The Joy of Sharing Dulcimer

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
2 months ago
76 posts

I guess the practicalities do get in the way a bit!earplug
This makes me think of all the articles shared on here about dulcimer building workshops in schools. I have spent a lot of time working on ways to make dulcimers as inexpensively as possible. I have helped a couple of hitchhikers to build cardboard dulcimers which, other than having to buy a can of polyurethane that lasts for several, cost ~7$ to make(3 loose strings 1$ each, three eyehole screws as tuners, 1.50$, 2 foot piece of red oak 2.50$) Id love to get to a point with editing where I can make videos on producing good sounding dulcimers for under 30$. We really are blessed to play an instrument that doesn't necessarily  require anything fancy to produce.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 months ago
276 posts

Friends, I have the solution you crave for tuning multiple dulcimers for children:  Use zither pins for tuners, and give tuning wrenches only to the instructors!  Tune all of the dulcimers ONCE, and let the classes begin!

CarolynF
CarolynF
@carolynf
2 months ago
5 posts

Add the tuning issue to the cost of purchasing and maintaining multiple dulcimers helps to explain why the recorder is the choice of most schools.  It is much less costly and is ready to play right out of its pouch.

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Ahh, yes. You are right. ( those pesky details)

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
2 months ago
117 posts

One drawback to using string instruments in large groups of children is getting past issues of tuning multiple instruments quickly.  Imagine trying to tune 30 dulcimers before everyone is "in-tune".  The typical elementary music class is about 30 minutes long.  Trying to tune an instrument in a noisy room can be extremely difficulty.  Trying to tune 30 dulcimers in a  room of 30 children is nearly impossible.

Add the tuning issue to the cost of purchasing and maintaining multiple dulcimers helps to explain why the recorder is the choice of most schools.  It is much less costly and is ready to play right out of its pouch.


updated by @greg-gunner: 07/25/21 06:48:40PM
CarolynF
CarolynF
@carolynf
2 months ago
5 posts

I agree that a dulcimer should replace the recorder as a child's first introduction to music. Anyone at all can have immediate success. Recorders are hard to get to point where the music is pleasing to a kid. The trouble is that recorders (or "songflutes", what my children got) are cheap, and can be kept by the kid. Or, if you go back far enough to the 60's we had "Tonettes" that lived in a cardboard box until passed out for temporary usage. 

I'd recommend one over a ukulele for a kid being introduced to strings/music.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
2,013 posts

Wonderful points, Nate. Americans have sadly gotten away from the norm of every family having several members who play an instrument at home or at family or community gatherings. 




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,858 posts

Well said, Nate!   Preachin' to the choir, as they say, but very well said.

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
2 months ago
76 posts

I just got back from a camping trip where I brought a dulcimer. Plucked by the lake and the campfire and it was a great time. While out there, a friend remarked that it sounds nice and told me what so many people have told me during conversations about music. "I've never been any good." 

Every time I hear this it's like a dopamine rush because I know certainly that if I put a dulcimer in their hands, explain to them the Do-Re-Mi scale as I move up the melody string frets, and then show them that every chord they can play will always be harmonious, they will be enthralled and within 30 seconds their musical confidence will have skyrocketed. Sure enough he was having fun with different rhythms, playing bizarre chords as far as his hands could stretch just to see what they sound like, and once he realized he could barre chords using a lighter as a slide, he was in bliss.

It's an experience I've had many times. I often sling my primitive dulcimers on my back and walk to the river, and along the way people often inquire about it. I really do relish in persuading people who think they lack musical ability to go ahead and try playing. Without fail people who have had really bad experiences with hard to learn instruments get so invested in playing my dulcimer its hard to get it back, and in fact a couple times, they purchased it from me on the spot because the music they made with it spoke to them.

I get a ton of joy from introducing american history enthusiasts, art appreciators, and those who need a boost of musical confidence to my dulcimers. It is so accessible to beginners and is simply gorgeous in the hands of a master. 

In my opinion the dulcimer should replace the recorder as the 'student instrument' given that it's so much more likely to spark a love for music. I think if everyone had access to a dulcimer, almost everyone would be a musician :)