Find out how you can make a fresh start with your dulcimer playing in 2023! 

Myth: “You have to be born with the ability to play by ear.” 

Myth Buster: How many times have you heard that?  I heard it many times but I finally accepted the truth.  Some people may have extraordinary hearing and grew up in an environment that fostered playing by ear, but for most of us “normal humans,” playing by ear isn’t something you have or don’t have, it’s something you learn!


The From Paper to Ear: Conquering the Jam, Level 1, was so beneficial to me. I've taken 'playing by ear' classes from different instructors before, but didn't make much progress. The tunes that Lorinda guided us through were easy enough to make progress, and gave me confidence that I could do this. While working on homework, I found that I was discovering how to play other songs just by playing around on the fretboard. Amazing discovery! Lorinda's welcoming, enthusiastic teaching method is encouraging, and moves along at a pace that everyone kept up. Can I give it 20 stars?” - Linda Boies



I learned to play the dulcimer in the same way I learned to play all the other instruments that I owned: I bought a book and read the music!  That method worked to teach me a lot about the instrument, gave me the tools needed to reproduce the music that was written down, and play basic accompanying chords for singing.  It was also helpful in transferring the classical music and hymns that I was most familiar with to the the dulcimer.  But the mistake I made was relying on that written music as I began to learn the old time music repertoire and become a part of the jam sessions.  I struggled for years trying to figure out why someone with advanced musical training did not feel successful in learning tunes by ear in a jam session. 

I put together this course so you would not make the same mistake I made when I started playing and so you can enjoy all the wonderful aspects of the dulcimer community and feel really good about yourself as a player. 

If you want to be free of tab and learn to trust your ear and memory skills and begin “playing by heart” then this course is for you.  I have made this journey myself, so I know what you need to “break the habit”.  I have been a music educator all my life, worked with all ages and all abilities and most importantly on this topic, have made this journey myself and know what you need to succeed. 

I’m teaching this because I love that I made this discovery and I want you to learn what I learned in a supportive environment that will prepare you for your dulcimer journey!

Play By Ear Course Descriptions 

Each course is a total of four lessons, sixteen if you sign up for all four courses!  If you have never played by ear, then you should start at the beginning, but if you already play some by ear but want to improve your skills and learn new tunes, you can jump in at any course along the way. Just be aware that each course will present progressively more involved tunes and take more skills to learn. 

*Note: Playing by ear takes some time to develop. You will not develop this skill in one lesson!  You need to be patient and give yourself time to understand the process. This course will guide and support you along this journey in a safe community of sharing and caring. 

For each lesson you will receive: 

*Audio recording of the tune 

*Link to Video recording of the tune with step by step instruction 

*Background information about the tunes 

*Standard notation of the tune AFTER course is completed 

*Online jam opportunities to try out your new skills and tunes/songs 

Session 1:  From Paper To Ear 

This course starts at the very beginning teaching how to hear and identify the scales and intervals on the dulcimer and to relate those to familiar songs. We will have an overview of the understanding of what playing by ear is and how it is used in different genres of music. We will learn to play songs you already know and gradually move into new tunes so that you are learning to hear and memorize simultaneously. 

Class Dates: Wednesday, 7:00 PM Eastern, January 4, 11, 18, 25, 2023 

Session 2:  Conquering The Jam, Level 1 

This course will move you into playing with chords, modes and tunes that can be found in most jam sessions across the U.S.  We will talk about basic jamming skills but more importantly, building more skills for you learn how to listen to tunes. 

Class Dates: Wednesday, 7:00 PM Eastern, February 8, 15, 22, March 1, 2023 

Session 3: Conquering The Jam, Level 2 

As you start to feel more confident, our tunes will move into more keys and more challenging rhythms.  We will continue the key of D and add G and A and you will start to pick out more songs by ear, lead songs in jam sessions and play more of your previously learned tunes by memory. 

Class Dates: Wednesday, 7:00 PM Eastern, March 22, 29, April 5, 12, 2023 

Session 4:  Across the Rivers and Ponds 

This is a new course that offers some regional flavor of tunes. We will learn some great tunes from Kentucky fiddle players and start to look at other American roots music such as dance tunes from Scotland and Ireland. This session will guide you into finding your own niche and passion in your own community and how to contribute your new skills. 

Class Dates: Wednesday, 7:00 PM Eastern, May 3, 10, 17, 24, 2023

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