November 17, 2017

Workshop Descriptions – 2017

One of the most exciting parts of the Colorado Dulcimer Festival is the opportunity to participate in workshops with local and nationally renowned Dulcimer players and experts, teaching both Hammered Dulcimer (HD) and Mountain Dulcimer (MD). This page provides descriptions of the workshops being offered at the 2017 Festival.

The Workshop Descriptions are organized into two sections: “Guest Artists” and “Local Instructors” (in alphabetical order by instructor’s last name). Under each instructor, workshops are listed by skill level. Workshops will take place during the workshop times shown on the Festival Schedule.

Following the workshop descriptions are definitions of the skill levels to which each workshop is geared so attendees can choose according to their level, including Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.

2017 Workshop Descriptions

NOTE: Workshop descriptions for 2018 will be posted when available. In the meantime, the following 2017 descriptions will give you an idea of what you can expect.

Guest Artists


Jody Marshall (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)


BEGINNER (HD): “Chords Demystified”

The dulcimer’s inherent patterns may not seem obvious at first, but once you’ve learned them a whole new world of chords, accompaniment, and embellishment becomes possible. This workshop will focus on chord shapes, hearing chord changes, and participating in a jam session even when you don’t know the melodies of tunes.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): “Backup: Beyond The Basics”

So you know where your chords are, but now what? How do you use them to accompany others? In this class we’ll focus on some specific ideas for backing up jigs, reels, and waltzes, building skills we can draw on in jam sessions and when arranging tunes with a band.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): “Spread a Little Happiness”

Hornpipes, jigs, and other happy tunes sound great on the hammered dulcimer. They’re also therapeutic: it’s hard to stay in a bad mood while playing these spritely melodies! And they make a great platform for learning and applying skills that can add interest to your playing.

ADVANCED (HD):  “Bag of Tricks”

Spice up your playing with long rolls, hand damping, plucking, note bending, and more! These “special effects” will take your playing to a whole new level.


Susan Trump (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)


BEGINNER (MD): “Chords and Melody

The Ultimate Connection. Learn three basic chords and see how they support the melody. Playing both together will now be so much easier! DAD tuning.

BEGINNER (MD): “Music Theory for the Beginner and How It Relates to the Mountain Dulcimer

An introduction to the terms that you may have heard, but don’t have a clue what they mean, or why you should know them. This workshop is especially designed for students with no previous musical experience. DAD Tuning.

INTERMEDIATE (MD): “Music from the Muse

In the 30 years I’ve been playing, sometimes tunes just seem to fall out of the dulcimer. Several have been included in the Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer CD series. They are fun to play and I’d like to share them. DAD Tuning.

ADVANCED (MD): “Flatpicking to Bluegrass Banjo Fingerpicking

We’ll take a tune or two and by varying your right hand technique, we’ll go from a bum-diddy style to bluegrass style fingerpicking. Earl Scruggs….Here we come! DAD Tuning . . . good for banjammers if you have one.

ADVANCED (MD): “Norwegian Tunes

The dulcimer is well suited for Scandinavian music, so we’ll learn Vals, a Norwegian waltz and Mars, a lovely tune written by Jens Christian Svabo, the O’Carolan of the Faroe Islands.


Local Instructors

(Listed in alphabetical order by last name.)


Karen Alley (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)

(2014 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion!)


BEGINNER (HD): “Chords from square one”

“Music theory” is often seen as dangerous, forbidden territory.  In this workshop, we’re going to open up that territory to find that it’s much more accessible than you may imagine, and useful, too!  We will talk about chords from the very beginning—what they are, how to build them, and where to find them on your instrument.  Then we’ll move on to applying those chords to simple melodies, answering questions like: How do I know what chord to play?  Where can I add a chord in my arrangement?  What chords should I learn and expect in a tune?  The goal is to begin to teach you how to add chords to tunes on your own, rather than to learn somebody else’s arrangement of a tune.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): “O’Carolan Exploration”

There are many tunes written by Turlough O’Carolan, the Irish harper, that are justifiably famous. There are many others that are just as beautiful, though not as well known. We’ll work on an arrangement for one of his less-known tunes. The arrangement will be taught both by ear and using sheet music.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): “The Double-Stroke Roll”

The classic drumroll you hear snare drummers play is called a double-stroke roll, and it can be used in a wide variety of applications on the dulcimer. Mastering it, however, takes a lot of practice and the right technique. If you don’t know how to approach double-stroke rolls, or want to improve your technique, this workshop is for you.

ADVANCED (HD): “In the Groove”

Though I have nothing against simple backup patterns with accents on off-beats, sometimes it’s fun to go beyond that. We’ll work on some basic grooves that you can use for more unusual backup, complete with accents on unexpected beats, as well as techniques you can use for improving your rhythm.


Ellen Baranowski (Teaching Children’s Mountain Dulcimer Workshop)


This is a brand new workshop experience for our Festival: Children’s Mountain Dulcimer Workshop. It is geared to children ages 8-12. No previous experience is required. Practice dulcimers will be provided for use in the workshop. The children will receive instruction on the Mountain Dulcimer, will learn to play a tune, and will learn a traditional dance that will be danced in the Contra Dance led by Chris Kermiet following the Children’s workshop.


Bonnie Carol (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer and Mountain Dulcimer)


BEGINNER (MD): “Arranging Music With Others”

How to play musically with other dulcimers: rounds, chording. We’ll play one round to get used to listening to others while hanging on to your part. Then we’ll arrange a song with some people playing melody, some playing chords to learn how to make arrangements.

INTERMEDIATE (MD): “Right Hand Techniques”

The musicality in your playing is almost all in the right hand: dynamics, rhythm, accents, pauses, and your choices about single note melody playing, fingerpicking, or other styles of activating the strings. We’ll take a couple of pieces and show how to do things with your right hand that makes them beautiful.

INTERMEDIATE to ADVANCED (HD, MD, and other): “Arranging for Several Instruments: Both Dulcimers and Other Instruments Welcome”

Intermediate to advanced players. Students should be able to play their individual instruments, and we will learn how to arrange a tune so different instruments are featured, and so everyone plays different parts of the whole. This is the basis for arranging in an ensemble.  Everyone should bring their instruments—dulcimers and otherwise.

Music:  Sandy Boys, Key of A with capo

ADVANCED (HD): “Ookpik Waltz”

The word Ookpik refers to an Inuit handcrafted owl. We’ll look at a simple version, and then learn how to embroider a full arrangement with ornaments and chords.


Steve Eulberg  (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer and Mountain Dulcimer)


BEGINNING (MD):  “Meeting the Rhythmic Challenge by focusing on Right Hand Skills” 

“It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing” reveals the importance of the timing, the beat, the rhythm of the music we long to play.  The key to unlocking these mysteries lies in the strumming, picking and finger-picking hand.  That is where we’ll focus our attention.

ADVANCED (MD):Playing Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer in A while tuned to DAD”

There is a wonderful world of blues that is accessible on the regular dulcimer in a regular tuning. We celebrate how to access it and get on the blues train!

BEGINNING (HD):(Ssh!) A secret for playing Jigs”

The alternate hammering patterns that help you keep your timing, rhythm and accenting tight. Higgedy Jig and Lilting Banshee

ADVANCED (HD):Playing Blues on the Hammered Dulcimer”

Someone once challenged me that Blues can’t be played on the hammered dulcimer.  Well, when I have the blues, I need to be able to play them to get through them.  And we will explore how.


Tina Gugeler  (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)

(2015 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion!)


ABSOLUTE BEGINNER (HD): “Find Your Way Around This Instrument”

Learn how to find your way around this instrument. Where are octave notes, duplicate notes. Learn the logic of the HD. Learn some exercises to get your hands moving smoothly.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): “How to Listen to Jam Tunes”

How to listen to jam tunes. Using a bit of music theory, learn how to jump into a jam if you don’t know the tune. Also knowing some chord progressions, learn how to back up a tune or do a bit of improve to the tune.

ADVANCED (HD): “Hand Independence, Plus”

We will use tune examples to develop skills to increase your hand independence. This will include some simple exercises and also working on tremolos and different rhythms in your hands.


Malacha Hall  (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)


ABSOLUTE BEGINNER (MD): “Learn Some Basics AND Play Some Tunes!”

If you can count to 7, you can learn to read tablature and play the dulcimer.  In this class you will learn to play simple tunes on the dulcimer.  You will learn how to tune the dulcimer as well as learn fingering. We provide the dulcimers for the workshop. Reading music is not necessary. It’s easy and fun.

ABSOLUTE BEGINNER (MD): “From the beginning!”

Learn how to play the dulcimer using tablature, and by ear. We use DAD tuning and will teach simple chords.  Dulcimers are provided for this class. Reading music is not necessary.

Dianne Jeffries (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)

BEGINNER (MD): “Feasible Fingering”
Struggling to play a tune?  Big jumps between notes?  Can’t seem to make it work?  Too hard on your fingers or joints? This class is for you.We will look at options for playing some simple pieces different ways.  Bring one challenge you face and, if time permits, it may be addressed.

Judy Jones  (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)


BEGINNER (HD): “Get Started Playing”

You’ve been introduced to the hammered dulcimer but you’re not friends yet? This class will bridge the gap by helping you become more familiar with the string layout, learning some listening skills, looking at sheet music and  playing several simple tunes.

BEGINNER (HD): “Beginning Jam”

What is a jam?  What do you do —or don’t do—in a jam? This is a class about learning how to jam and about jam etiquette. You can take part even if you don’t know the tune. Using a guitar player, we’ll learn to play along with some common tunes so you’ll be ready for the next jam!


Erin Mae (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)


INTERMEDIATE (MD): “Repertoire: Flatpicking Fiddle Tunes”

Learn to get off the melody string and use all of your strings for playing melodies. I will teach a couple of tunes, plus give you tips for increasing speed and accuracy when you flatpick.

INTERMEDIATE (MD): “Create Your Own Arrangements”

I will show you my approach to creating unique and compelling solo mountain dulcimer arrangements.  Learn about adding chords, playing in multiple octaves, adding filler notes, changing right hand patterns, and more.

INTERMEDIATE (MD): “How To Sit In and Jam

This will give you a solid foundation for joining Folk, Bluegrass and Old-Time jams. Skills to be covered will include: learning the chord progressions as you go, preparing for the basic keys you will need (bring a capo), essential rhythms, “moves” and “licks” that will always work, and most importantly, removing the stress from these situations and staying “in the flow.” This will be a fun experience (really)!

ADVANCED (MD): “Creative Accompaniment”

Learn to find chords up and down your fretboard; then choose the best voicing for the moment. Try a variety of rhythms to make your accompaniment more creative. Whether you are playing with other instruments or playing while you sing, this class will be full of helpful ideas to keep it interesting.

ALL LEVELS (MD): “CLINIC: Introduction to Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer” 

I will show some of the things the chromatic dulcimer has to offer; then give you an opportunity to try it out. I will have two extra chromatics for the clinic.


Heidi McClure (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)


ABSOLUTE BEGINNER (HD): “Learn the Basics”

Learn the basics you’ll need to start playing the Hammered Dulcimer on your own. We’ll cover topics ranging from which end of the hammers to hold, to tuning, to learning simple melodies.