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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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Deep Dive

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Deep Dive

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by Mitch Gallagher, editor of SweetNotes from Sweetwater.com

I'm going to make an assumption:

In one regard, at least, you're like me; you love music—playing it, listening to it, writing it, learning about it.

It's on your mind all the time.

Doesn't matter what music, as long as it's good (I know, subjective word), I love it—or at least appreciate it!

And again, if you're like me, therein lies a problem.

There's so much music, so much to learn, so much to practice—it's easy to…

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Did You Know?

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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. F…

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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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Enhanced Audio Playback Feature

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We are excited to announce the enhancement of the Playback feature for all the mp3 files in DulcimerCrossing:  in the Backing Tracks Library and in the Lessons in the Courses.

There has always been the ability to increase the speed of the track, and if you click through the 1x symbol on the playback track it will scroll to faster speeds,

until it scrolls to .5x (or half speed) which was the ONLY slower speed available.  Our request to enhance this feature has been honored and implemented!

T…

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