Get a Handle on It!


Are there still some licks and tricks you still can’t play on your dulcimer? You feel like you just can’t get a handle on them? Yet? Well, I have found that, if you want to get a handle on a new technique, you have to handle the dulcimer and (oh yes, I’m going to say it) practice.

  • Get a handle on … the basic chords. We play most music in the Key of D, so you need to know the D chord, the G chord, and the A or A7 chord. If we’re playing in G, you need to know the G chord, the C chord, and the D or D7 chord. When I don’t know the tune a group is playing, I can always join in by playing the backup chords.

  • Get a handle on … playing up to speed. You could use a metronome to keep the beat steady. Many of the lessons at Dulcimer Crossing include a backup tape. But if you slow down, you’ll be behind for sure.

  • Get a handle on … playing without the music. Those tabs are slowing you down. Start memorizing the music, so you can play along without staring at the sheet of paper. Then you can turn your focus to playing with expression.

  • Get a handle on … playing by ear. Again, put the tabs to the side, and try to pick out a melody on your own. Experiment with finding the right chord to go with each phrase. I promise - it gets easier with practice.

  • Get a handle on … playing in front of others. This is my Achilles heel. If I haven’t done it for a while, I am shy about playing when someone asks. Get over it! (Talking to myself here.)

There are so many areas in which we can expand our minds and fingers so we play better. Identify the areas where you might be weak, practice, and finally get a handle on them.

Happy dulcimering,



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