Friday, February 20, 2009

Dulcimer Land / Aunt Rhody

My new student phoned me today to tell me that she could not stop playing. She said her children were upset because she didn't even make dinner for them last night. (!) She said they would come up to her while she was obsessively strumming Hot Cross Buns and say things like "Mom, I know you're in 'Dulcimer Land' right now, but...."

Dulcimer Land is a nice place to be.
She told me she must have her very own dulcimer, and it must be as soon as possible.

Here is the second song she has been working on. I made a simple tab sheet to help her at home...Go Tell Aunt Rhody:
If you are a beginner noter player, feel free to download the tabs I post on my blog for your own personal use at home to help you learn to play. In return I do ask that you not make additional copies to distribute to other people or groups of people without asking my permission, and that you do not post them on other websites or reproduce or use them in any commercial way. Thanks!

I find it amazingly timely that this new student came to me for lessons just a few days after I started this blog. And because she had absolutely no experience whatsoever with making music prior to this, I think she will help me discuss how beginners can get started playing that beautiful instrument we call the Appalachian dulcimer.

In my coming posts I want to talk about many other things as well, such as what tunings are useful for what purposes, and why I myself like to play in certain tunings. Stay tuned! (pun intended)

NOTE: Over a year after writing this post, I came back to re-examine the playing of Go Tell Aunt Rhody, and I made four new beginner videos that I hope you will find useful when learning to play and sing this favorite traditional song. To watch these four short beginner videos, go to this post HERE.


  1. Lisa,

    The first folk instrument I ever played was a lap dulcimer. I built it from a kit, more interested in the woodwork than the music. When I found out I could play it, that was the beginning of my adventures in folk music.

    I don't play the dulcimer much any more because I concentrate on my banjos, but when I do play it I prefer to play it without fingering chords. It is a different sound that brings back memories.

    Nice blog. I will add it to my list of places to visit often.


  2. I just found your site on my computer and am a novice beginner on the mountain dulcimer. I am so pleased with your site as taking lessons in a group is very intimidating and I can't catch on to all the lessons with players who already know how to play taking the same lessons. Thank you so much. I feel I may be able to get to know how to play this beautiful instrument. Thank you. Johnnie Bunton

  3. Hello.
    THANK-YOU THANK-YOU for these amazingly easy to follow videos!
    I picked-up a used dulcimer last year that was being given away (having wanted to learn the instrument since about 35 years ago):-) I have worked through all 13 of the videos (including the 4 parts for "Go Tell Aunt Rhody) this weekend. I was so excited to learn how to play the harmony and sing along with it! This is FANTASTIC! Do you have any more videos? I cannot find any on You Tube. Could you please suggest what I should do next. I found your videos very easy to follow and learned very quickly from them. Thank-you for sharing them. Shawn

  4. Thank you so much for your nice comment Shawn!
    Please do join us over on my online dulcimer comunity at: fotmd .com :)

  5. I havn't received my dulcimer yet, but am already looking out for sites like this that seem to instruct so well. I'll begin my adventure with 'Go tell Aunt Rhody'.
    There's not much here in Australia for dulcimer players, in fact I'd never heard of it before I googled and started looking for an instrument to play in my retirement.
    Thank you Lisa,