I am in the process of buying my first mountain dulcimer. If Bing’s Beginning Mountain Dulcimer book were the only beginner book to use, I would be cancelling my order for a dulcimer. I would have no idea how to proceed. In this book, a beginner is asked to go back and forth among many tunings without a clear explanation as to why. Most songs in the book are in DAA, some in DAD, some in other tunings. The author cautions that changing tunings often causes a slackening of the melody string.
Most of the book covers Modes; I’ll admit that this is over my head, but hey, I’m a beginner. Perhaps I’ll come back to this book once I learn how to hold, strum and pick the instrument (where is one supposed to pick .. in the hollow, half way up, anywhere?). If, like me, you’re looking for a book on basic techniques and some nicely arranged beginner arrangements in DAD, this might not be a good choice. (But I still think you’re great, Bing!)
Note: In DAD, the book represents an open melody string as D5 (Loch Lomand). Other books say that same string is D4.
Checking it out….
When my dulcimer arrives it will be tuned to the suggested DAD. Early in the book, I am instructed to tune the dulcimer to DAA. And in those instructions I think there is a typographic error because if I follow the instructions, all strings will be tuned to AAA. Most of the training is in DAA.
I appreciate the youtube videos done by the author and will strive to be 1/250 of his skill level in the next 15 years. So I give this book a rating of 3 stars. I am not currently happy with it, but in time I will try using it.
I have never played a stringed instrument before, nor can I even read music, and so far, I have found this book to be a great starting resource. I haven't gotten very far, but I am excited to make my way through the whole thing. I find the progression of concepts to be quite logical and intuitive to follow, and having audio files of the different exercises really helps me with the learning process. It's made me feel much more confident in learning how to play this instrument when I used to doubt if I would ever be able to play anything.
I got "Bing Futch - Method For Beginning Mountain Dulcimer" since I am very familiar with music theory (via piano). What I was not familiar with was working with a stringed/fretted instrument. I found an easier beginner book that gave more information on strumming and finger placement by Joyce Och's. Also, make sure your dulcimer is modern fretting not traditional fretting if using these books. I am looking forward to progressing to the Bing Futch book soon. Also taking time with Banjo Lemonade with Mandy on-line.