At the Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering you choose 3 out of 11 classes taught by 6 teachers, with subjects including repertoire, dulcimer history, and technique. As the finale, everyone is invited to join the Playing Circle. The day is planned for maximum time in community with about 50 mountain dulcimer aficionados.
After you’ve registered and paid for the Saturday Workshops, you’ll be redirected to a form where you can choose which classes you want to attend.
Saturday Workshop Descriptions & Schedule
BDG 2020 Sat 5/16 workshops (75 minutes each)
3 Strings, 2 Voices, Sam Edelston (Advanced) We’ll explore a variety of ways to get both a melody and separate accompaniment out of your dulcimer at the same time. Paradoxically, it’s easier to play two separate parts on dulcimer (5 fingers, 3 strings) than on guitar (5 fingers, 6 strings – you’re outnumbered). DAd
Fiddle Tune Novelties, DJ Hamouris (Intermediate) Add some new tunes to your jams! A couple of my original “fiddle tunes” and an unusual, but traditional, crooked tune. DAd, capo required
Left Hand Accuracy, Steve Eulberg (All Levels) We will work on left-hand fingering exercises to develop our facility, accuracy and comfort as well as picking our melodies out across the fretboard, which utilitizes accuracy with both hands. Tunes: Blacktail Weasel, Rakes of Kildare
Mountain Dulcimer 101, Dusty Thorburn (Absolute Beginner) This workshop is for the absolute beginner; no experience with any musical instrument is necessary. We will learn the parts of the dulcimer, how to position the dulcimer on your lap, what to do with the right and left hands, and how to read tablature. We will then begin with multiple versions of a song or two, starting very simply and slowly adding new elements until lo-and-behold, we’re playing music together! DAd
Songs You Know, Sam Edelston (Beginner) Mountain dulcimer is one of the easiest instruments to figure out — and it makes even more sense if you’re playing songs you’ve known forever and can figure out by ear. The objective of this workshop is for you to be able to say, “Yes! I can do this!” DAd
Shape Up Your Chords! Kay Bolin (Advanced Beginner-Intermediate) Three basic chord shapes to learn – and with them – so many chords to play. Learn how to use the shapes all the way up your fretboard. Knowing your chords allows you to accompany yourself playing chord melody style, accompany singing or accompany another person playing melody. It is also invaluable for fingerpicking. We will be tuned in DAD. Go home with a powerful new tool in your dulcimer bag! Bring a pick and your thinking cap! DAd
Fingerpicking Originals, DJ Hamouris (Advanced) Two fingerpicked pieces where you can advance your technique, as well as discussion about choices of arrangement for your own pieces, found or composed. Good solo or ensemble pieces with other instruments. DAd
Not Just O’Carolan: Beautiful, Slow Celtic Tunes, Dusty Thorburn (Intermediate) Celtic tunes work especially well on the mountain dulcimer. This workshop will examine several accessible ballads, airs, and country dances from Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. DAd
Rock & Roll Dulcimer, Sam Edelston (Advance Beginner-Advanced) The dulcimer isn’t just for folk songs and fiddle tunes. It’s a natural rock instrument, too! Power chords, classic rock riffs, and other things that sound like they came off a record. Impress your friends! Astonish your kids (or grandkids)! The material in this workshop will be accessible to Advanced Beginners, but with enough higher-level information to keep it interesting for Advanced players, too. DAd
Let’s Play A Round, Kay Bolin (Beginner-Intermediate) Rounds are a great way to play with others. Simple tunes end up with glorious harmonies. We’ll start simple and then get a little more challenged — don’t be shy! DAd
All that Jazz, Steve Eulberg (Advanced) Using an open chord tuning to play Girl from Ipanema, we’ll explore all the possibilities we have for rich chords and chromatic melodies on a diatonic dulcimer.
End of Day Playing Circle, All Levels, Fellowship Hall, Laura Devine Burnett Everyone is invited to join the playing circle that ends the day of workshops. Laura will bring some songs and her encouraging leadership style to help us all “play well with others.” We’ll go around the circle and you can play, call, or pass. If you have a song you want to share, that’s great. Otherwise, call a jam tune and we’ll all join in! Each of us will share a tune while the rest of us watch, listen, and play along at home.
Sunday Workshop Description
Extended Sunday sessions, Mountain Dulcimer with Sam Edelston
Barriers to Progress, Sam Edelston (Advanced Beginners-Advanced) Feeling limited? Here’s how to do more with your dulcimer, and have more fun doing it! We’ll dig into things that hold some people back, and we’ll work with some specific examples. The aim of this class is to give you tools to bring your playing up to the next level. Topics will depend in part on participants’ needs. This is a workshop where breakthroughs can happen. DAd
Dulcimer Survival Skills, Sam Edelston (All levels) Making music together with other dulcimer players takes one particular skill set, but to play along with the broader musical community, it helps to have some additional skills. Topics will include: Learning songs from online … Playing in non-dulcimer keys … “Non-dulcimer” strums … Helpful tips for playing along with guitars … Contributions that your dulcimer can make to the room’s music. “Extra” frets will be discussed, too, so if you have a dulcimer with a 1+ fret, bring it. Chromatics will be welcome, too. DAd
Extended Sunday sessions, Hammer Dulcimer Master Classes with Steve Eulberg
Things I Wish I Had Known when I began to Play My Hammered Dulcimer. I was so drawn to the instrument that I bought, built and played it in public in a week. (I won’t vouch for the quality of the performance! and while I remember and appreciate the enthusiasm, I don’t recommend this path.) 13 years later I decided to actually learn how the instrument worked and how I might learn to play it better. Here’s what I wish I had known.
Removing the Expensive Notes. Using a familiar tune (Ode to Joy), we will explore the whole instrument with melodic and harmonic arranging ideas like I’ve done with Tweaking Twinkles (in Dulcimer Players News).
Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering: Class Levels
About the skill levels:
To help you pick the best workshops for your experience, all of our workshops are classified by the skill level of the material. Although you’re welcome to attend any classes you’d like (and there will be no test), you’re likely to get more from classes designed with somebody of your skill in mind.
Absolute Beginner: You do not need previous dulcimer experience or musical background.
Beginner: You know how to hold your instrument, and can strum and play some simple tunes. You may not feel confident yet, but you love the music that your instrument can make! These classes will help you learn some chords, gain more comfort with your instrument and your ability to find and play tunes by ear and from music and tablature.
Intermediate: You have the skills of the previous levels and you’ve learned the basics of strumming and reading tablature, you need to expand your playing techniques and musical theory. You are learning to embellish your basic music with hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides; to adapt an arrangement with different chord positions; to play in and modulate to different keys with and without a capo or retuning; to flat-pick and fingerpick a tune. You can play in different tunings.
Advanced: You have the skills of the other levels plus the ability to play at least 4 chords in DAd or DAA tuning, to use 2-3 fingers (left hand), and be comfortable with at least 2-3 basic rhythms, utilize melody runs on all the strings using scales, then adding arpeggios and patterns from within chords, as well as a strummed chordal melody.