Playing chords can open up a whole new world for you, especially if you want to sing or play in different keys. I found it difficult to sing in the key of D because I can't reach the high notes. I now have a 1 1/2 fret on my dulcimer which makes it possible to play in the key of C without a capo. You can also play in the key of G and A without a capo. Awesome, because I never really liked using a capo and I sing mostly in the key of C, A, and G.
The 1 1/2 fret makes it possible to play a D minor chord and also an F. You'll need the F chord when playing in the key of C. Your three main chords when playing in the key of C will be C, F, and G. But you are not limited to just three chords when playing in different keys. When I play Morning Is Broken I use D,G,A,F#m, G7, C, and F. You can also change keys in the middle of the song and go up to the key of D! These chords are F, G, E, Am, F#m, Bm, G, D, and A7! See how versatile your dulcimer can become with the 1 1/2 fret.
I use my thumb and also my pinkie a lot because my fingers are short. You can also change the rythym of songs by picking the chords one string at a time so that it sounds like a harp. Beautiful!
There is a chart that has all the chords listed but I can't remember where I found it. Maybe on the internet or in a book. Ask around your dulcimer friends. They may know where it can be found. Although it doesn't have the 1 1/2 chords listed, McSpadden offers a laminated chord chart for $5 that will really help you. You'll find it invaluable.
Once you learn your chords, you can jam with just about any group and play in most of the keys that guitarist like to play in. Good luck!
Welcome, Lwlittle, to this little corner of dulcimer heaven. Hope you enjoy it here.
Hey LW, welcome aboard. Glad ya found us.
Hi LW, and welcome to the wonderful world of the Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. It's a good place to come, spend some time, learn about the dulcimer, and meet some good people.
Greetings to Colorado from Vermont and welcome to the site. My haven't we got the snow here now. I hope you have a fun journey with your dulcimer. This is a pretty nice group of folks.
Welcome to FOTMD, Lwlittle. It's good to have you aboard.
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."