Welcome to FOTMD, Bill. It's good to have you aboard.
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."
When you attend the Maryland Folk Musicians Festival, make friends with as many dulcimer players as you can. If you ask nice they will tell you all about the dulcimer they play and perhaps allow you to play it a little. If there are dulcimer vendors there, most will allow you to play some of theirs. If you have a chance and can learn a couple simple tunes before going: Boil Them Cabbage Down, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star--that will give you something to play when you handle a dulcimer.
The dulcimers of the first half of the 1900's and the years prior to that many times had what is described as a brighter sound (or voice) versus the more mellow almost guitar-like sound of the instruments from many of the contemporary luthiers. After playing a while you will discover which is the sound you prefer. It does take some time.
In addition to the sound of the dulcimer, there are several ways to play the dulcimer. Some players like to play chords (called chord melody). Others will use a noter(wooden stick) or one finger to fret just the melody string and allow the other 2 strings to drone or hum in the background (called noter/drone). Then there are those who fingerpick at times isolating notes on one string, etc more like some guitarists. A bit less common are bowing the dulcimer and playing Galax style.
Whereas the guitar has a chromatic fret pattern--all full and half notes of the scale are present--most dulcimers have a diatonic fret pattern with 7 of the notes available. This is one feature of the dulcimer that has always drawn me to this instrument.
Again, welcome to the forum. It is such an awesome place to learn. I hope you really enjoy the Maryland Festival.
Hi Bill, and welcome to the wonderful world of the Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. It's a good place to come, spend some time, learn about the dulcimer, and to meet some good people.
Hey Bill, welcome aboard. Glad ya found us.
Welcome Bill to Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. Glad you joined. And yes it would be very nice for you have one which you can keep handy and pick up and play often during the day if only for a few minutes at a time. A dulcimer in a case or closet just does not get played much. This is a great place with people who are knowledgeable and experienced and are more than glad to share with others. Jump right in and post comments, ask questions. Best wishes on your dulcimer journey.
Welcome, Bill, to this little corner of dulcimer heaven. Hope you enjoy it here.