I started playing the piano by ear while in kindergarten and have since then had a few years of piano instruction, Flutofone in 4th grade, 5 years of clarinet, took up folk guitar in college, and have owned a dulcimer since I made a cardboard one in 1991. About 6.5 years ago, I finally had some sort of mental breakthrough (helped along, I'm convinced, by some choice nuggets of info in a music theory class I had with Steve Eulburg at KY Music Week (KMW) and I can now play the dulcimer by ear, as well. Other instruments I play with varying degrees of success include the pennywhistle, recorder, ukulele, harmonica, djembe, steel drum, and hammered dulcimer. The instrument I would most like to play, however, is the cello--but I think that involves the use of a magic wand!
One of the things I struggle with is playing from tab, because that involves lines and numbers and my brain doesn't process that very well (hence the problem with piano instruction!) I'm more of a spatial learner, so hearing and seeing intervals in music makes a lot of sense to me. And I'm better with linear instruments (piano, whistle) than ones that have you moving in a circular manner (steel drum) to produce the music. I think of low notes as being either left or "down" and higher notes being to the right or "up". Tone progressions that move in circles or boxes on an instrument require a lot of extra brain power.
I love informal jams with others, especially with folks who enjoy rounds, playing in parts, and adding harmonies and counter-melodies.
Some of my recent challenges include songwriting and composing for the dulcimer, performance, learning the technology involved in making and posting audio and video clips, and being a mentor and providing instruction in mountain dulcimer to others.
Latest Group DiscussionsAll
Any groups in KY accepting beginning players?
One of our members who lives in south central Kentucky (between...
@Jan Potts 5 years ago - Comments: 1
Make a video challenge! This is My Father's World!
Here's the challenge: learn to play--or SING and play--the public...
@Jan Potts 7 years ago - Comments: 9
Don't need this, yet, but I was wondering if anyone in here has played...
@Jan Potts 9 years ago - Comments: 43
A WEEK of the Songs of Jean Ritchie at John Campbell Folk School
I just want to make sure that the Fans of Jean Ritchie are informed...
@Jan Potts 9 years ago - Comments: 5
Illustrated guide: How to Change Your Strings
Joe Collins' excellent guide shows step-by-step how to change the...
@Jan Potts 9 years ago - Comments: 1
What's up with the 3.5 fret?!
So....I'm getting a new-to-me dulcimer and it has a 3.5 fret. I'm not...
@Jan Potts 11 years ago - Comments: 0
Latest Forum DiscussionsAll
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I made it to the Mid-winter Dulcimer Festival in NC and thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a lot and left with a lot of things to practice. I am loving this music more and more and trying to pace myself on learning new songs so I don't forget what I have been working on. I have a couple good friends (who got me started) who live nearby and we all try to get together at least once a month to practice different songs. Still have a lot to learn and I am currently working on strum patterns and more efficient fingering of chords. I got bit with DAD (Dulcimer Acquisition Disease) and just placed an order for a "Fancy Gap" model dulcimer that has walnut sides and back, ebony fingerboard and American Chestnut top. Jeff Sebens makes these. I saw one at a store in Meadows of Dan, VA (near Mabry's Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway) and just couldn't stop looking at the beautiful wood grain patterns. It sounds wonderful too. If you are ever in the area of Meadows of Dan stop by the Concord Corner Store. Jeff has 3 instruments there including a smaller one tuned to the key of G. Thank you for asking and hope this finds you doing well.
With kind regards, Phil
Jan, I am so sorry it has taken so long to get back to you....I mainly used Everything Dulcimer for my dulcimer needs and now that it is shutting down I will come back to here. Yes, that was my dulcimer. We have since moved from Ohio to So. Carolina...Do you still have the BC dulcimer? Would be interested if you do sell it.
My best, Gary
Hi Jan, I hope you are doing well. I am trying to figure out what dates I want to reserve a room for Kentucky music week. I am thinking about arriving the day before and leaving the day after. What do you usually do?
I'm not sure what class that was for. Maybe a workshop I did: "From head to hands (and paper)" on figuring out how to play a tune you know well, but for which you have no tab.
Rats, was trying to start a new paragraph on my tablet and it posted!
As I was saying I want to add more music. This seems like a perfect song for starting the audience remembering. Fortunately I have lots of old-time music anthologies. It's in The Nostalgia Collection from Hal Leonard, so I will see how hard it is for dulcimer.
Your class probably is ended. Any suggestions from it?
Hi Jan, I was looking for whatever discussion came the closest to asking for tab. Found your old discussion you started for a class, trying to find something not tabbed. I found one. School Days, School Days was written in 1907, so I was surprised that the closest I could find was ukelele sheet music for sale. I am looking ahead to my one-room school program and wanted to a
I have sent a follow request. Looking forward to talking with you.
Thank you for the welcome-yes that is slate wall! We use the same for our guitars and assorted woodwinds as well! We will be installing another section for more dulcimers soon-my addiction has grown!
Thanks for the welcome, Jan. My husband gave me a Warren May Special for my birthday 15 years ago. I could not figure how to learn from tablature until I found a group 2 years ago. I am finally getting to really enjoy this beautiful dulcimer and have fun playing with a group. My husband's sister lives in Berea. He saw my interest in the dulcimers in Warren May's beautiful store and wanted me to have one.
Thanks so much Jan. H x
My goodness you have been busy with music...I am proud and envious at the same time. You are doing great id you can play by ear, especially when picking. I have to follow the notes. I play Guitar and ukulele and teach both, mostly to seniors but I do have a 9 year old for ukulele. One of these days I will get up enough nerve to do a video, but not right now. Jane Williams is the one who taught me so much as I was struggling alone with an old book and not getting too far. We have played together when they were in Nova Scotia where I live. Keep strumming and take care.
Hi Jan, I sent you a PM...
Sorry it's been awhile about the Edsel Martin and brothers dulcimers. Will be putting up some pictures and what I've found out, Very nice piece.Finally got some time. In forums?
Hi Jan, I had sent you a follow request, because I stumbled upon an old post of yours from about a year ago regarding Edsel Martin Dulcimers. I actually just purchased one myself, off Ebay a few days back, supposed to arrive Thursday, but had done a fair amount of research on how to tell if it's the real deal, and the way it was signed as genuine Martin, and whether it was built by Edsel, Fred or Wade.
Was just going to share what I found out.
i also play dulcimer when watching TV, Never get much TV in,,
This will be my first year at Unicoi as well. I'm also very excited to finally experience it! I'm sure we're going to have a jolly good time, and I look forward to seeing you then!
Hi Jan! Thank you for the warm welcome! I am very excited to be here. There's actually a workshop coming up in April in my area. I'm not sure if it's geared toward beginners, but I will surely find out! :)
take care with the snow storm.
Jan, it was nice to meet you at KWMW. Maybe next time we can spend more time together.
A have a happy holiday season Jan, try not to worry about your health (not easy, I know). And may 2016 be a far better year for you. Hugs Helen