April 11-14, 2018


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Come to Menucha for 3 nights and 4 days of music-making with three of the top teacher/performers in the mountain dulcimer world. Players of all levels will learn new techniques during three 90-minute workshops of their choice each day and enjoy an instructor performance each night. Workshops, concerts, jam sessions, great food, great people – all here in one festival!

Instructors for our 9th annual festival are JANITA BAKER, KAREN MUELLER, and AARON O’ROURKE.



Full Festival Costs 2018

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Community Lodging: 3/room, bathroom in hall or room Program Fee $255 + Meals $127 + Lodging $148 = $530 3 Nights + 8 Meals
Semi-Private Lodging: 2/room, bathroom in room Program Fee $255 + Meals $127 + Lodging $248 = $630 3 Nights + 8 Meals
Private Lodging: 1/room, bathroom in hall Program Fee $255 + Meals $127 + Lodging $348 = $730 3 Nights + 8 Meals
Commuter: no lodging; lunches & dinners Program Fee $255 + Meals $86  +  Facility Fee $120 = $461 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Non-participating Spouse (semi-private housing, all meals)  Meals $127 + Lodging $248 = $375 3 Nights + 8 Meals


Cancellation Policy 

If 90+ days out, canceling a registration results in a full refund minus a $50 handling fee.

If 46-90 days out, 65% refund.

If 30-45 days out, 50% refund.

If fewer than 30 days out, there is no refund available.

Payment Plan Option 

You may choose to divide the cost across several months, depending upon how far in advance you are registering. Options will automatically appear in the online registration process. The cost is only $5 per month.

Karen Mueller

Karen Mueller is one of the top autoharp and mountain dulcimer players performing today. Her exciting and innovative performing style, featuring Appalachian, Celtic and contemporary music, has been applauded by critics and audiences from LA to Boston. Bluegrass Unlimited magazine has said “Karen Mueller’s touch, timing and taste make her a true virtuoso. Her talent and clarity…deserve a wide audience.”

Karen Mueller bridges many mountain dulcimer traditions to formulate her own dynamic style. She started playing the dulcimer in 1979 by learning the innovative tunes on the Pacific Rim Dulcimer Project record, featuring Neal Hellman, Force & d’Ossche, and Bonnie Carol. From there she began adding traditional Appalachian and Celtic music to her repertoire, and developed her own arrangements of these styles as well as pop, jazz, and original material. Her techniques range from rhythmic flatpicking and strumming to sensitive fingerpicking. Karen grew up in Winfield, KS, home of the Walnut Valley Festival, and was introduced to the dulcimer and autoharp there. She has been a finalist in the National Mountain Dulcimer competition, and first-place winner in autoharp, both at Winfield in the mid-1980s.


Today she is a full-time performer and instructor, and has travelled throughout the US and England teaching at major workshops and festivals. Karen has released six solo recordings and several instruction books, including “Favorite Dulcimer Arrangements,” and is featured on two volumes of the “Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer” CD series. She is an active teacher of private lessons, school classes and residencies, and also performs with Irish singer Katie McMahon, the original lead singer from Riverdance. In demand as a multi-instrumentalist, she plays and teaches guitar, mandolin, ukulele and Irish bouzouki in addition to dulcimer and autoharp. A skilled and experienced instructor, Karen is able to work effectively with all levels of students, from new players to advanced. She has also performed the challenging Blackberry Winter dulcimer concerto twice with Minnesota orchestras.


Aaron O’Rourke

Aaron O’Rourke began teaching and performing on mountain dulcimer at the age of 16. In a short period of time, Aaron became one of the headlining names at dulcimer camps and traditional music events across the country including Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp, WCU’s Dulcimer Week, Augusta Heritage Center’s Traditional Music Week, Kentucky Music Week, The Florida Folk Festival and more.

In 2010, Aaron won the National Mountain Dulcimer Competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. Aaron is also a past winner in the Florida Old-time music competition and the Southeastern Regional Dulcimer Contest in Mountain View, AR.

Aaron has released three solo albums and two albums as front man of the Aaron O’Rourke Trio. His latest recording, appropriately titled, “Unaccompanied,” features all solo tracks on mountain dulcimer, banjammer (a banjo/dulcimer hybrid), and fingerstyle guitar. The album pulls heavily from influences in classical, jazz and traditional fiddle tunes, while at the same time making forays into the raw energy reminiscent of Aaron’s early days in a punk band.

To date, Aaron has authored 20 instructional books for mountain dulcimer covering a diverse range of technique and repertoire. In addition to teaching at camps and festivals, Aaron is a regular contributor of video lessons to dulcimerschool.com



Janita Baker

Janita Baker has been playing mountain dulcimer for over 30 years. Through her recordings, books, and appearances at festivals and workshops across the United States she has become well-known for her teaching skills and Blue Lion Dulcimers, which she builds with her husband Robert.

As a solo performer, Janita also presents her audiences with a wide range of musical experiences including classical, traditional, delta and country blues, ragtime, swing, and original instrumental pieces. A gifted storyteller, Janita delights her listeners with a warm and personal sharing of her music and introduces to her audience and her students the incredible complexity, variety and beauty of the mountain dulcimer.

More about Janita Baker.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Arrive, Check-in at Wright Hall 3:00 – 4:00 pm
Welcome, Orientation & Instructor Introductions 5:00 pm
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 5:50 pm
Dinner 6:00 pm
One-hour Workshops 7:30-8:30 pm
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 7:50 am
Breakfast 8:00 am
Workshops 9:00-10:30 am
Free Time 10:30 am
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 11:50 am
Lunch 12:00 noon
Workshops 1:00-2:30 pm
Workshops 2:45-4:15 pm
One-hour Workshops 4:45-5:45 pm
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 5:50 p.m.
Dinner 6:00 pm
Instructor Performance 7:30 pm
Organized Jams 8:30 pm
Friday, April 13, 2018
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 7:50 am
Breakfast 8:00 am
Workshops 9:00-10:30 am
Free Time 10:30 am
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 11:50 am
Lunch 12:00 noon
Workshops 1:00-2:30 pm
Workshops 2:45-4:15 pm
Free Time 4:30 pm
Open Stage 5:30-6:30 pm
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 6:50 pm
Dinner 7:00 pm
Instructor Performance 8:30 pm
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Volunteer Servers report to the Dining Hall 7:50 am
Breakfast 8:00 am
One-hour workshops 9:30-10:30 am
Departing Songs 10:45-11:00 am
Festival Ends 11:00 am


Workshop Descriptions

Workshop selection will take place in February. Registered participants will be sent a link to choose their classes prior to arrival for the festival. A schedule with workshop titles will be posted before the email with link is sent.

One-Hour Workshops (offered on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday) All Levels

Rounds – Janita Baker

In this fun and relaxing class we will play three, four and five part rounds–some familiar, some uncommon.  This class will help to increase your skills at sight reading, timing and hearing harmonies.  It is also a good class for groups who play in public to share songs with their audiences that are very different from the usual traditional dulcimer repertoire. Come tuned D A D

Sing and Strum – Karen Mueller

Classic Rock and Country Songs: Play a bunch of fun songs with chords and strumming patterns in DAD.

I’ve got the music, now how do I practice? – Aaron O’Rourke

Whether you’ve just wrapped up a great weekend at a dulcimer workshop, taken a private lesson, or watched an instructional video online, many players are left with a similar quandary: how do you practice all these new techniques and songs? There many ways to go about practicing and there’s no real “best method” that fits everyone. In this class, we’ll walk through a few techniques to help commit new music to muscle memory, play at your most relaxed, and finally a few tips on how to practice for a performance whether you’re playing solo or with an ensemble.

90-Minute Workshops (Thursday, Friday)

Aaron O’Rourke

Basic Backup (Beginner)

Pulling inspiration from techniques used on mandolin, bass, and guitar, we’ll use a few simple approaches to playing accompaniment to enhance the sound of any jam, duet, or ensemble. We’ll also explore a style of back up that is uniquely well suited to the mountain dulcimer.

Traditional Scottish Music for Mountain Dulcimer (Intermediate)

While there will definitely be a bagpipe tune or two in this class, we’ll also take a look at lute music that came from Scotland in the early 1600s that just happens to work great on the mountain dulcimer.

Power of the Drone (Advanced)

Very often, the dulcimer drone is associated with traditional playing. However, there are many ways to use the drone that go outside of the traditional approach to playing the dulcimer. In this class, we’ll explore multiple ways to use the drone that will add power and dynamics to your arrangements. Along the way we’ll address a few phrasing tricks to help give a sense of flow to your music.

Karen Mueller

Fills and Fingerings for Smoother Playing (Beginner)

Learn how to decide which fingerings and rhythm patterns to use in your playing to make it more musical and interesting.

Waltzes 3 Ways (Intermediate)

Explore familiar and newer waltz tunes using strumming, flatpicking and fingerpicking techniques, examining different approaches to the same tune.

Fiddle Tune Smorgasbord- Scandinavian and American dance tunes (Advanced)

have fun with a variety of fiddle tunes from a number of sources, in several keys (bring a capo).

Janita Baker:

It’s About Time! (Beginner)

Understanding rhythm, time signatures and counting is an essential part of making music and this class will look at all those elements and more.  Using a variety of songs to explore different time signatures and counting issues we’ll find easy ways to help you count and keep time as you play your dulcimer.

Ensemble Repertoire  (Intermediate)

Playing multi-voiced arrangements is a great way to improve your sight reading and timing skills, as well as experience the joy of playing as part of a group.  It helps you learn to listen and become more musical in your performance, and it’s just plain fun.  This workshop will present tunes arranged for standard and bass dulcimers; bring both if you have them.  If you have a baritone and are interested in using it for this class please contact Janita (email her at: 2bluelion@gmail.com) by March 15th so she can prepare a part for the baritones.  Come tuned DAD; baritones come tuned ADA.

In the Mode (Advanced)

The dulcimer is essentially a modal instrument and too few contemporary players are aware of the beauty and sonority of modal music. To better understand modes we’ll play a variety of modal tunes to demonstrate the differences and similarities of the more useful modal tunings and learn how to identify modal scales.  An understanding of the modes and the evolution of the dulcimer enables a player to more fully realize the capabilities of the instrument and will expand not only your repertoire but your playing skills.

Dulcimer Player Descriptions

For our festival, we are employing the following descriptors for  workshops:

•  Little or no experience playing the dulcimer
•  Ready to start from scratch

You should be familiar with:

• Tuning your dulcimer
• Reading and playing from tablature
• Basic right and left hand techniques for strumming and fretting
• Strumming basic rhythms
• Playing notes on the melody string
• Simple two finger chords

You should be comfortable with all of the above plus:

• Fingering more complex three finger chords
• Basic fingerpicking technique
• Basic flatpicking technique
• Playing more intricate rhythm patterns
• More complex timing, use of dotted quarter and eighth notes, etc.
• Use of embellishments (hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides)

You should be comfortable with all of the above plus:

• Playing in different keys

• Using alternate tunings such as DGD, DAC, etc.
• Adding melodic variations to simple melodies
• Playing 5 or more tunes from memory
• Performance skills and musicality
• Basic chord theory and its application