Hammered Dulcimer Instructional Resources
Here are a few instructional resources; a beginning instructional book as well as some specific listings not found through other places. A lot of teachers are now offering onllne classes. YouTube is also a good resource for learning. I suggest you subscribe to Dulcimer Players News to discover more educational resources to include information about workshops and gatherings dedicated to the hammered dulcimer. Click on the link below to get connected.

Other Hammered Dulcimer Instructional Resources 
This page links to the most popular resource sites and a place to sign up for the hammered dulcimer discussion board

Dirt Simple - Hammered Dulcimer by Dr Mark Allan Wade

This book and accompanying audio are designed for a rank beginner who knows nothing about the hammered dulcimer, providing them the tools to make music right away. Starting with the fundamentals of how to hold hammers and tune the instrument, it delves deeper into mastery with posture, stand height/angle, and replacing strings to set up the beginner for a lifetime of good habits. Every concept introduced is simultaneously presented with illustrations and songs that demonstrate and reinforce. Whether the student reads music or plays by ear, the result is the same - music making right from the beginning! Includes access to online audioDr. Mark Alan Wade is an experienced teacher with an undergraduate degree in music education and years of public school teaching experience. Now teaching music theory and dulcimer at Denison University, Dr. Wade offers a unique perspective on teaching hammered dulcimer and has three students who have also won the National Hammered Dulcimer Contest as evidence of his master teaching. It's all about the music! Dirt Simple Hammered Dulcimer is written so that the carefully selected tunes are the true teacher. Hands-on learning is made easy with the accompanying audio. Each song is played slowly for students to learn by ear in addition to reading notation. This also allows for the students to hear style traits such as swing, that aren't easily conveyed in written notation. With 29 songs, this book and audio are a year's worth of private lessons in one concise package! $20


Karen Ashbrook

Playing the Hammered Dulcimer in the Irish Tradition by Karen Ashbrook

Encourages dulcimer players at the intermediate-to-advanced level to play the "right way". Teaches basic, simple techniques that create the feel of traditional Irish music. 90 pp book with CD $22


Learn to Play the Hammered Dulcimer- Instructional DVD by Karen Ashbrook

2 hours of detailed Hammered Dulcimer Instruction by premier dulcimer teacher and Maggie's Music recording artist Karen Ashbrook. The lessons include: holding the hammers, tuning, scales, excercises, major and minor chord shapes, beginning tunes, and beginning arranging. The DVD comes with a booklet of charts, information on the dulcimer, and music. Shot at historic Gaasbeek Castle!

DVD with booklet $38


Carrie Crompton

Bach Dances for Hammered Dulcimer Arranged by Carrie Crompton

Features 15 easy to challenging arrangements of Bach's dance music set for solo and duo hammered dulcimer with continuo chordsprovided for a guitarist. The dance tunes have familiar rhythms, and blend well with traditional dance music in a set.

Book only $15 CD $16, Together $30


Expressive Hammered Dulcimer An instructional method by Carrie Crompton

Technical excercises and repertoire in a graded series of lessons for beginners. Covers melodic playing in eight keys and four time signatures, and beginning back-up techniques that sound really good.

130 pages. $25


Hymns and Carols by William M. Jones (my father)

Arranged for the Hammer Dulcimer . Suggested ways to perform over 30 tunes on a 12/11 or 15/14. In standard notation.

Available as a PDF $5


Ken Kolodner

Instructional Recording: Fiddle Tunes (Reels) Volume 1 ( 2 CDs $25)

The focus of these recordings is to guide the student through a host of arranging ideas in a systematic way. The recordings essentially mirror what Ken does in weeklong workshops or lessons. These recordings are geared primarily to intermediate and advanced but much of the material is appropriate for the advanced beginner. This recording is a double CD of separate tracks of instructions for arranging and playing four fiddle tunes: North Carolina Breakdown, Oklahoma Rooster, Round the Horn and Eddie's Reel. The ideas and techniques are applicable to many tunes. Written music with chords for each basic tune is included. Tracks include descriptions of:

  • The basic tune
  • Description of hammering and phrasing
  • Flams
  • Chords
  • Basslines
  • Chord substitutions
  • Drones
  • Fills
  • Melodic Runs
  • Syncopations
  • Anticipated beats
  • Ghost notes
  • Variations
  • Improvising
  • Many other rhythmic and melodic ideas
  • Back-up ideas (vamps, harmony, chromatic runs)
  • Fully embellished version

Instructional Recording: Waltzes and Slow Tunes, Volume 1 ( 2 CDs $25)


This recording is a double CD of separate tracks of instructions for arranging and playing two waltzes and two slower pieces extremely well-suited to display a wide variety of ideas. The tunes are Coleman's March, Caspian Lake, Evening of Roses, and Down Home Waltz. ALL of the tunes in their basic form are quite simple and easily played by an advanced beginner or even by many beginning players. Many of the arranging ideas are perfect for advanced beginners (as presented in Evening of Roses and Coleman?s March). However, there are many additional ideas presented for these tunes that will challenge at least intermediate level players. While again a relatively simple tune, the arrangement of Caspian Lake is probably more suited for an intermediate level player. The arrangement presented for The Down Home Waltz is probably most suited for at minimum an intermediate level player.

All ideas and techniques are applicable to many tunes. Written music with chords for each basic tune is included. Tracks include descriptions of:

  • The basic tune
  • A description of hammering and phrasing
  • Chord progression and substitutions
  • Use of the relative minor and 7th chords (major, minor, dominant & diminished 7th )
  • Use of secondary dominants and the circle of fifths
  • Hand separation; plucking and hammering together
  • Using octaves
  • Basslines
  • Dissonance
  • Chromatics
  • Accent shifts and syncopations
  • Flams, two and three note chords
  • Use of fills, drone notes and melodic runs
  • Tremolos
  • Hammered and bounced triplets
  • Ideas for improvisation and many variations
  • Dynamics and phrasing
  • Back-up ideas
  • Includes fully embellished versions
  • Many other arranging ideas

Ideas and techniques are applicable to many different pieces of music.


Instructional Recording: HD Seasonal Music Arrangements, Volume 1 ( 2 CDs: $25)

This recording is a double CD of over 60 separate tracks of instructions for arranging and playing five Christmas pieces: In the Bleak Midwinter, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Angels We Have Heard on High, The Wexford Carol and Hush My Babe (I Shall Arise; Restoration.) This recording once again presents a wide variety of ideas. Most of the tunes should work well for advanced beginners. I generally present at least one simple version of the tune. But certainly the arranging ideas go well beyond that level such that intermediate and even advanced players should find many ideas to explore for some time. There are a ton of ideas presented here. This CD is well-suited to an advanced beginning as long as they recognize that many of the ideas will take much time to master. Includes the written music (stored as Word files on the CD) for the basic tune AND two additional arrangements for most tunes:

  • The basic tune
  • A description of hammering and phrasing
  • Chord progression and substitutions
  • Use of the relative minor and 7th chords (major, minor, dominant & diminished 7th )
  • Use of secondary dominants and the circle of fifths
  • Shifting octaves
  • Plucking and playing
  • Hand separation
  • Basslines
  • Dissonance
  • Chromatics
  • Accent shifts and syncopations
  • Flams, two and three note chords
  • Use of fills, drone notes and melodic runs
  • Tremolos
  • Hammered and bounced triplets
  • Ideas for improvisation and many variations
  • Dynamics and phrasing
  • Includes fully embellished versions
  • Many other arranging ideas Ideas and techniques are applicable to many different pieces of music.

Instructional Recording: Fiddle Tunes (Reels) Volume 2 (2CDs: $25)

This recording follows up on the Volume I reels CD. This double CD has separate tracks of instructions for arranging and playing four fiddle tunes: Shenandoah Falls, The Cuckoos Nest, Reel St. Joseph's and YZ Hamilton's Breakdown. In general, this CD includes ideas and tunes that are somewhat more advanced than Volume I in that the chord progressions are more adventurous, the rhythms presented are more complex in places, and there is far more on back-up. The simplest of the four tunes melodically is Reel St. Joseph's. Reel's St. Joseph's presents an opportunity to incorporate a few simple syncopations and some very interesting chord substitutions. Shenandoah Falls is also not too hard melodically except perhaps for some syncopation. However, I present a wide variety of ideas that are challenging including several different approaches to back-up and a harmony and demonstrate how to blend many ideas. In The Cuckoo's Nest, I again present several ways to back-up the tune and I walk through adding lots of challe nging ideas including basslines and various rhythmic ideas. YZ Hamilton's is really an old time rag and again presents syncopations along with chromatic back-up ideas. The tune is great for working on swing. The ideas and techniques are again applicable to many tunes. Written music with chords for each basic tune is included. Tracks include descriptions of: The basic tune

  • Description of hammering and phrasing
  • Flams
  • Chords
  • Basslines
  • Chord substitutions
  • Drones
  • Fills
  • Melodic Runs
  • Syncopations
  • Anticipated beats
  • Using chromatics
  • Ghost notes
  • Variations
  • Improvising • Many other rhythmic and melodic ideas
  • Many back-up ideas (vamps, harmony, chromatic runs)
  • Fully embellished version



IInstructional Recording: Waltzes and Slow Tunes, Volume 2 (2CDs: $25)

This recording is a double CD of separate tracks of instructions for arranging and playing three waltzes and one march in three four time. This recording once again presents a wide variety of ideas but is more geared to the intermediate/advanced player than is the Volume I CD. One of the tunes (Jerry Holland's My Cape Breton Home) is quite appropriate for an advanced beginner level and several of the tunes could be played by advanced beginners in a simpler form. However, the ideas presented for all the tunes on this CD go well beyond an advanced beginner level. Next in complexity is The Clock Waltz (Quebec) which is a good example of creating an arrangement from a variety of relatively simple ideas (accent shifts, bounced triplets, flams, fills, dissonance). The hardest tunes on the CD are Waltz of the My Dreams (Quebec) which makes extensive use of chord substitutions, accent shifts and other ideas; and The March of the King of Laois (Ireland) which de monstrates bassline ideas, dissonances, some improvisation and much more. This CD in general is probably more suited to intermediate and advanced players than is the Volume I counterpart. All ideas and techniques are applicable to many tunes. Written music with chords for each basic tune is included. Tracks include descriptions of:

  • The basic tune
  • A description of hammering and phrasing
  • Chord progression and substitutions
  • Use of the relative minor and 7th chords (major, minor, dominant & diminished 7th )
  • Use of secondary dominants and the circle of fifths
  • Shifting octaves
  • Basslines
  • Dissonance
  • Chromatics
  • Accent shifts and syncopations
  • Flams, two and three note chords
  • Use of fills, drone notes and melodic runs
  • Tremolos
  • Hammered and bounced triplets
  • Ideas for improvisation and many variations
  • Dynamics and phrasing
  • Includes fully embellished versions
  • Many other arranging ideas Ideas and techniques are applicable to many different pieces of music.

The Music of Tuesday's Child Edited and arranged by Steve Schneider

Features traditional music from France, the U.S., Wales, Ireland, Switzerland, and original compositions from Steve's CD Tuesday's Child. His first recording, was reviewed as "One of the best hammered dulcimer albums to come along in a long time" by Sampler Records. Bill Spence said "I simply can't say enough about this album. I think you?ll love it! The book is especially geared toward the advanced beginner to intermediate hammered dulcimer player. To help optimize learning and musicality, the pieces are presented in a number of different formats: lead sheets with chords, harmony parts, and for solo hammered dulcimer arrangements. All in dulcimer-friendly keys, this book presents an excellent opportunity for enjoyment and learning on many levels. With varying levels of difficulty, players should be able to find immediate satisfaction in playing through the easier arrangements, and also greater challenges in learning the more difficult ones. In addition, there are numerous expression marks that are intended to help guide the player toward playing the music as expressively as possible. Also included is a guide to all the symbols, terms, and expression marks used in the music, which will not only be of benefit in interpreting the music within this book, but can be used to open the doors to reading other classically notated music.

Book w/CD $28


Introducing the Linear Chromatic tm by Steve Shmania

The book provides a music theory primer helping you to learn to play in any key in the equal tempermant scale. The book defines scales, chords, inversions, enhancements, substitutions, progressions and their playing patterns on the Linear Chromatic. It also covers putting it all together to play traditional, jazz, blues and classical music. There are now two versions of the book; one using the Standard Marking and the other using the Piano Marking system. When ordering make sure you specify which version of the book you'd like.

Book $25 (Specify Standard or Piano Marking Version)


The Basic Guide to How to Read Music by Helen Cooper

Guides the reader through rhythm, scales and intervals, keys, and tonality right through to score reading.

Book 80 pp $10 (on sale for $5)