My Christmas Tree is Leaning


We got our Christmas tree up early, because we are expecting company. Well, actually, the company is a surprise for my husband but I’m in on the secret so … I had to get everything up and ready early. My son brought the tree over, and offered to help hang the decorations since he doesn’t want me climbing ladders any more. But I’m a bit OCD so I sad, “No, but thank you. I want to take my time and place every ball and decoration in just the right place.”

So I started with the lower branches, but was soon climbing the ladder to hang balls on higher branches. Then I realized maybe I should get the star up on the top, so I could see how everything was going to flow. I had to go to the top step and was pretty nervous, but I anchored the star and climbed back down to admire my work. BUT, oh no, the tree was leaning. For an OCD personality type like myself, this was unacceptable!

And that is like our music. We have all dug out our Christmas tabs and started to practice wonderful holiday tunes. But, if you’re like me, you’re finding your music is leaning a bit, not quite as straight as you want it to be. What to do, what to do.

If you're dealing with a leaning tree, or your Christmas tunes don’t sound just right, here's what you can do to fix them.

  • Trim the tree and/or the arrangement. I could take the decorations back off the tree, and ask my son to carry it out to the back yard and saw off the bent part of the trunk.  And I could trim back the tricky measure in my tune that are tripping me up and just simplify the arrangement.

  • Decorate the tree and/or the arrangement. I could work with the tree just like it is, and just add more decorations so it shimmers and glows. And I could add embellishments to the tune to take it to the next level and present a new arrangement never before enjoyed.

  • Prop up the tree and/or the arrangement. I could cut a few pieces of cardboard and place it under the leg of the tree stand where the tree is leaning. And I could think about making my Christmas tune a duet, and get a friend to prop me up when when we get to measures where my skill isn’t quite up to that level yet.

  • Check the tree stand for loose screws and/or check if there’s a loose screw in my technique. A loose screw can make the tree unstable, especially for bigger trees which are often heavier, so I’d better make sure I put the stand together properly. And I could check my technique to see if I’m falling down in that area on the dulcimer. I play a lot of arpeggios in my own arrangements, so if the issue is showing up around the measures with arpeggios, I need to practice, practice, practice arpeggios (and I do).

  • If it was an artificial tree, I would take the tree apart and put it back together. We can do the same with our arrangements. Often a wobbly or leaning artificial Christmas tree is usually a user problem. It just wasn’t put together properly.

    To really learn a tune, we should work it from the inside – out. Take it apart and learn to play it one measure at a time, then one phrase at a time. Don’t just run through the entire tune and decide it is too hard.

Leaning Christmas trees can be fixed and turn out to be gorgeous. So can your Christmas tunes. Just identify the primary issue, figure out how to correct it, and then practice, practice, practice.

Happy dulcimering,



There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!