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Beginner's Page

Three Rivers Dulcimer Society holds regular jams (with free beginner lessons) in person at...location to be determined.

Our jams are usually held on the first and third Saturdays of each month. Please check the calendar.

For updates on our schedule, please check the calendar on this website. You may sign up for email notifications, as well.

What Instrument to Bring

What to bring:

- Mountain dulcimer

- Pick

- Any acoustic (non-electric) instrument

- Your singing voice

- Music (see "Our Music" page)

- Music stand

- Tuner

-Your most amazingly positive attitude and desire to have FUN!

You may chose to play by ear instead of using tab. You may sing, if you wish. Some of our music includes lyrics.

Reading Tab

You don't need to know how to read music to play! You have options:

A. Play by ear

B. Learn by watching where to put your hands to make the sounds you want

C. We can teach you to read Tab

D. We can teach you to read traditional musical notation (like piano music)


Tablature, or "tab," is a way of writing music. It shows positions on different strings so you know where to put your hands to get the sounds you want.

In the sample above, the top part is traditionally written music with chords (the capital letters) above. The bottom part is the tab. Tab is divided into three lines, one for each string on the dulcimer. The top line represents the bass string, the one farthest from you when the dulcimer sits in your lap. The middle line is for the middle string. The bottom line is for the "melody" string that sits closest to your body.

Numbers on the strings are the "fret," or bar across the instrument that divides it into notes. Pressing your finger on the string behind the fret makes the note change.

This sample above starts with no strings pressed then the melody string gets pressed behind the first fret, then the second fret...

Later, you see 0, 1, 3. Don't touch the bass string. Press behind the first fret on the middle string and the third fret on the melody string.

Easier Songs

These tunes are easier to play and are great for everyone. From those just beginning to those who are advanced and want a song to "play around on," there's something here for you.

On the Jam Tunes page where you download the music, these songs will be noted with an "*" to the right.

  • Amazing Grace

  • Bile the Black Mountain Squirrels

  • Britches Full of Stitches

  • Clinch Mountain/Sweet Pepper

  • Columbus Stockade Blues

  • Fiddlin' Around

  • Froggy Went A-Courtin'

  • Happy Birthday

  • Harrison Town

  • How Can I Keep from Singing

  • Keel Row

  • Lady Mary

  • Mississippi Sawyer

  • Old Gray Liza

  • Rock the Cradle Joe

  • Silent Night

  • Simple Gifts

  • Skip to My Lou

  • Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go

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