The Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer Summit
Chromatic Mountain DUlcimer Summit
This elite gathering of serious Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer Players will take place on Zoom and will give participants an in-depth look at how this instrument works. Registration for The Summit includes classes with five premier Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer Teachers – Stephen Seifert, Sam Edelston, Larry Conger, Grant Olson, and Erin Mae – plus a discussion moderated by Dulcimer Crossing’s Steve Eulberg, a resource-sharing and shopping hour hosted by Dulcimer Players News’ Ashley Ernst (featuring several national builders). Finally, we will cap the event with a concert exclusively featuring Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer.
Erin Mae Lewis
Erin Mae is a mountain dulcimer virtuosa who has taken an obscure American folk instrument, and with it developed a high level of technical proficiency and musical expression. Erin Mae has been playing for mountain dulcimer for over twenty years, and almost-exclusively chromatic mountain dulcimer for over ten. She has a degree in Commercial Music from South Plains College, where she was the first student to study mountain dulcimer. Her playing blends bluegrass, old time, classical, and jazz influences, giving her a unique and progressive style. Erin Mae is also a leader of innovation and education, whose passion is to empower and equip others to find their own creative expression in the world.
Larry Conger is a graduate of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and has been involved with music as a vocation for almost 40 years. Besides being a popular instructor at various dulcimer workshops around the country, Larry also served as a church music director for several churches during the late 1970s through the 1990s. He has been a participating artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission's Arts in Education Program as well as the Kentucky Arts Council's Teacher Incentive Program, bringing dulcimer music and its unique history into the public schools.
Larry slowly eased into the world of chromatic dulcimers by first adding a 0+ fret to his diatonic fretboard. In doing so, he was able to play more modern day pop and country songs by utilizing chords such as Bb and Gm in the key of D. One day, he received a call from Bob Magowan, a dulcimer builder from Memphis, who was looking to find a new home for a fully chromatic dulcimer he had built as an experiment. He gifted Larry with that dulcimer and the rest is history.
When Sam Edelston first took up the mountain dulcimer, he decided to play 3-string (not 4), and to focus on a single tuning and learn it inside-out. Fatefully, this meant that, if he needed additional notes to play a song, he would add frets. Within just a couple of years, he had his first chromatic dulcimer.
Sam is best known for his renditions of rock and pop songs from the ‘50s to today, though he also plays anything from bluegrass to Big Band, and from old-timey to opera. His videos of “Whole Lotta Love” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” have gone viral, and his video of “Sweet Caroline” is shown in the renowned Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. In his spare time, he enjoys jamming with other instruments, in any key.
Based in Connecticut, he has performed and taught across the USA and online. Also, he’s now offering online courses. Sam chairs the Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival – online on October 1-2 this year.
Sam believes: (1) Mountain dulcimers belong in mainstream music. (2) They are a more natural first stringed instrument than guitars. (3) Millions of kids ought to be begging their parents for a dulcimer for their next birthday.
His first experience with the chromatic dulcimer was in working through the book "Fingerpicking Dulcimer" by Janita Baker; adapting her arrangements for a diatonic dulcimer tuned to DAA#D. Grant Started with the 6+ fret and used bends to access the chromatic notes. Later adding the 1+, 0+, and 8+ frets. This allowed greater flexibility while still leaving my dulcimer partly diatonic. He later decided to try a fully chromatic fretboard, which he made himself from cardboard and styrofoam.
Grant's first major project was learning Rondo Alla Turca, using a chromatic dulcimer tuned D-G-A-D. Continuing with arrangements of Classical Gas and Fur Elise with the tuning D-A-D-A; as well as Bach's Cello Suite #1 on a D-A-D chromatic dulcimer. In addition to learning these more complex songs, grant enjoys transposing songs to minor keys using the extra chromatic frets.
Stephen Seifert's teaching and playing has made him a favorite with dulcimer players all over the world since 1991. In that time, he's been a featured performer at over a thousand dulcimer festivals and other music events including. Stephen has also been a dulcimer soloist with orchestras around the U.S. He was Adjunct Instructor of Mountain Dulcimer with David Schnaufer at Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music from 1997 to 2001. He also taught, performed, and recorded with Mr. Schnaufer as a duo throughout the country. Stephen has authored ten books, four CDs, and 16 instructional videos, Dulcimer School, and this site, Mountain Dulcimer A to Z. Although his main instrument is a diatonic plus the 6½ fret, he started learning music on the chromatically fretted dulcimer his third year of playing the dulcimer. “I will play both instruments, the diatonic and the chromatic, for as long as they both shall live.”