Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer

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Does anyone have information on what happened to Stephen Seifert's dulcimer school online?  The site is there with lots of great information and teaching, but it looks like nothing has happened there since 2011.  It seems like it was full steam ahead then...poof nothing new. 

I joined before I knew this as there was no way to tell that no one was home before I paid $$.  Any information is appreciated.

Thanks!

Cheryl

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Replies to This Discussion

You say there is a lot of information and teaching on the site- are you not getting what you paid for?

I have to say that I am beginning to get a little frustrated with the site as well.  There is hardly ever any new content.  I really like it, and when I have that visual and audio aid I really learn so much faster, such as when I tried Liza Jane.  I learned it very fast compared to just trying to figure out the timing or tune by myself....but there is hardly anything new in months...and there is not much at all for anyone also interested in Noter/Drone type playing.  BOOhOO.  I don't want to cancel because I like to be able to review what is there, but it really needs some more content in new beginner classes, and more variety in the songs available to learn.  At the price it is probably a bargain compared to private lessons, but it really needs some more new content an a more regular basis, even if it was only once a month.  I have no access to a teacher in my area, can't find one anywhere, so I have kept up the subscription, but I am rethinking it if there isn't anything new soon.  I do know that there was a lot of talk about new content, but either I haven't found it in the site or it never materialized.

Strumelia....no, no, that's not at all what I meant....I just wondered what might have happened...if the school is no longer active?   You can end your membership at any time, so its definitely worth a month or two's low membership fee for the great content already posted.  There is a forum that goes with the school but no one had posted there since last year.  Was like a ghost town with tumble weeds. :)  I was simply surprised by this since before you join it seems like it is an active place, but once you open the door, no one was home.

 I sent a message on the school website but hadn't heard anything back.  I wondered if someone here (in the dulcimer world) might know.   Of course I'm hoping the school will keep going because its really great!

Vivian,

Yes I see what you mean.  There were several videos that mentioned more lessons were coming on a particular topic.......that was nine months or a year ago.  Or in a couple spots where the is just video of Stephen playing it says tab is coming...also nine or ten months ago.

I was just kind of confused as it seemed as if it was a current and ongoing thing.  Trying to figure it out.  I hope more is coming because the format and content is superb!!  Maybe he just got too busy with other projects.  It would be good to know what the plan is so I can continue my membership.

Hi Strumelia...It is more that you pay on a monthly basis and there hasn't really been much new information or classes for quite awhile.  If you just want to constantly review the info that you have already accessed then it is ok, but if you are looking for new songs or training at least monthly it's not really consistent in that way.  I was really happy when a few months ago there was some new content...after paying for several months with nothing new...not that I don't need lots of reviewing!  I still s***!  I am having fun though, so I have kept up the subscription, and I do want to support the site...it has really been helpful, nd I think it has great potential.  I do hope they add some new beginner info soon..in the meantime, I will just keep reviewing the other info...because I need all the help I can get! 

(I should clarify...there was not much new content for beginners..there were some newer

videos and info that would be great for someone more advanced than me, but that I found too difficult at present.)

Strumelia said:

You say there is a lot of information and teaching on the site- are you not getting what you paid for?

Cheryl and others, Stephen Seifert has posted a ton of new material at the Dulcimer School over the last several months.  The version of "Elk River Blues" that I posted about two months ago was based on a lesson he posted about a month before that, and the "Spanish Fandango" that I posted a couple of days ago was based on a lesson he provided about that same time. Then last month came another rush of new material. The version of "Home on the Range" that I posted two days ago was based on a lesson he posted just last month.  There was indeed about a six month hiatus when no new content was offered, but Stephen and Dan have moved into a shared studio and are busy adding stuff.

 

I would also like to point out that even before this recent rush of new material, there was still a lot of content there.  I consider myself among those frustrated by what seemed to be Stephen's absence for several months, but I cannot say that I had honestly worked through even half of what was there.  Additionally, we need to step up and take some responsibility here. The main absence seems not to be Stephen Seifert, but the rest of us. The whole idea of the "school" is that it would be an interactive place where "students" post rehearsals and ask questions and get feedback from one another and the "teachers."  I have personally posted about 8 or 9 rehearsals and only one other person ever comments. That other person is also the only one who seems to be actively posting his rehearsals. Where are the rest of you?

 

I also urge you to contact Stephen directly and request specific lessons. I sent him an email asking whether he could post his Spanish Fandango stuff on the School. I pointed out that since I was paying $15 per month I could not justify spending even more for a DVD lesson.   He answered my email right away and about a month later, that material was available at the Dulcimer School.

 

Go back in and look around. In the Mountain Dulcimer Section, click on "Classroom." The top row lists material all posted in 2012, some of it as recently as March, April, and even earlier this month.  Then, look around for me.  You will see the same avatar I use here, but you will also see my legal name (not that such information is worth much on the open market or anything).

 

Finally, if you are not happy working on lessons for a few months while Stephen prepares new material, I suggest joining for a month, downloading the material that interests you, and then suspending your enrollment for a while.  The fee per month is the same whether you join permanently or only occasionally.

Dusty,

Great information, thank you!  Too bad there weren't nice greeters there to steer you in the right direction when you join like there are here on FOTMD!  

I'm brand new over there so it was very unclear as to what was going on.  To a newbie it seems quite abandoned, so I'm happy to hear that there are things happening!  I joined just two weeks ago (or less than)...and since then I've been there I haven't seen a soul or seen any new content so I figured they had closed up shop!!  

Glad to find out it isn't so.  It's really the best way to learn that I've come across....invaluable video and handouts.  And inexpensive as well!

More communication on their website would very helpful...especially when there is a hiatus or something new is happening.  I looked on the school's blog (seemed like the best avenue for updated information) but it had not been update since September. This further added to the perception that no one was there.  I, for selfish reasons, would really like for their business to continue and grow, but if new people join and it appears not to be an active site, I would think they would be at risk of losing customers. A simple, short message on the blog (or somewhere) would make all the difference!!  

I wonder if it would be appropriate to email Stephen directly and let him know that from the perspective of a newcomer that the lights are on but it appears no one is home?  I definitely would want to know that if it was my business.

Best,

CJ

Hi Dusty  I do like your idea of asking Stephen to post requested lessons...there are a few songs that I have been struggling with that I can't find much on as far as examples..I have been down and out with a major jaw surgery since March, so haven't checked in with Dulcimer School since then, so am glad to hear there is new content.  As for posting videos,  I WOULDN'T WANT TO TORTURE ANYONE EARS WITH MY ATTEMPTS AT PLAYING QUITE YET...  HAHA,  I know the idea is to get feedback, but about all that could be expected as a response to my playing would be.... Practice, practice practice! I also have to figure out how to post videos..that is something I have never attempted before, so that will be a whole new adventure.  I used to post on the site several months ago, asking questions, etc, but never got much response, so sort of stopped doing it.  Maybe it has picked up recently, so I will give it another try.

I did see  from an e-mail that Spanish Fandango was available as a lesson, but after listening to the tune it seemed too difficult for my level of proficiency...maybe it is because I have been ill, and just about everything feels very difficult...so I will give it another try and see if it feels more like something I can work on.  I did ok with Liza Jane, but Fandango was daunting. 

Like I said, I think the monthly fee is very reasonable, and it is a great idea with lots and lots of helpful content...I will check it out for new content, especially since I can't find a local teacher, it is really one of my only resources, other than videos that I have bought.

Cheryl and Vivian, you guys are correct that there is a lot less text-based interaction at the Dulcimer School than there is here. In fact, there is almost none at all.  Stephen has been posting lessons and recordings of jams and stuff, but very few people interact much.  In that sense, the "quad" or "student union" may appear empty. Since we have this website, that fact doesn't bother me much. But I do wish that people were more active posting and commenting on rehearsals.

It does take some time to figure out which lessons are right for you but there are lots at every level.  Yes, the fancier versions of Spanish Fandango might be pretty daunting, but Stephen starts that lesson with a slow version based solely on the melody string with no chording at all. You can start there.  When you find me there (again, I have the same avatar but use my legal name) feel free to "friend" me so we can keep up with what we're doing.

 

Chuck, I personally like the friendly interactions here at FOTMD rather than the hierarchical structure of a school divided betwen "teachers" and "students."  Here at FOTMD people pose questions and ask for help of all sorts, and plenty of other people answer. We all learn from each other.  Not only is there a Beginners Group, but there are groups specifically for people who like to fingerpick, for people who play traditional noter/drone style, for people who like Irish music, and so forth. There is even a group (I know because I started it) called "Help Me Learn This Song" where people can ask for help with specific problems learning specific songs. So what if the $15 monthly fee for Stephen Seifert's Dulcimer School is too much?  Just hang out here at FOTMD and you can find all the help you need!  And as we joke a lot, if you ask a question and we don't know the answer, we'll just make something up!

Cheryl and Vivian, I just sent a "friend" request at the Dulcimer School. Perhaps that will make it easier to interact.

 

And yes, if you have suggestions about how to make the School more user- or player-friendly, I am sure Stephen and Dan would like to hear it. I've made a couple of suggestions and always get a response even if they don't always do what I suggest. Just a list of "recent activity" would show what people are doing on there.

Great!  Thanks!  Maybe the three of us can churn up some conversation!  

Chuck - FOTMD is  Dulcimer School we just don't call it that!  You said " my thinking is that we need something that is a little more organized and lined out like Step 1, Step 2..."

The problem is that there is no standard set of steps.  Each player learns different things in different ways at different speeds.  Each player wants to, or is learning to, do things in different ways, styles, etc.  For example, most Chord-Melody players would ignore or go to sleep over lessons in Noter & Drone, and vice versa. 

The way things are here at FOTMD is that you can ask any question - that is get any lesson - any time you are ready.  Just ask in a new topic, in an appropriate area, please  (questions added on to topics already under discussion tend to get lost in the clutter, making it hard for even newer players to find those questions and answers.

As much  as I admire Stephen, this is not the first time he's had trouble keeping up with one of his projects.  He seems to get great ideas,  gets part-way into them, and then gets side tracked by things like his performance schedule or sixteen other new ideas and just lets things slide.   Do please continue to gently nag him, folks.

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I have a main blog for Traditional style mountain dulcimer playing here: Mountain Dulcimer Noter-drone Blog This is an old style of playing where you only fret your notes on the melody string, while letting the drones strings ring open. In my blog, I express my personal views about playing, I offer free TAB and free beginner videos, and I try to help beginners understand in a very basic simple way the 'mysteries' of playing the mountain dulcimer in traditional modal noter/drone style.

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