These were the workshops at last year's 2019 Nutmeg

Hammered Dulcimer Workshops

A Touch of Jazz – David Mahler (ADV) Sat 1:45

Let’s learn this jazz melody together that I’m sure most of you are familiar with. We will also explore some harmonies and fun jazz chords to incorporate into our playing. Jazz hammered dulcimer, here we go!


Alternating Bass - In Popular Music – Cliff Cole (MID) Fri 4:45

Alternating bass or “Travis Picking” is a guitar technique that has been employed in popular music for a long time. In this workshop we will use Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back” as an example, and learn to get a similar feel on the HD. Guaranteed fun.


At the Rebbe’s Table-- Jewish Spiritual Music – Pete Rushefsky (MID) Sat 10:00

Explore the deep riches of Jewish spiritual music, with a focus on two major traditions, khazones (cantorial music) and Hasidic nigunim (wordless spiritual melodies). Jewish synagogue cantors are renowned for their virtuosic and passionate interpretations of the liturgy. The early 20th century saw the emergence of star cantors such as Yossele Rosenblatt and Gershon Sirota whose voices brought them wide acclaim beyond the Jewish community. Separately, within ultraorthodox Hasidic communities, an amazing repertoire of thousands of nigunim (singular “nign”) is practiced at events such as weddings, Sabbath meals and farbrengens (Hasidic gatherings often held in remembrance of a Tzadik, or great spiritual leader). Today, new nigunim continue to be composed in contemporary Hasidic courts in Brooklyn and Israel.   


Beyond Hava Nagilah-- Klezmer for Hammered Dulcimer:   – Pete Rushefsky (ADV) Sat 11:30 

For hundreds of years, the tsimbl (Yiddish for hammered dulcimer) enjoyed a vital role in kapelyes (klezmer ensembles) across the cities and towns (shtetls) of Eastern Europe. While the old-world tsimbl was largely forgotten by immigrants to America in favor of jazz-influenced bands led by clarinets, there has been a modest but exciting revival of the tsimbl since the 1970s. Tsimblist Pete Rushefsky returns to Nutmeg to provide this introduction to klezmer, the celebratory instrumental music tradition, and help you adapt your hammered dulcimer to the music’s haunting modes and galloping rhythms.  


Bluegrass Licks & Soloing – David Mahler (ADV) Sat 3:15

Let’s explore some standard bluegrass licks, in the context to a tune, making sure to add them to your bag of tricks. We will also discuss how to approach developing your own solos and improvisation. The possibilities are endless, but we will hopefully develop a good foundation in this workshop.  


Classical Music – David Neiman (MID) Fri 3:30
How to find a piece of music to play, and how to adapt it to the hammered dulcimer. We’ll cover topics like how to remain true to the original music, and how to go about changing, removing and/or adding notes. A relatively easy piece of classical music which has two lines (melody and bass) is taught in this workshop. Some knowledge of musical notation and how to find the notes on dulcimer are a big plus.


Hammered Dulcimer 101 – Marya Katz (BEG) Sat 10:00

For those who have either never tried the dulcimer, or have one that you've tapped on a few times and then put in the back of your closet or under your bed, this session is for you! We'll learn where the notes are by playing rhythms and nursery rhymes, explore the mysteries of tuning all those strings, find how it feels to produce a clear tone, and learn a simple tune in the key of D (our favorite!). It would be helpful to be able to read music, but is not necessary. A recording device is also recommended. All handouts will be supplied.


Hammered Dulcimer 102 – Cliff Cole (BEG) Sat 11:30

We will build on some of the concepts learned in HD 101. We’ll explore different ways of playing scales and chords using some common patterns inherent to the hammered dulcimer’s layout. You’ll learn how to better utilize notes that occur in multiple places on the instrument, to make hammering patterns easier and smoother to play.


I’m With the Banda – Intro to East European Music – Pete Rushefsky (ADV) Fri 4:45

The hammered dulcimer is very much a part of East European music, known variously as cimbalom (Hungarian), tsymbaly (Ukrainian and Belarusian), tsimbl (Yiddish), tambal (Romanian), cimbule (Croatia), and cimbolai (Lithuanian). In this workshop, we’ll explore some of the diverse sounds of East Europe and the hammered dulcimer’s place in these musics, including accompaniment patterns and melodies.  




Jam Survival – Marya Katz (BEG) Fri 3:30

No more passive listening! This session is for anyone who really wants to join in with your dulcimer but doesn’t know very many of the tunes being called. We’ll explore several ideas for playing simple backup to help you get in the groove and the fun of jamming without just pulling out those egg shakers again.


Learn a Tune By Using Patterns – Rich Carty (BEG) Sat 1:45

We'll use melodic patterns, a chord pattern, a hammering pattern, & a feel pattern to learn a tune. By using these patterns & video recording on your device, you'll have little need for the sheet music.


Making Sense Out of Tunes – David Neiman (BEG) Sat 4:30
I'll teach a couple of tunes and my method of how to approach learning and memorizing these pieces.
This involves recognizing repeating patterns in the music and playing repeating patters with the same hammering patterns each time. Some knowledge of reading music would be helpful but not essential.


Quirky Obscure Tunes - Tim Van Egmond (MID-ADV) Sat 4:30

Outside the realm of tunes that follow accustomed patterns, there are some that take unexpected, delightful twists in melody or structure. Some of these may require leaps from one part of the instrument to the other to play the notes. Depending on time and the workshop leader’s own quirkiness, we’ll learn a reel, a jig, and a schottische.


Right Hand / Left Hand Lead – David Mahler (MID) Sat 11:30

This will help keep your hands from getting “tied up”. I have found this technique essential in capturing the feeling of a piece of music. The approach is similar to how a guitarist who will pick down and up according to the rhythm and emphasis of a style. A foundational class for anyone not already familiar with this. Will have printed handouts of exercises.


Scales & Chords – Deb Justice (BEG) Sat 3:15

Understanding scales and chords make it so much easier to learn, remember, and dress up tunes! We'll look at how the dulcimer's layout makes these easy to find, but also talk about some non-linear options that might make some "hard" tunes suddenly easy. No music reading or prior theory knowledge necessary!


Solo Arranging – David Neiman (ADV) Sat 10:00
Learn how to take a melody and use the underlying harmony or chord to create your own unique arrangement. Exploring what notes to play as harmony and different techniques for adding them. We’ll explore various tricks of the trade to make it look like you are doing more by doing less. Some knowledge of music theory would be helpful. We might touch on this during the class.

The Unique Music of Wales – Marya Katz (MID} Sat 1:45

Tired of playing only Irish and Scottish music when someone says “Celtic?” In this session, we’ll explore Celtic from the perspective of the rich song and fiddle tradition of the Welsh people, and discover just what makes the music of Wales unique from its sister Celtic cultures. Plus – you can tell your friends that you learned to play Wales songs on the dulcimer!


Songs You Know - Tim Van Egmond (BEG) Fri 4:45

Tunes that you already know by ear can be a big help in learning to play the dulcimer enjoyably. With a melody you already know, you can focus on playing technique. In this workshop we’ll use familiar tunes like “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad” and “Are You Sleeping Brother John?” to help learn the art of finding notes on the instrument, working out a hammering pattern and bringing it up to a natural flow.


What You Can Learn From Contra Dance Music - Tim Van Egmond  (MID) Sat 3:15

Whether you’re an enthusiastic dance musician or purely a session and performance player, there are important concepts from the culture and practice of playing for contras that can advance your skills. This includes keeping a steady rhythm and changing it in switching tunes to build energy, recommended ways to change keys in a medley, and how to play with other musicians (unisons and trading lead and accompaniment).

These were the workshops at last year's 2019 Nutmeg

Mountain Dulcimer Workshops


Capo Capers – George Haggerty (NOV) Satu 11:30

Never used a Capo? Then this is the workshop for you. You’ll learn how to find several keys and modes in the DAD tuning, using a capo at the first (E-Aeolian), the third (G-Ionian), and the fourth (A-Dorian, and with some fancy finger work A-Ionian and A-Mixolydian). Bring a capo & enjoy!


Chromatic Dulcimer – Sam Edelston (INT-ADV) Sat 1:45

Even though some people think chromatic dulcimers are more complicated than “standard” ones, they actually can be easier for you in a variety of ways. Bring your chromatic, and learn ways that it can help your playing, open up new songs that had been impossible to play, simplify the fingering in some songs, help you learn new repertoire, and even make you a better singer. Let’s paint with all the colors!


Duets & Trios – Heidi Muller (ADV) Sat 3:15

Learn some graceful and spritely tunes in parts, using flatpicking and fingerpicking techniques. We’ll consider fingerings in standard and inverted chords, how to connect them, and use ornaments to create a flow. Please bring a capo.


Easy-Peasy Chords – Carol Walker (BEG-NOV) Sat 3:15-4:15

Using the time-honored “Power Chord” system, you’ll learn how to play any chord you’ll ever need in several different keys.  Your new “BFCs” (Best Friend Chords) will open all kinds of doors for you, giving you confidence and flexibility in any setting. DAD tuning. (Note: This is different from Nina’s Friday chord workshop.)


Favorite Hymns – Carol Walker (NOV-ADV) Fri 4:45

This is a repertoire-building workshop that will include several hymns, with each arranged on two levels -- “Easy” and “Fancy.”  Each hymn can be played as a duet and/or stand-alone solo.  These arrangements are designed so that every member of your dulcimer group can play together.


Fiddle Tune Grab Bag – Ron Ewing (NOV-INT) Sat 4:30

A varied selection of fun tunes that aren't too hard, based around DAD and DGD, some including a capo.


G Whiz – Lucy Joan Sollogub (ADV) Sat 11:30

This workshop is for advanced dulcimer players who enjoy the challenges, excitement and beauty of playing up the fret board and across the strings out of a G tuning (DGD). Our pieces include an English country dance that features cross picking, a non-traditional jig that is played across the strings with harmony and uses the capo, a traditional Irish air, and a Renaissance carol, both with lush chords.


Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You – Susan Trump (BEG) Fri 4:45

Discover and to get to know and understand the fretboard.  We'll find notes and chords, and understand about sharps and flats and more!


Harmony Shapes – Susan Trump (NOV) Fri 3:30

Using one or two simple two-finger chord shapes you can create a very rich and full sound for a lovely effect! These shapes will help you get ready to play 3-finger chords. Beautiful tunes made EASY!   DAD Tuning


How to Choose the Right Dulcimer for You - Dwain Wilder (ALL) Sat 11:30

A workshop in how to inspect a likely-looking dulcimer to evaluate both its virtues and its liabilities.  Bring an instrument or two to practice what you learn!


Humor Me – Pix Wright (INT) Fri 4:45

Lighten up your playing with a handful of hilarious songs. Some are parodies of famous pieces while others are just goofy or silly. Add some sound effects to add to these upbeat pieces. In case you are called upon to perform, learn the world's shortest song to be able to make a fast exit.  


Intro to 4-String Equidistant Playing – Kevin Roth (INT-ADV) Sat 10:00

Open up your playing by separating the two melody strings and giving your dulcimer four equidistant strings. We’ll cover chording, and variations in playing style by using all of the strings (for example, playing a tune on the melody and bass strings). Subtle variations such as softer or louder playing, strumming versus picking will also be discussed along with Kevin’s philosophy that playing and singing is emotional, mental, physical and spiritual.


It’s All in the Phrasing – Nina Zanetti (INT) Sat 11:30

How can we evoke a smooth, lyrical “voice” from our fretted, plucked instrument? It’s all in the phrasing! Using some familiar tunes, we’ll explore what phrasing means, how it affects the style of a tune, how to intuitively determine where to “breathe” within a tune, and how to create both smooth phrases and “breathing points” in our playing.


Jewish Music on the Mountain Dulcimer – Lucy Joan Sollogub (INT) Sat 3:15

This workshop features playing Jewish Music from various countries, decades and styles. The pieces for this workshop reflect the diversity of Jewish music and have been chosen for their beauty, sound and accessibility on mountain dulcimer. We will use D-A-D and C-A-D tunings and use the capo too. Please bring a capo. (Lucy arranges for both 3 strings and 4 equidistant strings.)


Music Theory for Beginners – Pix Wright (BEG) Sat 1:45


Understanding keys, chords, and scales doesn't have to be dull or tedious. In this class, we PLAY them on our dulcimer, using fun songs and ditties. Figure out any song's key signature and likely chord pattern using some simple tricks.  


Mountain Dulcimer 101 – Laurel Schwartz (BEG) Sat 10:00

Let’s start at the very beginning – a very good place to start. You’ll learn some basics for both your left and right hands, and soon you’ll be making good-sounding music. We’ll be tuned “DAD.”


Mountain Dulcimer 102 – Laurel Schwartz (BEG) Sat 11:30

Now that you know the basics, come learn some easy tunes.  We'll continue what was covered in 101 with an emphasis on understanding tablature.  DAD


Playing in Different Keys – Susan Trump (INT) Sat 1:45

We’ll go over the basic chords in G, Am, Em and Bm and then learn tunes in each key from DAD tuning without the capo.


Playing Smoothly – Heidi Muller (NOV) Sat 1:45

Does your playing sound uneven or choppy? Learn some left hand and right hand techniques to make tunes more musical and flowing, with smoother strumming, sustain, fingering choices, and little touches that can dress up your tunes.


Playing With Your Dulcimer – Lucy Joan Sollogub (NOV-ADV) Fri 3:30

In my earliest days of dulcimer playing I was alone, with no instruction, festivals, books, teachers or role models.  I was quite free, enjoying fun and adventure as I got to know the instrument. In this workshop we will simply play with our dulcimers- We will use noters, fingers, various sticks, hammers, feathers, drumming, damping, and harmonics to enjoy the various sounds our dulcimers can make. We will use some of these techniques to enliven some familiar simple folk tunes. Level: any level. Tuning: D-A-D


Professor Walker’s Warmups – Carol Walker (NOV-INT) Sat 10:00

Warmups can do wonderful things to improve your playing, regardless of your level of experience.  But if you’ve ever wondered what kind of warmups will give you the best result in the least amount of time, this is the workshop for you. DAD tuning.


Rockin' and Boppin' with Doo Wop – Pix Wright (NOV-INT) Sat 3:15

With one simple chord pattern, we can play dozens of rock and pop songs. We can even do mash-ups of multiple songs. Come prepared to have a blast playing and singing some of the bounciest songs in music history.


Singing With the Dulcimer – Kevin Roth (INT) Fri 3:30

Kevin focuses on different ways the dulcimer can be used to accompany singing; harmony, unison, and other variations of expression both vocally and instrumentally, which includes strumming and finger picking. Students should come with 1-3 songs they are already very comfortable with singing and playing so that Kevin can suggest different variations to their playing. This part of the workshop is a ‘shared experience” meaning students play in front of others as samples. If the student is uncomfortable with playing in front of the class and taking positive comments as well as trying new things ‘on the spot’, they are welcome to observe others


Strum Hand Clinic – Rich Carty (BEG) Sat 4:30

Get help with any pick-hand considerations or problems that you may have: Pick selection, flat picking, strumming in different time signatures, or just life beyond bum-did-dy.


The Dulcimer as the Storyteller – Kevin Roth (ADV) Sat 4:30

Think of your playing as a canvas on which you paint a musical story. You might fill it with lush chords or improvisation or accompaniment for vocals or something else – in other words, as Kevin says, “find where the song lives, and crawl into it.” Find out how. Come and add a new perspective to your playing.


Three Chords, 1000 Songs – Nina Zanetti (BEG) Fri 3:30

With three simple chords, even the newest beginner player on the mountain dulcimer can play along to thousands of songs. Even if you’ve never played before, come learn these three chords, and enjoy strumming along while we sing some simple, familiar songs. If time permits, we’ll talk about using these chords in a jam session and will unravel a little of the mystery of what chord to play when. (Note: This is different from Carol’s Saturday chord workshop.)


Variation Is the Spice of Life! – Nina Zanetti (ADV) Fri 4:45

For those who are already comfortable with arranging simple tunes. When preparing a piece for performance or competition, an arrangement can sometimes be enhanced – and expanded – by developing variations of the melody or harmonization.  We’ll look at some advanced arrangements that include variations on a basic tune and discuss strategies for designing variations. Participants will get to try their hand at developing a simple arrangement into one with variations.


West Virginia Fiddle Tunes – Heidi Muller (ADV) Sat 10:00

Learn traditional tunes from some of WV’s best old-time fiddlers, including Ernie Carpenter, the Hammons family, and others. We’ll play catchy, crooked, and archaic tunes using strums, flatpicking and embellishments. Please bring a capo.

These were the workshops at last year's 2019 Nutmeg

Other Workshops

Fast Jam – Deb Justice (ALL INSTR) Sat 4:30

Ready! Set! Let’s go! 😊


How to Play as a Duo – David Mahler & Paul Friesen-Carper (ALL INSTR) Sat 10:00

In this workshop we’ll explore different techniques used in pairing the hammered dulcimer with another instrument, while keeping it interesting. Rhythm styles, range, chording, and trading lead and accompaniment, are a few things we will be discussing. While David speaks from the perspective of a hammered dulcimer player, all instruments welcome.


Just the Basics – Cliff Cole (ALL INSTR) Fri 3:30

Come one come all and we will discuss the basics for HD, MD (and perhaps even guitars and ukes.) This workshop is designed to help new musicians to be oriented to dulcimer festivals like Nutmeg.  All questions are welcome.


Ornamentation in (Surprisingly) Related Traditions – Adrianne Greenbaum (ALL INSTR) Fri 4:45

The baroque period informs a variety of traditional musics, specifically Celtic, Scandinavian and Klezmer. We will take melodies and learn to employ, via a few historic examples, both figurative and ornamental kinds of ornaments. The similarities between the musics will help you develop vocabulary without "gunking" up the melody!

Round Robin - Don Moore (ALL INSTR) Sat 4:30

Bring an instrument, your voice, and a song or two to share, and let’s have fun together.


Scottish Ornamentation – Paul Friesen-Carper (ALL INSTR) Sat 3:15

Scottish fiddle players and other instrumentalists imitate bagpipes and Scottish Gaelic singing to give their music a singular character. We'll put some of the ornaments and techniques they use in your bag of tricks. And then we'll apply them to a tune or two in order to explore some of what makes music in Scottish traditions sound distinctive.


Using a Bow – Paul Friesen-Carper (Any instrument that you can play with a bow) Sat 11:30

We'll take a look at how bows and strings interact. We'll explore some different bow strokes and effects, including chopping and some orchestral techniques. We'll  also look at how to use bowing to increase the rhythmic interest and "feel" of traditional tunes.


What to Do With Pentatonics – Deb Justice (ALL INSTR) Sat 1:45

"Just five notes and a world of possibilities. Bring whatever instrument you like to this workshop that explores how pentatonics (5 note scales) are used to build melodies and grooves."