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Dulcimer U Skill Levels

Before choosing your class...

Not sure of your ability level? Below you will find a list of specific skills and techniques you might expect to be addressed in each of the classes being offered at Dulcimer U. This information should serve as a guideline to help you determine which class is best suited for you.

LEVEL I - New Player/Beginner

  • Tuning and caring for your dulcimer
  • Finding the most comfortable playing position
  • Learning to play in time
  • Identification of note values - whole, half, quarter and eighth notes
  • Understanding common time signatures - 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 time
  • Playing from tablature (an easy form of music notation) and by ear
  • Introduction of basic chords to help you play with others
  • Basic right hand techniques for strumming, flat-picking and finger-picking
  • Basic left hand techniques for noting and chording


LEVEL II - Beyond Beginner

  • Review and reinforcement of basic beginner level concepts
  • Provide a transition between beginner and intermediate levels
  • Develop and encourage confidence in playing
  • Discussion of chords and ways to backup other musicians in the key of D and other keys
  • Continued improvement of various strumming and picking techniques
  • Basic knowledge of the most used chords - two and three fingers
  • Ways and means to get away from the tab and play tunes by ear
  • Introduction of the capo
  • Preparation for future advancement into Intermediate level instruction


Level III - Lower Intermediate

  • Review and reinforcement of the Level II Beyond Beginner level concepts
  • Improvement of tab reading skills (a separate elective class in tab reading skills will also be offered for those needing extra help)
  • Basic music theory as it applies to the dulcimer (a afternoon theory elective will help to reinforce these concepts)
  • Expansion of more intricate strumming and picking patterns
  • Development of the most useful practice habits
  • Improvement of counting various rhythms
  • Understanding three finger chords and exploration of their various positions on the fretboard
  • Transitions up and down the fingerboard
  • Playing music in multiple styles
  • Introduction to hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides

Level IV - Upper Intermediate

  • Review of 3 finger chords. (this level assumes that the participant already has a working knowledge of these chords)
  • Use of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides to facilitate speed and fluidity - where and why to use them
  • Use of the capo at various locations on the dulcimer fretboard
  • Smoothing out your playing - playing more expressively and dynamically
  • Embellishment of basic tunes to create a more interesting arrangement
  • Enhancing fretting hand techniques, ornaments
  • Playing above the seventh fret to generate more interest
  • Exploration of alternate tunings
  • Hearing chords changes and improving ability to play by ear


LEVEL V - Beyond Intermediate

  • Focus on musicality in an effort to make your music sound less "mechanical"
  • Rearrange basic tunes in a more dynamic and creative manner
  • Exploration of a wide variety of music styles and genres in an effort to add variety to your performances
  • Efficiency and consistency of fingering
  • Playing in different keys while tuned DAD
  • Performance skills
  • Ornamentations, tips, tricks and twists
  • Effective memorization techniques


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