September 23, 2019

Workshop Descriptions – 2019

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 2018 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.

2019 Workshop Descriptions

Guest Artists:

Brenda Hunter (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)

INTERMEDIATE (HD): Adding Chords to a Melody
This class develops hand independence as we practice playing a familiar melody with just the LH while adding chords with the right.

ADVANCED (HD):  Stand Alone Celtic Solos
These solos sound complete without accompaniment.  You’ll pick up some arranging ideas as you learn them.

ADVANCED (HD): Traditional Swedish Tunes
Catch the “Scandibug”! Swedish tunes sound great on HD! We’ll learn 2 well-known traditional Slangpolskas (these are NOT the typical duple meter polkas their name seems to suggest!).

ADVANCED (HD): Polka Party
We’ll learn some Irish Polkas and explore backup ideas using chords and countermelodies. Hopefully we’ll have enough participants to trade off playing melody and backup!

ADVANCED (HD): Filling(not killing) Time
This class will learn a fun arranging technique: employing drone notes (and the occasional chord or scale passage) to fill out a slow, simple melody (The Southwind).


Dave Ogden (Teaching Guitar, Bodhran, and Pennywhistle)

Bodhran: Providing the Pulse
Some history of the Irish frame drum and how it’s played. We’ll focus on getting the basic stroke and talk about the various rhythms you’ll encounter.The instructor will bring 3 or 4 drums to show what to look for in a drum, and will bring a number of tippers (the stick). There will be bodhrans available to borrow. Good players who can enhance the pulse at a session are always welcome!

Pennywhistle for Fun and Illumination
Bring a whistle in the key of D, we’ll talk about the scales you can play on the instrument, the “cuts and taps” that make up the ornamentation of the tunes, and how to play a few jigs and reels. The whistle is a great starter instrument for diving into the deep culture of traditional tunes and joining the fun at your local session!

Guitar Backup for Elevating Trad Music
We’ll focus on using a pick to enhance the rhythm of the tunes and the basics of music theory for accompaniment. There is a guitar etiquette at a session that we”ll talk about, and how to provide the “lift” that the melody players are looking for.


Duane Porterfield (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)

BEGINNER (MD): The Road to Tuneville
Traveling through the process I use to learn a tune.  Providing tools and techniques that can be applied to learning any tune.

INTERMEDIATE (MD): Capos—The Hows and Whys
Understanding the uses, the pros and cons, and the varieties of the capo. Bring a capo if you have one. Some will be available.

ADVANCED (MD): Top 40 Dulcimer
This class will focus on modern songs and learning tunes commonly heard on the radio today.

ADVANCED (MD): Slowing it Down
Taking a fast tempo tune, slowing it down and adding embellishments to creating a whole new feeling and experience.

ADVANCED (MD): Night in That Land
A beautiful tune by the late Scottish fiddler Johnnie Cunningham equally as beautiful on the mountain dulcimer.


Russell Cook (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)

BEGINNER/ALL LEVELS (HD): Prep for Performance on the Hammered Dulcimer
How do you know when you’re ready to perform for others?  Well, if you can play a tune you’re ready to start performing. This workshop will help you show others how much you love playing, and will cover things like: What should I play?  When have I practiced enough? How fancy should my arrangement be? What if I forget the piece or drop my hammers during the performance? Do I need a mic? If so, where do I aim it?  Bring all your questions about performing, including performing in a competition.

BEGINNER/ALL LEVELS (HD):  Care & Feeding of Your Hammered Dulcimer
Dulcimers are sturdy, but they need a little attention from us for things like humidity, dust, and sunlight. Dulcimer players also have choices about hammers, stands, tuning wrenches and tuners. And as we play more we need to know about spare strings (and how to change them), dampers, cases for travel, how to travel with a dulcimer, and packing a dulcimer for shipping. This workshop will address those subjects and answer questions about hammered dulcimer maintenance and accessories.

BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE (HD): Road-Mapping the Hammered Dulcimer
Get to know the notes on your dulcimer and get familiar with the keys that are easiest to play. Learn the basics of chords and intervals, and how to find chords by sight even if you don’t remember the names of the notes in the chord.  Learn a few practice drills that will make it easier for you to play a tune in different keys, or add chords to a tune.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): Arranging on Hammered Dulcimer
Take a tune and add chords, ornaments, and harmony notes to really make it sing. Bring a tune you are working on you want to embellish and allow Russell to demo some of what he might do to it.  (Make sure the tune you bring is a common well known song most anyone would know, for purposes of this workshop.)

Local Artists:

(Listed in alphabetical order by last name.)

Ellen Baranowski (Teaching Children’s Mountain Dulcimer Workshop)

Children’s Mountain Dulcimer Workshop. This workshop 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.

Steve Eulberg  (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer and Mountain Dulcimer)


BEGINNER (MD): Introduction to Fingerpicking
Lots of us love the softer side of the dulcimer but get fumbled up in our fingers (Which fingers should I use? Which strings?).  Learn my strategies and exercises based on Beethoven’s Ode to Joy which let’s us explore the techniques we need to feel comfortable, but not get bored by mechanical repetition.

BEGINNER (MD): Playing Noter Style
This focuses on the linear style of playing up and down the fretboard, seeing how tunes work, and how the noter can be a wonderful tool for playing. Old Yellow Dog, Miss McLeod’s Reel, Soldier’s Joy, Short’nin’ Bread are tunes that will guide us.  (We’ll also test out Galax tuning!)

INTERMEDIATE (HD): Removing the Expensive Notes
Using the tune “Ash Grove” we’ll explore the whole instrument and arranging ideas like I’ve done with Tweaking Twinkles (in Dulcimer Players News).  For those who choose this workshop ahead of time, I can send a sound file of the Bare Bones of the tune, and my Tweaking Twinkles Article to prep.  Contact me at [email protected] to indicate your interest.
INTERMEDIATE (MD): Playing Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer tuned DAd
Dominant 7th Chords, Pentatonic Minor Scales, Blues Scales—all the stuff we need to survive our daily dose of blues!

ADVANCED (MD):  Fingerpicking
Using my original Scottish-inspired tune, Seton Sands, we will solo using articulations, harmonics, interesting chord choices and a gentle pace to achieve flow and optimum tone.

Tina Gugeler  (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)

(2015 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion!)


BEGINNER (HD): Hammered Dulcimer Repertoire
Learn some commonly-played tunes and their back up ideas; possibilities may include Over the
Waterfall, Angeline the Baker, Red Haired Boy, Liberty, Gary Owen, Swallowtail Jig, and maybe a few others, maybe some unusual tunes, depending on what you already know.

BEGINNER (HD): Beginning Chords (theory)
We’ll discuss how chords are built, starting with the root, octaves, add the 5th, 3rd, 7th; listen to different types of chords, major, minor, 7th chords (augmented, diminished); and triangle shapes, inversions, shed, parallellogram, upside down shed, and diamond.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): Difficult Keys on the HD
Ever looked at a piece of music in A, E, Bb, Gm, F, C and said; ”I can’t do that”? We will look at some tunes in those keys, play those scales, and figure out how we CAN play them, (we may make some adaptations but we can still join in). Some tunes we may look at: Wheat A, All the Rage E, Menapausal Fridge E, Lizzy in the Lowground Bb, Devil in the Strawstack Gm, Sunday River Waltz F, Stone’s Rag C.

INTERMEDIATE (HD): 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 some changes (improvise!) to the tune. Learn the difference between common modes/scales (Ionian, Dorian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, natural minor, harmonic minor).

ADVANCED (HD): Hand Independence
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. We will use these skills and do some arranging.

Malacha Hall  (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)

ABSOLUTE BEGINNER (MD): Yes, you can play the dulcimer!
Learn to play the mountain dulcimer. No prior knowledge is needed in playing an instrument or reading music. Dulcimers will be provided.  There is no need to rent one for this class. You will learn to play several familiar tunes using tablature. It is easy, not stressful, and a lot of fun.

Dianne Jeffries (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)

BEGINNER (MD): “Beginning Jamming”
You will learn Jam Etiquette and how to participate in a Jam Session.  Overcome your fear by mastering a few basic chords.  You will see that watching a guitar player is a simple way to recognize chords changes in a tune.  You can have fun at a jam even when you haven’t memorized any tunes. Come, join in and enjoy your time jammin’!

BEGINNER (MD): “Hymns”
You’ll be inspired as you learn to play a few familiar hymns, old favorites as well as contemporary.  Sometimes we’ll play the melody, other times just the chords.  We may even sing along.

Judy Jones  (Teaching Hammered Dulcimer)


ABSOLUTE BEGINNER (HD): Curious About the Trapezoid? 
This is the instrument that folks will always ask, “What is that?”  This Beginning class will introduce you to our lovable dulcimer—it’s history as a 5,000 year old instrument, the parts and their location, and how different scales are positioned across the soundboard.  I’ll demo how to tune and we’ll play a simple tune or two.

BEGINNER (HD): Jam How-to’s
This is a class in how to jam, or how to play in a group. You can play even if you don’t know the tune! We’ll play along with various types of jam music, accompanied by a guitar player and learn proper jam etiquette. You’ll become familiar with some new tunes and be ready to join the next jam.


Erin Mae (Teaching Mountain Dulcimer)


BEGINNER (MD): Chords 101 

Learn the foundational chords necessary for playing along with other people in several keys. We’ll also go over the three basic chord shapes on the mountain dulcimer. And we’ll play lots of songs along the way!

INTERMEDIATE (MD): Sing & Play Favorite Folk Songs

Erin will bring music for several favorite American folk songs, and we’ll find some by ear too. Think about your favorite songs you sang as a child and then learn to play them on your dulcimer — and teach your own children/grandchildren/ neighbor kids to sing and play them too.

INTERMEDIATE (MD): Chop and Groove 

Learn how to play Erin’s signature dulcimer “chop” chords and add some rhythmic “groove” to your playing. We’ll work on syncopated rhythms, different ways to execute percussive playing, and perfecting our groove faces.

INTERMEDIATE (MD): Song Study: Wayfaring Stranger

Learn to play the classic song “Wayfaring Stranger” in the key of E minor. Capo is required for this class.

ADVANCED (MD): The Magic of the Pentatonic Scale 

The pentatonic scale may be the single most useful tool for improvisation, filler licks, and playing by ear. Erin will show you two positions for playing these scales, teach them in different keys, and give you lots of applications for using them.