Monday, January 28, 2013

Clayville-Prairieland dulcimer news - Feb. 2-5

Blast email message sent out tonight to everybody on my Clayville and Prairieland Strings lists:

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Hi everybody -

Here's a schedule of dulcimer lessons at Clayville and meetings of the Prairieland Strings at Atonement Lutheran Church in Springfield for the first part of February. Response in January was so good, we are definitely adding beginners' lessons at Clayville on Saturday, Feb. 2, and Saturday, Feb. 9. They will build on what we learned at the first two sessions, but there's no reason why somebody new couldn't start this week. A few loaner instruments will be available.

Also coming up very soon, we will have the first of our "first Tuesday" sessions of the Prairieland Strings, our dulcimer club in Springfield, Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson (Ill. 97-125). I'll be teaching a fiddle tune the first hour, and I've planned things so it'll be tune we've also covered at Clayville (details below), so this will be a very good opportunity for beginners to start playing with our beginner-friendly group.

Here are some details, and a couple of words about upcoming events:


Saturday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon in the barn at Clayville, on Ill. 125 at Pleasant Plains. I plan to introduce the "three-chord trick," which is a way of listening for the chord progression in a tune and playing backup chords. That may sound complicated, but it's as easy as playing D, G and A. We'll work on the songs we've already started to learn, "Boil 'Em Cabbage Down" and "Skip to my Lou," and introduce "John Stinson's No. 2," an easy little Irish fiddle tune. American dulcimer players have taken it, transposed it to D (we play *everything* in D!) and made it our own. You can link to a couple of versions on YouTube, including the dulcimer arrangement we're learning, from my blog at:

Be sure to watch the dulcimer players' hands as they play their chords! They're not doing the three-chord trick, but you can always learn a lot by watching people's hands.

Our last Saturday session for beginners at Clayville will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 9.


We'll meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson (on Ill. 97-125 just west of Veterans Parkway). We spend the first hour learning a new song, and I'll be teaching, yep, wait for it, "John Stinson's No. 2." We introduced it a couple of years ago, but we've had several new players join us since then. So it'll be a good review for us, and a good way to welcome beginners from the Clayville lessons who'd like to join us.

Starting with the new year, we're now meeting on the FIRST TUESDAY and THIRD THURSDAY of the month. This will allow some of our members who have other commitments, as well as new people who can't come on Thursdays, to join us.

Our schedule for the rest of the month is to be announced, but I hope to be able to move it from Feb. 21 back to Feb. 14 since Mike Anderson's Winter Weekend dulcimer camp in Chilicothe, Ill., is the weekend of Feb. 22-24.


There's still room at this event at Three Sisters Folk Arts School north of Peoria. Mike will teach beginners, and Doug Birch and Maureen Sellers will teach more experienced players. Details on Mike's website at


I'll send 'em out as we go along.

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