Peter Tommerup - Hammered Dulcimer

Taking Hammer to String: Getting Started on the Hammered Dulcimer

 First steps for getting started playing include: exploring the "feel" & dynamics of your hammers, along with understanding the layout of the easiest & most frequently used notes & scales on your instrument. Next, we'll work on some ergonomic patterns for playing these notes & scales, including how to effortlessly play across the bridges. These elements of dulcimer playing are important "foundation knowledge" that will help you gain confidence & enjoy making music. Finally, we'll work on a few easy folk songs to help you develop a fun repertoire to practice & play. 

 You are welcome to use a recording device during the workshop.
Please try to have your dulcimer in tune, as it will make following & playing along easier & more pleasant. 

Mediterranean Musical Holiday (Intermediate)

Love playing fiddle tunes, but up for trying something fresh & different? These engaging, lively, & fun to play instrumental tunes come from the folk music traditions of France, Brittany & Spain. Like Celtic & American "fiddle tunes," they provide the animating rhythms & melodies that energize & inspire folk dancers in these cultures. We'll most likely explore a waltz, bourree, & polka from France, an andro from Brittany, & a mazurka from Galicia in Spain (an ancient Celtic enclave). We'll also explore some aspects of the musical style of these pieces, how to vary & embellish them a bit, & how to play them in a "flow" (which enhances their musicality & your playing enjoyment). 

 You are welcome to use a recording device during the workshop. Please try to have your dulcimer in tune, as it will make following & playing along easier & more pleasant. 

Peter's love affair with the mountain & hammered dulcimer began in 1973. It was then that he first saw & heard them played in a college course on American Folklore & Folkmusic. Following this, he spent time in Appalachia studying its folk music & craft traditions, & interviewed a variety of makers & players of both kinds of dulcimers. Inspired by what he learned, & mentored by old-time Kentucky dulcimer maker I. D. Stamper, Peter began making his own dulcimer & learning to play it. There was excitement in the air over dulcimers in Appalachia at this time, as it was early days in the rediscovery & revival of both instruments. 

 There was also excitement over dulcimers in California! Peter graduated, returned to San Jose, CA, & found a lot of other folks who were inspired about learning to make & play these instruments. So he became vibrantly engaged in teaching the instruments & on developing a playing style that embraced his grounding in Appalachian musical traditions along with evolving an innovative edge. 

 Over the past four decades, Peter has arranged over 400 hundred tunes for the two dulcimers, taught them to hundreds of students, and evolved a playing style that creatively expands the dulcimer tradition. He has recorded a couple of CD's showcasing his eclectic musical tastes, and developed a comprehensive method of instruction entitled Teach Yourself to Play the Dulcimer.

 Peter has also perfected a clear, engaging teaching style appreciated by beginners and advanced students alike. He has taught and performed at a number of well-known festivals and retreats, as well as adult ed programs, community schools of music and at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto.

Along with teaching dulcimer, Peter continued to collect, study, & perform traditional music while also completing an MA and PhD in Folklore and Mythology at UCLA. Following this, he taught students (undergraduate through PhD) folkloristic theory & research methods, especially with respect to studying organizational culture & traditions in a variety of kinds of organized settings. These days, Peter keeps up his inspiration for playing traditional folk dance music on the dulcimer by leading and participating in a variety of Bay Area jam sessions of Irish, Appalachian and French music, as well as playing for folk dances.

He currently performs with 2 bands: Fete Musette -- which performs both traditional rural French and Parisian music--and Peak Nouveau, a contra dance band. Peter continues to be a thoughtful and innovative contributor to the dulcimer community.