Doug Berch

Dulcimer Maker And Musician

cropped Dulcimer Builders and Makers 1 23

Playing Hammered Dulcimer Seated Or Standing Revisited

Cloud Nine hammered dulcimer made by Michael C. Allen

I wrote a post about playing hammered dulcimer seated or standing nine years ago. A few things have changed since then.

I firmly believe life throws us many adventures beyond our control but we can usually take control of how we choose to deal with those adventures.

Though I preferred standing while playing hammered dulcimer, some musculoskeletal problems caused me to learn to play while seated. After a number of years I found some helpful treatments and was able to play standing again.

I prefer playing hammered dulcimer while standing because I am able to use more of my body while playing. I can move closer to the dulcimer when reaching for high notes and further away when going towards the low notes and I can shift my body towards the left or right side of the dulcimer as needed. Doing so enables my upper body to work less at getting the hammers where they need to go and makes it much easier to for my hands and arms to control the hammers.

This is what has worked best for me. Your mileage may vary. There is no “right or wrong” or “better or worse” when it comes to playing while seated or standing.

In 2012 my lower back developed some serious problems and standing and walking were difficult, let alone standing to play the hammered dulcimer. I had two options; learn to play while seated again or stop playing hammered dulcimer. Once again, I adjusted to playing while seated.

After seven years and three back surgeries I felt it was time to try playing standing again. I started working out on the hammered dulcimer while standing a few weeks ago and though I find it much easier to play it is taking time for my technique to adjust. I’m getting there.

Today I played my first hammered dulcimer gig in seven years as a vertically upright player. The Cloud Nine hammered dulcimer made by Michael C. Allen in the photo above is a magic bus of a dulcimer. It was a hoot to play it while standing again!

I’m still working out how to best use the damper pedal now that I’m standing again. I have no worries that it will all come together.

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2 Comments

  1. Thomas Devers

    It is always amazing to me how we can adapt to doing something in a new way if we are willing to try. I am glad you are enjoying doing what you do. You have found your way back to playing in addition to being able to make the instruments that provide others with means to make music too.

    • Doug

      Thanks, Tom. When my dad was in the infantry during WWII he said he often though of the saying, “When you can’t walk anymore just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

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Doug Berch & Dulcimer Makers