Workshops

A list of workshops offered by Kendra Ward and Bob Bence

The following is a list of the workshops that Kendra Ward and Bob Bence are currently offering. They are, however, always open to the specific workshop ideas and needs of festivals or presenters. Please contact Kendra Ward and Bob Bence to discuss your needs!

Hammered Dulcimer Workshops

New Player Level
  • Hammered Dulcimer Basics: This is a workshop for new players! Basics such as hammered dulcimer anatomy, history, tuning, and dulcimer maintenance will be thoroughly discussed, and specific questions from the students will be answered. This will be followed by learning to play scales and arpeggios to increase the understanding and familiarity with the instrument and a selection of fun and recognizable tunes.
Beginner Level
  • Beyond Beginner: This workshop is designed to transform the new player to a beyond beginner. Scales, arpeggios, hand coordination exercises, and simple tunes will be taught. This will be followed by learning simple harmony ideas and arrangement ideas using chord note harmony, drones, and rhythm.
Beginner to Intermediate Level
  • Arranging Basics: The focus of this class is to encourage players to use their own creativity and imagination to create their own exciting arrangements. We'll concentrate on using our entire instrument, and discuss specific arrangement ideas. Each student will be encouraged to use these ideas in their own individual way. You will never have to play the same old tunes in the same old way again!
  • Let's Learn to Waltz: Students will learn a waltz or two, how to add embellishments, and most importantly, how to make the audience "feel" the waltz.
  • Hymns: Hymns are cherished and loved by almost everyone. In this class students will learn some beautiful hymns and work on embellishment ideas. These ideas can then easily be adapted to other tunes.
  • Ward Family Tunes: Dulcimer music has been a part of my family since the 1800's. In this class I will teach some obscure tunes and original melodies that have been passed down through the generations and some of the stories behind them.
  • Jamming How-to's and Etiquette: All levels and all instruments welcome! Kendra Ward & Bob Bence will host a jam session, teaching basic jam etiquette, and making sure that everyone contributes! They will introduce several different ways for new players to join in, and suggest ideas to help experienced players have more fun! (Note: This class requires a minimum of 2 hours.)
Intermediate Level
  • Playing With Arpeggios: Arpeggios "do it all!" Arpeggios are the basis of expanding chords, harmony, fill-ins, back-up playing, and more. By working with arpeggios you will be able to freely embellish your tunes and create millions of innovative arrangements.
  • Hand Patterns & Coordination Do you ever get your hands twisted in knots when learning or playing fast tunes? This class will teach you how to smooth out your playing, how to easily get around on your dulcimer, and how to master hand coordination.
Intermediate to Advanced Level
  • Chord Patterns and Fill-in Notes: By learning chords first, you have the background needed to individualize your tunes and make them distinctly your own. Both major and minor chord patterns and how to incorporate them into all aspects of your playing will be explored.
  • The pentatonic scale: The pentatonic scale is one of music's best kept secrets. Learn to play inventive counter melodies, solos, and harmonies using this fascinating 5 note scale. The pentatonic scale is an inexhaustible resource of new ideas for improvising lead and back-up parts, as well as creating unique fill-ins.
  • Everything But The Melody: This class is for the player who is looking for the information and inspiration to dramatically improve their playing. Ideas will be pitched out at a fast and furious pace, and students will be encouraged to cut loose. Everything from harmony, chords, back-up and rhythm, to improvisation will be covered. It's a lot of work but it's worth it!
  • New Ideas For Old Arrangements: If you are looking for exciting, new ways to dress up that old arrangement, this class is for you! We'll take a "hands-on" approach, and lay out lots of brand-new, never-before-though-of arrangement ideas!
Advanced Level
  • Improvisation on the Hammered Dulcimer: (Our most popular class.) This is for the player who wants to overcome their inhibitions to try something new. Improvisation is the spontaneous creation of a new melody within the chord structure of the given tune. It is the opposite of "arranging"- playing a tune the same way every time. In this class, you will be required to have an open mind and unrestrained hammers. By exploring several distinct methods, improvising solos for your favorite tunes will become an exciting challenge. "Licks", arpeggios, and pentatonic scales will be used as a basis for creating your own "solos."
  • Playing Back-up and Rhythm: Providing solid back-up and rhythm is the key to good musicianship. This class is also the solution to truly understanding and utilizing your entire instrument. Basic chord structures will be reviewed, but this is a hands-on class! Examining various ways of playing rhythm, and incorporating this into your repertoire will be taught.
  • Using Chord Substitutions: Pianists do it! Guitarist do it! Jazz musicians and bluegrass players do it! Why not hammered dulcimer players? Tired of the same old chords in the same old tunes? In this class you will learn a whole new way of harmonic thinking. We will learn about chords and how some chords can be substituted for others. This can open your ears, and totally change your music.
Group Playing
  • Arranging for 2 or More Dulcimers: This class emphasizes arranging for folks who like to play duets. We will take some simple songs and work them out as duets for performance. If you already have songs in mind-we will work out arrangements for them as examples.

Hammered Dulcimer and Guitar Workshops

  • How to Play Guitar Back-Up With Hammered Dulcimers: Kendra Ward and Bob Bence will teach guitarists the fundamentals of chords and the best "licks", "chops", "bass runs", "chord progressions", "rhythm", etc. for backing up hammered dulcimer players.

Guitar Workshops

Beginner Level
  • Basic Flatpick Guitar: This class is for the player who wants to learn the essential elements of the flatpicking style. We'll concentrate on rhythm playing, and talk about holding the pick, open position chords, playing the basic lick, chord progressions, alternating bass notes, and bass runs.
  • Proper Picking Technique: Here's a class about alternate pick stroke theory! Most of us tend to focus on our left hand (or our "noting" hand) technique and neglect our picking hand. But proper picking is essential for flatpicking success! We'll play through some exercises designed to teach fundamental right hand technique, and then put it all into a real song with "Little Liza Jane."
Intermediate Level
  • Carter Family Lead Playing: For that essential old-time sound, nothing beats a solid Carter Family solo! If you can already play rhythm, and want to learn to play lead, this class is the perfect introduction. We will learn to play melodies on the bass strings of the guitar, and fill in with chord strums.
  • New Positions for Open Chords: Add color and variation to your playing and expand your knowledge of the guitar at the same time! We'll learn some new chord shapes that are movable around the guitar neck. This will help you get out of first position, and add new spice to your rhythm parts.
  • Take a Break! An Introduction to Flatpicking Lead Guitar: If you are sick of saying "Oh, I just play rhythm," then take this class and take a solo at your next jam session! We'll discuss song structure, proper left and right hand technique, and flatpicking mechanics. Next we'll learn a simple fiddle tune and some embellishments to help dress it up.
  • Playing with Licks: Are you looking for a simple way to start playing solos? Playing with licks might be your answer! We’ll learn a G chord lick, a C chord like and a D chord lick and see how to use them in a couple of well-known songs. (Beginner to Intermediate.
Advanced Level
  • Chord Substitution: Tired of all your back-up parts? Maybe it's time to dig a little deeper into the chords you're playing. This class will open your ears and get you thinking about harmony a new way. We'll learn a simple way to replace the familiar I-IV-V chords with something new and exciting.

Mountain Dulcimer Workshops

NOTE:All of the workshops for the mountain dulcimer are designed for the traditional style of playing. This style incorporates the use of a noter and a pick and Ionian tuning. All levels of players are welcome to all of these workshops.

  • Mountain Dulcimer Basics: Basic skills such as tuning, history, how to hold the pick and noter, and dulcimer maintenance will be covered. Students will learn to play a repertoire of standard tunes in the Ionian, or traditional mountain dulcimer tuning.
  • Ward Family Tunes: The mountain dulcimer has been a part of my family since the 1800's! Obscure tunes and original melodies that have been handed down through generations and the stories behind them will be taught.
  • Ward-Chords: My family developed an easy method to play chords to accompany themselves while singing and to play along with others. This class will focus on chords, rhythm, and fun.
  • Jamming in Ionian: Ionian tuning seems perfectly set up to really let mountain dulcimer players jam. By using specific techniques such as chord name harmony, arpeggios, and the pentatonic scale, you will not believe what you will be able to do. Back-up is not just for other instruments anymore. This workshop will also teach you to utilize the entire fretboard and to keep an open mind.

Other Workshops

In addition to all of the above workshops, Kendra Ward and Bob Bence are able to offer classes designed around several other topics. Additional hammered dulcimer workshops include:

  • Endings
  • Bass runs
  • Moving Chords on the Hammered Dulcimer
  • Licks & Tricks

Finally, Kendra and Bob have developed several workshops that are directed toward anyone who plays music, rather than toward any specific instrument. These classes include:

  • Performance Skills: Is it a Concert or a Recital?
  • Music as a Business
  • Copyright Law for Musicians
  • Computer Music Notation Using Finale