Fort New Salem Dulcimer Festival
2020 Workshops

2020 Workshops Not Yet Determined
See below for a look at last years workshops

2019 Workshops

MD = mountain dulcimer
HD = hammered dulcimer
B = beginner-no previous playing experience required.
AB = advanced beginner-is familiar with tuning, knows some basic strumming and fingering and can play several songs with ease.
I = intermediate-knows basic chording and harmony playing, can read and learn from tablature, standard music notation, or by ear and has a growing repertoire of songs in a variety of styles.
A = advanced-knows a wide variety of techniques and songs, can read and learn from tablature, standard music notation, or by ear and has experience playing in a variety of situations.
ALL = workshop is open to any instrument and skill level.


Saturday 9:00 - 9:50

Getting Started on the Mountain Dulcimer - Cynthia Brissey - This is a workshop for the very beginner. Participants will be shown how to tune the mountain dulcimer, how to find notes, and how to strum. Participants will also learn how to play several easy melodies.   MD - B

Strumming Methods 1 - Bill Locke - The idea of using a flat pick to structure a strum in to a rhythmic pattern is explored in this workshop. A single well known and simple tune will be used with a series of strum methods to develop a variety of sounds that can add a different energy to a tune. This may be used to provides sounds familiar from the playing of other instruments in an old time band. We start with the basics and add complexity as we go. MD - AB, I

HD Set-Up/Tuning - The space will be open for folks to set-up and tune instruments prior to the workshops. HD - All

Saturday 10:00 - 10:50

Repertoire for Beginners - Marlene Oliver - Marlene will introduce several simple songs for the mountain dulcimer. Good playing techniques will be taught as well as the songs. Basic chording will be included. MD - B

Canterbury (and Somerset) Dreams - Jerry Rockwell - This is a continuing evolution of my very slow and meditative variations on one of the most popular Baroque-era chord progressions. I will have TAB and music for several of my favorite melodies going through these chords, as well as some studies in exploring non-chord-tones and how to handle them. Intermediate - Tuning DAD MD - I

Absolute Beginner Hammered Dulcimer - Jeff Fedan - This is a workshop for someone who has not spent more than five minutes at the instrument, mostly looking at it, but wants to try it out to see if they’d like to play it. We’ll cover the layout of the instrument, tuning, hammering technique, and a real song or two. Loaner instruments will be available for use.

Pete Seeger Song Leading Singalong - Bill Schilling - Participants will join in leading. singing, and listening to songs to celebrate the life of Pete Seeger who passed away on January 27, 2014. Lyric and chord sheets (36 page handout) will be provided for several songs written and/or presented by Seeger. Information about Pete, the songs, and some of Pete's song leading styles will be shared during the workshop. Choose to lead a song or just join in playing and singing as we celebrate the man Carl Sandburg called "America's tuning fork" and about whom Joan Baez said, "We all owe our careers to him." USA Today said, "Pete Seeger taught America to sing.” All

Saturday 11:00 - 11:50

Skip's Round - Jerry Rockwell - Here is a wildly popular round I wrote two or three years ago, and we will learn all the parts and play it as a round in this class. This tune is very easy to play, so it is appropriate for all levels. Tuning DAD MD - B, AB

Irish Tunes for Mountain Dulcimer - Linda Sigismondi - This is a repertoire-building workshop for intermediate dulcimer players. Participants will be taught several songs from Ireland including I’ll Tell Me Ma, Red is the Rose, and Wild Rover. Some techniques to enhance your playing will also be included (DAD tuning) MD - I

The Five Note Hymn - Brett Ridgeway - This is not a "tune" workshop, but rather the tune is the tool by which we will learn embellishment ideas and techniques. The hymn is made of only five notes, and quickly learned so the focus and attention can be directed to the embellishments! As a plus, by the end of the workshop you will have a performance ready piece with several ways to play it! HD and others - AB and up

Bowed Psaltery - Tish Westman -Tish will introduce you to the bowed psaltry, answer questions about the instrument and teach a few tunes. Bowed Psaltry, All levels

Saturday 1:00 - 1:50

Mountain Dulcimer Techniques - Tish Westman - Tish will help you overcome strumming and fingering issues. MD - AB

Civil War Songs - Mike Oliver - Songs from both sides in the Civil War. Workshop includes fast and slow paced tunes. MD - I

Learn to Play with Emotion - Brett Ridgeway - Music tells a story; it should convey emotion. There is a difference between playing notes and making music. Emotion is the life-blood of any song. In this workshop, you will learn, not only concepts, but also hands on practical techniques, how to phrase and shape your music. Your music is an expression of you…learn to emote and share that inner you! This is a hands-on workshop! HD, MD - all levels

Learn Native American Flute - Linda Sigismondi We will begin with some basics on how to play the Native American Flute and some ornaments. We will then look at how to use the flute with other instruments. A few flutes will be available for participants to try. If you have your own flute, bring it along.

Saturday 2:00 - 2:50

Basic Chord Building for the Mountain Dulcimer - Steven K. Smith - This is a basic introduction to "what is a chord?" and "how do I find them?" for the mountain dulcimer. The emphasis is not on memorizing chord charts, but in giving you the skills to find them on your dulcimer. The examples will be for DAD tuning, but the principles work for any tuning. MD - AB

Kate's Waltz and Many Variations - Jerry Rockwell - This is a very Celtic-flavored tune I wrote a few years back, and this 3/4 time version is newer and more exciting. It seems to spin out endless variations, and I will have some music and TAB for you to try. Tuning DAD. MD - I
Turlough O’Carolan Tunes - Jeff Fedan - Irish music is the heart of North-central West Virginia old-time music. So, why aren’t we playing more of it? Come learn rich in tunes that came to us from Ireland…the tunes of Turlough O’Carolan. HD - AB, I

Basic Autoharp - Bill Schilling - The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the participants to the autoharp, acquainting them with different harps, playing styles, setups, simple repairs, practice hints, and/or resources. Participants will hear and use different playing styles. Autoharp - B

Saturday 3:00 - 3:50

Playing Harmony on the Mountain Dulcimer - Linda Sigismondi - In this workshop, participants will start with a simple song and will be shown how to make harmonies using octaves, thirds and fifths.  Rounds will also be explored as a method of harmonizing. (DAD tuning)

Strumming Methods 2 - Bill Locke - In this workshop Bill will show some more advanced strumming techniques including triplets (cross-picking) and damping methods which may be used to further add variety to playing. A range of tunes genres might be tried using these methods including old-time and blues sounds. As as before, we are playing the instrument in a fashion that tends to “join the band” as it relates to the overall sound. MD - I

Hammered Dulcimer Tunes from North-Ventral West Virginia - Jeff Fedan - Maybe there’s one or two tunes you don’t know yet. Be brave! HD - AB, I

Beginning Ukulele - Tish Westman - Tish will help you with chord changes and strumming different rhythms.

Saturday 4:00 - 4:50

Jamming for Beginners - Marlene Oliver - Marlene will give tips for jamming with the mountain dulcimer. Some common jamming tunes will be included. MD - B, AB

Stephen Foster the Intermediate Way - Steven K. Smith - Steve will present a few Stephen Foster tunes, including a couple that are less well known, in arrangements for the mountain dulcimer. We'll use DAd tuning for these songs. MD - I

Simple Chord Accompaniment Styles for Hammered Dulcimer - Bill Schilling - The purpose of this workshop is to acquaint the participants with some options they have for playing hammered dulcimer while they are part of a jamming group and they don't know or want to play the melodies. Participants will be encouraged to listen for and experiment with some of the options like playing single bass notes, 1-5 notes, full chords (including using the valley), arpeggiated chords, and chords in various positions on the dulcimer or inversions within a 4-5 string range. HD - All

Percussion Jam - Any rhythm instrument, Any Level


Sunday 9:30 - 10:30

Song Circle - Bill Schilling - This is a time to gather on Sunday morning and share some music in an informal session. Each person in the circle will be given a chance to play a song, request a song or to just sit and listen. All

Sunday 10:45 - 11:35

Beginning Mountain Dulcimer - Cynthia Brissey - Cynthia will work at the level of the participants to either help you get started or to learn some simple tunes and techniques. MD - B

Practice Smarter, Not Harder - Brett Ridgeway - Have you ever practiced and practiced and felt like you were just spinning your wheels and getting nowhere? Can’t memorize your music? Can’t get through those musical tough spots? Well, guess what—you can practice until your fingers ALL DAY LONG and never make the progress you desire because the secret to playing successfully is NOT just practicing, but knowing HOW to practice. Many people waste HOURS of time and effort practicing their instrument, and don’t realize their practice methods often serve as a roadblock toward reaching the end-result they desire. This workshop will teach you some proven techniques, tested guidelines, and provide some hands-on practice experience teaching you exactly HOW to practice for the most efficient and effective results! Why waste hours practicing harder when you can productively practice smarter? ALL INSTRUMENT

Sunday 1:00 - 1:50

Basic Chords with Fiddle Tunes - Bill Locke - We will discuss and practice basic chords. Additionally this workshop could be used to learn some fiddle tunes in D. The strum methods used in the workshops will take some practice over time, but we will give it a good first start. MD - AB, I

English Country Dance Tunes - Steven K. Smith - Learn four tunes from the English country dance tune repertoire. I'll present tunes arranged for the mountain dulcimer in DAd tuning, with suggestions for variations and decoration. Capo required. MD - I

Sunday 2:15 - 3:00

Finale - Linda Sigismondi and Bill Schilling - The festival will conclude with an all-participant gathering in which everyone is invited to join in to sing and play as we end the festival in song and perhaps harmony. All


Last Updated: July 25, 2019