Listen to a Mountain Dulcimer


When I posted that one of our Thanksgiving guests brought a traditional Appalachian mountain dulcimer and played it for us, several people asked if they could hear it. The day after Christmas, we went to a holiday get-together at their house and I talked her into a little impromptu performance for you.

The dulcimer player here is 52’s sister, by the way. The dulcimer was a gift from the best man at her wedding. He made it from a kit.

Since I know nothing about dulcimers, I got her to tell me a little bit about them for you: “The mountain dulcimer was a popular instrument throughout the mountains because it was easy to make and play. Our uncle Byron Turner collected dulcimers. His study was full of books, odd scientific whatevers, and dulcimers. He was one of the founders of the West Virginia State Folk Festival, distinctive for being all-acoustic folk music. Dulcimers are easy to play–you just hold down the melody string(s) at the frets, which are just like the black piano keys, and strum with a feather or pick. Anyone who can pick out a tune on a piano can play dulcimer in about five minutes. Learning the strumming rhythms is the hardest part. Some people chord and do fancy picking, but the whole point of a dulcimer is just to have something you can easily play a melody on. It’s nice to take on camping trips and play around the campfire–harmonicas work, but they carry and can annoy the next campsite over (or even ones far away).”

She said her dulcimer was out of tune (and I hadn’t given her any advance warning I was going to ask her to do this), but she was a good sport and let me record it anyway so you could hear what it sounds like and see how it’s played.


Ball Blue BookIt’s a Ball Blue Book Project day! Today’s Ball Blue Book is sponsored in the name of Betty Hall from Farm Country Crafts. Visit her here.

To win: Leave a comment on this post and let me know you want it. You can just put (BBB) at the end of your comment or otherwise note that you want to be in the draw. One winner will be drawn by random comment number to receive a Ball Blue Book. Eligible entry cut-off is midnight Eastern (U.S.) time tonight. This post will be updated with the winner no later than 9 AM Eastern (U.S.) time tomorrow. Return to this post to see if you won.

Find out more about the Ball Blue Book Project and become a sponsor.

Update 12/30/09: The winning comment number is 87, Jessica. Email me with your full name and address for shipping! (See email button in menu bar above.)



  1. Blessings says:

    Thank You for a Very Interesting Post!
    I would love to win a BBB Too!

  2. Pat says:

    Very cool!
    And I would love to win the BBB πŸ™‚

  3. Julie Harward says:


  4. Debbie in Memphis says:

    I miss hearing the dulcimer. I used to hear folks playing pretty often when I lived in NE TN. I’d love to be included in the BBB drawing. πŸ™‚

  5. Maureen says:

    I had never seen or heard a dulcimer so it was very interesting. Thanks! BBB

  6. Mia says:

    Oh so COOL! I go to the WV state folk festival every year and that’s where I bought my first dulcimer. Truly easy to play (it’s the remembering the tunes part that always messes me up *grin*) but the sound always reminded me of angels for some reason. Thanks for sharing – I needed that good memory today.

  7. JOJO says:

    :snowman: :woof: :snowman:

    Hello Suzanne, I went back and read the “52” post and left a comment there also–I think I may be right, at least I hope so.

    I love dulcimer music, I purchased some cd’s I beleive at Cracker Barrel several years ( I am thinging Ron Cook)and have them in my cd player in my car and in our kitchen, it is a loverly form of music and so relaxing, simular to the music from a harp–which I suppose the dulcimer is related to.
    52’s Sister is quite talented, I really enjoyed her music, if she ever records, please let us know.
    Have a good day.

  8. Leah says:

    How nice to see 52’s sister and hear her play the dulcimer a bit.
    I would like to win the BBB.

  9. Patty says:

    Please enter me for the BBB….amazing how many instruments there are that most people have never seen before.

  10. Mim says:

    Loved the video…please enter me in the contest. Boy it sure is cold this morning. :pawprint:

  11. Connie Trippett says:

    Love the older instruments. Have not gotten to watch the video will have to after work. Put me in for the BBB.

  12. Krystie says:

    Your site is very inspiring! I would love to win the BBB. You have motivated me to learn to can and maybe make cheese – what next chickens oh my? :))

  13. Nicole says:

    One of my coworkers plays this instrument. I love it when she would play for all of us. She actually taught a class to some students we worked with, they LOVED it. I would love to be entered in the drawing for the BBB.

  14. Tracey In Paradise,Pa. says:

    :snoopy: Simply Beautiful!! I could listen all day!! 52’s sister is awesome…..Thanks for sharing!!
    Love love to have a BBB!!
    Hugs Grany Trace’

  15. April says:

    I loved it!!

    I would love to be entered to win this book!

  16. Diane says:

    I love hearing the dulcimer. 52’s sister is very pretty.

    Would love the bbb!!!

  17. ticka1 says:

    Interesting post. Are you going to learn how to play one Suzanne?

    Please enter me in the BBB contest.

  18. Cindy says:

    Lovely. Thanks for sharing.
    PS I’d love to win the BBB

  19. Anne says:

    I loved the dulcimer music. It’s so important that the folk music is being carried on. BBB πŸ™‚

  20. Peggy says:

    Hmm….a Christmas gift idea for my son next year!
    BBB, please.

  21. M says:

    Dulcimer’s can also be played with ‘hammer’s …. not the pretty painted one you use to break up candy etc …. but a small wooden stick with a blade at the end (might look like a small blunt hatchet). Hammer dulcimer’s are a bit different shape and don’t have the fretting like the one pictured. Even though I only live in the piedmont area, I knew what it was in high school and college (old music major here πŸ™‚ ). I hope to be able to listen after I get home tonight. (no streaming video here). Love the sound they make. I have always preferred acoustical instruments.

  22. CindyP says:

    I’ve never heard a dulcimer played. Thank you, 52’s sister, it’s beautiful! They may be easy to play, but I’m sure music wouldn’t be coming from my fingers! πŸ˜† You are a good sport, not tuned an all it was still beautiful!…….

    Would love the BBB!!!!

  23. Christa H. says:

    BBB-I would love to learn to do canning

    I got a food dehydrator for Christmas! So excited!

  24. cricket says:

    wow I love dulcimers.

    PS would love the BBB

  25. Sandra says:

    Thanks for sharing about the dulcimer, enjoyed the video and learning the history.
    Would love to win the BBB

  26. kerri says:

    Thanks, Suzanne, for sharing that experience with us, and thanks also to 52’s sister for being willing to play for us. Isn’t technology wonderful?
    The dulcimer has a very soothing, peaceful sound. Your photo has such a beautiful ambience to it.
    I’d love to be entered in the BBB drawing, thanks!

  27. Terry says:

    I would love to win the Blue Ball Book. I have done some canning in the past but sometimes I’m not sure of the timing and recipes. Thanks for the chance to win. Terry BBB!

  28. Anke says:

    Thank you for sharing that clip, very neat.
    Please enter me into the BBB drawing.

  29. lizajane says:

    Love all of your posts! I am going to mix up your baking mix today. Please enter me in the BBB drawing. Thanks!

  30. JeannieB says:

    I enjoyed the music. Such clear and beautiful sounds. 52’s sister needs her own CITR name!!

  31. Valeria in NC says:

    Every morning, after feeding the cats (they insist on being first), horses, chickens and dogs, I sit down to my own breakfast and read your daily post. Thank you for bringing me a world I can savor at 8 a.m.! BBB by all means!

  32. Tabatha says:

    She did a wonderful job! I would like to be entered into the BBB contest.

  33. Miss Becky says:

    That is lovely, thanks for sharing Suzanne. Also, interesting about how a harmonica’s sound more easily carries over to the next campsite! I love this post! :happyflower:

  34. Beth Brown says:

    I wish my speakers were working so I could hear the music. Love the dulcimer sounds. And, of course, enter me for the BBB.

    Beth aka oneoldgoat

  35. NorthCountryGirl says:

    Thank you. I like the sound of the dulcimer. I’ve heard it played at country festivals. BBB

  36. Liz in Wis says:

    Way cool. Suzanne, I noticed there is no longer a “reply” option. Don’t you miss that??

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Liz in Wis, that other reply button was a threaded comments option. It caused some problems because comments using that option would appear right below whatever comment they hit that on rather than at the end of comments and people would think their comment hadn’t posted. It was confusing. It also threw off comment numbers because if someone commented hitting the reply under a comment instead of using the comment box at the bottom, it isn’t counted as a comment. For the BBB giveaways, that would be a problem! So for a couple of reasons, I took out the threaded comments. Now every comment appears in order and is part of the comment count so giveaways can be drawn properly.

  37. KimL says:

    Thanks for that! I love dulcimer music, never have learned to play – hmmm, maybe that should be a new year’s resolution?! Please add me in for BBB!

  38. Chic says:

    Love the Dulcimer and 52’s sister was very gracious to play for you so we could all enjoy it…THANKS! Please put my name in for the draw for the BBB……I need one! :hungry2:

  39. Jennifer says:

    I’ve wanted to learn to play simple guitar so I can accompany folk songs–maybe dulcimer is another option??? Can you easily play chords on it?
    Oh, BBB : )

  40. shirley says:

    What a treat. Thank you and thank her.

  41. Leisha says:

    Oh I am Blue……Blue Book Canning Blue……not giving up yet :no: please throw my name in the canning hat again πŸ˜‰

  42. Marty says:

    My Uncle lives in Charleston. Did you know that in Rainelle they got 60 inches+ of snow in that last storm? The fire trucks couldn’t even get out to do anything.

  43. Gini says:

    It’s very pretty! I’m learning to play the autoharp…slowly, very slowly.


  44. Jenni in KS says:

    The mountain dulcimer is a beautiful instrument. (Yes, hers does sound a bit out of tune, but it was so nice of her to let you record anyway.) I’ve seen some that have beautiful designs carved or painted on them and have been privileged to hear some very skilled musicians playing them. When a friend bought dulcimers for herself and her daughter, I also was able to see how quick and easy it was to pick up.

  45. Donna Mc says:

    My hubby has a Mtn Dulcimer, while I have a Hammered Dulcimer. Did you know there are 2 completely different instruments called dulcimer?! The Mtn dulcimer usually has 4 strings & is strummed. The Hammered is a large trapazoid w/ LOTS of strings. My smaller one has 50 strings… I haven’t counted the large one’s strings. The Hammered is played with wooden sticks. Hubby & I just played in church last Sunday – him on guitar, me on hammered dulcimer – w/ a soloist singing “What Child Is This”. It was really special…if I do say so myself. Despite the fact hubby & I were both music majors (flute) in college, I can assure you both instruments can be learned by ear & are great fun to play. (We sometimes w/ together w/ hubby’s brother on mandolin, too.) Suzanne, you need to get musical when the power goes out. It would pass the time of day in a fun new way!
    Thanks for sharing the video!

  46. jan 'n' tn says:

    I have a dulcimer, sad to say it’s put away in a closet πŸ˜₯ . Hearing 54 play has inspired me to go and retrieve it from it’s hiding place, and give it a strum or two. :happyfeet:
    Thanks to you and her for the clip. Please enter me in the BBB.

  47. Sharilyn says:

    :snoopy: I would love to win the BBB! My daughter wants to get a dulcimer and start learning it. We saw them at Silver Dollar City.

  48. Deborah says:

    I love acoustic music! Very cool. Would also like to win BBB.

    Deborah in Michigan

  49. Lisa Twombly says:

    That is very cool. I’d love to be entered into the BBB contest. Thanks Suzanne!


  50. Melinda says:

    I love folk music. I would love to learn to play the dulcimer it makes beautiful music.

    I would also like to be entered in the drawing for the BBB.

  51. Liz in Wis says:

    Thanks Suzanne for the reply to my comment (#37). I see what you mean.

  52. SuseM says:

    Lovely . . .

    Please enter me for the BBB!!

  53. lisa b says:

    Dulcimer music is beautiful πŸ™‚ It speaks to the soul. I would love to win the BBB ..please enter me .

  54. lisa b says:

    Beths paper plate holder is adorable and such a great idea. I enjoyed visiting her site

  55. Nancy in Iowa says:

    I have often fantasized of having and playing a dulcimer – it makes such beautifully serene music! Please tell Lady 54 thank you for performing for us! It was an education for me – I’ve heard the music but never watched the playing.

  56. Gert Hubbard says:

    Back several years ago I went with some girlfriends of mine to Shipshewana, Indiana to visit the Amish country…Where we stayed, each night there was a gathering of people who played music….There were two people there who played the hammered dulcimer….That was the first time I had ever heard them played..A few years later we got a new principal at my elem school and we soon learned she could play the hammered dulcimer and the fiddle and has made a CD…..Love string mountain music of any kind. We play a lot as my children can play most anything they pick up.

    Fran :wave:

  57. Kelly Walkerr says:

    I love the way it looks and sounds. Having traveled in North Georgia and North Carolina growing up we heard a lot of this beautiful music. Thanks for sharing it. (BBB)

  58. Julia says:

    Isn’t it amazing! With the internet, we can listen to music on a traditional acoustic instrument that is very different from what many of us have ever heard. Thank you Suzanne, and thank you 54.



  59. Emily says:

    My dad got me a dulcimer for Christmas a few years ago, but I am very elementary at playing it. Maybe 52’s sister could give me some pointers if I ever make it down that way again.

    It is amazing how the sound of it is in your blood. The mountains are in us even when we’re not there.

  60. catslady says:

    I couldn’t get it to work – I’ll try again later but I do remember having heard one in gradeschool (a long, long time ago lol).

  61. Michele says:

    Love the music. Interested in BBB. Would like to here more about mountain life and music. Thanks.

  62. Runningtrails says:

    Wow, that’s really interesting! One of those would be fun to make! Thanks for the listen.

    I would really like that Blue Ball Book.

  63. anne says:

    Thanks for this interesting post today. Lovely. I am interested in the BBB Book giveaway.

  64. Robin G. says:

    It’s a pickin’ stick! I haven’t seen one of those in forever!

  65. marymac says:

    I can’t believe my x- husband is from Wva. and he didn’t know what insturment that Hes’s played in many bands too. I guess he’s not as smart as he thought he was lol. i’d love to win the ballbluebook too bbb

  66. Melanie says:

    would love the BBB! I always keep forgetting to check back. Heck, maybe I’ve already won and don’t even know it!

  67. 5kathleen2 says:

    Thanks 54 for the concert, loved it. Would love to win the BBB.

  68. Rys says:

    Thanks for the dulcimer music! I would love to learn to play one.
    Please add me to the list for the BBB giveaway.

  69. Crystal B. says:

    Great music. I would love to have the BBB book. πŸ™‚

  70. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    Love it! Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I love those lesser played instruments. There used to be an elderly lady who came to some of our family get togethers that played a banjo. Her name was Maudie McFalls and boy could she play. My mom has a pic of her and her banjo surrounded by us kids.

  71. Sharon Gosney says:

    You could add that to your Debbie Do Lists and make an dulcimer. That would be an interesting project. I sure would like to enter the draw for a BBB :clover:

  72. ScreamingSardine says:

    Thanks for sharing that with us. And please thank “54” as well. I have never heard a dulcimer played before. It makes very soothing and beautiful music.


  73. debbie says:

    Lovely music. Lovely lady. Lovely photo. You have inspired my son to look into trying a new instrument. First the “boron” as befits his Irish heritage, then perhaps this. Or maybe a fiddle. He likes to experiment with music as a hobby.

    I, on the other hand would like to experiment with canning. BBB entry, please.

  74. Brenna says:

    Pretty Neat! BBB

  75. JenInStCharles says:

    sounded so peaceful! thanks for sharing πŸ˜‰ (BBB)

  76. Mel Meister says:

    I have always loved the sound of a dulcimer. Ever hear a bowed Psaltry? Just beautiful!

    Please enter me in the drawing for the BBB.

    Thank you!

  77. Laura says:

    Love the dulcimer! When they are good, they are very, very good, but when they are bad, it’s hell.


  78. Lynette says:

    I would love the BBB!

  79. geena says:

    nice music! :woof: BBB

  80. Donna says:

    Since I am sneaking a peak at work I can’t listen to the dulcimer, but I will when I get home. Please include me in the drawing for the Blue Book!

  81. Hannah says:

    That was wonderful! I’ve never heard of a dulcimer and it was nice to hear it! πŸ™‚

  82. stx09815 says:

    Enjoy your site…tried 2 recipes over holidays-Scalloped Corn and Sausage Corn Muffins. Down home yummy. Now all I need is a BBB! Please enter me in the drawing! Apreciate your labor of love at CITR! Susie from San Antone

  83. Jessica says:

    Now I know who 52 is. Finally. hehe. Kept thinking maybe it’s your husband, but I don’t even know if you’re married. (I’m still a newbie around here)

    BBB! πŸ˜€

  84. SuzieQ says:

    Love the dulcimer! BBB :dancingmonster:

  85. carol bellamy says:

    Very relaxing music. I would love the canning book.


  86. Natalie O. says:

    Pick me! I want to can!

  87. Dlinkous says:

    I’d love to have the Ball Book – I got the “accessories” for canning for Christmas. Now I just have to get the canner and figure out how to do it! πŸ™‚

  88. Karen says:

    I would love to win a BBB. I just found a pc at my mom’s house. Now I need to learn to use it.

  89. Marlene says:

    Really enjoyed the music and would love to win the BBB. I too am fairly new to the site. Have been checking it out for the last couple of weeks and was inspired to do homemade Christmas decorations. Took a basket out into my yard and picked up some twigs to make twig stars for the tree and small pinecones to string with popcorn and cranberries for the tree. Cut thin orange slices and hung on the tree as well. Love how the lights shine through them with a soft glow. Also cut some pine branches and collected some large pinecones to make a swag for the front door. Love the look and knowing I did it myself. Also made a batch of homemade laundry soap. Works great! Haven’t tried any of your recipes yet, but plan to soon. Thanks so much for the advice and inspiration. MMT

  90. Lisa Lee says:

    please pick me!!

  91. Brendie says:

    Love the music! :wave:
    Please pick me for the BBB :chef:

  92. BuckeyeGirl says:

    I meant to speak up earlier,please do thank 54 from us for letting you record her for our enjoyment. It was very enjoyable and educational too!

    Please put me in for the BBB drawing too. I’ll keep trying I guess!

  93. Farmer Shae says:

    Wonderful hearing the dulcimer play. Guess what!?! It finally snowed here in Oregon. Now I don’t have to be jealous of your snow anymore! :snoopy: Please put me in the BBB drawing.

  94. Jodie says:

    I loved it. Would like to hear more, will look for recordings online of mountain dulcimers. I’m most familiar with hammered dulcimers of Celtic music. I’ve got a good friend whose husband plays lovely classical and celtic irish/scottish tunes on the hammered dulcimer.

  95. Darlene in North Georgia says:

    Awww, man! Too late for the BBB contest – AGAIN!

    Loved 54’s dulcimer. Living in north Georgia, I’ve had the chance to hear them played in person. Beautiful sounds.

  96. tabbimama says:

    I want one! A mountain dulcimer that is. It was truly beautiful. Thanks 54 for playing for us! I wonder where they give lessons?

  97. Kim W says:

    Love mountain dulcimers. I play a hammered dulcimer, myself. I’ve played for about 11 years – it’s been the most frustrating & most FUN instrument I’ve ever played. Rich Mullins was my inspiration.

    Blessings from Ohio…Kim<

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