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How To Play The Dulcimer

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lap dulcimer is the easiest stringed

instrument to play this little

instructional sequence is going to show

you how to play it get you started so

the dulcimer has three strings basically

if you have a four string dulcimer you

probably have a doubled string right

here and best way to get started is to

take your right hand rest it on the side

of the dulcimer and pluck the string

that's closest to you just pluck it see

if you can do that without looking at it

so we have your right hands plucking and

you can do that without looking at it

and now your left hand is your push down

hand that's the one that makes the

different notes you make notes by

pushing down on the front that first

string next to but not on top of one of

these shiny bar

they're called frets you can see I put

some labels on some of these the third

space the fifth space the seven space

and the tenth space and when you press

down you want to be next to the fret if

you get too close you're going to muffle

the sound you get on top of the fret

you're going to muffle it and if you get

too far away you're not going to get a

clean sound so I tell people leave space

for an ant to walk between your finger

and the bar you're pressing next to now

that you can play notes on the dulcimer

your next step is to play a song simple

song that you know pretty well by ear

you can figure it out mary had a little

lamb starts here on five

or row row row your boat starts on three

or twinkle twinkle little star starts on

three and jumps up to seven and it just

comes down to ladder step at a time

and lots of other simple songs that you

know you can line on the dulcimer a lot

of them are going to end right here on

the third space because that's the

bottom of your major scale so ramie toe

now that you've learned how to play one

or two songs by ear on this one string

plucking with your right hand you've got

your left hand pretty much knows what it

has to do now we're going to change

things for your right hand and introduce

the pick so you can strum the song like



okay is the pic you want to hold it with

the point down hold it firmly so it

doesn't fall out of your hand

I keep your wrist pretty still don't get

really floppy like a paintbrush you want

to swing with your whole arm and set up

a nice steady rhythm I tell people to

imagine themselves holding a rag and

polishing a table that's already been

polished so the rag has almost no

resistance and your hands moving in a

very level plane and then lower that

hand - you're raising the strings on the

way in toward you lift it a little bit

on the way out so you'll just have a

strum on the way in thumb coming right

towards your belly button this is a fine

place you don't have to be way back here

even though you've got the scrum Hollow

here you can you don't have to play over

that scrub Hollow see if you can get a

steady steady beat let's see if you can

do it without even washing your hand and

then try getting the string on the back


so you get twice as many hits for each

movement of your arm that's the way

we're going to get our fast notes and

our filler notes

you got this drum hand going you can

combine it with your push down hand and

play us on

so there's no one right way to play the

dulcimer nice thing about a folk

instrument and you can use multiple

fingers wherever they fit so we could do

very Handel lamb like this

so learn the traditional simple way to

play the dulcimer anyone aged 5 to 105

can use this simple method to play the

dulcimer playing melodies on the one

string that's closest to you strumming

all three strings to get a nice drone

harmony now the dulcimer is capable of a

whole lot more musically and we'll show

you some of those things and following

segments but you can get started playing

tunes using the simple traditional way

on the Appalachian lap bouncer