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Class Descriptions 2010

We have some special guest instructors this year, so don't forget to take advantage of classes that you might not normally try.  Remember, it's all about having some fun!

We post the festival schedule in advance as a convenience to our participants.  While we strive to finalize our schedule before posting, please be aware that some minor changes may be necessary as we approach the festival weekend.  Thank you for your understanding.

Memphis Dulcimer Gathering & Folk Festival 2010

Class Descriptions

For all classes except new players level,

please be prepared to have a tuner and a capo.

Mountain Dulcimer

Janita Baker

Friday - Sessions I - Ensemble  (Advanced) - Bring your baritones and basses as well as your standards and sopranos--all dulcimers welcome!  We'll play four part "orchestral" arrangements of several tunes and experience the full range of the dulcimer's "voice".  This class is great for improving your sight-reading and timing skills as well as an easy and fun way to experience the musicality of an orchestra.  Baritone dulcimers come tuned A D A; all others, come tuned D A D.

Friday - Session II - Rounds and Canons (Nov/Int) - This class is an experience to be heard! The more the better, as we’ll divide up into three or four part groups to play a variety of canons and rounds (some familiar, some obscure) on the dulcimer. The pieces are simple to play and the results are astonishing! (Singers welcome but not required.) Come tuned DAD

 Friday - Sessions III - How to Play Any Song You Can Find Music For (Int. & up) The mountain dulcimer has unlimited potential and this class will help you to understand the instrument and how it works, musically. With a very simple and easy method, you’ll be able to play any song you can find music for (and in any key!). Along the way, you "accidentally" learn all about chord theory, scales and maybe even modes.  This is a course for those of you who want to expand your musical repertoire and comprehension; if you can count to 8 you can do this! (Bring a pencil with a good eraser.)  Come tuned DAD

 Friday - Sessions IV -  Introduction to Fingerpicking (Nov/Int) - For those who have never tried fingerpicking, this class will introduce right and left hand techniques. We’ll start with very simple introductory songs and work up to more intricate (but not necessarily more difficult) arrangements.  Come tuned DAD.

Saturday - Session I - Dealing with Performance Anxiety (all levels)  - We’ll look at ways to handle the stress and anxiety associated with playing in public, whether for a friend or for an auditorium filled with people.  The class will discuss techniques to handle anxiety and help to improve one’s performance experience.

Saturday - Session II - Easy Chord Theory (Int/Adv) - It's useful to understand what makes up various chords, how to decide what chord to play and where to find chords.  We'll look at various ways to find chords, and look at how chords enhance a melody and how to use chord variations and substitutions to make your music more interesting.  Come tuned DAD or D A A D.

Saturday - Session III - Four String Fingerpicking (Int/Adv) - We'll look at several songs that help explore the potential of the four equidistant string dulcimer.  If you currently fingerpick on the three string, you'll be fine in this class--it's no harder!  Come tuned D A A D.

Saturday - Session IV - Classical Repertoire (Int) - We'll play a variety of familiar classical pieces arranged for either fingerpicking, flatpicking or strumming styles.  Come tuned DAD.

Lee Cagle

Friday - Sessions I and II - New Players I and II will focus on the basic techniques involved in playing, including tuning, strumming patterns and reading tablature. No previous musical experience is necessary. Loaner instruments are available.

Friday - Sessions III and IV - Preparing for a Jam Session - New and novice players will continue to learn using tunes to prepare for folk jam sessions. We will work with three tunes that are almost universally played at jam sessions (and if they are not, request them when it’s your turn!) The session will include tips for jamming and preparation for the festival jam on Friday night.

Saturday - Session II - Beyond the Bum-Ditty (Nov/Int) - This class is for players who know how to play but who are struggling with adding some personality to their playing through a more effective use of strumming. Using familiar tunes, we will look at techniques to help the student understand the use of strumming and how to advance their strumming to make their playing more exciting and enjoyable.

Saturday - Session III - Using a Capo in DAD Tuning (Nov/Int) - We will take a look at using a capo to change keys on our dulcimer. It is an easy way to be versatile during a jam session or when playing with a group. Some capos will be available to use in class.

Joe Collins

Friday - Session I - Being "Chordial" in DAA (Int) –a workshop for understanding chord structures in the DAA tuning.  This is a workshop for those DAA players who want go into full chording while staying in the DAA tuning. Covers the basic chords in the key of D and how to play them anywhere on the neck of the dulcimer. Also includes some exercises on finding the right chord to play when given only the melody note and a chord symbol.

Friday - Session II - The Well-Rounded Flatpick (Int & up) – a workshop on how to play all those extra notes that good players play that are not written on the tablature. Technically, we’ll practice the use of broken chords and arpeggios on the mountain dulcimer and work them in to a couple of songs during the workshop.

Friday - Session III - Playing While You Warble (Nov) – workshop on the basics of accompaniment. How to use the Mountain Dulcimer to accompany either yourself or someone else’s voice.

Friday - Session IV - Noting the Dulcimer with the Greatest of Ease (Adv) - a workshop designed to work on the finer points of noting strings through exercises in chording, playing melody while holding chording positions, and noting fast sequences of notes.

Saturday - Session I - From Bum-Diddy to Rock-n-Roll (Adv) - a workshop for strumming/picking hand technique. Participants work on accurracy of picking individual strings and strumming/picking out a number of rhythms outside the norm for mountain dulcimers.

Saturday - Session II - Developing Good Practice Habits (Beg & up) - This workshop covers basic principles of good practice, offering advice and useful exercises to get the most out of one’s practice time. Most of the material here is also covered in the workshop entitled "Playing with Grace, Humor, and Smiles." This workshop, however, has a greater focus on practice habits while "Playing with Grace, Humor, and Smiles" focuses more on preparing for performance. Because of the overlap, one should choose one or the other of these workshops instead of both.

Saturday - Session III - Dulcimers are for Lovers – Great Love Songs (Int) - Repertoire building workshop.

Saturday - Session IV - Hot Licks and Cool Sounds (Novice and up) – a workshop on how to do those cool things that make people say, "Wow! How did he/she do that?"  Covers ornamentation techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, grace notes, trills, bends, harmonics, and muting. Gives simple songs in which these techniques can be applied and practiced.

Larry Conger

Friday - Session I - Learning To Listen (Nov) - What Was THAT Chord?

Friday - Session II - Arranging Songs from Standard Musical Notation (Adv) - Learn How To Create a Dulcimer Arrangement From Notation

Friday - Session III -Irish Jigs In DGD Tuning (Int) - Fun With Reverse Ionian Tuning

Friday - Session IV - Songs of the Holiday Season (Int) - Prepare For The Christmas Season

Saturday - Session I - Waltzing With The Dulcimer (Adv) - Beautiful Tunes in 3/4 Time

Saturday - Session II - Familiar Hymn Tunes (Int) - Add To Your Sunday Repertoire

Saturday - Session III - Hoedowns & Breakdowns (Adv) - Challenging American Fiddle Tunes

Saturday - Session IV - Advancing To The Next Level (Beg) - What You Should Know

Don Pedi

Friday - Session I - Strumming Workshop (Upper Int) - Strumming techniques include: applying proper angle, placement and pressure to a strum, how to hold the pick, body mechanics, developing a "fiddle-shuffle" type rhythm for square and contra dance tunes, developing aproppriate rhythm for waltzes, jigs and other type tunes, vocal accompanyment, playing with others, vamping and more.

Friday - Session II - Playing By Ear Workshop (Nov) - Another important method for developing the ability to play Old-Time and other types of music, especially with others, is playing by ear. It is the traditional way the old tunes were passed on from one person to another. The methods employed to learn to play by ear are simple and effective. Many people convinced they could never play by ear have left this workshop with a different point of view.

Friday - Session III - Dulcimer Tunings Workshop (Adv) - This workshop explores many tunings for the dulcimer.
Learn how to choose the best tuning for the peice being played, how to change the key, different modes, etc. Capos will not be used.

Friday - Session IV - Playing In A Group (All) - Playing in an informal jam session or in a well rehearsed band,there are ways of fitting together musically that enhance the experience for all involved. This workshop presents everything from etiquette to how to listen, blending with the group, accompanying vocals, playing with other instruments and more.

Saturday - Session I - Old-Time Hymns and Sacred Songs Workshop (Int) - A variety of old-time mountain songs and hymns. Learned directly by ear from authentic sources or from field recordings. The songs are mostly arranged in the Old-Time style of playing the melody while singing. Songs include: Where The Sun Never Goes Down, Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down, Amazing Grace, When The World's On Fire and more.

Saturday - Session II - Noting Workshop (Int) - Noting techniques include: Three finger rolls, hammer ons, pull offs, slides, vibrato, etc.. The techniques can be applied individually or in combinations. Also included are how to use a noter, and a few simple chords. Combining the noting with the strum.

Saturday - Session III - Basic Fiddle Tunes Workshop (Beg) - Main stream versions of fiddle tunes commonly heard at various festivals. Develop a repertoire of tunes played at musical gatherings from coast to coast. Tunes include: Old Joe Clark, Soldiers Joy, Arkansas Traveler.

Saturday - Session IV - Rare Fiddle Tunes Workshop (Adv) - Rare and beautiful fiddle tunes learned directly by ear from authentic sources or from field recordings. Many dating back to the early nineteenth century from mostly rural individuals who were not professional musicians by trade. Many with little formal education. These tunes were mostly passed down by ear. Many are unique to certain individuals, families or geographic locations.

Hammered Dulcimer

Betty Dawson

Friday - Sessions I and II - GETTING TO KNOW YOU - NEW PLAYERS - This beginner Hammered Dulcimer class will focus on a general orientation to this fascinating instrument, and the basic techniques in, caring for the instrument, including tuning, hammering, and basic orientation to the soundboard. No previous musical experience is necessary. Class members will learn how to read tablature and will learn several simple tunes while learning basic skills. Materials will be provided. Students may provide their own instrument, or special arrangements can be made to rent an instrument. Instrument arrangements must be made at least a week in advance.

Friday - Sessions III and IV - Friday - JOYFUL JAMMING - (NP/beg) In this class we will learn essential jamming etiquette, and be introduced to several popular jam tunes that are a "must" for every Hammered Dulcimer player’s gig list, such as "Soldier’s Joy," "Banks of the Ohio," "Ole Joe Clark," "Golden Slippers," and/or "Black Mountain Rag." Materials will be provided. Students may provide their own instrument, or special arrangements can be made to rent an instrument. Instrument arrangements must be made at least a week in advance.

Dan Landrum

Friday - Session I - A Rudimentary Approach to Learning Hammered Dulcimer (Int) - Two hammers, that's all you get, learn how to learn from the Percussive Arts Society 40 fundamental rudiments.

Friday - Session II - Your playing is no better than your weakest hand. (Int) - Let's fix that! - Introducing the grid method of spotting and eliminating weak spots in your playing.

Friday - Session III - Improvising (Adv) - Yes, you can, stop saying that and come to this class.

Friday - Session IV - The II V I Progression (Adv) - It isn't just for jazz players. The II V I progression is easy to play on hammered dulcimer and sounds harder than it is!

Saturday - Session I - Single Strokes to Success (Beg) - The single stroke roll is the basis of most hammer patterns. We'll learn how to practice it outside of tunes to make tunes easier to play.

Saturday - Session II - Double your pleasure with double strokes (Beg) - Called the diddle, or bounce stroke—master this and you'll instantly add pizazz to any tune you already play.

Saturday - Session III - Pivotal Hammering (Int/Adv) - make more music with less effort by using this easy to understand, but tough to master, technique.

Saturday - Session IV - In the Mood for Modes (Int/Adv) - We'll play through all the modes and examine what they can teach us about music and moods.

Rick Thum

Friday - Session I - Chord Theory and Substitutions (Adv) Learn why certain chords are used in a song. The simple formula to find them. Learn what chords can be replaced with other chords and how to find these replacement chords.  I will show you a simple way to find these chords on your dulcimer. Students should know how to play chords.

Friday - Session II - Ensemble Playing (Adv) We will explore what techniques are needed to play effectively in an ensemble. How to back up the other players in a way that makes you all look good.  How to set and follow tempo. How to hear trade offs of leads, signals used on stage(communicating with the others). Harmonies and playing off of each other. Vocals, set design, and any other topic about playing out in a band.

Friday - Session III - Anatomy of a Dance Tune (Int) Learn how dance tunes are structured to fit different dances. We will break down a tune and analyze its parts and how they fit into the dance structure.

Friday - Session IV - How to Survive a Jam Session (Int) Best if student knows the basics of chording. Learn proper jam etiquette. How to start playing tunes you've never heard before, quickly.  Learn the simple tricks of tune structures and how to recognize them. What chords to play when.How to solo or take the lead and when to do so. We will do some jamming on familiar and not so familiar tunes.

Saturday - Session I - Chording and Rhythm Playing on Hammered Dulcimer (Int) Learn how to form the chords on a dulcimer. Learn to know what chords to play and when to play them.  How to find major and minor chords and how they relate to the key being played. We will learn a tune and how to back it up with chords. We will also explore the relationship of chords to embellishments.

Saturday - Session II - Chording Class II (Int - Best if took my first chording class) Learn to play a chord in several positions on the dulcimer. Explore patterns that use the whole instrument and are still easy to remember and use.  Hand patterns that really work and why. Explore more chord theory.

Saturday - Session III - Beginning Hammered Dulcimer (Beg) Teaching the basics. Introduction into music theory, note layout, and how they relate to each other on the dulcimer.  We will learn to play a tune and how to do simple embellishments. Also explaining proper stick grip, timing, and rhythm and how these can change a tune.

Saturday - Session IV - Hammer Technique - Some Basic Rolls and Tips (Beg) There are many styles of Hammers and many styles of holding them. Some have proven better than others. What works, and why. Some drills to better your hammer control.  Some rolls to better your playing technique.

Ann Seward - Celtic Hammered Dulcimer

Saturday - Session II - This class will explore using the Celtic sound to the best advantage on your hammered dulcimer. Ann will provide an in-depth analysis of how to present the musicality of the Celtic sound.

Kevan Barley - Clawhammer Banjo

You do not have to own a banjo to participate.

We will try to have a few on hand for those who would like to try.

Saturday - Session III - Basic Clawhammer Banjo - a crash course for the totally clawless. Let's get that right hand on the right track, learn to play an old-time tune, and become familiar with a whole bag full of tricks you can work on for the next twelve months.

Tom Garrett - Mandolin

Saturday - Session I - We'll be learning techniques of playing mandolin by ear and learning to play a song and finding it in several keys.

Doug Felt - Bones & Bodhrans

Friday - Session III - If the demonstration made you wish you could play some of that folk percussion on bones and bodhran, attend this additional workshop to help give some hands on instruction and practice from two of the finest players around.

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