Workshop Descriptions

At the Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering you have a choice of 4 workshops (from 22) on Saturday and up to 3 workshops (from 7) on Sunday. Our 7 teachers this year will present subjects including tunes, songs, dulcimer history, technique, and songwriting. As the finale on Saturday, everyone is invited to join the Playing Circle, listening or presenting as you choose.  The day is planned for maximum time in community with an international group of dulcimer aficionados.

After you’ve registered and paid for the workshops, you’ll be redirected to a form where you can choose which classes you want to attend.

Event Dates: May 14-16, 2021

Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering: Class Levels

About the skill levels:

To help you pick the best workshops for your experience, all of our workshops are classified by the skill level of the material. Although you’re welcome to attend any classes you’d like (and there will be no test), you’re likely to get more from classes designed with somebody of your skill in mind.

Absolute Beginner:

You do not need previous dulcimer experience or musical background.

Beginner Mountain Dulcimer:

You know how to hold your instrument, and can strum and play some simple tunes. You may not feel confident yet, but you love the music that your instrument can make! These classes will help you learn some chords, gain more comfort with your instrument and your ability to find and play tunes by ear and from music and tablature.

Beginner Hammer Dulcimer:

You are familiar with the layout of the hammered dulcimer and note names.  You feel comfortable with your hammers.  You can play some simple tunes. You may not feel confident yet, but you love the music that your instrument can make! These classes will help you develop effective hammer habits and tune-acquisition techniques. You’ll add some very simple embellishments to basic melodies.

Intermediate Mountain Dulcimer:

You have the skills of the previous levels and you’ve learned the basics of strumming and reading tablature, you need to expand your playing techniques and musical theory. You are learning to embellish your basic music with hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides; to adapt an arrangement with different chord positions; to play in and modulate to different keys with and without a capo or retuning; to flat-pick and fingerpick a tune. You can play in different tunings.

Intermediate Hammer Dulcimer:

You have the skills of the previous levels and you’re learning how to play new tunes more quickly.  These classes will focus on chord patterns, hammer skills, and adding harmony and fill to tunes. You’ll begin to develop your own arrangements and play more musically.

Advanced Mountain Dulcimer:

You have the skills of the other levels plus the ability to play at least 4 chords in DAd or DAA tuning, to use 2-3 fingers (left hand), and be comfortable with at least 2-3 basic rhythms, utilize melody runs on all the strings using scales, then adding arpeggios and patterns from within chords, as well as a strummed chordal melody.

Advanced Hammer Dulcimer:

You have the skills of the previous levels and are ready to tackle more complex arrangements.  These classes will focus on fine-tuning playing and arranging techniques. You’ll learn to play more expressively in varied styles and perform more confidently.

Workshop Descriptions ~ Saturday, 5/15/21

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Sat. 9:30-10:30 am PDT

Class Period 1

Mountain Dulcimer Classes:

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning! DJ Hamouris

(Absolute Beginner)
3
Event Details

This class will get you started with your dulcimer – learning your fretboard, how to place your fingers, a strum or two, and a couple of very beginning tunes. This class includes an extra session to help you tune your instrument. Please include Thursday, 5/13, at 3:30 PDT in your schedule. DAd tuning

A Study in Song: "The Conscript's Departure" - Aubrey Atwater

(Intermediate +)
3
Event Details

It is easy to spend a full workshop examining this beautiful 19th-century song. Techniques and skills addressed include playing in the stunning reverse tuning, DGd, chording, fingering, fingerpicking, singing, crooked rhythm, interpreting and restoring archives, and the song’s historical backstory. DGd tuning

Songs of Legendary Folksinger Bill Staines - Heidi Muller

(Intermediate)
3
Event Details

Bill Staines is the beloved American folksinger who wrote River, A Place in the Choir (All God’s Critters), Crossing the Water, and many other fine songs that sound great with the dulcimer. We’ll sing and play along to three of his songs and add a harmony part if there’s time. Heidi has published two Bill Staines tab books, So Sang the River and Spirit Song. DAD tuning, capo needed

With Love, From D to G - Dusty Thorburn

(Intermediate)
3
Event Details

Have you ever played a nice song, perhaps gone through it two or three times, and then wondered what else to do with it?  Modulating keys is a relatively simple but dramatic way to offer a variation of a tune.  This workshop centers on a accessible songs arranged in the keys of both D and G, all in a DAd tuning!  Songs selected might include Lorena, Flow Gently Sweet Afton, Macpherson’s Lament, and more. DAd tuning

Hammer Dulcimer Classes:

Rags to Riches, Ilace Mears

(Advanced)
3
Event Details

Make your ragtime tunes strut and swagger.  The Pig Ankle Rag is an avenue to the tips you need to know.

String Side Up: The Basics of Hammered Dulcimer, Steve Eulberg

(Absolute Beginner)
3

Understanding how the instrument is laid out, playing with both hands, all the things I wish I’d known when I first started playing!

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Sat. 10:45-11:45 am PDT

Class Period 2

Mountain Dulcimer Classes:

From Nice to Gorgeous, Aubrey Atwater

(Intermediate)
3
Event Details

How do we articulate techniques behind beautiful, emotionally compelling playing? Join Aubrey in a discussion and application of these ideas, using several traditional songs such as “Pretty Saro”. Tunings vary

Toe-Tapping Tunes, Heidi Muller

(Beginner)
3
Event Details

For beginners who have learned the basics, we’ll play some popular jam tunes and their simplest backup chords. Discover fingerings that make it easier to move up and down the fretboard on tunes like Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm, Sourwood Mountain, and Wildwood Flower. DAd tuning

Cherubini Fuge 4 part ensemble, Kay Bolin

(Advanced)
3
Event Details

Italian composer Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), wrote this wonderful fugue. Our arrangement is for three standard and one bass dulcimer but can be played with four standard dulcimers. Three parts are essentially the same, played as you would a round, and one part accompanies. It is beautiful with just two parts, but add the third and fourth and it gets better. You don’t need to be a great dulcimer player but you do need to be able to hold your own. You will receive a practice audio file as well as TAB for this workshop. Finger or flat pick. DAd tuning

Hammer Dulcimer Classes:

Let Your Right Hand Do Not As Your Left Hand Doeth, Ilace Mears

(Intermediate)
3
Event Details

Hand separation opens up a whole new level of playing and arranging.  You may not be able to play rounds with yourself right away, but this is a useful tool.Next Steps, Steve Eulberg (Beginner)  Now that we know how the instrument works, we’ll use that knowledge to find tunes we already know AND begin learning some tunes by ear and by eye.

Next Steps, Steve Eulberg

(Beginner)
3
Event Details

Now that we know how the instrument works, we’ll use that knowledge to find tunes we already know AND begin learning some tunes by ear and by eye.

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Sat. 1:00-2:00 pm PDT

Class Period 3

Mountain Dulcimer Classes:

Songs of Jean Ritchie, Aubrey Atwater

(Beginner / Intermediate)
3
Event Details

Aubrey will teach a variety of songs she has learned through her long contact with Jean Ritchie, the person largely responsible for introducing the mountain dulcimer to the wider folk music world in the mid-20th century. We will focus on the traditional style of playing with the noter, tunings, singing, and using the dulcimer as a harmony voice. We will start in DAd tuning.

West Virginia Fiddle Tunes, Heidi Muller

(Advanced)
3
Event Details

Old-time fiddle music from West Virginia can be catchy, crooked and archaic. Come learn a few of the edgier tunes from West Virginia’s best-known, old-time fiddlers like Devil Sol Carpenter and the Hammons Family. DAd, capo needed

Shape Up Your Chords! Kay Bolin

(Advanced Beginner/Intermediate)
3
Event Details

Three basic chord shapes to learn – and with them – so many chords to play. Learn how to use the shapes all the way up your fretboard. Knowing your chords allows you to accompany yourself playing chord melody style, accompany singing or accompany another person playing melody. It is also invaluable for fingerpicking. You will come away with a powerful new tool in your dulcimer bag. Tune DAd

Why a Baritone? DJ Hamouris

(All levels)
3
Event Details

What can you do with a baritone you can’t do with a standard dulcimer? How are they the same and how are they different? What the heck key is that? And how do I play one with a bunch of standards? Part lecture, part experimentation, we’ll answer these questions and more. If you don’t already have a baritone dulcimer, you can join in by using a capo at the 4th fret on a standard. AEA tuning

Hammer Dulcimer Classes:

Shape Up Your Chords, Steve Eulberg

(Intermediate)
3
Event Details

It turns out that there are reliable Hammered Dulcimer Chord shapes that work on the hammered dulcimer, just like other instruments! We’ll learn a few of them (and get a digital copy of Steve’s Hammered Dulcimer Chord Chart) and how to play them in different time signatures as well!

Exercises for Hand Strength and Agility, Ilace Mears

(All Levels)
3
Event Details

Train your brain and your hands for more even playing and better accuracy. Be ready for the 2021 Summer Dulcimer Olympics! Excellent long-term benefits!

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Sat. 2:15-3:15 pm PDT

Class Period 4

Mountain Dulcimer Classes:

Arranging Songs on the Mountain Dulcimer, Aubrey Atwater

(All levels)
3
Event Details

What do we do with verses, choruses and instrumentals? What techniques help pack emotion into the songs we love so much, surprising our ears? Come explore these questions and more and gain tips, suggestions, tricks and techniques for arranging songs. We will start in DAd.

Fingerpicking with Flow, Heidi Muller

(Intermediate+)
3
Event Details

For those who already fingerpick… we’ll play some beautiful songs in the fingerpicked style as we use techniques to make the music flow as seamlessly as possible. We’ll consider different chord voicings and how chord fingerings can link together to improve your sound. DAd, capo needed

Fun French-Canadian Fiddle Tunes, Dusty Thorburn

(Intermediate) (DAd tuning)
3
Event Details

Music from the French-speaking areas of Canada share an affinity with the fiddle traditions of the U.S. and the British Isles but have not succumbed to the obsession with speed that characterizes modern bluegrass jams and Irish sessions. Come explore some fun and accessible fiddle tunes from le pays du nord. Tunes selected may include Les Fraises et les Framboises, La Valse de l’Amitié, Reel St. Hubert, Le Rêve du Quêteux Tremblay, and more. DAd tuning

Playing and Writing your Own Blues Song, Steve Eulberg

(Advanced)
3
Event Details

In DAd tuning, we’ll build on a typical 12-bar blues framework, using the Am Pentatonic and A Blues scales, to assist each student in creating their own blues song!

Hammer Dulcimer Classes:

Back to Bach, Ilace Mears

(Advanced Beginner / Intermediate)
3
Event Details

This session entitles you to add “classically trained” to your resumé! Three little minuets from 1725 demonstrate real dulcimer roots music. Powdered wig optional.

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Sat. 3:30-4:30/5 pm PDT

Playing Circle

Playing Circle - Erin Mae Lewis

(All Levels)
3
Event Details

Online playing circles are something of a hybrid between jams and open mics. Due to the limitations of Zoom, we can’t all play together and hear everyone. We can, however, play along with the song leader.
Everyone in the “circle” will have the opportunity to choose a song — they can also choose to play something for everyone to just listen, lead a favorite jam tune, or ask me to lead their favorite play-along song. 

These playing circles are tons of fun, and allow everyone to participate at whatever level they are comfortable with. There may be wacky hats and groove faces too! 🙂

Workshop Descriptions & Schedule ~ Sunday, 5/16/21

2-hour workshops on hammer & mountain dulcimers (including baritone) and songwriting

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Sun. 8:30-10:30 am PDT

Workshop 1

Mountain Dulcimer Classes:

Going to the Cleaners, Aubrey Atwater

(Intermediate / Advanced)
3
Event Details

This workshop addresses polishing and beautifying your playing. If you wish, be ready to play a piece you already know and we’ll discuss how you might refine and improve your technique and delivery of the music. If you plan to share, please have you Zoom audio setting on Original Sound. Tunings based on student choices.

Hammer Dulcimer Classes:

Hand Separation Gym Class, Steve Eulberg

(Advanced Beginner – Advanced)
3
Event Details

Being able to play freely and accurately with both hands leads to the skills of Hand Separation & Hand Interdependence which Hammered Dulcimer players depend upon. We’ll have time to time to go deep into several different kinds of exercises that can help us advance and polish our skills.

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Sun. 10:45am-12:45pm PDT

Workshop 2

Mountain Dulcimer Classes:

Grab Bag, Aubrey Atwater

(Intermediate / Advanced)
3
Event Details

Surprise! Aubrey will supply a variety of handouts from workshops she has developed over the years. Repertoire and technique may include: Jean Ritchie songs, chord melody style, tunings and modes, fingerpicking, playing by ear, four equally distant strings, the noter, archives, harmony, slap strum, and more. Come find out!! We will start in DAd. (Int/Adv)

Tunes for Baritone, New & Old, DJ Hamouris

(Intermediate+)
3
Event Details

A wide variety of tunes from early music, Victorian song, English country dance, familiar Americana, and a new composition. You’ll play in a variety of keys without capo or retuning (except 1). A couple of duets and a trio complete the 2-hour package of baritone fun! AEA, AEG tunings

Hammer Dulcimer Classes:

Arranging for Success, Ilace Mears

(Beginner – Advanced)
3
Event Details

Good arrangements begin with a plan – and lots of options. When making a tune uniquely your own, you’ll need to consider everything from intros and key to rhythm and voicing.

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Sun. 2:00-4:00 pm PDT

Workshop 3

Hammer Dulcimer Classes:

Backing Up Without Going in Reverse, Ilace Mears

(Beginner – Advanced)
3
Event Details

The Art of Accompaniment: For those (rare) times when it’s somebody else’s turn to shine – or you want to back up your own vocals! How to be supportive in all the right ways: rhythmically, harmonically, and gracefully.

Songwriting Class:

Songwriting – Write Your Story into Song, Heidi Muller

(All levels)
3
Event Details

Do you have a story from family, friends or local history that you think would make a great song? Using one of my own examples, I’ll explain how I approach writing a story song and help you unearth your own details to give shape to your idea. We’ll talk about what goes into a verse, chorus and bridge, and address how to create a melody, tempo and chord structure that serves the lyrics. Please have a notebook, pen or pencil handy for writing exercises (or your computer if you prefer). Bring your instrument to try out musical ideas. We’ll have frequent breaks for questions and sharing.

REGISTRATION OPEN NOW

Join Us!

Event Info

Date

May 14 – 16, 2021

Location

This Year's Gathering Will Be 100% Online!

Time

See Schedule!

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