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mountain dulcimer

Winning at Winfield

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The Value of Contests

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by Steve Eulberg

Defining what “winning” means to you.

For some people the notion of combining “competition” and “dulcimer” is oxymoronic.  They just don’t go together!  I see music competitions as an opportunity to prepare some music to share with appreciative listeners.  (Where else can you buy such an attentive audience for $.05 a head?) ($10 entry fee/200 people)  The process of preparing tunes for this kind of presentation is an intensive artistic endeavor!

I’ve …

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The Gold Standard Dulcimer

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Dulcimer players often joke about having DAD — Dulcimer Acquisition Disorder.

It’s true that most of us have more than one dulcimer, and some people have large collections of instruments. We can become addicted to “just one more instrument”. I, personally, have a relatively small collection, with “just” 5 mountain dulcimers (though, I have to admit that I also keep about a dozen student dulcimers and seem to have a revolving door of instruments passing through my home to pass onto young people …

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It Only Takes a Spark

by Linda Ratcliff

The first instrument I learned to play besides the piano was the guitar. I attended a Catholic church at the time, and had played the organ for years at our church. But a couple of nuns wanted to bring the worship music up to date, and they introduced playing guitars at church (but NO drums yet). What a concept!!!

I got a new guitar, an Alvarez, and learned some basic chords. I was on fire … practicing until my sore fingertips could take no more. When I could play in about …

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Sit Up Straight!

In our blog and newsletters, I have mentioned more than once the health benefits of playing an instrument. There is mounting proof that those who play or listen to music have healthier immune systems, better able to ward against cold, flues, and viruses. In addition, playing an instrument is good for the brain, a natural chill pill, and increases memory and concentration.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever addressed the physical challenges that may arise from playing your dulcimer. Playing an i…

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Pigeonholes are for PIGEONS!

by Linda Ratcliff

The first year I learned to play the dulcimer, I primarily focused on fiddle tunes, you know, the tunes we all have learned to play at jam sessions. They get your toe a-tapping and your hands a-strumming. Then I stretched my imagination to work up arrangements that I could play as solos in church, during Communion or the Offertory.  And I learned to play backup at church on the dulcimer, basically playing the same chords as the rhythm guitar players.   And that was IT.  I wa…

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Play EVERYwhere!

Play EVERYwhere! I saw this photo of my partner Steve Eulberg, recently sitting on the sidewalk playing on his dulcimer and singing with Erin Mae Lewis. I have also seen a photo of Steve playing on the beach. It seems he enjoys playing everywhere, for sure. And so should we!


Photos like these reminded me of the text from Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss. If we changed the words just a bit, we might say …

Say! I like to play my dulcimer
I do! I like to play, Gulliver!
I would play it in a b…

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Returning to Jam: New Survival Tips

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Returning to Jam!

Survival Tips from DJ Hamouris, our Baritone and Standard Mountain Dulcimer Instructor

by Deborah (DJ) Hamouris

After such a long social isolation, I was excited to join nightly jams at an in-person dulcimer camp this summer!

What I had *not* counted on was how much it would hurt to continuously strum for a couple of hours. Though I teach & play a lot, most of what I do is less strumming & more picking.

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But my advancing arthritis in fingers & hands changed how I felt abo…

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Can You Master Playing An Instrument?

My partner Steve is a man of many talents. In this video, Steve enjoyed some tickling of the keys at the Oak Street Plaza in Old Town Fort Collins, CO.  I wonder how many instruments he really plays.

A few days after I saw Steve playing the piano on his FB post, I saw this t-shirt that says, “The piano is the easiest instrument to play at the start. And the hardest to master.” Well, my feeling is that I will never completely master playing any of my instruments, especially the keyboard. …

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Traveling with an Instrument?

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Mike and I left July 1st for a 6-week trip to see friends and relatives. As you can see, at the back of the car there is a mini-fridge our granddaughter gave us, but Mike forgot to unplug it the night before we left. And so, we weren’t surprised to discover the car's battery was dead when we were ready to leave.

We have a portable battery charger for dilemmas like this, so we were back in business in no time. Then Mike asked if there was room to bring the charger along, in case we did that

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Stuck in a Rut?

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, musically? Do you ever felt like a hamster on the wheel, doing 300 miles a week but then finding out you’re still in the same place? Does the time you spend practicing feel similar to those days when you went to the gym, pedalling for hours on a stationary bicycle but getting nowhere?

Being “stuck” is something you might not even notice at first. These feelings can build slowly over time. Day after day, you might follow your same practice routines …

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