Hey there, I’m Ryan.
I’m pretty passionate about this instrument known as a “stick dulcimer” (or "river dulcimer" more recently) and I think I can convince you why you should love them, too, if you’ll give me a few minutes.
First, this instrument is for everyone. And I mean that. Everyone.
- Those who’ve never played an instrument.
- Those who have tried and tried, but gotten nowhere with other stringed hunks of wood
- The youngest among us
- The oldest among them
- Those who have music degrees and play at an expert level
- The ones who always say "well, I just don't have a musical bone in my body..."
Do you fit in one of those categories? I did. (By the way... here a free lesson in how you can learn in less than one hour.)
And then I found the stick dulcimer, and it started changing me. (Ok, I have a sense for the dramatic, but read on…) For those who like a good story, here’s mine:
In 2012 I got married and my lovely wife and I took a road trip honeymoon around the Southeastern USA. Our first stop was in Asheville, NC, where I happened to pass a cart of these intriguing little instruments. They weren’t guitars, mandolins, ukuleles or banjos, but had a slightly hybrid sound and look. At a little prompting from my bride I went ahead and purchased one.
You see, I’ve been playing guitar for nearly 30 years, and my undergrad degree is in music (more on that later), so this was a pretty exciting find!! Because, if I’m honest, music school had kind of killed my love of the guitar for a while. I’d left my first love (guitar) to collect dust in the corner. It had become work to play it, not fun.
But now here was something new and different to explore! Something that reignited my creativity and got me playing again. It was easy to pull down from the wall and just noodle a bit, or to sit and have to think about how to rearrange something I knew for guitar to work on the stick dulcimer.
But, moving past myself, I see now how it could help anyone find a way into the world of playing music. For years I've had people ask me what it is, and when I hand it to them they don't hesitate the way you see people shy away from guitars. They take it and (yes, a little awkwardly), strum a note and smile. Making music just became achievable to them.
So, I think you could fit in one of the above categories.
Perhaps you thought playing an instrument was something you were going to do when you hit 50? Yet here you are at retirement with no songs to show. A stick dulcimer will get you back on track. 30-min per day for a week will show you what I mean.
Or maybe you're a parent looking to help your child learn how to play an instrument but it seems like guitar is asking a lot of your 7-year old (and, FWIW, it is)? Try a stick dulcimer. You'll see that progress you were hoping for within the first day or two.
But I'm rambling on...
If you have thoughts or questions, or a story to share, drop me a line. I hope this site will be a huge resource and boon to the world of musicians and the musically novice alike.