Ruth's Workshops


"Your classes pushed me to a new level.  By “push,” I mean that your course descriptions were exactly what you taught in class.  Your gentle prodding and simple explanations of difficult issues helped me understand concepts that I had heard many times before but couldn't understand. Your teaching style—demonstration of the entire song, then explanations measure by measure—was a perfect match for so many of us who had been to other dulcimer workshops over the years.  I also enjoyed your blend of using printed music and helping us hone our listening skills.  Thank you for adding so much to my playing this year, and the entire class was grateful for the individual attention.  Next year, I will probably take any class you offer, at any level, just to continue my musical growth. ~ Thomas, Kentucky Music Week 2011


Ruth's workshop teaching credits include:

MerleFest, Wilkesboro, NC
The Swannanoa Gathering, NC
The Dulcimer Jamboree, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, AR
Indiana Hammered Dulcimer Festival, IN
Kentucky Music Week and KMW Winter Weekend, Bardstown, KY
The Buckeye Dulcimer Festival, Ashley, OH
Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Festival, IL
ODPC FunFest, Evart, MI
Southern California Dulcimer Heritage, Culver City, CA
Central Florida Dulcimer and Autoharp Festival, Mt. Dora, FL
Cranberry Dulcimer and Autoharp Gathering, NY
Great American Dulcimer Convention, Pineville, KY
Heartland Dulcimer Club Traditional Music Festival, KY
Western Carolina University Dulcimer Winter Weekend, NC
The Winston-Salem Dulcimer Festival, Winston-Salem, NC
Wood-n-Strings Dulcimer Shop and Pickin' Porch, Townsend, TN
The Smoky Mountain Dulcimer Retreat, Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club, TN
Harmony Harvest Dulcimer Festival, Lancaster, OH
The Suwannee Dulcimer Retreat, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center, FL
The Ola Belle Reed Music Festival, Lansing, NC
MusicFest 'n Sugar Grove, NC
Perelandra, Asheville, NC
and more


Workshop topics include the following, and may be configured for different length sessions and customized for various skill levels (New Player, New Player/Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced):

  • From Heart to Hands
    Learn to play with greater expressiveness. We'll study specific arranging tools and exercises to help accentuate the beauty in melody lines and emphasize the underlying theme of the music. Repertoire will be drawn from expressive, lyrical music. (a slow air, waltz, or lament)

  • Learn A Tune
    Learn a new tune - chosen for skill level.
  • Dulcimer Layout
    New players and beginners will examine the basic layout of the instrument, including clues to help navigate around the dulcimer.

  • "Where do I begin?" Basics
    You get to ask questions about what you want to know as a new player. Nothing is "too basic" or "too dumb!"

  • Hammers and Tuning
    Hammers – How to Choose and Use
    Tuning Basics and Hints (Things I wish someone had told me!)

  • Simple Arranging
    Start developing your bag of tricks for arranging a tune.

  • Intermediate Arranging
    Taking your arranging skills to the next level. These workshops explore how to take a new tune (or one that you already know) and develop a more elaborate arrangement based on chord notes, fill/run notes, counter-melodies, and dulcimer "tricks".

  • Arranging Christmas Music
    The hammered dulcimer is the perfect instrument for Christmas music. Learn various arrangements of well-known and not-so-well-known tunes for the season. Appropriate arrangements are chosen for each specific skill level being taught.

  • Beautiful Hymns
    Hammered dulcimer is the perfect instrument for playing hymns! Learn arrangements of well-known and not-so-well-known hymns, while also learning arranging techniques to enhance the meaning and beauty of this beautiful music.
  • Name that tune
    Technique exercises don’t have to be dull. Have fun and be productive as we discover musical phrases used in many common tunes and, before you know it, you’ve learned a new tune!

  • Practice Tips and Techniques
    A grab bag of ideas and exercises to help improve skills and make practice time more valuable .

  • Using Written Music (even if you can’t read it) to learn a tune
    So much helpful information can easily be learned about a tune from sheet music, even if you haven’t yet learned how to read the notes. Geared for non-music-readers or those wanting to brush up on their reading skills.
  • Performance Lab - How to Prepare for Performance
    Would you like to learn practice tips to prepare for performing?  Do you have a performance coming up and want some additional help in prepping?   We’ll cover helpful tips to prep for performance and we’ll perform for each other – a friendly bunch – and help get those performance jitters under control!  (any level)

  • Hand Independence
    Get your brain and hands working together better to strengthen and gain more control over both your dominant and non-dominant hands.  We’ll practice hand separation exercises and learn some nice tunes to put these skills into practice, with the ultimate goal of incorporating these techniques to make more interesting arrangements.  (Intermediate/Advanced)

    Hammered dulcimer is the perfecft wedding instrument. Learn everything you need to know about performing for weddings of all sizes and locations. Ruth manages Steve and Ruth's busy wedding business, and has seen and dealt with it all!

  • Wedding Ceremony Songs
    Discuss the basic musical elements of the ceremony, examine sample songs, and learn a good wedding favorite.

  • Weddings – Business Aspects (discussion)
    Everything from the first contact with the couple to thank you notes at the end. Includes building your business, internet use, customer contact, ceremony elements and song choices, contracts, fees, getting the information you need, sound systems, etiquette, preparation, event day details, and more.
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