The Foothills Dulcimer Club

presents the

19th Annual Mid-Winter

Mountain Dulcimer Festival

(Workshops & Concerts)


February 24, 2018


Workshops: 9 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Concert (free & open to the public): 5:15 p.m.


@ Christ Covenant Church; Shelby, NC

1050 Sam Lattimore Road

Shelby, NC 28152

Hotlink to Go Directly to Registration



Skill Levels Explained

Class Descriptions

Registration Info


Hotels in Shelby


Workshop Schedule

  8:30 – Registration & Introduction of Instructors

  9:15 – Session I

10:30 - Break

11:00 – Session 2

12:15 p.m. – Lunch*

  2:00 – Session 3

  3:15 - Break

  3:45 - Session 4

  5:00 - Break

  5:15 - Concert


The club includes lunch at no extra charge if you are a preregistered participant.  If you have a non-participant with you, he/she may eat with us for $10.  The club has a well-deserved reputation of doing a great lunch!


* During lunch there will be a short, free concert featuring some of our instructors.


Below is a schedule of classes. A description of each class is listed below the schedule in alphabetical order.




1st Period Workshops

9:15 a.m. – 10:30

Basic Mtn Dulcimer I

(Beginning Beginner)

- Johnston -

Chords Shapes in DAD Tuning

- Conger -
Fingerstyle Playing in DAA

(Novice & up)
- Simek -
Key West Crab Walk

(Intermediate & up)
- Libby & Smith -
Playing in the Nursing Home

(Intermediate & up)
- Jones -
Progressive Strum Patterns

- Waldren -

2nd Period Workshops

11:00 – 12:15 p.m.

Basic Mtn Dulcimer II

(Beginning Beginner)

- Johnston -

DAA & DAD Playing Together

(Novice & up)
- Simek -
Tunes in DAC

(Novice & up)
- Waldren -
Twisted Class #1

(Intermediate & up)
- Libby & Smith -
Irish Jigs in DGD Tuning

(Intermediate & up)
- Conger -
Making Sense & Songs w/ the 1.5 Fret

- Jones -

LUNCH w/ Concert

12:15 – 1:20

A great lunch is available on site and is included in your pre-registered workshop fee. Concert will include Tim Simek, Melanie & Mack Johnston, and Larry Conger.

3rd Period Workshops



One-Note Chord Changes to Chord Melody

- Jones -
Easy & Funny Tunes for Beginners

- Collins -
Put that Tab in Your Tablet

(All levels)
- Johnston -
Learn to Play by Ear

(Intermediate & up)
- Simek -
Twisted Class #2

(Intermediate & up)
- Libby & Smith -
The Art of Harmonics

- Conger -

4th Period Workshops

3:45 – 5:00


Fingering the Fretboard

- Waldren -
Building a Musical Foundation

- Jones -
Putting Chords to Work

- Johnston-
Got Parts?

(Intermediate & up)
- Libby & Smith -
Sweet & Gentle, Vol. 4 - Celtic Journey

(Intermediate & up)
- Collins -
Themed Medleys

- Conger -

5:00 - 5:15


Community Concert


5:15 - 6:30 p.m.

Concert will feature Lorinda Jones, Katie Waldren, Debbie Libby & Linda Smith, and Joe Collins.

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Class Descriptions (alphabetical order)

Basic Mountain Dulcimer - Getting Started (Part I) (Beginner Beginner).   A workshop that covers all the basics one needs to get started on the instrument including tuning, holding the instrument, basic noting technique, what to do, and what not to do as a beginning player.  We'll be learning a few basic tunes. (Instructors: Melanie & Mack Johnston)


Basic Mountain Dulcimer - Getting Started (Part II) (Beginner Beginner).  Continuation of the workshop above.  (Instructors: Melanie & Mack Johnston)


Building a Musical Foundation on the Mountain Dulcimer (Novice)  This workshop starts with a basic melody and then builds systematically adding chords as an accompaniment, and chord melodies that can be strummed or fingerpicked. This approach will give the player a deeper understanding of how the melodies and chords work together. (Instructor: Lorinda Jones)


Chord Shapes in DAD Tuning - (Novice/Intermediate) - This class is a “must” for everyone looking to improve their playing skills by becoming more comfortable with three finger chords in DAD tuning. The class will address the various chords available on the dulcimer and use shapes to identify each of them. Along the way, the most efficient fingering of these chords will be discussed. A Powerpoint presentation. 90 minutes. (Instructor: Larry Conger)


DAA and DAD Playing Together (Novice & up) This class is simple.  We learn a simple song in DAA and the same song in DAD and then we play the parts together to see what interesting harmonies are created.  (Instructor: Tim Simek)


Easy & Funny Tunes for Beginners (Beginners-Novice) Come learn some fun tunes that are hits with youngsters through seniors and don’t require a great deal of skill to play effectively. (Instructor: Joe Collins)


Fingering The Fretboard (Beginner – Novice) Learn convenient Left-Hand finger placement for both Melodies & Chords on all strings. Improve dexterity for smoother position changes.  Fingering exercises, chord chart & tune examples. Bring large thin pick. (Instructor: Katie Waldren)


Fingerstyle playing in DAA (Novice & up) In this class we will explore how to play in DAA beyond the noter.  We'll learn how to play some basic chords, accompaniment skills and how to put the chords and melody together in learning a new song.  (Instructor: Tim Simek)


Got Parts? (Intermediate & up) Multiple parts for multiple players! Going Home, In The Bleak Midwinter, Londonderry Aire, Gaelic Farmer, and more. TNT Tunes: Bittersweet, Carolines' Lullaby, Safe Harbor, Sisters, Saro Waltz. New-Fisher's Hornpipe (Instructor: Deby Libby & Linda Smith)


Irish Jigs in DGD Tuning (Intermediate & up) This tuning lends itself extremely well to playing traditional Irish jigs in 6/8 time. The jigs presented in this class can be easily mastered with a minimum amount of effort, thereby adding several new tunes to your repertoire. (Instructor: Larry Conger)


Key West Crab Walk (Intermediate & up) It is an exercise, a warm-up piece, a performance piece, and ensemble piece...and an example of playing the same tune with different fingering systems. For intermediate level, we use the syncopated version of the tune and explore more than 1 method of fingering (3-finger, 4-finger, and thumb versions). Also can explore replaceable measures, time permitting. Variations included hammer on's and pull off's. (Instructor: Deby Libby & Linda Smith)


Learn to Play Mountain Dulcimer by Ear (Intermediate & up) Most people are surprised  that playing music by ear can be taught.  The mountain dulcimer is the perfect instrument for learning how to play by ear.  In this class I will teach the fundamentals of finding a melody and playing accompaniment chords aurally.  This class is great for singers too. (Instructor: Tim Simek)


Making sense and Songs with the 1.5 Fret (Advanced)  A whole new world! This is a class to get you comfortable using your 1.5 fret. You will learn to play in 3 different keys without the use of the capo. Song examples will include tab for melodies and chords in Dm, G, and D Major, with accidentals. (Instructor: Lorinda Jones)


One-Note Chord Changes to Chord Melody (Beginner)  Learn chord changes with simple one note harmonies then expand to two and three strings and finally melody and chords. Join the number in one simple lesson! (Instructor: Lorinda Jones)


Playing in the Nursing Home (Intermediate/Advanced)   Do you enjoy playing for senior resident facilities? Unsure about what tunes are appropriate and can benefit the residents most? As developed from Lorinda’s work as a music therapist, AND leader of a dulcimer club, this session will explain the rationale behind the song choices and present a “ready-to-go” performance program for you to take home and share. Those that take this class will also have the opportunity to purchase a 100-page book/binder specifically designed for this course and playing in the nursing homes and in other long-term residential facilities. (Instructor: Lorinda Jones)


Progressive Strum Patterns (Intermediate – Advanced) Take Bum-ditty Strums to a new level. Learn how accented-directional-right hand Brush, Slap & Lift-ditty strum patterns help create the rhythms for Island music, Folk, Rock & Old-Time Boogie Tunes. Students should be proficient with basic strums, left-hand techniques & chord positions. DAD tuning, Bring large thin pick. (Instructor: Katie Waldren)


Put that Tab in your Tablet (all levels)  If you have binders full of music and cart them with you when you go out to play, you may want to consider a tablet based electronic music database program. There are apps for all tablet types.  In this class we will specifically work with a popular program – forScore - specific to iPad. If you have an iPad with forScore installed, bring it to class. Alternatively and if you don’t have forScore or a tablet, you can come to just listen and see what these programs can do. Class will cover getting your music into your tablet, annotating, creating setlists and using some of the other tools these program offer. It will change your musical life!   No dulcimers required for class. Optional - Bring your iPad with forScore installed. (Instructor: Melanie & Mack Johnston)


Putting Chords to Work (Intermediate)  As beginning players you were taught basic chord forms in the key of D.  You may have been taught how to use these chords in a jam setting as a survival strategy or as rhythmic back-up. In this class we will work with these chords and use rhythms and arpeggios to create background texture and interest when two or more people are playing a simple tune.  (Instructor: Melanie & Mack Johnston)


Sweet & Gentle Tunes, Vol. 4 – a Celtic Journey (Intermediate & up) a repertoire workshop filled with slow-paced, pretty Celtic tunes of lasses, loves and lullabies from Celtic lands. (Instructor: Joe Collins)


The Art of Harmonics (Advanced) Please note the skill level for this class before enrolling. This workshop will address the skills needed to play both natural and artificial (fretted) harmonics on the dulcimer. The majority of the instructional time will be spent helping participants to hone the skill, culminating in playing an entire song developed from harmonics. A challenging skill no doubt. However, harmonics can add beauty and interest to any song. (Instructor: Larry Conger)


Themed Medleys (Advanced)  Add interest to your performance. This class will explore various medleys of three songs creatively arranged in three different keys. Learn the craft of compiling thematic medleys while changing keys between songs. DAD tuning. (Instructor: Larry Conger)


Tunes in DAC Tuning (Novice – Intermediate +) Explore the character & sound of this beautiful minor tuning, & add 2 creatively arranged tunes to your repertoire "to boot". DAC tuning requires tuning just your highest string(s) down one tone. Bring large thin pick. (Instructor: Katie Waldren)


Twisted: Class 1-Key Change (Intermediate +)  Familiar fiddle tunes played in Em. Capo needed for class. Sugar Hill, Mississippi Sawyer, Spotted Pony, Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm. (Instructor: Deby Libby & Linda Smith)


Twisted: Class 2-Structure Change  (Intermediate +) Change a tune from a waltz to a jig, a jig to a waltz. Soldier's Joy, Southwind, Whiskey Before Breakfast. (Instructor: Deby Libby & Linda Smith)

Skill Levels Explained 

The Foothills Dulcimer Club want our workshops to meet the needs of all workshop attendees; therefore, we try to provide for players with a wide variety of skills. The definitions below are rough estimations of what we mean by each designation.

Beginner: I'm brand new to the instrument or I'm so new that I still need more practice and instruction in basic playing skills.

Novice: Still relatively inexperienced, but I know how to play a few songs and know how to figure out how to play a basic song with tablature. I am in the process of learning chords and expanding my ability to vary my strumming and/or picking to match the song I am playing.

Intermediate: Pretty proficient at using tablature and/or playing by ear to learn a variety of music. Understand and can apply chords relatively easily in my playing.

Advanced: Understand and can apply chords and often adapt different chords to music. Feel comfortable flatpicking, strumming, or finger-picking in a wide variety of rhythms, speeds, and dynamics.

You are free to sign up for any workshops you desire, even one that is above your present skill level. However, please realize that the instructors will be teaching each workshop assuming that students have skills at the designated level for that workshop.


Address for your GPS: 1050 Sam Lattimore Road; Shelby, NC 28152


From I-85:  Take the Kings Mountain/Shelby exit (74 West).  Proceed on 74 Bypass until it intersects 150 in front of Shelby High School.  Turn left onto 150.  Go 4 miles to Sam Lattimore Road.  Turn right on to Sam Lattimore RD just before you get to a Chevron gas station.  Christ Covenant Church is immediately behind the gas station.  It does not look like a typical church - no steep, no windows.  It is a converted factory.  Come around to the back side of the church where there is a set of glass doors.

From 74 West:  Come into Shelby on 74 Bypass.  Proceed on 74 Bypass East until it intersects 150 in front of Shelby High School.  Turn right onto 150.  Go 4 miles to Sam Lattimore Road.  Turn right on to Sam Lattimore RD just before you get to a Chevron gas station.  Christ Covenant Church is immediately behind the gas station.  It does not look like a typical church - no steep, no windows.  It is a converted factory.  Come around to the back side of the church where there is a set of glass doors.

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Registration Information

Preregistration - $45 before February 16, 2018 -  Includes Workshops, Lunch, and all concerts:     

Registration - $55 after February 16, including paying at the door.  Does not include lunch, but lunch will be available for $10 as long as the food lasts.  Those who pre-register will go through the line first.

For registration forms, directions, and the interface to pay online click HERE. After you register, you will be taken to a page with an unrelated survey. You do not have to take the survey unless you want to do so.  Just go to the very top of the page and click on the little hotlink that will say "continue" after it is through processing your registration.

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About the Instructors

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 performance, music education, and music therapy, and are informative and engaging, whether on a concert stage, classroom, retreat, or festival event.

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 three decades as a popular performing and recording artist, music camp and festival clinician, and music therapist.

She is the author of numerous music books, 3 of which are published by Mel Bay Publishing Company, as well as several CD recordings, a combination audio CD and relaxation DVD, Celtic Passages, and most recently Old Ceol, with her Irish trio, na Skylark!


Joe Collins began playing the dulcimer in the late 70s and has been a popular instructor/performer in festivals around the country for years.  He has five recordings and eleven popular tab books to his credit as well as a number of championships, including the 2007 National Mountain Dulcimer Championship.  Joe loves teaching and has a doctorate in Adult Education.  In addition to teaching dulcimer, he teaches Discipleship Studies as a professor at Gardner-Webb University.  Thus he has plenty of opportunity to share the two greatest passions in his life:  his music and his faith in Christ.


Links:  Joe's Website

Larry Conger is a graduate of The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and has been involved with music as a vocation for over 35 years. Besides being a popular performer and instructor at various dulcimer festivals around the country, Larry is involved with long distance learning via online lessons.

In 1995, Larry won the Southern Regional Mountain Dulcimer Championship at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas. In 1996, he teamed with Jim Curley of Kansas City to win the Southern Regional Dulcimer Ensemble Championship at the Folk Center. In 1998, Larry won the prestigious National Mountain Dulcimer Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. 

Larry has several dulcimer books and recordings to his credit, including contributions to Great Players of the Mountain Dulcimer, National Champions and Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer II, compilation CDs featuring many of today's top dulcimer artists. He has also been featured on three Japanese compilation CDs of international acoustic music. The Acoustic Breath CD series has enjoyed widespread acclaim in Japan. 

Larry and his wife Elaine are directors of Dulcimer U at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, hosting numerous dulcimer related workshops throughout the year. They also direct their own Duet Dulcimer Retreat at Lake Barkley State Resort Park near Cadiz, Kentucky and the September On The Mississippi Dulcimer Retreat in Natchez, Mississippi.


Linda Smith and Deby Libby have been mountain dulcimers players for more than 25 years combined.  They have been part of the group T.N.T. (The Nutty Trio) since 2006 with several CDs, mountain dulcimer tab arrangements, jamming cards & books and original tunes to their credit.    They are both members of the Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club, where they have led many workshops at club meetings and the club retreat.   Deby was the leader of the club’s dulcimer orchestra for two years.    Since 2006, they have performed and taught at several dulcimer festivals, sharing their love of the instrument by teaching others to play.  


Tim Simek has been playing the mountain dulcimer and hammer dulcimer for 32 years.  He is a 2 time national champion, winning the national mountain dulcimer championship in 1993 and the national hammer dulcimer championship in 2011.

Tim was introduced to the dulcimer while working for Smoky Mountain Dulcimers at Dollywood.  He became a full-time musician in 2006 and plays various venues throughout the southeast.  He also plays private events and gives individual/group lessons.  


Katie Waldren returns to the So. Appalachian Mts. with an extensive dulcimer background, gleaned from several American folk music communities & a genuine enthusiasm that has been on-going for nearly 40 years. She has headlined for dulcimer workshops across the country since 1979 & performed/recorded with both NC-based trio Braidstream, & Wisconsin-based duo Heartwood producing 7 CDs, including Cold Frosty Morning, Waterdance & Nightdancer. Katie's steadfast efforts over time have helped develop effective teaching methods for her well-known embellishment techniques, strums & fingerpicking styles, which she formats in large EZ-To-Read Handouts. The repertoire she performs & teaches consists of an array of innovative solo & duet arrangements from several regions/eras & is designed to bring out the character of the dulcimer. "This dynamic teacher/performer brings new life to traditional songs with fresh Harmony & bright creative Rhythm."

Melanie & Mack Johnston. Melanie Johnston has been playing Mountain Dulcimer since 2001 and is certified by Western Carolina University to teach mountain dulcimer. Mack Johnston has 20+ years experience playing in mandolin ensembles and orchestras. Melanie founded the Connecticut Mountain Dulcimer Gathering and she and Mack co-founded the Northeast Dulcimer Orchestra with Mack as its musical director.

In 2017, Melanie and Mack, relocated to the Asheville, NC area where they perform as a duo with dulcimer, guitar and mandolin.

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Hotels in the Shelby Area


We have not reserved a block of rooms in any of the following hotels.  As far as I know, all of these hotels are in pretty good shape and are moderately priced.  The newest hotel is the Hampton Inn Suites. You must call to make reservations.

AmericInn (866-238-4218)
428 E College Avenue, Boiling Springs, NC 28017
About 3.6 miles from the workshop


America's Best Value Inn (704-482-3821 or 1-800-997-5148)

825 West Dixon Blvd.; Shelby, NC 28152
About 5.1 miles from the workshop. 

Woodsprings Suites Charlotte (1-855-201-7819))

1010 Sue Lane; Shelby, NC 28152
5.4 miles from the workshop 

Days Inn  (704-482-1800)

1431 West Dixon Boulevard; Shelby, NC 28152

About 5.9 miles from the workshop.


Super 8 (704-484-2101 or 1-800-997-5148)

1716 East Dixon Boulevard; Shelby, NC 28150 

About 6 miles from the workshop.


Country Inn & Suites  (704-480-0881 or 1-800-997-5149)

2001 East Dixon Blvd, Hwy 74; Shelby, NC 28152

About 7.3 miles from the workshop.


Hampton Inn  Suites (704-487-2800 or 1-800-230-4134)

2001b East Dixon Blvd; Shelby, NC 28152

About 7.5  miles from the workshop.


Comfort Inn (1-855-201-7819)

2012 East Marion ST; Shelby, NC 28150 

7.7 miles from the workshop 

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