Positive game-changers in your progress
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
Mine was a variety of factors. I am not knocking chord melody nor finger style at all, but I realized when I got back to playing dulcimer in 2013 that while I love those styles, I could not execute them well on the dulcimer to do it justice. So instead I worked on noter style playing, using CGG Ionian tuning. I worked on a song at a time, instead of a bunch at once. That way I could say I could play (insert song title) very well, instead of a bunch of songs so-so.
I also worked on my strumming technique, and started doing the alternate strumming you see in my video clips. At first I got it down for slower songs, then started working on faster songs with it, like Wildwood Flower and Old Joe Clark.
Lastly, I figured out what tunings and set-ups worked best for me and my music. I got into Bagpipe tuning, and use that on 2 of my dulcimers to-day. I also have on my Bagpipe tuned instruments the 6.5, which I know some traditionalists will stick there noses up the air about, but my rational is this: If tuned Ddd Bagpipe, from the open fret I get key of D mixolydian, and if it does not dip below the scale, D major. From the 3rd fret I get key of G major. Like having 2 dulcimers in one. As well, if I do a reverse capo under the drones on the first fret, I get E minor. The flip is that I also had gotten a mean tone fretted McSpadden hourglass, no 6.5, doubled middle string, and tuned E-BB-B. Partially because there was talk about this fretting system no doubt because of John Henry Crocker on this site, and seeing a video of someone in the UK playing a McSpadden in this set-up, I decided to bite the bullet with it. So on some songs, I like to use this. Another thing I figured out for me was that I prefer to play with a single melody string, as to my ears, it has a cleaner sound, so I either prefer equidistant 4 string or a doubled middle string.
So there you go, the long winded answer to a simple question
updated by @james-phillips: 09/13/15 06:36:33PM