I don’t read music…which hammer dulcimer instruction books should I use?
I believe the hammer dulcimer is one of the easiest instruments in the world to play. You do not need to read music…it even gets in the way,most of the time. It is a “Diatonic” instrument which simply means “do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do”. No name notes. Cool!! Thus, it would be nice to have a book of tunes to study from that doesn’t necessarily require the student to learn music theory and how to read music fluently to be able to play a diatonic instrument, wouldn’t it? Guess what!? There is! It is called “Beginning Hammer Dulcimer”…a genius of a name, no doubt. Written by Linda Lowe Thompson, this book and CD of grand old tunes most everyone plays in the folk music world is designed for beginners who just want to have fun and progress quickly without the burden of years of work learning the traditional ropes of music theory. Heck, I didn’t know the difference between diatonic and chromatic until after I had won the National Contest….and I’m not the only one!!! TRUST ME! This is the way to approach the hammer dulcimer.
Now, there is something else to consider. It is called “The Ultimate Hammer Dulcimer Resource Book”. It is NOT an instruction book nor a tune book or a beginner book or an intermediate book or an advanced book or….. This is a visual aid to recognize patterns you play ALL DAY EVERY DAY on the hammer dulcimer, just like a guitar player does, only far fewer of them! Why fret (pardon the pun) over all the theory of why you should play this or that pattern to play a chord or chromatic scale or duplicate note or octave or…whatever? Just show me the pattern and get out of the way….I can remember a few patterns, I don’t want to learn or know WHY. Listen, we all have real lives with lots of responsibilities like mowing the lawn and paying the mortgage and changing the oil and washing clothes and taking the kids to their games and such. If you want to know how to play a chord to embellish a beautiful slow tune, here it is in simple to understand, duplicate patterns for most chords you can learn really fast!
BUT, if you really do want to learn the theory behind why the hammer dulcimer is tuned the way it is and how to read music to play it, the very first section of this 5 section book WILL teach you how to do it. It is well written by three accomplished educated music teachers under my supervision to direct their wisdom and great efforts toward the concept of the hammer dulcimer’s simplistic layout. So, now you have no excuse…get “The Ultimate Hammer Dulcimer Resource Book”. You desperately need it as a beginner, intermediate, advanced and professional hammer dulcimer player! Combined with “Beginning Hammer Dulcimer”, you will be playing up a storm in no time. Get them both for that “1-2” knock-out punch you need to get started in a hurry.
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