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Morning Class Descriptions

Choose one class from the list below. Your morning class will meet each morning, Monday-Friday with the same instructor.

Help me decide what level I should be in

LEVEL 1 - New Player Skills - Carol Crocker

Hooray! You have chosen to begin the exciting journey of learning how to play the mountain dulcimer. During our week at Dulcimer U you will be introduced to and become familiar with basic skills for a new or beginner player.

Goals for the week are for you to be able to play several simple and familiar dulcimer tunes and to come away with basic mountain dulcimer playing skills that will allow you continue to play, expand on what you have learned, and add to your repertoire for the mountain dulcimer.

Some topics will include:

  • How to hold, tune, and care for your dulcimer
  • Basic strumming techniques
  • Becoming familiar with basic music reading skills including note values and time signatures
  • How to read dulcimer tab and play by ear
  • Explore playing basic chords that will help when playing with others (or even in a jam!)
  • Explore some left-hand fingering techniques
  • Learning about other tunings, DAA, DAC, and DGD

Come enjoy learning to play the mountain dulcimer in a relaxed and encouraging environment…enjoy the music and enjoy the fellowship with other dulcimer players!

Contact Carol Crocker if you have any questions regarding this class.

Level 2 – Advancing Beginner Skills – Laurie Alsobrook

 It’s been a good year enjoying and exploring your new dulcimer skills as a beginner. Now you’re ready to take your dulcimer playing to the next level. This class is just for you as you continue your dulcimer journey and expand your confidence in acquiring and playing with new skills.

  • Review Level I skills
  • Expand left hand fretting skills including across the middle and bass strings
  • Continue to improve and strengthen right hand strumming skills
  • Explore flat picking and finger picking skills
  • Gain confidence in playing two and three finger chords
  • Introduction to using a capo
  • Playing in other tunings
  • Continue to hone listening skills and confidence in playing by ear
  • Begin looking forward to the next level as you increase your confidence in playing

Come enjoy playing the mountain dulcimer in a relaxed and encouraging environment, enjoying the music and the fellowship with other dulcimer players! Contact Laurie if you have any questions regarding this class.

Level 2, 3, 4 & 5 -Beyond the TabThe Mechanics of Music – Jim Miller

This class is designed for players who are proficient at playing tunes from TAB but would like to explore how music works on a deeper level. We’ll take a look at the nuts and bolts of music and discover the “whats and whys” of what goes into playing.  It will offer a musical toolbox, allowing the player to gain a greater understanding of the mechanics of playing, and gain a greater appreciation of why we play.

We’ll start with a basic introduction of music theory as it applies to the mountain dulcimer. Covering scales, modes, intervals, chords and chord progressions, this will form a firm foundation for the rest of the class.

Next, we’ll spend some time developing our musical ear. We’ll learn how to recognize musical intervals, melodies, and chords and see how chords and melodies relate to one another. This will provide an excellent basis for learning to play by ear.

Reading musical notation will be the next topic. This covers reading notes on a staff, timing and rhythmic structure, note values and key signatures.

Finally, we’ll spend some time with rhythm, playing different world rhythms and having fun exploring the many and varied ways rhythm can improve our playing.

We’ll conclude each day with a jam session, applying the concepts we have covered that day. By the end of the class, hopefully, you’ll be able to turn off your iPad, throw away your mountain of TAB, and join the jam, playing and enjoying Music.

**NOTE:  A $10 materials fee is required for this class and will be collected by the instructor on the first morning. Jim can answer any questions you may have about this class.  Contact him at

Level 3 – Lower Intermediate SkillsEstablishing a Foundation to Improve Skills - Jeff Furman

Well, you have some experience playing the mountain dulcimer…now what!?   The goals of this weeklong workshop will be to review the foundation of your playing, improve your techniques and your comfort in what you play, improve your listening while you play, and emphasize what you can do to continue to progress in your journey of playing music that you and others enjoy!

Jeff has drawn from his highly acclaimed classes to put together a week full of concepts, techniques, exercises, and repertoire to help you improve and solidify the foundation of your playing, as well as your confidence in how to continue to grow “beyond the tab!”

Topics covered during this class will include:

  • Improving the smoothness and comfort/efficiency in your right and left hand while getting clean notes and sound (including strumming and flatpicking)
  • Working on left hand techniques for comfort and tone and mastering the combination of hammer-on’s, pull-off’s, slides, etc.
  • Emphasizing how to add smoothness and sustain to the notes you are playing (hint: fingering and preparation!!!).
  • We’ll be sure you are comfortable using a capo to open a whole new world and variety of music, feeling, etc.
  • We may also venture into some different tunings and time signatures (and rhythms) to help you expand the music you play.
  • We will also emphasize how to approach learning a new tune.
  • We will apply all of these techniques to a variety of music and styles.


Be sure to register early since space can be limited!  And Jeff’s classes are always well-attended!

If you have further questions about this class, feel free to contact Jeff at: Hope to see you in Cullowhee!!!

Level 3 – Lower Intermediate SkillsThe Art of Finger Style Dulcimer - Linda Brockinton

This class will focus on fingerstyle playing for those who prefer not to use a pick. Linda will teach various songs throughout the week that reinforce the concepts she will be presenting in class. This is a unique opportunity to spend a week studying with one of the country’s premier fingerstyle players.

Linda writes:  I like to teach using music that makes use of the skill sets you need to make the song more expressive and musical.  Here is a list of things we will be working on throughout the week …

  • The various skills and techniques used in fingerstyle playing
  • How to correct choppy playing
  • How to move up and down the fretboard with ease
  • Not backing yourself into a corner
  • efficiency of motion and fingering
  • Chord shapes and how to use them to your advantage
  • Right hand fingerpicking and flat pick techniques
  • All these are tools to take home with you for better playing. 

Questions about this class? Contact Linda at


Level 3 & up - Just the Bass-ics! - Elaine Conger

Prerequisites:  bass dulcimer tuned DAd with 1+ fret, ability to perform barre chords efficiently, knowledge of chords and chord shapes, and satisfactory knowledge of the alternating bass pattern.
This class will take your bass dulcimer skills beyond the alternating bass line pattern which is required in much of the traditional dulcimer repertoire; however, we will indeed spend the first day reviewing that concept – we just won’t spend all week on it!  You will also have the opportunity to spend each afternoon getting extra practice on that technique (& others) instead of selecting afternoon electives. In other words, your entire week can be “just the Bass-ics” if you so choose.
Even though the alternating pattern is the foundational skill of all bass instrument players, man cannot live with just “boom, boom,” right?  During the week we’ll explore how to make the bass dulcimer play “back up,” meaning in an accompaniment style while simultaneously adding bass lines. For me, this is the beauty of the instrument: it’s only one octave lower than the standard, therefore, it can play lovely melodic lines in addition to bass runs. Participants will have additional bass line accompaniments added to their vocabulary including walking bass lines and patterns that fit genres like blues, boogie, and rock ‘n roll.

The latter part of the week will be spent learning to write your own bass parts. Emphasis will be placed on using notes and patterns that would be utilized by a true bass player in mainstream music. We will also take note (pun intended!) of the “rules” in the music theory world by paying attention to musical part writing techniques, such as complementary rhythms, avoidance of parallel 4ths & 5ths, and the tasteful use of fills and runs. Participants will have the option of submitting their own tablature arrangements to receive coaching in creating a bass part which will be led in master class fashion. Plan to bring your laptops with Tabledit loaded and ready to rock!

Required texts:

                             (also available in class)

It truly is all about the bass dulcimer!
Questions about this class? Contact Elaine Conger at

Level 4 – Upper Intermediate Skills – Rob Brereton

Embark on a joyful musical journey in Rob’s Level 4 dulcimer class, where players take important steps in their musical evolution. This level marks a transition phase where we refine and reorganize our existing skills, dive into some of the more advanced techniques, and add the final elements that will allow us to find our own unique style as dulcimer players.

First off, let’s work on refining the techniques we already use to play dulcimer. Let’s make those hammer-ons and pull-offs pop and understand how to effectively use slides on our fretboard. Let’s take these refined techniques and apply them to ornamenting your music in new and exciting ways, creating a smooth, clean sound. Techniques for our picking hand will include a some flat picking and fingerpicking styles.

Discover the art of listening to your music critically, allowing targeted improvements in your playing. Uncover the secrets to achieving smooth, expressive playing, going beyond the limitations we thought we had.

Demystify music theory, an integral part of your musical growth at this level. No need to let this intimidate you. A little knowledge in this area goes a long way. Constructing chords and melodies becomes a new skill, allowing us to combine them in unexpected and beautiful ways. We will deconstruct and reconstruct familiar tunes to practice your new skills. Learning the basics of music theory allows you to rebuild your dulcimer foundation and begin to understand exactly how your dulcimer works and how you can finally master your fretboard. Other benefits include understanding dulcimer tunings and how a capo works.

Learn to transform notes into expressive music through creativity and emotion. There is so much more to music than what’s printed on the paper. Learn the tips and tricks that pros use to enhance the beauty of your playing. This Level IV class promises an enriching exploration of your dulcimer playing and creativity, guiding you towards a heightened level of musical expression and artistry.

Other topics include new ways to approach improvisation, playing by ear, playing in an ensemble, and a question and answer period where we can delve into some of your musical interests.

A 6.5 fret is necessary. A capo is necessary. Opening tuning: D-A-d

Questions can be directed to I’m very much looking forward to making music with you!

Level 5 – Beyond Intermediate SkillsMake Great Music with the Mountain Dulcimer – Stephen Seifert

This class is for players with a good bit of experience. Everyone has strengths, weaknesses, and special areas of focus, but make sure you're somewhat proficient with many of the ideas taught in the lower level classes before you register for this one. 

I've collected a bunch of ways to learn, practice, and play accurate, passionate, and interesting music on the mountain dulcimer. Techniques covered will include strumming, flat-picking, cross-picking, finger-picking, fingering, making harder things easier, making simple things fancier, chords, chord-melody, arpeggios, and more. With each technique, there'll be a tune to help you apply the concept. I'm less about memorizing and reciting, and I'm more about rendering a tune a little different each time I play it. I love applying a little bit of improvisation to just about everything I do. I'll show you my approach as I help you further develop yours.

Bring a capo and music stand. Be ready to take notes. When I write on the board, you're welcome to take photos. Selective audio and video recording is encouraged, but please don't leave them in record and running all the time. I'm always happy to stop and review something for the camera. 

I can help you be a stronger and more interesting dulcimer player! If you have questions about this class, please email me using Make sure you include "Dulcimer U" in the subject line.

Questions about this class should be directed to


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