2020 Instructors

Laurie Alsobrook

Laurie got her introduction to the mountain dulcimer at WCU back in 2002 with a “string-side-up” class...the start of a wonderful lifetime of dulcimer joy!  After a full career in the classroom, Laurie has turned her attention to sharing the dulcimer at festivals, workshops, and her festival favorite, "the Dulcimer Petting Zoo" for children.

Richard Ash

Richard is the owner of Folkcraft Instruments, which is one of the oldest and most respected musical instrument manufacturers in the country. Folkcraft makes a variety of stringed and fretted instruments, including Appalachian dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, bowed psaltery, kantele, dulcilele, and ukulele.
 
Richard is a teacher, and holds a music education degree from The Ohio State University. Formerly a school band director, now he's an active dulcimer instructor.
 
Richard is also the organizer of three music festivals: The Dulcimer Gathering (for hammered dulcimer players); Indiana Dulcimer Festival (for Appalachian dulcimer players); and Midwest Uke Fest (for ukulele players).
 
And finally, Richard is a performer. You can hear him playing the dulcimer at events all over the country. From NAMM shows to dulcimer festivals, old-time music events to demonstration concerts in the Folkcraft concert hall, he's performed pretty much everywhere.

Tina Bergmann

Hailed by Pete Seeger as "the best hammered dulcimer player I've heard in my life," Tina Bergmann has been performing concerts, and teaching workshops and private lessons from an early age. A fourth-generation musician, Bergmann began playing music at age eight, learning the mountain dulcimer from her mother in the aural tradition and learning the hammered dulcimer at the knee of West Virginia-native builder and performer Loy Swiger. Demonstrating gifts for both performance and teaching, she has been a featured performer across the United States, performing solo; as a duo with her husband, bassist Bryan Thomas; with her stringband Hu$hmoney; and as a member of Apollo's Fire, Cleveland's world renowned Baroque Orchestra.

Matthew Dickerson

For the past twelve years, Matthew has been delighting audiences with his sweet and cheerful style of playing the hammered dulcimer.

 

He developed a keen interest in the instrument in his early teens after learning a variety of other instruments, including guitar and penny whistle. Celtic music led him to discover the unique and pleasant sound of the Hammered Dulcimer.

 

His first dulcimer was one he built from scratch, and after teaching himself to play, he quickly became an accomplished artist with the talent and skill necessary to win the Mideast Regional Hammered Dulcimer Competition in 2012. Shortly after this achievement, he entered and won the National Hammered Dulcimer Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas.

 

As of 2018, Matthew has chosen music as a full time venture performing and teaching across the United States as well as in the studio and online. He released his first album in the summer of 2014 and will release his second in the summer of 2018.

 

With a genuine appreciation for great music and talent in multiple genres, he continues to reach for new heights in both style and performance as he represents himself as one of the best dulcimer players in the country.

 

 Matthew resides with his wife and two sons in Aiken, South Carolina.

Bing Futch

With a big smile and wild dreadlocks, Bing Futch kicks off every performance with a buoyant energy that is inviting and energizing.  Using Appalachian mountain dulcimer, Native American flute, ukulele, drums and electronic effects, he deftly navigates the varied waters of traditional and modern Americana with passion, wit and a genuinely huge heart for sharing music with a crowd. 

 

Known for his musical shape-shifting, Futch switches the channels on style with every new song, sung in a limber tenor voice and woven together with the other instruments. His casual way with any audience, coupled with a fierce originality on the lesser known mountain dulcimer, makes each show a one-of-a-kind and good-timing romp. 

 

As a nationally touring solo performer he's headlined at such events as The Florida Folk Festival, Old Songs Festival, The Big Muddy, Kentucky Music Weekend and Common Ground On The Hill. 

 

In 2014, Bing won the "Solo Artist" award in the Central Florida Blues Challenge competition, earning a coveted entry into the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. Taking the mountain dulcimer where it had never gone before, Bing competed in the quarterfinals and advanced to the semifinals, gaining new notice and fans for himself and this unique instrument. Several months later, Bing competed in the 2015 Central Florida Blues Challenge and won the Solo/Duo Award for the second year in a row, which led him back to Memphis to compete in the 2016 International Blues Challenge.  There, he advanced all the way to the finals and was given the award for "Best Guitarist" in the solo-duo category, despite competing solely on the mountain dulcimer.
 

Dave Haas

Dave Haas lives in Charleston, WV, and loves to perform and teach others how to play the mountain dulcimer!  He has been playing the dulcimer since 1990, and loves to share the mountain dulcimer and its history with schools, churches, and civic organizations.  He has even brought dulcimer music to those in prison!  Dave is a popular dulcimer instructor, and has performed in 16 states.  Dave also plays the guitar, sings, and leads music on Christian retreat experiences such as Kairos Prison Ministry, The Walk To Emmaus, Cursillo, and Teens Encounter Christ.  Dave has released four dulcimer CDs, seven dulcimer instruction/CD workbooks, and a popular dulcimer chord chart.

 

Dave also enjoys teaching science as a Chemistry Professor at the University of Charleston.  One of his favorite activities is to sing chemistry songs (some on dulcimer) with his students!

Judy House

Judy House lives in Winston-Salem NC. She is a graduate of Campbell University. She has had an extraordinary variety of opportunities as an educator over the past 40 years, teaching preschool through graduate level classes in North Carolina. Judy began her formal study of music as the age of 9 when she was introduced to the flute; piano soon followed. She has been playing and performing ever since with everything from marching bands to gospel quartets to dulcimer ensembles!

 

She received her first mountain dulcimer in 1995. A graduate of the first class for Teaching the Mountain Dulcimer from Dulcimer U at WCU, she has taught Mountain Dulcimer classes at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, NC since 2010, has a number of private students, and was added to the Dulcimer U staff in 2014 for the Teaching the Mountain Dulcimer core class. She has also been a presenter at dulcimer festivals in North Carolina for the past 4 years. She enjoys leading the Camel City Strummers Dulcimer Club in Winston-Salem as well as playing with The Cantabile Jubliee Dulcimer Trio.

Kirk House

Kirk House has been playing the dulcimer for 12 years; for the last six years he has specialized in the bass dulcimer. He is a Nationally Certified Dulcimer Teacher, through Western Carolina University (Dulcimer U program). Kirk plays several different styles and designs of bass dulcimer, including 3-string, 4-string, and double-bass. He performs as part of a duo with his wife Judy House, as well as a member of the trio 'Cantabile-Jubilee', and the quartet string section, 'SASSY'.

 

Other musical interests of Kirk's include mandolin, bowed dulcimer, ukulele, and shape-note singing.  Kirk is delighted to be returning for his second year as a bass dulcimer instructor at BMMF.

Lorinda Jones

Performing on the Celtic Harp and Mountain Dulcimer, Lorinda transports an audience to a place that may remind them of their ancestral roots, a place of peace and tranquility. Performances reflect Lorinda’s background in performing, music education, and music therapy, and are informative and engaging, whether on a concert stage, classroom, retreat, or festival event. Audiences of all ages enjoy the "Historic Charm" of Lorinda's music.

As an adjudicated member of the Kentucky Arts Council Arts on Tour Directory, Lorinda is recognized not only in the state, but also nationally. She began performing on the piano at an early age, and soon progressed to other instruments including years of classical music study on the oboe. But it is her passion for American folk music that has been a common thread in her varied pursuits for the past twenty years as a performing and recording artist, and music therapist.

Locally, Lorinda leads the Heartland Dulcimer Club, the Heartland Harp ensemble, hosts a traditional music festival, and has taught many, many students how to play both the mountain dulcimer and folk harp. Nationally, Lorinda teaches and performs at music camps and festivals all across the nation, including the prestigious John C Campbell Folk School, Augusta Heritage Week, and many more.

She is the author of numerous music books, 3 of which are published by Mel Bay Publishing Company, as well as several CD recordings, and most recently a combination audio CD and relaxation DVD, Celtic Passages.

 

As a music therapist, Lorinda reaches populations beyond the concert stage in schools, assisted living facilities and through related work with the Very Special Arts Kentucky and The Kentucky Center's, Arts-In-Healing program.

 

Lorinda performs on beautiful hand crafted instruments, with song material that ranges from the ancient repertoire of the Celtic lands, to old time music of the American Appalachians, and popular music of today.

Ken Kolodner

Ken Kolodner is widely recognized as one of "one of today's most accomplished, musical hammered dulcimer artists..." (Elderly) and a fine old-time fiddler. As a soloist and in ensembles with Helicon (with Chris Norman and Robin Bullock), Greenfire (with Laura Risk), with fiddlers Elke Baker, Jim Eagan, his son Bradley (see www.kenandbrad.com), and many others, Ken has performed for more than 30 years.

Focusing largely on traditional music, Kolodner has often been called one of the most influential players in the U.S. His music has been featured on national broadcasts on NPR, The Thistle and the Shamrock, All Things Considered, the CBC, the Voice of America, German National Radio, Performance Today and countless radio shows. 

His many credits are a featured solo in an Emmy-nominated CBS-TV Christmas special, over a dozen recordings with sales well over 125,000, an "Indie" winner and a #1 World Music title of traditional Celtic music (Walking Stones) and bestseller for BMG (with over 55,000 copies sold), and numerous books and instructional recordings (including a book/CD on old time fiddling for Mel Bay). 

Jim Miller

Jim Miller has been playing and performing traditional music for the past 40 years. An accomplished instrument builder and teacher, he has taught workshops at numerous festivals as well as won many awards for his musicianship, including first place dulcimer at both Galax, VA and Fiddler's Grove, NC. For twenty years, Jim was the owner of the Hampton Music Shop, in Hampton, Tennessee, where he handcrafted over 750 hammered dulcimers. He has played with Celtic, Bluegrass, Swing, Blues and Old Time bands, and has done session work on many recordings. He currently performs in a duo accompanied by his wife, Cheri, on guitar.

 

In addition to being an accomplished performer and workshop leader, Jim also is an enthusiastic jam facilitator who likes to get everyone involved. His "chord signing for the harmonically impared" is legendary. He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, mandocello, bass, steel drum, percussion, hammered and mountain dulcimers as well as his own off-the-wall musical inventions, which are always entertaining. Jim holds a Masters degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in instrumental music. He recently retired from teaching 4th grade at Cloudland Elementary School in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, where he still leads an after school traditional string band program. He is also an adjunct professor teaching mandolin, ukulele, dulcimer and autoharp in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music program at East Tennessee State University and plays mandocello in the ETSU Mandolin Orchestra.

Sarah Morgan

The music of Sarah Morgan embodies her respect and joy of folk music and her creative approach to arranging. Backing traditional Appalachian melodies and haunting old time tunes with fresh harmonies and a progressive drive, she lends a new feel to seemingly "old" tunes, while accompanying pure and heartfelt vocals with the unpretentious sound of the Appalachian dulcimer. Folk, Americana, and Old-Time roots are brought to the forefront at live shows, where only Sarah and her dulcimer can be found behind the microphone, creating a subtle yet powerful sound that brings the relevant music of the past to today’s audience.

 

Sarah Morgan started her musical journey at 7 years old and has fallen in love with traditional and folk music through the years. A native of East Tennessee, Sarah has incorporated the rich musical heritage of the area into her music. At 18, Sarah placed 1st at the 2012 National Mountain Dulcimer Championships held in Winfield, KS. A year later she went on to become a finalist in the 2013 International Acoustic Music Awards. She has also won other titles, including Mid-Eastern Region Mountain Dulcimer Champion, Kentucky State Mountain Dulcimer Champion, and Southern Region Mountain Dulcimer Champion. She currently studying Traditional Music and Appalachian Studies at Morehead State University.

Aaron O'Rourke

Aaron O'Rourke’s exploration of the mountain dulcimer began in high school at a time when his only musical experience consisted of playing bass in a punk rock band. In the fall of 2002 Aaron began his first dulcimer lessons and in 2004, Aaron attended Western Carolina University’s Dulcimer Week on a youth scholarship. The next year, Aaron was invited back as an instructor. In a short period of time, Aaron became one of the headlining names at many dulcimer festivals across the country including, Dulcimer Week at the Augusta Heritage Center (David & Elkins College) in Elkins, WV, Kentucky Music Week in Bardstown, KY, Redwood Dulcimer Day in Santa Cruz, CA, Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival in Middletown, CT, Suwannee Dulcimer Retreat in White Springs, FL and many more. To date, Aaron has authored seven instructional books for mountain dulcimer. In 2010, Aaron won the National Mountain Dulcimer Competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. Aaron is also a past winner in the Florida Old-time music competition held in Dade City, FL and the Southeastern Regional Dulcimer Contest in Mountain View, AR.

Don Pedi

Don Pedi was born into a musical family in Chelsea Massachusetts. On weekends, his grandfather, who died before Don was born, would close his barber shop for business, and open his home in the back as a gathering place for family and friends to share homemade food, fellowship and live music. Don's grandfather played guitar, mandolin and banjo. Don's uncle Frank made his living singing and playing music. Another gifted singer is Don's dad. He'll burst into song at the drop of a hat.

Don got involved with the Boston area folk music scene in the early sixties. 1964 was when he first laid eyes on a dulcimer. It was being played by Richard Farina at a live performance by Mimi and Richard Farina at the old Unicorn Coffee House in Boston.

The sound of the dulcimer proved most alluring. That night in a conversation with Richard Farina, Don was convinced that someday he would get himself a dulcimer and play it. Contemporary performers like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Patrick Sky, Joan Baez and others attracted Don to the Newport Folk Festival. While there he was exposed to traditional musicians like Frank Proffitt, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Almeda Riddle and such that where a major influence on his musical tastes. By 1966 Don was traveling a lot. With Cambridge as a base, he lived for various periods of time in different parts of the country. In 1973, while living in the Colorado Rockies, Don met Tad Wright and Keith Zimmerman, a couple of musicians from Asheville, NC. After hearing Don play, they invited him to join them. He did, and they piled into Tad's 1969 Volkswagen mini-van and drove to North Carolina.

At first sight of the mountains around Harmon Den and Fines Creek, Don knew he was home. He's pretty much lived in and around Asheville from then on. Since settling in Western North Carolina Don has been recognized as the man who could "really play" a dulcimer. He is a pioneer in that his music has broken new ground and cleared a path for others. In Don's hands, the dulcimer has been accepted as an instrument well suited to playing traditional Southern Dance music. This was at a time when most "Old-Time" musicians thought a dulcimer should be hung on a wall with a pretty ribbon.

In 1991 Don and wife Jean moved to a little farm in the mountains of Madison County, North Carolina. The area is rich in traditional music and customs (neighbors still plow with mules and horses). Don is at home.

Butch Ross

Typically the dulcimer is used for playing simple tunes and accompanying the voice, most people can learn a song or two within a few minutes of first encountering the instrument. Which is probably why the one phrase you'll hear a lot at a Butch Ross concert is "I didn't know you could do THAT on a mountain dulcimer!" Ross has taken a simple folk instrument and energized it with technical wizardry, inventive arrangements and a healthy dose of rock-n-roll attitude. It's this groundbreaking and iconoclastic approach that caused ukulele-virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro to comment, "Now I know what a dulcimer is supposed to sound like."

Over the past few years Ross has become an in-demand performer at folk and dulcimer festivals through the US and Europe. He's performed at such festivals as the Central Ohio Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, the Lancaster (UK) Music Fest and the prestigious Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert’s teaching and playing has made him a favorite with dulcimer players all over the country since 1991. In that time, he’s been a featured performer at hundreds of dulcimer festivals and other music events including Kentucky Music Week in Bardstown, KY, Dulcimerville in Black Mountain, NC, the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV, the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR, Stringalong near Milwaukee, WI, the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS and The tono American Music Festival, in Tono, Japan.

 

Stephen has been a dulcimer soloist with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, now known as Orchestra Nashville, since 1996 and is featured on their Warner Classical recording of Connie Ellisor and David Schnaufer’s Blackberry Winter, a concerto for mountain dulcimer and string orchestra. The piece continues to be in regular rotation on many classical stations around the U.S. (The recording album is titled “Conversations in Silence” and can be sampled and purchased on iTunes.) Stephen most recently performed this piece with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra.

 

Stephen 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. Most recently, he has been teaching hundreds of students around the world via http://dulcimerschool.com.

Danny Shepherd

Danny Shepherd has been a performing musician for over 45 years. During his early years as a drummer he joined the band at school and played in local rock bands. While attending Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN he received his draft notice and enlisted in the US Army. During his 21 year career as a Military Musician he taught percussion at Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, VA, performed across the United States, Central/South America and the Caribbean. His final assignment was as the Enlisted Bandleader with the 79th Army Band, Ft Clayton, Panama.

 

He has presented dulcimer, ukulele, bodhran, and folk percussion workshops at the Kentucky Music Educators State Conference, Kentucky Music Week, Yellowbanks Dulcimer Festival, Gateway Dulcimer Festival, Ohio Valley Gathering, UNICOI Dulcimer Festival, Henderson Dulcimer Festival, and Red Hill Dulcimer Festival and Heartland Festival.

 

Danny has performed at the UNICOI Dulcimer Festival, Kentucky Music Week, Yellowbanks Dulcimer Festival, Gateway Dulcimer Festival, Ohio Valley Gathering, Henderson Dulcimer Festival, and Red Hill Dulcimer Festival, the Derby Day Arts Festival, and the Arts Council International Festival.

Rick Thum

Ranked as the most influential dulcimer player of the last decade by readers ofDulcimer Player News, Rick Thum has made his mark on every aspect of the hammered dulcimer world. Rick is perhaps best known from his latest album, “Front Porch Waltz,” and his festival performances, which have regularly earned him the “most popular performer” title at the largest national dulcimer festival. He brings a combination of passion and friendly accessibility to his teaching that makes his workshops and master classes favorites at festivals across the country, and has tapped this teaching experience to produce the best-selling instructional CD series for hammered dulcimer, the “Original Song of the Month Club”. Rick is also the designer of the highly-regarded line of hammered dulcimers bearing his name. Yet for all his time in the studio, onstage, in the classroom, and in the luthier’s shop, Rick is most at home at a late-night jam session, where you might even find him playing an instrument other than the dulcimer from time to time.

 

Rick Thum taught himself to play guitar and drums at age twelve and played the trumpet in his high school band. Throughout high school and college (B. S. Industrial Administration) Rick played in rock bands, eventually playing regularly on the upper deck of the Admiral in St. Louis. While raising his family Rick directed his church choir. Rick’s interest in traditional music was sparked when he bought a hammered dulcimer on a whim and found himself in a three-piece folk band. In 1991 Rick became co-owner of a large midwestern acoustic instrument shop. In 1994 he sold his interest in the shop to devote more time to being a traveling musician. Rick was voted Best Performer and Favorite Teacher for several years running at the prestigious Evart Dulcimer Funfest. (The oldest and largest dulcimer festival in the nation.) He has shared the stage with Mike Seeger, The Tony Rice Unit, Steve Kaufman, Norman Blake, and Bryan Bowers and opened for John Hartford, Norman & Nancy Blake, and Leo Kottke. Rick is a popular teacher on the festival circuit and travels across the country playing solo and teaching at music festvals. He currently has five recordings; “Hammered Fiddle Tunes”, “A Reason to Dance”,  “Front Porch Waltz”, “Down the Old Dirt Road” and “Seifert & Thum Live at Mt Dora 2014″. Mel Bay Publishing Inc. has published the companion book to Hammered Fiddle Tunes. Rick is currently manufacturing hammered dulcimers (Rick Thum Dulcimers) which can be seen at a retailer near you and has, by demand, started the Song of the Month Club. Mail order lessons by audio CD.

Mary Lynn van Deventer

In 2012, Mary Lynn discovered a passion for playing the hammered dulcimer and has studied intensively with Ken Kolodner, widely regarded as one of the nation's top hammered dulcimer players. She now teaches over 70 hammered dulcimer students privately and on FaceTime (from CA, NM, NY, TN, NH, AL, CO, MD, MI, and Australia). She has prepared dozens of students to attend Ken Kolodner's Sandbridge Hammered Dulcimer Retreats, an elite hammered dulcimer retreat held in Sandbridge Beach, VA. Mary Lynn serves as an assistant teacher in Weeks 1 and 2.

Mary Lynn began playing piano at the age of 6 and studied for 14 years. In sixth grade she played trumpet, but discovered her true passion the next year when she heard a french horn. She earned a Bachelor's degree in music education from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master's degree in music education from Eastman School of Music. Mary Lynn has performed with the Durham Symphony for 20 years and served as Principal Horn for the past 5 years.

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