Forum Activity for @elvensong

Elvensong
@elvensong
01/08/19 10:50:15PM
24 posts

Do you have a pre 1989 FolkRoots or CapriTaurus dulcimer (made by Howard Rugg)?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

The beauty in my profile pic is a 1987 Folkroots. Gorgeous tone and a lucky find on eBay for $250. I played her in competition at Winfield this year.

Lady June Janelle - 1920.jpg

Elvensong
@elvensong
12/13/18 12:24:28PM
24 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

TwoGunBob:

Literally just got my dulcimer yesterday and then read the decidedly lukewarm opine of Roosebeck instruments but what's done is done. Anyone want to donate a dulcimer to someone that made a mistake?   

Don't let anyone tell you your first dulcimer purchase was a mistake no matter the brand. I played the first seven years on a $100 kit with friction pegs. I wrote many of my tunes on that dulcimer and I performed with it at the World's Fair in 1986 and the Seattle Folklife festival.

If you play a little bit everyday you will get better regardless of the instrument. Can you find a better instrument? Absolutely! You can spend $4000 on a dulcimer but you will not learn any faster.

You are about to discover that every dulcimer you purchase or build from here on will never be enough. bighug

Elvensong
@elvensong
09/16/18 06:11:28PM
24 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

Robin Thompson:

FOTMD's own @elvensong tied for fourth place in the mountain dulcimer competition at the Walnut Valley Festival (AKA Winfield).  Huzzah! 

I can't wait to meet you and Mark at The Dulcimer Shoppe booth and play Circleville next year!

No pressure.

 

Well.. yeah pressure. poke

Elvensong
@elvensong
08/29/18 01:01:01AM
24 posts

How do you store your dulcimers?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I use a guitar rack but it's full. @jack-ferguson makes a nifty double dulcimer stand


stand.jpg stand.jpg - 391KB
Elvensong
@elvensong
08/26/18 12:26:05PM
24 posts

What's your favorite mournful, spooky, or lonesome song to play?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Croí Cróga by Clannad or Loreena McKennitt's version of The Highwayman

Elvensong
@elvensong
08/01/18 05:16:11PM
24 posts

Intermediates


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Dusty Turtle:

Just put the instrument on your lap.  Play something.  If it sounds good, do it again. If it doesn't, try something else.  Don't be too ambitious, just try to find the melody for all those nursery rhymes we learned as kids.  You'll get those melodies in a short amount of time and will be able to figure out more complex ones later on. 

This is the very essence of learning any instrument. By continually experimenting with what sounds good and what doesn't, you build your intimacy with the instrument. And like any other skill, if you practice 15 minutes a day, you will learn your instrument. Your brain begins associating certain sounds with certain shapes and it starts to snowball. Before you know it, you are writing tunes and able to jam with confidence because you know your instrument. 

 

Dusty Turtle:
...She protested that she can only play with tablature.  But the problem was that although she knew the melody, she was getting distracted by all the information on the tab.  When I forced her to stop thinking about fret numbers and note duration and just to play the song she had in her head, she was able to learn it much faster.


Exactly. In our circle, everyone knows the songs we're playing but most still insist that they can't play without the tab. Most of us hum these tunes in our sleep lol.

 

 

Elvensong
@elvensong
08/01/18 12:53:38PM
24 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

Robin Thompson:

Mark & I had fun playing an Ag Day event at a historic farm in the Scioto River Valley.  And we made the front page of my hometown newspaper.  :) 

 

https://www.circlevilleherald.com/news/songs-in-the-shade/image_3155ccf8-58d0-59b2-a695-06594336ba00.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share

 That's great, Robin! You two wowed them I'm sure. If I were there I would miss the rest of the event just listening to you two. hi5

Elvensong
@elvensong
08/01/18 12:45:31PM
24 posts

Intermediates


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Ken Hulme:

"...plus it seems most beginners get caught up in collecting tab and playing only from tab without actually learning to play from memory.  I don't know how many folks I've seen who literally have to use tab to play Boil Them Cabbage!!!

 

I whole-heartedly agree, Ken. The same goes for people who can only play with sheet music. Tab & sheet music are useful in SMALL doses. After that it becomes your ball and chain.

It's like training wheels on a bike. Sure you can keep your training wheels on but you'll never be a good rider.

Frank Ledgerwood told me stories of people who came to him to improve their playing and he would ask them to play their favorite song so he could evaluate what they needed. They would tell him they couldn't because they didn't have the tab...for their favorite song?

I often get asked how I developed my style and it was by just experimenting. I learned my instrument by making up tunes. Put away the tab and just spend some time with your dulcimer. Sight reading tab and music are two great skills to have but I'll take knowing my instrument any day.

I might not know a song but in a few beats I can jump in and jam with anyone because I know how to make the sound that I'm hearing in my head. I may not know know I'm playing a C9 chord but I know the sound I am after and how to get there. 

I have considered teaching a workshop on how to write tunes with no music theory or tab, and it will be a beginner class because if you can fret and strum your instrument, if you know what sounds good to you, then you have the ability to write your own songs. The biggest impediment is people thinking they can't do it so they don't even try.


Elvensong
@elvensong
07/29/18 05:09:06PM
24 posts

Extra Frets for CGG tuning (DAA)


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Dusty Turtle:

...Anyway, I've been thinking about getting a dulcimer with a true diatonic fretboard but then adding a flexifret for every half fret, so the dulcimer could function as truly diatonic, fully chromatic, or anything in between.

Dwain is building a Concert Grand for me with flexi-frets. Brilliant idea! Opens up the entire dulcimer fret possibilities on one instrument. I'm hoping to have mine in time for Walnut Valley. 

 

Elvensong
@elvensong
07/19/18 10:38:35AM
24 posts

Clarification needed on playing 4 equidistant strings


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

I tune DAdd a lot with my 4 string but I often will go into DAdc. 

But personally if I were to teach a beginner the dulcimer, I would not use 4 string equi-distant. I would change the string configuration to double melody (or three strings). Once they're comfortable with that then the 4 string equi-distant is a natural progression.

 

Good luck!

Elvensong
@elvensong
07/19/18 12:17:57AM
24 posts

Introduce Yourself!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Craig:

dulcimers768.jpg

 

...but I like to play and I find that different instruments make me think differently. On guitar, mandolin, or dulcimer, I come up with different things. The modal nature of the dulcimer, in particular, forces me away from my natural tendency toward chromaticism.

 

Hey Craig good to meet you!

Wow - a Capritaurus AND a D-00. What a great pair.

I played guitar for many years before I started the dulcimer. The main draw for me was exactly as you say: diatonic forced me to rethink composing and experimenting with different tuning and string configurations.

As a result, I've now gone back to playing guitar again and started noodling in CGCFCD - what an amazing find courtesy of Martin Simpson! 

 

Elvensong
@elvensong
06/08/18 11:23:59AM
24 posts

Favorite chair/seat for playing?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I keep a drummer's stool in the back of the van in case the venue had no chairs (outside in the park, camping, etc.) 

I have not made the transition to standing and playing as I've been playing for nearly 40 years and just can't find a position where I can still do the technical work.

 

In my studio I use an office chair that I fitted with "rollerblade" type wheels and removed the arms. Super comfy. I also use a keyboard stand fitted with padding for standing and playing flat.


updated by @elvensong: 06/08/18 11:26:15AM
Elvensong
@elvensong
05/27/18 10:18:47PM
24 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

My wife was recently in NY for business and I was missing her so I started a song called Counting the Days, a song about waiting for a loved one to come home. It's about finished, just doing some fine-tuning.

Elvensong
@elvensong
05/27/18 10:13:52PM
24 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Ken Hulme:

My own arrangements of of the 10th century Saxon poem The Wanderer, Tolkien's The Lay of Beowulf,  verses from the Havamal, and Jabberwocky, for my Anglo-Saxon Lyre performance on June 23rd/

Would love to hear these! I'm a huge Tolkien fan and his material is rich with stories.

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/28/18 05:53:52AM
24 posts

Pick paranoia!


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

majajog:

I have arthritis in my picking thumb it is hard to hold a plain, thin pick comfortably for very long...

Have you tried the PykMax? I would think this would be perfect for you! It allows you to loosen your grip completely without dropping the pick. 

Within a minute of playing with mine the first time I ordered 3 more. It's a super comfortable picking system.

Pykmax03.jpgPykmax01.jpg

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/18/18 05:27:31AM
24 posts

Hearts Of The Dulcimer Podcast In Its 3rd Year


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi Patricia! 

Joellen introduced you and Wayne to my wife and me at the Hollywood Monday night.  I had returned home Saturday from the Menucha Dulcimer Festival where I learned from Joellen that you were presenting your Wonderful(!) film plus a concert from Joellen and Aaron.

My wife was delighted to make the drive to see and hear the magic. 

We were not disappointed - well maybe a little: the concert could have been another three or four hours!  :D  hi5

 

Thanks for making a lasting tribute to this magical instrument and community.

 

Dean

 

 

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/16/18 04:22:06PM
24 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

MTWaggin: I will take you all back to your beginner days (since that is what I am)...I just started trying some chord work ... the chord work even at a simple level makes my hands and arms hurt...

Hi MTWaggin and @jill-geary! What a treat to have another dulcimer player join the family, MTWaggin! The dulcimer's dulcet tones captivate and never let go. I'm still as in awe of the MD as I was years ago!

I wanted to throw out a couple of suggestions to see if it might help:

I often see new or even seasoned players hunched over their dulcimer with their shoulders scrunched against their neck and their arms and wrists are stiff. And very often they hold their breath for long periods of time due to their focus. I don't know if these are your issue(s) but it is quite common.

I played that way for years but got tired of being sore. I discovered that if I sit up straight (not stiff but comfortable) and take a deep breath and purposely relax my shoulders, it relieves much of the strain.

In addition, when you are strumming, don't use your whole arm (think sawing motion) but rather use more of your wrist; more like a brushing motion like when brushing egg wash on a pie crust or brushing a bread crumb off your pants.

Also, I see many beginners try to strum perpendicular to the strings, i.e straight across the fretboard. Without using the left hand, try strumming the strings perpendicular then watch what happens to your arm: your elbow will be far forward and your forearm will be almost parallel with the fretboard - it is very unnatural and is very often the source of sore arms, shoulders and wrists.

When you strum, hold your arm as though it was going to rest on your right thigh. Think of starting your strum at the 7 o'clock position and cross the strings to the 2 o'clock position. Look at your arm now: it will be relaxed and at a natural angle and the wrist is moving its natural direction as well relieving stress there.

And don't forget to breathe!

As for learning new songs, I learned a couple of great tips from Aaron O'Rourke at the Menucha Dulcimer Festival: Don't try to learn the whole song at once. Take two measures and practice them slowly until you are comfortable then speed up for a few strums then work your way up to the tempo of the song. Then move to the next couple of measures.

And when you choose the measures to work on, play those measure PLUS the first beat of the next measure that you are not playing. Doing this allows you to instantly be setup to play the next measures and it smooths the transition to the new material. Once you have the new measures (don't forget to grab the first beat of the next measure) "under your fingers", go back and play the original two measure with the new measures until it is smooth, then move to the next new measures.

Not only does this break the task of learning a new song down to manageable pieces, it also builds muscle memory because each time you learn a new set of measures, you will be also practicing the ones you've learned. By the time you've finished the last measure fo the song you will be able to play it from beginning to end at tempo and you will be thrilled!

Aaron is a fantastic teacher and I highly recommend the Dulcimerschool.com. Aaron and Stephen Seifert teach beginner to advanced and it's a STEAL at the price.

I hope this helps!

Have a great day! bighug

 

Dean

 


updated by @elvensong: 04/16/18 04:25:51PM
Elvensong
@elvensong
04/16/18 01:00:16AM
24 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Kusani:

Elevensong, great idea....  if only I could sing.....

You do your singing with the dulcimer instead of vocal chords. hi5

 

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/15/18 09:28:48PM
24 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

James Phillips:

Not dulcimer related, but I am working on Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline on my 4 string tenor guitar.  Mostly key of C with a C7 in it.  If I could sing, I would do a video of it and post it onto YouTube but since I can't sing, that won't happen anytime soon ;-) 

I thought the same thing about myself until I took a class from Karen Mueller last week. And Joellen Lapidus had a great tip for starting out: Instead of trying to play the whole song, just strum the main chords and sing and gradually add in the missing pieces. It works! I've been wanting to sing and play for years but never thought I could walk and chew gum.  

Which proves the point that people don't appreciate what they are capable of until they actually try with a little focus.

Take care!

 

Dean

 

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/15/18 09:21:29PM
24 posts

What Are You Working On?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Just returned from Menucha Dulcimer Festival and am so pumped with all the new techniques I learned. I will be incorporating those into new songs.

It's so good to be playing again! I'm still revisiting songs I wrote 20 years ago and lassoing them back under my fingers so with the new tricks and ideas I learned, I can incorporate them into older material to give them a fresh new sound.

I am soooo happy I found FOTMD. What a terrific community!

 

bighug

 

Dean

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/10/18 01:55:14PM
24 posts

Thumb Pick And Strumming


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

Dusty Turtle:

It's probably not a good look on stage, but it's better than losing control of a pick and having it fly into the audience! 

 

I liked your entire response but I can definitely relate to the above. I found a fantastic new pick (I use the 1mm) and it addresses just about any pick foible you can imagine. Here are a couple of photos on my page: Pykmax

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/10/18 01:50:43PM
24 posts

Thumb Pick And Strumming


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

I discovered my favorite pick only recently. It's called Pykmax and is a revolution in guitar picks (IMHO). It's really hard to describe how it works but it basically is a mini-platform that holds a pick and is cradled in your hand. It's fantastic! They come in different pick sizes but I use the purple 1mm.

After 5 minutes of playing I no longer realized it was there except for the wonderful freedom from pick slips, turns, bounces, fly aways and any other picking mishap you can imagine.   :D

Here's a couple of photos: Pykmax

 

Elvensong
@elvensong
04/10/18 01:28:54PM
24 posts

Thumb Pick And Strumming


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

[quote="Ken Hulme"]

"There's no right way, or wrong way to play the dulcimer."  Just YOUR way. 

 

Hear Hear!