pool and make being there regularly and often a priority in my schedule

So, by now you might be wondering what this has to do with music?

Usually when we speak of exercises in music, we are playing a fingering pattern, or developing a hammering pattern, or becoming more dextrous with hammer-ons or pull-offs, or learning bends and releases, not something aerobic like, well, swimming!

Patrick Gannon, PhD, in an article written for the International Musician (journal of the American Federation of Musicians), borrows from the world of sports psychology to help the kinds of mental training needed to deal with performance anxiety.

He begins with Exercise As Medicine for Your Music.  (This short article is full of tips for how exercise can help you relax and learn more effectively!)

Just this week, as I began to feel the weight and pressure of decisions and preparations and deadlines and schedules that I face, I decided to take his advice and increase the length of time I was swimming in my daily swim sessions.

Wow, the sense of calm and centeredness, the depth of sleep without anxiety of dreams, were very noticeable.

So now, my question is for you:

In what regular exercise do you participate?

 

 


New Video Explains DulcimerCrossing

We are excited to unveil a new 30 second explanation of what DulcimerCrossing is all about!  Watch below:


Click here to join today!

Spread the news!  Like this video using the heart icon.

Share this video with your friends using the little paper airplane icon.

 


Backing Tracks Library

Here is a view of the new Backing Tracks Library which is a resource at DulcimerCrossing.com for Premium Members.

Backing tracks are a way to play along with a “band” while not having to worry about any egos (yours or theirs!) or other people who are going to get knocked off track when you make an error.  (You’ll notice I didn’t say “if”!)

Steve uses these to get comfortable making and recovering from the errors and slips that inevitably come when playing music.  And sometimes, these “happy accidents” provide new inspiration and ideas!

Each track has an .mp3 file that you can play and hear, in addition, there is a pdf tablature with chord charts, an occasional melody line, sometimes some suggested scales to use.  They are in several keys, tunings, genres and tempo styles.

BackingTracksLibraryDC

Want to get started with this new learning tool?  Join now and choose the Premium Option and you’ll get the access you want for the support you need.


Chords on Chromatic by Erin Mae Lewis

Erin Mae Lewis Finding and Building chords on a Chromatic Dulcimer.

In her chromatic lessons series, Erin, shows how she maps out and builds chords, both the I-IV-V chords for playing progressions, but also the rich chord additions (minors, 7ths, major 7ths, minor 7ths and 6ths, diminished, suspended and augmented)

 

[Note: this lesson uses both Diatonic and Chromatic Fret Numbers]

Here Erin introduces the lessons:

Here is the lesson set.

Subscribe to DulcimerCrossing.com to see the rest of the lesson!

 

 


Chromatic Scale Patterns

Erin Mae Lewis teaches a new lesson on the skill of playing what she calls “forward” and “backward” scale patterns.

This is what she uses to move her scales all over her chromatic mountain dulcimer, enabling her to playing the “string-band” keys, as well as the “singing” keys and helps her be not only a welcomed player, but a sought-after player for bluegrass jams sessions!

Her tips will definitely help you, even if you are playing standard mountain dulcimer only.

Subscribe today to have access to ALL of Erin’s lessons!


Orphan Girl: New Chromatic Dulcimer Lesson!

Orphan Girl
by Linda Ratcliff

For Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer Players
“Orphan Girl” was written by Gillian Welch, whose musical style combines elements of bluegrass, neotraditional country, Americana, old time string band music and folk into a rustic style that she dubs “American Primitive.” Gillian and David Rawlings included “Orphan Girl” in their debut album, “Revival,” in 1996. This song is somewhat autobiographical, as Gillian was adopted on the day she was born, and spiritual as none of us will be orphans when we finally sit at the Father’s table in heaven.

This lesson is taught by Erin Rogers on the chromatic mountain dulcimer. You can see the lesson descriptions here with a video of Orphan Girl performed by Scenic Roots (our own Erinwith her sister Amber).

ErinAmberOrphanGirlPhoto

Any New Year’s Resolutions?
Every year, my New Year’s Resolution is to practice my hammered dulcimer more often. How about you?

As always, if you have any questions, you can always ask Steve or myself.

Happy dulcimering,
Linda