You know your dulcimer has a hold on you when...

banjelele
@banjelele
one month ago
2 posts

Roughly 30 years ago I shot a 22 calibre bullet through the middle of the tip knuckle of my index finger on my left hand. I still have the finger but that knuckle doesn't bend at all. I couldn't play for a few months and when I could again I had to change how I did everything. It works well for bar chords on the guitar but I finger everything differently. It's àmazing what you can overcome if you stick to it.

ConnorC
ConnorC
@connorc
8 months ago
5 posts

You know your Dulcimer has a hold on you when you constantly pick it up to play whenever you have to wait a few minutes for something...

.. and then get interrupted by the very loud smoke alarms sounding because you forgot about the toasted cheese you were waiting for, that you put under the grill maybe 10 minutes ago.

Yup. Mrs. C. And the cats were very unhappy with me. Doors and windows open, extractor fan on, changed my clothes.

Cut the burnt crusts off and ate the chewy, cheesy middle bit though. 😂👍

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
10 months ago
295 posts
You know your dulcimer has a hold on you when playing makes you cry. Lately, I notice this happening with me, when playing soft gospel songs. The dulcimer got me through my wife’s cancer 6 years ago. My mother’s death 2 years ago. And now this.

Some people pray so eloquently. Me, not so much, always difficult. For me, singing and playing gospel music is like praying, except with flats and sharps, and the prettiest words. I love the ukulele very much, but I just can’t seem to find these good old feelings, only with my lap dulcimer.
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
10 months ago
428 posts

In 2015 I was in the hospital nearly 2 weeks for cellulitis in my right leg.  Of course I had a dulcimer brought to me!

 

Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
10 months ago
173 posts
Last year I two hips replaced. I took my feather dulcimer both times. The staff got a kick out of the music coming from such a small instrument.
UserNo4
UserNo4
@userno4
10 months ago
31 posts

You know that your dulcimer has a hold on you when ... you have to suddenly enter the hospital, will be there for a couple of days (in relatively good health) and you ask your spouse to bring a favorite dulcimer to you. (In this day of COVID-19, it means leaving it at the front door and having an employee bring it to you.)

I ended up having a long conversation with two nurses (it was a low-census time) and played some music for them. A nursing assistant heard my playing at another time, complimented me (I could hear her from the hallway) and later asked me why I had choose that instrument. A fourth nurse said he was a pianist and had started playing the ukulele. I think he was intrigued.

Playing it lifted my spirits. Talking two the two nurses was even better. I played a song or two for them, not because I liked it (though I did) but because I could tell they liked it. One said she had a 12-string guitar that she hadn't played in years; she was intrigued at having only three strings to deal with and said "At my age" (early 60s, perhaps), she might find that an easier go. The younger nurse said that it made her think she needed to restart trying to learn the guitar.

Oh, and there was a second nursing assistant (making for five hospital employees) whom I told about shopgoodwill.com, from which I purchased this particular dulcimer. "I love thrift stores!" she said. 

(For the record, I'm home now. I might need to go back; when I left, we were still waiting on some blood work, but two doctors both said it was fine if I left, as it was unlikely I would have to return.)

Hospital bed.JPG
Hospital bed.JPG  •  174KB

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10 months ago
1,397 posts

You're correct, @Tom-McDonald, you can't really jam using any of the teleconferencing software since the feed is not immediate and different attendees have different upload speeds as well.  But it does appear to work on your end if you mute your mic and play along with someone else. What I'm planning is just a circle in which we take turns sharing a tune or two. 




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Tom McDonald
Tom McDonald
@tom-mcdonald
10 months ago
25 posts

I've got one jam group scheduled on Skype and another on Zoom in the next week or so. Test runs so far show that the what works is for the leader to play and while everyone else mutes their mic and plays along. Otherwise the lag is too much. Hoping it works out.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10 months ago
1,397 posts

Yeah, the Zoom version of my local dulcimer group scheduled for Saturday already has 15 attendees, which is too much, I think, but I didn't have the heart to turn anyone away. After this first time I might do a couple each month but cap them at 10.  

My family and I do not appear to be infected yet. My wife and I still have our jobs.  We haven't run out of toilet paper yet. I feel pretty lucky.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
10 months ago
173 posts
I think we’re the lucky ones!
LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
10 months ago
46 posts

Good for you!!!  I attended my weekly yoga class via Zoom last weekend.  Happy playing!  (We just got fully locked down here in WA state, no gatherings of any kind/size.)  I tellya, when I get out my dulcimer and/or my guitar and start playing, it *really* takes me away from all the worry/stress of current events.  So glad I stumbled into learning the dulcimer a little over a year ago. dancecool

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10 months ago
1,397 posts

You know your dulcimer has a hold on you when . . . you are obliged to cancel your monthly dulcimer club because of a global pandemic and you offer to host a Zoom meeting so everyone can still share dulcimer music!  Yep, that's what I'm doing.  Five people have already confirmed attendance. We meet next weekend!




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
10 months ago
173 posts
Strumelia. I just go wherever I can. It’s okay. At 72 I’m not techno savvy.
Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
11 months ago
295 posts
Robin Thompson:

I understand!  I have different problems with my hands.  Other than pulling up my pants and brushing my teeth, mountain dulcimer is the big consideration when something happens with my hands. :) 


My dad once told me, “Son, if you keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, you’re have trouble getting your pants up.”
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
11 months ago
1,926 posts

Don you wrote me about this a week ago or so, and I responded, but never heard back from you. Can you tell us an example of a particular group you belong to that you have this issue with?  At least then I can check that you already belong to the group, and start from there in helping you.

Also, as I asked you prior:  when you have this issue of not being able to access a group you are a member of... are you sure you are LOGGED IN on the site when you try to access the group?  I ask this because any person who is online looking at fotmd.com would be able to see the site and many of the site pages... but they would not be able to see the content of groups unless they were logged into the site.  If you see your NAME in the top right hand link bar, then you are logged IN.  You should check that because what you describe sounds like that may be what's going on.  To see the contents of any Group you are a member of, you need to be LOGGED IN to the site.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11 months ago
1,397 posts

@Don-Grundy, Ken is correct. You do not have to sign into a Group once you've joined it.  I would also like to point out that we have a Forum specifically for Site Questions . Feel free to peruse the existing conversations there or start another one of your own if you have any questions.  If we all use that Forum for site-related questions it becomes a great resource for others.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11 months ago
1,800 posts

Don -- once you're a Group member, you don't "sign on" to that group.  You'll find the Groups you are a member of listed under your name when you hover over it with the cursor.

Rain Dog
Rain Dog
@rain-dog
11 months ago
19 posts
I actually use my thumb to pick (pluck) as well. Either middle on base forefinger on middle string and thumb on melody or ring on base middle on middle and forefinger on melody. I've been experimenting with tuning the double melody strings in fifths, so I'm currently tuned base C mid G and melody g and c. So I play cgc with my fingers and cgg if I use my thumb.
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
11 months ago
173 posts
I belong to several groups and am unable to sign on to any of them. Please help.
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
11 months ago
32 posts

Well crud and other sayings of a simular nature...looks like I stand corrected, huh?

However, I am a thumb, index, middle finger picker. That leaves out the thumb brace for me. More like resting the ring and pinky next to the fret board.

Rain Dog
Rain Dog
@rain-dog
11 months ago
19 posts

But as to pulling up on the strings? I would be afraid there might be a chance of the string 'slapping' the frets if string was pulled hard enough.

From Jean Ritchie's Dulcimer Book: "Brace the thumb of the right hand against the side of the fingerboard near the right hand end. Play, with a slight lifting or plucking motion, the melody string and second string with the forefinger, and the third string with the middle finger." Also The Best Dulcimer Method - Yet, (the only Dulcimer book I've seen in the past 40 years) repeats "Play with a slight lift in plucking motion." As far as string buzzing it hasn't been a problem, but my action is a little high. Not nickel and dime, more like a buck and a half.

Didn't know how to post that original quote.

Also sorry it took two weeks to respond, but, life..

 


updated by @rain-dog: 02/17/20 08:51:12AM
LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
last year
46 posts

Will do (check out the group).  I've seen Jessica Comeau's videos.  I have her book, and she says she usually uses bare fingers but also sometimes uses those fingerpick things.  That woman is from another planet, such beautiful playing!

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,397 posts

@LisavB, I second @Ferrator's suggestion below.  There is a whole group here at FOTMD solely devoted to Fingerpicking . Why not join, peruse some of the conversations and maybe start one of your own?




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie

updated by @dusty-turtle: 02/03/20 03:44:07AM
LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
last year
46 posts

That's one of the things I love about the dulcimer.  It looks like a relatively simple instrument, but there are seemingly endless layers to playing it.  Your various answers sure prove that!

I checked out videos for both Ms. Brockinton and Ms. Zanetti.  Wow. That is the sound I'm looking for--it is a bit more subtle than with the pick, but the notes still ring out/articulate beautifully.  I think I need to get more up on the fingertip, try some snap and perhaps some nail.  The way I was doing it was dulling the sound.  I'd like to also fingerpick on my guitar.

Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
last year
173 posts
Welcome to the world of no hard rules. It’s spectacular!
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

To Dusty's point: Aye, more mellow it is. Dull? THAT might also be come down to the 'how' of the way you play, eh? also, to Dusty. Watch some Jessica Comeau YouTubes, especially the close ups. I would swear that she does NOT have nails, but the sound is a bright as any I have heard.

"Dull" my furry tusche...pft

I also suggest looking into the fingerpicking discussions at this site. There have got to be as many ways to fingerpick as there are ways to make a curry.

But as to pulling up on the strings? I would be afraid there might be a chance of the string 'slapping' the frets if string was pulled hard enough.

Just for the heck of it, I went looking. Finally used the 'site search' for 'fingerpicking'. HAWT DOGGIES!!! My screen lit up like I was signalling the Mothership! Meet ya there! Looks like I will be doing a lot of reading of my own now.

So, Lisa? Are y'all completely cornfuzzled yet?


updated by @ferrator: 02/02/20 12:17:07PM
Rain Dog
Rain Dog
@rain-dog
last year
19 posts
Although I don't have much experience, compared to others. I kind of pull up on the strings with my fingertips (no nails). It gives the strings a little snap.
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,397 posts

For the record, many (check out Linda Brockinton and Nina Zanetti for the best examples) fingerpick without using their nails, just using the skin of the fingertips.  That makes for a more mellow tone. (OK, you can call it "dull" but I find it soft and expressive.)




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie

updated by @dusty-turtle: 02/01/20 06:16:41PM
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

Yup, you got it. As to length, up to you and what works, as they say.

I have been ALL over the place. Rapiers that can slice veggies to just the barest bit of a nail that barely nips the string on the way by. The long ones can also tend to make the notes a lot 'sharper', while the shorter ones can make only a barely noticeable difference.

There is just NO objective answer to that. You have to come up with what works. And THAT means a lot of practice.

I have arrived at a place that has nails long enough to give the string a decent  "clip" on the way by. So much for length...

While it is a nice vanity point to have a point in the middle of the finger. I have found that (for me) it is best for my nails to be a bit off center. ~LOL~ It is a great conversation starter '...is there something wrong with your fingers...?'...

I would like to be able to dispense some Sage Wisdom here, but it is all going to come down to a single thing. Practice. Lot's and lot's of practice...

LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
last year
46 posts

@ferrator, I tend to slide my thumb, too.  Got a small callus on the side so far, near the nail.  I would love to fingerpick.  I use a pick, not noter.  What's the trick?  Leave right-hand nails just a little longer and orient the fingers to use the nails against the strings?  The finger per se leaves such a dull sound...

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

@lisavb  I fingerpick. Exclusively. I was taught to play by fingerpicking. While playing chords and all, I have the habit of anchoring the ring finger on the treble string. But even though I to not use a noter, I use the side of my thumb for sliding on the treble. As a result, I have a gray to black stripe in the side of my thumb and a wee notch in the side of my thumbnail.

Ayup, I know what you mean, having nothing that NEEDS to be done and being able to be a couch potato. But yeah, it is a bit different when that is forced on you by the weather. Come summer, here in sunny Phoenix and the temps go over 110 for days, even a couple of weeks at a time, going outside is not usually one of the options available to us.

LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
last year
46 posts

This thread is cracking me up, too!  @ferrator, how did you acquire the "callus stripe"?  Just years of use, or some specific event not unlike a frying pan?  

We were trapped for several days last week with snow and ice.  Not a huge amount of snow, but the ice...  This is a bad place for snow (Seattle and suburbs), with all the hills and bridges.  And our street is not maintained by the city, so it's dig, dig, dig.  I used to live in Minnesota--at least it's built for snow there.  

Love days where I have nowhere I must go and can hang around the house and do what I enjoy--like today.  I do not love days where I *can't* get out.  That just scares me.

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

@irene I understand what it is like to have your ability to get out and about hampered by the weather. Shouldn't be much longer though before you will be back church and making music! :) 

A Joyous noise, eh? :)

Here, in the desert, we have been having what passes for winter with temps at or below freezing. This is just NOT something we are prepared for.

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

@irene  You are one good egg! It is a joy to swap posts with you! :)

30 harps? I have been considering building a harp! A smaller, travelling style, Troubador (?) type of folk harp. But in a studio apt. with no access to a decent workspace, I am at a loss at to how to do that, if at all. Any suggestions?

As it is I am still finishing a Kantele, but the lack of space is hampering that.

Rain Dog
Rain Dog
@rain-dog
last year
19 posts
@irene I'm using a piece of one of those credit cards as the nut on my dulcimer. Where would we be, if our credit wasn't so good?
IRENE
IRENE
@irene
last year
179 posts

While I smiled writing the last post....on a more serious note (pun intended)..........I thought of the reasons to go to Church for me.  Leading the singing for a congregation is a sure JOY and being with friends and hearing words taught in sincerity and Love of our Savior.   To keep me from getting callous's of the heart, to partake of the Sacrament and renew my covenants is the real reason I love to attend Sabbath Day Meetings.  So go to church folks where ever you live....and don't get callous's on the heart.   aloha, irene

IRENE
IRENE
@irene
last year
179 posts

Oh, how I needed such a good laughing post here.  "fess up Irene.........."   It's been a hard day in that I can't go outside.   Already a 1/2 inch covers my car of ice and no can open the door.  It's now 10 degrees....wind chill is blowing to the max................ So that means no church going for now 2ed Sunday in a row.   bummers.   Oh yes, I've got plunty to do at home....reading and playing music...but meeting with my friends at Church and leading the music there is a joy.  

Okay, I'll "fess up".  I've made 55 harps........all nylon stung.  No need to get callouses for playing these.  One thing that appealed to me about the mountain dulcimer....30? some years ago...NOTER AND DRONE....that's how I play...no need callouses to play this way.  I play with  a triangle pick with my right hand.  I've used various other picks, but go back to the triangle one I can get at the music store.   I've cut up credit card sends....they make great picks.  

someday someone reading this may need this info.   If you get stung by a centipede or any bad bug bite....bees and wasps....Urine can take away most of the pain.   Hawaii learned 

Thanks Ferrator for your question.  aloha, irene

Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

Fess up Irene... How did YOU get all callous...er...get the callouses on your fingers?

IRENE
IRENE
@irene
last year
179 posts

THIS THREAD CRACKS ME UP LAUGHING. 

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
last year
184 posts

Go to rock-tips.com and buy a bottle, it works.  Check it out.

Rain Dog
Rain Dog
@rain-dog
last year
19 posts
Also, pressing on your finger pads with your nails helps build callouses when you're not playing.
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,397 posts

If playing a lot is not your way of developing calluses, you might try soaking your fingertips in vinegar.  Old school baseball players used to urinate on their hands to toughen up the skin, but if you use that method, please don't play any of my instruments, thank you. shake  




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

Oh yeah, it IS harsh. But it is attributed to some hard core jazz musician. Sort of urban legend territory.

~LOL~ But I know about the callouses. Then there is the gray stripe on my left thumb. (That is my "noter" so to speak)

LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
last year
46 posts

The iron skillet trick--now that is harsh.  I'm starting to feel calluses building on my left fingertips from playing the guitar I got last month.  Already sacrificed my long nails for the dulcimer a year ago...

Rain Dog
Rain Dog
@rain-dog
last year
19 posts
@ferrator I think I'll pass on iron skillet trick. I did have a neighbor tell me, when I young to rub my fingertips on a frosty window.
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
last year
32 posts

Just think of the nice callous you are going to have! I know I am still working on mine. ~L~ That and a nice stripe on the left thumb.

Beats the heck out of the most hardcore callous builder I ever heard of:

Heat up an iron skillet to around 400° then put your fingertips on it. Pretty nasty for several days, but it builds a pretty decent 'playing' callous...

Old jazz musician trick (alledgedly)

~cringe~

Rain Dog
Rain Dog
@rain-dog
last year
19 posts
@lisavb. Thanks for putting that in my mind. Now I've sliced my fretting forefinger peeling potatoes. Of course I didn't have any "new skin" and couldn't stay away from my dulcimer so I've ended up ripping off the loose skin. Okay, good time to start building up my thumb.
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
2 years ago
173 posts
Gimme a call. My wife is right. I have at least two lifetimes supplies of most of the materials and hooks.
Ferrator
Ferrator
@ferrator
2 years ago
32 posts

I tried tying flies once. Damn things just will NOT hold still. It is as calming and Zen as herding cats.

LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
2 years ago
46 posts

YOWZA!  Vicious table saw!  I'm doing much better already.  I tend to heal fast, and now I have a nice coating of NewSkin on there.  That stuff is great!  It did not sting, probably partly due to the fact that it was no longer a fresh wound, and also b/c I found a formula that also claimed to have a topical analgesic in it.  

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 years ago
241 posts

That's right!  You know, table saws are bad for damaging your fingers or hands.  The tips of my thumb and forefinger on my right hand went through "an aggressive change" over a year ago due to my table saw.  Things healed very nicely, thank God, but the sensitivity is gone somewhat.  It's harder to pick up small objects now, but I'm thankful that the injuries weren't much worse.

You'll be fine after a while, I'm sure.

LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
2 years ago
46 posts

LOL! I'm on the computer a lot for work, and I am very, very swift at typing.  That first morning, I had a really clumsy/hasty attempt at a bandage and so the finger was knocking into other keys when I typed.  Annoying!  Slimmed down the bandage and got my speed back.  But no way could I have fretted with that tip.  Best to not damage ones hands in the first place! winky

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 years ago
1,125 posts

I understand!  I have different problems with my hands.  Other than pulling up my pants and brushing my teeth, mountain dulcimer is the big consideration when something happens with my hands. :) 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
2 years ago
173 posts
At 72 my hands are really important. My Zen moments are playing my dulcimers and harmonicas and tying flies.
IRENE
IRENE
@irene
2 years ago
179 posts

sorry about the "slice" but the rest of these posts are a crack up.  Yep, I have counted it a blessing when I did a number on my right and said, "well, I can still strum, so it's okay."   aloha, irene

LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
2 years ago
46 posts

Thanks!  I'm going to get some of that skin glue.  The slice is on a really difficult spot to try to bandage.  If anyone would understand or know what to do, it's you all!

Susie
Susie
@susie
2 years ago
409 posts

I think the very same way, since beginning my music journey in 1973. smile I hate it when a injury interferes with my playing guitar or dulcimer. I truly feel blessed as long as I can play.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
1,397 posts

I hope you heal quickly.  The Liquid Skin stuff that Ken recommends is awesome.  It seals like super glue but it is also antiseptic, so it keeps things clean. It is especially useful on parts of the hand that move a lot.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
2 years ago
173 posts
My wife; the art teacher has always used super glue.
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
1,800 posts

I recommend Liquid Skin or NuSkin.  Burns like anything at first but protects cut fingers reaaaally well and helps them heal faster.

Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
2 years ago
173 posts
Every day is a gift: celebrate.
LisavB
LisavB
@lisavb
2 years ago
46 posts

So I was getting ready for work yesterday, and then I sliced the tip of my ring finger on the edge of a crisp file folder.  Sliced it real good.  Amid frantically trying to stop the bleeding so I could get out and make my bus, I thought to myself, thank heavens it's not on my fretting hand.  

You know that dulcimer's got a grip on you when you start thinking like that!

Not only that, I recently bought a lovely black Fender acoustic guitar for when I want "all the notes."  Trying to learn that as well.  

Can't disappoint my stringed friends by not being able to play!


updated by @lisavb: 03/22/20 06:08:04PM