In an effort to educate and inform my audiences, I created this FAQ listing to inform you about the instrument I play, and it's history.

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Top Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is that thing ?
    I play the Hammered Dulcimer (H.D.) which is a percussion stringed instrument in the zither family, played with small sticks called "hammers".
  2. Where did it originate ?

    The H.D. is related to instruments from all over the world, the oldest being over 1000 years old from Persia, Middle-east (where Iran and Iraq are now). It is related to the Cymbalom from Eastern Europe, the Santur from India and the Y'ang-Chin from China, to name a few.

  3. How did you become interested in it ?

    I was first exposed to the H.D. by my uncle when I was very young. Years later, after playing drums for a couple of years, I tried banging on one of his instruments. I thought it was the coolest percussion instrument I had ever seen, so he lent me one until I was able to save enough to get my own.

  4. How did you learn to play it ?

    I am self taught. I have never had any formal training on any instrument.

  5. What kind of music are you playing ??

    When I started, I had already been playing the drums for 2 years, so I basically just started drumming on it, using some of the various techniques usually reserved for traditional percussion instruments such as: drum rolls, flams, rudiments like paradiddles or ratamacues, odd time signatures, etc. I began to make up rhythms and melodies as I went along and continue to do so to this day. About 90% of what I play is total improvisation, with various themes that I improvise around. I have never played the same exact piece twice!

  6. How long have you been playing ?

    I started playing in 1986 when I was 16 years old.

  7. Did you make it ?
    No, this one is a special custom instrument made for me by Sam Rizzetta in West Virginia in 1993. Many consider him to be one of the very best builders and a pioneer in developing new designs.
  8. What are the pedals for ? (I've never seen one with pedals.)
    The pedals operate a special damper system. When you push down on the pedal, it lowers a wooden rail with felt on the underside which dampens the strings, preventing them from continuing to vibrate. It is essentially the opposite of a piano's sustain pedal. I have two of them so I can have some strings dampened while others vibrate simultaneously. Only a few builders in the country make instruments with dampers.
  9. How is it tuned / How are the notes arranged / How many notes are there ?
    The strings go over bridges. The left (treble) bridge causes the string to change pitch in intervals of fifths. The right (bass) bridge gives you the lower register (played only on the left side of the bridge). The bass notes are played on the right side of the unusual bass bridge located in the lower left corner of the instrument. The strings are tuned by turning the pegs on the sides with a tuning wrench. The order of the notes in chromatic ascending order is unusual, unique to the H.D. and difficult to describe in words. Ask me to show you! The range of the instrument is over 4 octaves with 3 1/2 of them being fully chromatic, which means it has all of the half-steps in the western 12 tone scale (like a piano).
  10. Where Do You Live ?
    I travel all over the country and the world playing street music in different places at different times of the year. In the past I have spent summers in Cape Cod,
    MA, winters in San Francisco and traveling in-between with stops in Boulder CO, Portland OR, Moab UT, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival and other fun spots across the country. In Oct. of 1995 I moved to Boulder, CO. and have called it home ever since.

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E-Mail List Information:

Please send me your address including E-Mail if you have one (Let me know if your address changes too!). I send out a postcard whenever I do a new recording or a pe rformance in your area.


My program includes an introduction to the Hammered Dulcimer, Tabla and Didjeridu through demonstration and audience participation. I can tailor my presentation for preschool through college age students. References are available.


I also play for weddings, parties and any other occasions. References also available

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