“Every year we have a week-long Artist in Residence program for all of the 4th grade students in the public and parochial school. Our week of Dulcimers with Bob and Heidi has definitely been the best week in the 20+ years of the program. “
-Shannon Quinn, Music Teacher, Monroe City R-1 School District, Missouri
Educational Workshops, Residencies, and Community Concerts
Hands-On Dulcimer Playing Workshops for Schools
One-day hands-on dulcimer workshops teach students to play a tune by fretting strings and strumming dulcimers. Heidi and Bob can accommodate 20 children at one time with their two “five-siders” (five-sided, tabletop, teaching dulcimers) and additional cardboard box dulcimers. This program works well in a music classroom or other room where the instruments can be set up all day, and classes can visit for 30- to 40-minute sessions. Teachers can learn alongside the children. In larger groups, students can share the dulcimers or take turns.
Heidi and Bob provide school assemblies for elementary and middle-school students that teach about American folk music. They play Appalachian traditional music and original songs while they demonstrate and talk about their mountain dulcimers, guitars, mandolin and electric cello, along with plenty of audience participation. They share the history of their instruments and discuss related aspects of the science of sound and acoustics. Depending on time and the size of the group, assemblies may also include the children taking turns strumming their two unique, five-sided teaching dulcimers that have a fretboard on each side.
Learn to Make and Play a Dulcimer – Artist Residency
Heidi and Bob offer a week-long school residency in which up to 40 students can learn to build their own box dulcimer and play it. This can be a joint project of art and music classes, where students decorate their boxes before they put them together. Instructors need a dedicated work area that is set up all week and some volunteer staff to help the children. The project works best with five daily sessions of about 90 minutes with each group. Those sessions will include a rotation of playing instruction and building tasks, from making the box to adding the fretboard, tuning gears, and strings, with the assistance of the instructors and volunteers. The week can end, if desired, with a music performance by Heidi and Bob and groups of students demonstrating tunes they’ve learned on their own instruments before they take them home. This residency is an excellent project to write into an arts grant.
Heidi also teaches songwriting about local history, which works well for children in grades 4-6 and meets content standards for history, English and music. Working with teachers in advance, the students start to learn about the history in their own town or region. Heidi helps the class organize this information into lyrics while crafting verses and chorus and setting to a suitable melody. An individual class can write their own song, or the activity can be shared with more than one class to create a group song.
Make and Play Dulcimer Workshops for Adults
This “Make Your Own Box Dulcimer” workshop is ideal for teachers, churches, scout groups or camps. It is a perfect project for grandparents and grandchildren. Participants build their own cardboard box dulcimer and learn to play a few songs. The time required for a small-group building workshop is a minimum of six hours. At a school or camp with a larger number of students, the timeline can be adjusted to fit into a daily schedule over a week’s time.
Heidi and Bob are often invited to perform an all-ages evening concert after their workshops, so students can return with their families to share the music. The artists take some time to talk about their dulcimers, guitars, mandolin, and electric cello while they play old-time Appalachian tunes, original songs, and singalongs. It’s a fun way that children can share with their parents what they’ve learned about music that day. These concerts are often held at the school but may be in a church or community center.
Two types of programs can be held separately or together:
(1) A hands-on “Learn to Play the Dulcimer” workshop for both children and adults uses the “five-siders” and box dulcimers, and teaches basic playing techniques along with a few simple songs. It’s a great after-school program and is a wonderful shared activity for children with parents or grandparents.
(2) A one-hour concert and history program centered on the Appalachian mountain dulcimer features Heidi and Bob playing their guitars, dulcimers, mandolin, and electric cello. Audiences enjoy their eclectic repertoire of traditional and original music, and they explain the history and background of the dulcimer as they show various instruments from their dulcimer collection.
School and Community Appearances Have Included:
- Day-long Educators’ Workshop for Baker City School District
- Hands-On Dulcimer Playing Workshops in Boardman, Irrigon, Halfway, and Echo Schools
- School Assemblies and Community Concert, Orofino, ID
- Songwriting in the Classroom and Community Concert, Canyon City and John Day
- Libraries of Eastern Oregon Programs in Pendleton, Moro, Baker City, and Richland
- Dulcimer Workshops and Concerts, National Historic Oregon Trails Interpretive Center
- Week-long 4th Grade Music Residency serving two schools in Monroe City, Missouri