2021  Spring Music Weekend Classes

All classes are held on Zoom this year!


Students in intermediate and advanced classes should have a familiarity with their instruments and be able to learn tunes either from sheet music or by ear.

* Classes in white are approximately 90 minutes of instruction.  Mini-classes are 45 minutes. Classes in yellow are available for mixed instruments with permission of the instructor.

Class 1: Saturday Morning Classes  10am-12Noon EST

Making Sense of All Those Strings  (Ruth Smith)  (Beginner/Adv. Beg.)

Are you intimidated by the “sea of strings” on your hammered dulcimer? In this class we’ll cover everything you would like to know as a newer player, including how brilliantly simple the layout is on the dulcimer. Besides instrument layout, we'll cover hammers, technique, tuning, chords, and lots more, plus we’ll learn some great Celtic tunes! 

Melody-Chord Style Playing  (Mark Alan Wade) (Adv.Beg-Int.)

This style of playing is characterized by playing a melody as you already know it while adding filler notes from chords all around it. It’s perfect for folk songs, Appalachian tunes, and even gospel style. Think Carter-style guitar playing but with dulcimer. Mark has a method and a process to show you the how and why to choose the chord tones.   

E Dorian - Chord & Tune Intensive (Karen Ashbrook) (Intermediate)

We will "Drill, Baby, Drill!"  E minor and D chords (and some B minors) to get comfortable harmonizing and playing in E Dorian.


Intro to Chord Voicings (Colin Beasley) Advanced

In this class, you will learn how to use the chords you already know in ways you never  have before. By moving the notes to different octaves (and sometimes adding a few), the same  chord can have many different sounds and feelings. You’ll learn the basic principles of voicing a  chord, as well as specific voicings you can use and experiment with. 

Class 2: Saturday Afternoon Classes  2:15-4:00PM EST

Celtic Music for the New Player (Ruth Smith) Beg.-Adv. Beg

Everyone needs a little Celtic music in their repertoire, so let's learn some of the universal favorites that are often played in jam sessions so you can jump right in and have fun!

Music Theory for Dummies Like Me (Mark Alan Wade) (Adv. Beg.-Intermediate)

A veteran college professor of Music Theory, Mark will break down what makes chord progressions work so you can better predict chord changes in your own music. Knowing the rules of the game will clarify what sounds good and why, allowing you to expand your chord vocabulary. Plus Mark makes it fun!


E Minor and a Welsh Air (Karen Ashbrook) (Intermediate)

The afternoon will be focused on working with the Welsh air "The Color of the Lily Among the Thorn" in E minor.  We'll discuss the similarities and shades of differences to make this Aeolian/Natural Minor vs Dorian.  Building on the morning's chords, we will also be using A minor chords

Arranging with Hand Independence (Colin Beasley) Advanced

In this class, we will take the principles of “hand independence” and use them to arrange  a song from a lead sheet. We will use Brazilian composer/musician Jovino Santos Neto’s tune  “Hoping for the Day” and learn how to play chords in one hand while playing the melody in the  other.

Mini Classes: Saturday Afternoon 4:30-5:15PM EST


Crash Course in Percussion Technique (Colin Beasley) (Beg.-Adv. Beg.)

This class will introduce you to a percussive approach of playing the hammered dulcimer. We will talk about percussion principles with playing technique, moving around the instrument, and some things you can practice to improve how you use your hands. 

Duets for Fun! (Ruth Smith(Intermediate)

Playing hammered dulcimers together is fun and makes such beautiful music! We'll learn duets that you can take home to play with your friends and club members. These duet arrangements can work well for two people, or you and another chording instrument, as well as for a larger group.

Seikilos Epitaph - the oldest complete song in the world! (Karen Ashbrook) (Int-Advanced)

This beautiful Greek song in Mixolydian is from the first Century BCE. It was found on a tombstone with lyrics that are the ancient version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy." What's old is still new!


À la Harp (Mark Alan Wade) (Intermediate-Advanced)

This workshop is a crash course in how to finger pick the hammered dulcimer and sound like a harp. There is a lot of technique to cover, but Mark has broken it down into easy-to-learn and fun to play steps. This skill takes a while to master,  but it takes way longer without this class’s time saving tips!


Class 3: Sunday Morning Classes  10am-12Noon EST


Teachin’ Tunes (Mark Alan Wade) (Beginning-Adv. Beg.)

The best way to learn to play the dulcimer is to play the dulcimer! In this hands-on class, we’ll learn tunes that teach US musical concepts. Mark has selected tunes that will teach youhammer techniques, pattern recognition, chords, basic embellishments, note names and more.

Intro to Hand Independence (Colin Beasley) Intermediate

This class will introduce you the the idea of “hand independence,” where you will learn to  sort of “untether” your hands from one another, and play separate ideas in each. You will learn  exercises that help in separation, as well as how to actually use it in a practical way.

Music to Comfort the Soul (Karen Ashbrook) (Int.-Advanced)

Mixed-Instruments Welcome

Manx Celtic exquisite melodies that are perfect for meditation and relaxation.

Therapeutic musicians can earn 2 CEUs.

Beautiful Melodies (Ruth Smith) (Advanced)

Learn to play with greater expressiveness at an advanced level. Develop a more elaborate arrangement using chord notes, fill/run notes, counter-melodies, etc., with a focus on techniques to make your music more expressive. Repertoire will be drawn from expressive, lyrical music. Feel free to bring your own arranging questions about music you're working on


Class 4:Sunday Afternoon Classes 1:30-3:00PM EST


Playing with the Melody: Intro to Improvisation (Colin Beasley)  (Adv.-Beg-Intermediate)

This class will be an introduction into the art of improvisation. We will learn how to read a lead sheet and improvise over chord changes (think taking a solo in a jam, but playing your own melody), as well as improvising in your solo arrangements. 

Sultan of Hearts- an Irani tear-jerker (Karen Ashbrook) (Int.-Advanced)

Mixed-Instruments Welcome

Soltane Ghalbha is a beloved old romantic movie theme that will bring tears to the eyes of Iranis and is a piece you will fall in love with. We'll be playing it in A Harmonic Minor.

Therapeutic musicians can earn 1.5 CEUs.

Gilding the Lilly (Mark Alan Wade) (Intermediate-Advanced)

This is an advanced class on arranging for hammered dulcimer. We will cover all the major facets of arranging, from structure, modulations, melodic and harmonic embellishments, and more! We’ll use the Sky Boat Song as a jumping off point, so if you don’t already know it, try to familiarize yourself with the tune beforehand. 

Beautiful Music with Hand Independence (Ruth Smith) (Intermediate-Advanced)

Using hand independence in your arranging can bring an added dimension to your playing. Using beautiful music (including Celtic and possibly a hymn) we'll work on methods to help improve your ability to have your hands do different things at the same time. Better practice patting your head and rubbing your tummy on your way to class!


Student Led Activities.... 

Student Open Mike 

Students are encouraged to share pieces they are working on at our Student Open Mike on Friday afternoon. This is a chance to share a piece you are working on and develop performing skills in a warm and friendly atmosphere.  A good way to meet other students and to get feedback on your arrangements.

If you would like to host the open mike, let us know!  We can give you a tuition discount, if you would like!

Mini Classes

Students offering to teach a useful one hour mini-class on Friday or Saturday afternoon may receive a $50 tuition discount. Call or email us by February 15, if you would like to teach a class for this discount.  Students not needing the discount are also encouraged to share something during the weekend.  This make it more fun for everyone.  It can be anything from a music class (tune, technique, session, etc), to craft, to a hike, history talk, yoga class or more.   Take ownership in the weekend by sharing something that you do!

Sunday, 3:30-4:30 PM: Learn the St James Infirmary Blues with Andy Lang  Learn this jazzy, blues classic in a version similar to that played by Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans.

Saturday Evening Activities

 We offer an Open Mike for players wishing to share their latest projects, followed by teacher led jam sessions. 

Getting the most out of your classes:

Late Afternoon Mini Classes: Students offering to teach a useful one hour mini-class may receive a $50 tuition discount. Call or email us by February 15, if you would like to teach a class for this discount.


Don’t forget to bring a recording device with batteries or music paper to the fest. You’ll want to get down things to work on long after the fest is over. It’s a great opportunity to get down pieces during jams and classes.

It is not permissible to
record concerts.