Technology–Tool or Crutch?

Technology–Tool or Crutch?

QmarkKeyboardBy Linda Ratcliff

Technology can be an amazing aid — as long as you don’t get too dependent on it.

There are free or low-cost apps you can load on your cell phone and iPad, such as a metronome and a tuner, which are essential tools for practicing.

And, of course, Dulcimer Crossing’s online lessons include videos and flash animations – which make practice time fun.  (That link is for hammered dulcimer players.  Here is one for Mountain Dulcimer players.)

However, some students are TOO DEPENDENT on the technology aids.  They feel discouraged if they can’t play a tune exactly the way it is demonstrated in the videos.

handshammers2I believe you can feel good about yourself if you can make a tune your own, play it in your own style, with your own variations.

If there is a lick in the video that proves to be too difficult for you at this time, make up your own to fill in the same number of beats.

Study the videos, but then turn them off and see if you can play what you are hearing in your head and heart.

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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in lessons, subscriber news


Music is the Best Medicine

Music is the Best Medicine

ListeningtoMusicDuringSurgery.pngby Linda Ratcliff

Researchers at Brunel University in the United Kingdom studied the relationship between music and patients undergoing surgery.

The study followed about 7,000 patients, and discovered that patients who listened to music before and after their surgery recovered more quickly than those who didn’t. In addition, they found that those who listened to music depended less on their painkillers.

So, I am wondering – what about patients who PLAY music?

Could there be an increase in recovery time for patients who play an instrument, rather than merely listening?

A 2013 study from McGill University’s Psychology Department found that playing and listening to music can improve your body’s immune system.

Also, it cuts down your levels of stress, as it reduces the amount of cortisol — “the stress hormone” — in your body.

Spend more time with your instrument.  It’s good for you.

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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in lessons, subscriber news


Performance Anxiety

Performance Anxiety

visualize.pngby Linda Ratcliff

Stage fright is experiencing intense feelings of nervousness before or while you’re playing your instrument in front of people. In fact, it is also called performance anxiety.

But the truth is, when we feel this way, we are determining the outcome in our imagination before it actually happens. We are visualizing a complete mess-up, and we expect to either strike or strum the wrong strings at any moment.

You’re not alone.

When I used to perform on the piano, I remember standing back stage waiting to go on, desperately trying to remember even the first note.

Jim Carrey almost put off performing for life, after a bad experience as a stand up comic when he was 15.

After forgetting the lyrics to a song during a concert in Central Park, Barbra Streisand stopped performing live for 27 years – out of fear she’d repeat the incident.

Carly Simon once fainted on the stage, right in front of her audience – from stage fright.

One way to overcome this is by visualization.  Now, you’ve probably heard it said that all you have to do is imagine that everyone listening to you is sitting there in their underwear.

But I recommend that you visualize a successful performance – playing every note perfectly and with expression.

Be fully prepared before you plan to play for someone, and then shift your negative thoughts into positive thoughts.


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Posted by on August 4, 2016 in lessons, subscriber news


Upcoming Lesson: Playing with a Backing Track

Upcoming Lesson: Playing with a Backing Track

Coming soon from the DulcimerCrossing editing bay:

A new lesson series with coaching and suggestions for playing along with a Blues Backing Track.

Using the example from the Backing Track Library in our Premium Membership section, Steve Eulberg demonstrates the power of the Pentatonic Minor Scale as a strategy for playing along with recorded music (without any written tablature!)

PlayingBluesCoversFrontIf you really want to dig in deep and understand what is going on inside the blues and how the mountain dulcimer is particularly well-suited for playing blues, you might be interested in Steve’s book/CD:  Playing the Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer

This book/CD is available as an interactive PDF (useable on your iPad or tablet) available as a  download or as a hard-copy in spiral binding (the traditional way!)

All of these resources are designed to help you play your blues into the corner for awhile!


What Do I Want to Accomplish Today?

What Do I Want to Accomplish Today?

AmFlag_smby Linda Ratcliff

Sometimes I practice from a list.  For example, right now every chance I get, I am playing through all the patriotic tunes I know – since the 4th of July is right around the corner.

However, just playing through my list isn’t the same thing as practicing.

Before I begin to practice, I need to think more about what I want to accomplish with my limited practice time.

Maybe I should focus more on the patriotic tune I find the hardest, breaking it down line by line.

Maybe I should start and end with that tune.

Or maybe I should focus on the one I play the best, polishing it so I can play with more confidence.

Maybe I should shorten my list to only the best arrangements,

or maybe I should add some new tunes to my list to expand my repertoire.

Whatever the answers are to these questions, it is certain that your practice time will yield more results if you spend time planning what you really want to accomplish before you begin.

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Posted by on June 26, 2016 in lessons, subscriber news


New Video Explains DulcimerCrossing

New Video Explains DulcimerCrossing

We are excited to unveil a new 30 second explanation of what DulcimerCrossing is all about!  Watch below:

Click here to join today!

Spread the news!  Like this video using the heart icon.

Share this video with your friends using the little paper airplane icon.



Introducing a New Instructor!

Introducing a New Instructor!

DulcimerCrossing is excited to welcome Aubrey Atwater AubreyPoster_sm(of Atwater-Donnelly) to the instructional team.

Aubrey teaches mountain dulcimer, from the Jean Ritchie family tradition.

Visit the Teacher Page and watch her introduction video.

Or, visit the Live Events page and watch the highlight video of her recent Premium Concert Window Show.

Subscribe here, to have access to all of her lessons!



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