Absolute Beginner Series
Absolute Beginner Series for Hammered Dulcimer


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VideoAbout the Lessons

1. Parts of the Dulcimer We begin by learning the parts of the hammered dulcimer and how it is laid out.
2. Playing in the "Box" The first thing to learn about playing hammered dulcimer is how to find and play "in the box." This is described and demonstrated all over the instrument. 
3. 3 Playing Areas We explore the 3 areas to play on the hammered dulcimer and why we might sometimes get confused when looking for the notes to play.
4. Hammer Grip How does a player hold the hammers? There are some different styles, but Steve has some helpful guidance for finding your best grip. 
5. A Hammer Control Exercise Now that we know where to play and how to hold the hammers, let's play and work on controlling the hammers using the Mississippi exercises. 
6. Hammer Control #2: Alternating Pattern We'll look at the angle of the hammers side-by-side, playing up and down the box and a strategy for crossing the bridge smoothly going in both directions. 
7. Getting the Best Tone We examine to places to geting the best tone: on the strings and on the hammers. 
8. Patiently Building Speed & Stamina Patience is an important asset when building accuracy and picking up speed, and in building our stamina for concentration while using both hands. 
9. Where are the Notes? While you don't have to read music to play the dulcimer, it can be a help. We'll begin to learn where the notes are and what their names are, and how the diatonic layout is helpful for playing music. 
10. Sustain and Duplicate Notes
Hammered dulcimer players have to deal with sustain, which is produced by the duplicate notes. We'll find out where all these notes are and the patterns to remember them. 
11. Where the Octave Notes Are
Just like there is a pattern for finding identical notes, there is a pattern for finding octaves notes all across the dulcimer! 
12. Playing a Song in the Box
It is time to play a song--so let's use one we've known since we were little! Playing first with our dominant and then our non-dominant hand we map the tune in both sides of our brain--all within the Box! 
13. Playing a Song Outside the Box On a hammered dulcimer there is almost always more than one way to play a tune. Playing outside the box may seem more logical, is often more difficult, yet remains an option.
14. Hammers: Fixed Shaft, Single-Sided There are many different kinds of hammers to use when playing the dulcimer. In this lesson, we'll examine some fixed-shaft, single-sided hammers and note their differing characteristics and how these affect the music we play. 
15. Hammers: Fixed Shaft, Double-Sided In this lesson we examine double-sided hammers that have fixed shafts and take note of the differing tone and timbre they produce. Steve uses the "Banish Misfortune" tune to demonstrate both single-sided and double-sided hammers.
16. Hammers: Flexible Shaft This time we explore flexible shaft hammers from around the world and close to home. The "bamboo flying sticks" from the Chinese "yanquin", the flexible hammers from the Thai "khim", to the flexible hammers of American Old-Time string band music. We'll use "Banish Misfortune", "Jasmine Flower (Mo-Li Hua)" and "Golden Slippers" to demonstrate them.
17. Cleaning Your Dulcimer An instrument needs to be accessible for playing, but when it is left out in the open, it will get dusty. Steve discusses and demonstrates some tools and strategies for cleaning your dulcimer. (If that is something you really want to do!) 
18. The Mechanics of Tuning This lesson demonstrates the benefits of using a tuner which is connected to the instrument (via a tuning clip) for zeroing in on the pitch and describes how to read an electronic tuner. 
19. Tuning Tips
Here are 4 tips to aid tuning and addressing issues if you are experiencing difficulty trying to get both sides of your bridges in tune. 
20. Learn a Song in G: Golden Slippers, A Part
We'll learn the "hammered dulcimer national anthem" in the key of G, using alternating hammers, starting repeating phrases with the same hand (using both left and right hand lead), taking note of when it makes most sense to use the same hand twice. 
21. Learn a Song in G: Golden Slippers, B Part Now we'll turn our attention to learning the B part of Golden Slippers, taking note of jumps, skips, neighbor notes and sequences (sequential patterns that repeat). Then we'll play the whole tune together slowly...and uptempo! 
22. Playing the Whole Song: Golden Slippers in G
Now we'll play the whole song together. Remember you can pause and "rewind" to play with the demonstration any time you need to. Then, you'll get the treat of an uptempo version. Buckle your seatbelt and hang-on for the ride! 
23. Chord Basics for Hammered Dulcimer

In this lesson we explore how a major chord is formed and how closely those notes like to stick together--and where to find them close to the box. We use the D major chord as our example. 
24. Chords on the Hammered Dulcimer: Triangle Building Blocks In this lesson we'll look at ways to play triangles and get the notes we need to form the D chord that are very convenient and use alternating hammers to play. 
25. Intervals In this lesson, we learn about intervals.
26. Finding Harmonies: 3rds In this lesson we take what we learned about intervals to find the "sweet" 3rd harmonies that are present on the dulcimer.
27. Finding Harmonies: 6ths In this episode we look for the other "sweet" harmony that is present nearly everywhere on the hammered dulcimer: the 6th.
28. Finding Harmonies:
5th & 4ths
Now we turn our attention to 5th and 4th harmonies, how to find them and how they relate to each other.
29. Transposing a Song by Moving Boxes In this lesson we see how easy it is to transpose the Golden Slippers Tune we learned in Lessons 20-22 and play it in all the boxes we have available on the instrument!
30. Conclusion & Congratulations In this segment we'll talk about rehearsal strategies and what to do next, now that you are no longer a Beginning Player!

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