Copyright 1999
Dulcimers By Jeff
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"How To Play" the Dulcimer Handbook

FOR THE BEGINNER
Designed and Written by
Jeffrey Allen Lambert

This "on line" booklet is for the beginner or seeker that is interested in learning to play the mountain or Appalachian lap dulcimer.  Follow the steps, #1, #2, etc.  - soon you'll be playing this age old instrument!

The dulcimer is a lovely musical instrument.  It is easy to learn to play and will bring you hours of enjoyment.

This booklet is only a stepping stone to get you started on your way.  I suggest purchasing one of my instructions books.  I offer three books that are excellent to help you enjoy the dulcimer.

In this little booklet you will learn how to hold the dulcimer, tune the dulcimer, strum the dulcimer, and to play some familiar songs.

Get your instrument and lets get started!
 
 
GETTING STARTED
On the four string dulcimer the first two strings are placed very close together.  These two strings make up the #1 string.  They are used for the melody.
 
Always strum over the strum hollow.  Always strum all the strings.  Strings two  and three are the drone strings, giving the dulcimer a "bag-pipe" sound.
 
You can use your finger's) on the left hand to note the dulcimer or you can use a "noter" (one might have been included with your dulcimer . . . it is a small round wooden stick you can use to "note" your dulcimer).
 
HOLDING THE DULCIMER
        Use a comfortable stool or armless chair.
        Hold the dulcimer flat across the knees.
        The tuning pegs should be on the left (extended somewhat beyond the left knee),
        The melody string(s) will be near you.
        Adust until the dulcimer is level and comfortable.
        You are not ready to play!
 
 
LEARN THE COMPONENTS
 
 
THE STRINGS
The strings nearest to you is String 1 (on a four string dulcimer it is the first two strings that are real close together).  I always tune to the DAA tuning, so the first string is "A".  The 2nd string is also "A".  The 3rd string (it is the biggest string) is tuned to "D".

 
STRUMMING
Notice on the "fret board" there is a "strum hollow."  This is the obvious place near the end of the dulcimer where you strum the instrument.  Over the "Strum Hollow" you can strum the strings with your thumb, a thumb pick, or a flat pick.  I suggest a "Flat Pick" and one is included with your dulcimer.  Always strum all the strings.

Simply strum the strings with your pick . . . in time you will develop your own style of strumming - don't get discouraged!

 

TUNING
Let's make this as painless as possible! 

Find you a guitar player and tune string 3 to his fourth string open ("D").  Gently turn the tuning key until string 3 sounds exactly like the "D" string on the guitar.

Then have the guitar player hold the 3rd string, 2nd fret ("A").  Gently turn the tuning keys on strings 1 and 2 until they sound exactly like "A" on the guitar. 

OR

Buy an electronic tuner at your local guitar shop and tune string 3 to "D" and strings 1 and 2 to "A".  If you have trouble finding an electronic tuner, simply drop me an e-mail and I will make a recommendation.

 
TABLATURE
In every song in this book, you will notice numbers over the words.   The numbers correspond to a fret on the dulcimer.
For example, if you see the number "3" that will mean you hold string 1 (remember, these are the first two strings on a 4 string dulcimer) directly behind the 3rd fret.
 
DOWN IN THE VALLEY (DAA)
 
This is a great song to begin with.  Notice the words have numbers over them.  The "0" means the strings are OPEN . . . no fretting required.
 
"O" is for Open, the 1 represents the first fret and 2 the second fret and so on.
  
 
Place your index finger of your left hand on the "3" (the space behind the 3rd fret - or the 3rd space from the top) and strum all four strings.  Move to the 4th fret, try again, then the 5th fret, and try again.  Remember to strum all four strings.
 
Let's give Down in the Valley a try.
IMPORTANT  Strum all four strings!!!!
Need help with  finding instruction books, picks, noter, strings, electronic tuners, etc.?
 
Contact me at: dulcimersbyjeff@msn.com
 
Dulcimers By Jeff
Jeffrey A Lambert
138 W Williams St
Flamingsburg, KY  41041
606-209-0142
dulcimersbyjeff@msn.com


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