Author Archives for Songbird Dulcimers

How to Use a Metronome for Better Timing on the Hammered Dulcimer

March 29, 2023 5:09 am Published by Leave your thoughts

By Nicolette Foss Rhythm and timing are especially important for percussion instruments like the hammered dulcimer. Other musicians often tend to follow the rhythm that we are playing. But if you find that you are often playing too fast or too slow, you can lead the whole jam astray! That is why metronome practice is especially important for us hammered dulcimer players.. But you’re not alone. Even the most experienced player still benefits from using a metronome (like Ted Yoder)!... Read More →

Hammered Dulcimer Festivals to Attend Spring/Summer 2023

March 16, 2023 9:30 am Published by Leave your thoughts

By Nicolette Foss Attending a music festival is some of the most fun you can have with your hammered dulcimer. And not only will you get to jam out and meet more people on the music scene, but you’ll also be able to attend workshops to improve your playing skills.  Many of these festivals include concerts, vendors, lodging, and meals. Find one near you and make it a weekend getaway! You’ll be glad you did.  Check out these hammered dulcimer... Read More →

What is a Hammered Dulcimer?

February 17, 2023 5:24 am Published by 2 Comments

By Nicolette Foss Oftentimes, when people hear the word “dulcimer”, they automatically think of the narrow-bodied zither whose fretted fingerboard is plucked or strummed. Well, this ain’t it!  The hammered dulcimer is often confused with this more well-known zither, which is called the mountain (or Appalachian) dulcimer. And while they are both zithers played in the folk music world, that is where the similarities end. How’d they end up with the same name? Nobody knows, but in this article, we are... Read More →

How to Determine What Key a Song is In For Hammered Dulcimer

January 11, 2023 9:31 am Published by 4 Comments

By Nicolette Foss Are you struggling to learn new music? For those of us who don’t know music theory when learning to play the hammered dulcimer, it can be difficult to pick up on songs we want to learn. And if you don’t have a trained ear, it can be even harder to identify what key a song is in. While it isn’t necessary to know or understand what the key of a song is in, it can be extremely... Read More →

Why We are Switching Away from Baltic Birch

December 1, 2022 5:16 pm Published by 2 Comments

By Nicolette Foss For years, we’ve been using Baltic Birch on many of our hammered dulcimers. It was economical and built good, solid, durable instruments. However, the conflict with Russia has made the wood harder to get, forcing us to switch our materials. Some other problems with Baltic Birch include:  Getting woods shipped from far away lands adds to the carbon footprint It is not managed for sustainability The Birch grown in Siberia is slow growth    A Word on... Read More →

 9 Dulcimer Hammer Styles From Around the World

December 1, 2022 2:43 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

by Nicolette Foss With the hammered dulcimer, not only do you need a well-designed, quality instrument to create beautiful music, you will need a pair of hammers. Hammers are an essential part of producing good dulcimer sound. The hammers you choose should ideally suit your playing style, tone preferences, and dexterity capabilities. In a previous blog post, “7 Types of Hammered Dulcimers Around the World“, we explored some of the most common hammered dulcimer variations around the world. Now we... Read More →

Evart music festival

Our Top 6 Summer Hammered Dulcimer Festivals  

May 4, 2022 4:24 am Published by 2 Comments

By Nicolette Foss Are you ready to get out of your COVID bubble this year? Come out and visit one of the many hammered dulcimer festivals this summer! Advance your hammered dulcimer skills by attending workshops and jamming along with old and new friends. There are two types of festivals now, thanks to the pandemic. So if you aren’t ready to leave your house, you can still attend virtual festivals. No one is left behind! We picked our six favorite... Read More →

Are You Guilty of These 10 Hammered Dulcimer Beginner’s Bad Habits?

April 13, 2022 7:48 am Published by 8 Comments

By Nicolette Foss Not knowing what you don’t know is the hardest part of being a newbie. So you grip your poor hammers for dear life as you hunch over the dulcimer for odd hours, trying to decode “How to play the hammered dulcimer” YouTube videos. They may as well be in another language! At this point are you even having fun anymore? You might just be reinforcing bad habits that will be harder to kick later on. That is... Read More →

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Musician Spotlight: Val Cortoni

March 26, 2022 5:38 am Published by Leave your thoughts

By Nicolette Foss We did a series of Zoom interviews with Val Cortoni, a French poly-instrumentalist, songwriter, and sound engineer. Val focuses on the integration of old-world acoustics with modern production techniques.  Val Cortoni’s repertoire on the hammered dulcimer includes everything from Celtic to baroque to death metal and video game themes. His covers are varied, while his own compositions often center on the newly-evolving synth-folk genre.  We discussed his musical interests, influences, as well as recording and mixing the... Read More →

Roger Frood hammered dulcimer

Now Making Our Very Own Hammered Dulcimer Cases

February 18, 2022 4:00 am Published by 3 Comments

By Nicolette Foss The pandemic hit everyone hard. Here at Songbird Dulcimers, the supply chain debacle caused us to run out of the cases we’ve been importing for about 20 years. We scrambled to find American companies that could undertake such a project, but as you can imagine, everyone was swamped. In the meantime, we slapped together some makeshift hammered dulcimer hard cases to get us through. We were sweating. But with every hardship, there is always a silver lining.... Read More →

7 Types of Hammered Dulcimers Around the World

February 3, 2022 7:44 am Published by 11 Comments

By Nicolette Foss In the modern music genres of today, there is no doubt the hammered dulcimer is pretty obscure. Most people will look at you blankly, scratch their head and say, “Hammered dulcimer, what’s that?” But believe it or not, the hammered dulcimer is well known in certain pockets of the world. It shares an extensive family tree with similar instruments that have a rich history and vibrant communities of players just like you.  In this article, we will... Read More →

Musician Spotlight: The Lady Victoria

November 19, 2021 5:17 am Published by Leave your thoughts

By Nicolette Foss   You may have come across this lively member of Renaissance Festival royalty performing on the hammered dulcimer all over the world. Or you may have seen her on various social media platforms where she dresses in exquisite costume and performs as The Lady Victoria.  The Lady Victoria (aka Victoria Van Arnam) is a rising star in the hammered dulcimer community. She has amassed a copious following on TikTok where she spreads Celtic folk tunes to the... Read More →

3 Ways Making Music Can Combat Stress

November 9, 2021 6:32 am Published by 3 Comments

By Nicolette Foss We are all affected by stress. But the effects of stress are not always as noticeable as that all-too-familiar eye twitch brought on by a grueling workday. Tension can build up from seemingly innocuous situations like the rush at the cash register to make way for the next customer in line. Or the extra 15 minutes added onto a rainy morning commute when you’re already late.  These tiny worries can pile up and lead to health problems... Read More →

Hammered Dulcimer Tuning and Maintenance Tips

August 26, 2021 8:16 am Published by 3 Comments

By Chris and Nicolette Foss As with anything you love, your hammered dulcimer will stand the test of time when it is well-maintained and handled with care. Knowing how to properly tune, adjust, clean, and maintain your instrument is essential to keep it sweet-sounding and by your side for years to come. In this article, we will give you some of our tried and true tips for troubleshooting issues you may have with tuning. For instance, did you know a... Read More →

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How to Tune a Hammered Dulcimer For Complete Beginners

July 27, 2021 5:10 am Published by 1 Comment

By Nicolette Foss Are you a hammered dulcimer newbie? Have you noticed your dulcimer just doesn’t sound as good as it did when you first started playing? Do people grimace in pain as you play? These may be signs your hammered dulcimer may be out of tune.  Just as any stringed instrument does, when the tension on the strings changes, it changes the pitch of the notes played. This will cause your hammered dulcimer to be what is called “out... Read More →

Where Did the Hammered Dulcimer Originate?

July 19, 2021 4:18 am Published by 13 Comments

By Nicolette Foss Today the hammered dulcimer is played in some of the farthest corners of the world. Its music has enriched the lives of people everywhere; from the traditional silk and bamboo genre of China to the folk music festivals of the U.S. But where did this instrument come from and how has it intermingled with history? In this article, we will take a trip back in time to discover the instrument’s humble beginnings and follow the evolution of... Read More →

Effects For Electric Hammered Dulcimer

January 20, 2021 4:53 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

After working on it for several years, this is the setup I have come up with for my electric hammered dulcimer.  You don’t need all this stuff to play electric hammered dulcimer, just an amp of some sort.  But the effects give you an amazing array of wonderful, useful sounds that have never been heard. My setup starts with the Fishman Loudbox Artist Acoustic amp which I highly recommend.  It has two channels so you can run two instruments, or... Read More →