How to Play the Dulcimer
So You Want to Play the Dulcimer
The mountain dulcimer is a fun instrument to learn to play. With only 3 or 4 strings, it is not a difficult instrument to learn. With some basic instruction and a little practice you will be able to accompany some simple songs with the chords of D, G and A. From there you can branch out to bigger and better things, such as fingerpicking and arpeggiate chords.
I learned how to play the dulcimer from my mother, who taught me some fundamentals. From there I was able to sit down and figure out different things. I was a young teenager when I first played this instrument.
You can have a great time playing the mountain dulcimer after only a few introductory lessons and then build on what you have learned.
How to Play the Dulcimer - Instructional DVDs and Books
If you want to teach yourself how to play the dulcimer, or pick up some tips and tricks, there are some excellent introductory DVDs and instructional books out. You might want to pick up one or two, especially when you are first starting out. Of course, there is always more to learn. Even the experts are still learning from each other!
Honestly, I am not familiar with this book; but, it comes highly recommended by beginning students. It is for this reason that I am suggesting it as a good book to help you get started with this instrument.
The Dulcimer Book
I remember my mother having this book when I was a child. My father had given her a dulcimer, and she was learning to play. As I recall, it is full of the traditional Appalachian folk music, for which Jean Ritchie is famous.
This book has stood the test of time. I don't think you can go wrong with this one, so I enthusiastically recommend it.
How to Play the Dulcimer - Instructional Video
Here is a basic introduction for playing the mountain dulcimer. I think this gentleman breaks it down very simply and by following his instructions you can begin playing some simple tunes right away. If you have a dulcimer already, give it a try! If you do not have a dulcimer, you can buy one very similar to his pretty cheaply. Check the link below the video for more information on how to buy a Simplicity dulcimer!
Mountain Dulcimer Poll
Do you have a mountain dulcimer?
A good quality mountain dulcimer for a beginning student at a low price.
Buy a Simplicity Dulcimer - A Good Basic Mountain Dulcimer for a Beginning Student
If you are just learning to play the dulcimer and are not ready to make a commitment to a handmade instrument, you should consider this Simplicity dulcimer. The sound box of this instrument is made of cardboard, but produces a remarkable sound which is much better than a cheap, plywood dulcimer. I have had the opportunity to play one of these dulcimers, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality.
You can check it out in the video above. It looks like the instructor is playing a Simplicity which has been decorated with some additional stencils on the sound box.
Of course, an instrument like this cannot compare to a high quality dulcimer, but a handmade dulcimer made from quality wood can cost from $400 on up to over $1,000. With the Simplicity, you can get started with the dulcimer for well under $100. So what are you waiting for?!
How to Tune the Mountain Dulcimer
If you need some help tuning your mountain dulcimer, this video gives a good explanation for how to tune to an ionian scale of D-A-A. This is one basic way to tune your dulcimer.
Many instructors use mixolydian D-A-D tuning, but D-A-A is perfectly acceptable and is an easy way for you to get started playing your dulcimer right away. Give it a try!
Tune Your Mountain Dulcimer - Tuning Accessories for the Dulcimer
You can tune your instrument by ear; but, if you want to tune your dulcimer more accurately, you will probably want to invest in an chromatic tuner which clips onto the head of your instrument.
The Snark tuners are best sellers and quite affordable. I recommend purchasing one unless you are comfortable tuning by ear.
More Details on Tuning Your Mountain Dulcimer - Learning How to Tune the Dulcimer
For more details about tuning your dulcimer, check out the link below.
- Tuning the Mountain Dulcimer
Here are the instructions for tuning your dulcimer four different ways. Each one is designated with "D" as its tonal center, then one of the medieval church mode names [a mode is one kind of musical scale--a group of pitches arranged in order from lo
An Easy to Understand Lesson Series on the Mountain Dulcimer - How to Play the Dulcimer
If you want a more detailed and easy-to-understand lesson series for learning to play the mountain dulcimer, check out this video series. This instructor takes you step-by-step over the basics of playing the instrument. This is a great way to get started, especially if you have not had much exposure to the instrument in the past.
This teacher also uses the Simplicity dulcimer that I spotlighted above. Be sure and check that out if you need a basic dulcimer for getting started learning how to play. The Simplicity dulcimer is a good instrument for a beginner or someone who is not sure if they are going to like playing the dulcimer, or just for someone who wants to get started fast without a big financial investment. This dulcimer is considerably less than $100 compared to a good quality dulcimer which costs $400 and up. The Simplicity gets a surprisingly good sound, considering that the sound box is constructed of cardboard!
How to Play the Dulcimer Poll
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© 2011 Frischy