Mountain Dulcimers with a southwestern flair from New Mexico.Mountain Dulcimers with a southwestern flair from New Mexico.Mountain Dulcimers with a southwestern flair from New Mexico.

Mountain Dulcimer Lessons

To Search for Lessons
You can just scroll down and take each lesson in order.
Alternately, if you want to search by lesson title,
just click on the lesson name below.
To return to this index, just hit the "Back" button on your browser.

A Very Short Introduction Madeline MacNeil's Mountain Dulcimer Wall Chart
Lesson # 1: 'Barre' Chords Lesson # 2: 'L' Chords Lesson # 3: 'X' Chords
Lesson # 4: Slant Chords Lesson # 5: minor Chords Lesson # 6: 7th Chords
Lesson # 7: Adding Chords Lesson # 8: Scales Lesson # 9: Intros and Endings
Lesson # 10: Improvisation A look at DAA Tuning Instrument Care
Questions and Answers More Chord Charts Recommended Books and Recordings
Understanding Octaves Coping with stage fright Advanced Musical Theory


I will tell you right off that I have not finished these lessons! Most of them are complete at this time, but if you find a link that won't work, that means I am still working on them.

I am in the process of putting all this together into a book and when the book is ready for distribution, you can order one and have all these lessons at your fingertiips each day!!! I use these lessons in my workshops and I have gotten very good response from students who have attended them. Even though my book is going to be called "Mountain Dulcimer Lessons for Newbies", even more advanced students find these lessons helpful in "organizing" their minds in terms of understanding chords and how to use them.

The beauty of these lessons is that, after you have gone through them, you will be able to find chords on your dulcimer without memorizing them and you will have a minimal amount of music theory to fall back on. It is possible to find your chords and join in at jam sessions without having to know music theory, or perhaps without having to know a LOT about music theory. I touch on it a little, giving you just enough to allow you to understand the mechanics of the music and how it applies to dulcimer, but not so much as to overwhelm you or to make learning to play your dulcimer a difficult and painful experience. Music should be fun, and with this information you will have a better understanding of your instrument and your music. I hope you enjoy the lessons!!!

For people learning songs by ear, I highly recommend a piece of software called "The Amazing Slow Downer", which can play recorded songs at a slowed-down speed, and can loop over a given part of a song repeatedly. You can find it at:

Lesson # 1 -- "Barre" Chords

I am going to start the first lesson with barre chords even though most of you already know what they are.....but there are things about barre chords that if you understand them, it is easier to find your other chords.

HINT: The bass string note names the barre chord.

To start with, over to the right is a list of the barre chords in DAd.

With your dulcimer tuned to DAd, strumming it open is a D chord....if you barre across the first fret, you have an E chord.... at the 2nd fret, you have a F# the 3rd fret you have a G chord, etc. You just count up the alphabet, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D, to play the "D" scale. (The only confusing part about these lessons is the 6+ is used in the D scale. Ignore the 6 fret for now -- just pretend it isn't there. We will get into it later.)

So, Okay. That is really all you really need to know for now. But if you want to learn a little "minimal music theory" as it applies to these chords, read on. Also, the following will help you to understand the next lesson.

On the dulcimer, the large spaces between the frets are whole steps and the small spaces between the frets are half steps.

D0  0  0
E1  1  1
F#2  2 2
G3  3  3
A4   4  4
B5  5  5
C#6+   6+   6+
D7  7  7
E8  8  8
F#9  9  9
G10  10  10

REMEMBER: The bass string note determines the name of the barre chord.

However, these are called incomplete chords. They are incomplete because you only have the 1st note of the D scale (D and d), and the 5th note of the D scale (A) on your open strings. The 3rd note is missing.

All major and minor chords have three notes. ... a 1st, a 3rd, and a 5th.

The 3rd note is what determines whether or not a chord is major or minor.

In the case of the "D" scale, in order to form a complete D chord, the 3rd note is either an F# (for Major) or an F (for minor).

This is all you need to understand about chords and music theory for now. If you know absolutely nothing about music theory, don't go and try to learn more theory for now. I am trying to keep it as simple as possible here, and like I said, this is all you need to know for now.

The rest is going to be easy. See you in Lesson # 2!!!

animated book graphic
Go Back
to Lessons Index
buckskin horse running graphic
to Next Lesson

Search Gila Mountain Dulcimers For:

search tips     sitemap

Watch this site for more to come soon!!!
Send an e-mail to Gila Mountain Dulcimers.
Please send an e-mail to me if you have any questions!!!

Create Dulcimer Tab with the Tabledit system!!
It's the one I use!!
TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music for dulcimer.
(click here to find out more)

The FREE TablEdit File Viewer!! TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music for dulcimer.
The FREE TablEdit File Viewer!!

With the increasing number of songs available in TablEdit format on the internet,
it is clear that there is a need for a file viewer for those musicians that don't need the full capabilities of TablEdit.  
Download now!!!

Gila Mountain Dulcimers

The Dulcimer Shop
P O Box 1005
Capitan, New Mexico 88316
E-Mail Kerry

This site is labeled with ICRA.
© Gila Mountain Dulcimers, 2001, all rights reserved.
contact the webmaster
This web site designed, programmed, and published entirely by Kerry Coates.
Web site services available.  Call 505.354.2086 or e-mail Kerry.
Never a charge for telephone or e-mail consultation.