General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
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.
...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.