Another title for this post could be “How Hammered Dulcimer Messes with My Head.”
1. The hammer in your left hand is going to carry the melody more and more as you add accompaniment and ornaments. This is contrary to the order of the universe if you’re a pianist, organist, or harpist, except for an occasional “put the melody in the left hand” variation. Everyone knows that the right hand is “supposed” to play the melody.
2. The pitches on the various strings are higher from right to left with the lowest notes found on the right. Another opposite to the keyboard.
3. The instrument is so darned beautiful. Not only is the sound terrific, but my cranberry stain Sapelli wood Pioneer from Masterworks is musical eye candy.
4. You absolutely have to know the music in your head because there’s no way to keep track of everything and look off at some printed stuff, thereby compelling playing by ear and rapid memorization.
5. When driven mad by items 1,2, and 4, keep repeating item 3.
I’m taking comfort in the theory that doing this will prevent early senility. It’s a theory for which I have no scientific proof. It also makes the Celtic harp look like a walk in the park some days.