Meet the Instructors
Jeff is an award-winning mountain dulcimer player who is known for his smooth and expressive style. His gentle, humorous, and effective teaching style has made him a highly popular instructor at numerous mountain dulcimer workshops across the country. Although he is a multi-instrumentalist who plays many types of traditional music and who has an extensive old-time repertoire, on the mountain dulcimer Jeff has a particular fondness for waltzes, lullabies, and Celtic airs…the softer and expressive side of the dulcimer! He has been performing for more than 30 years, and his quick ear, technical abilities, and musical sensitivity have made Jeff a popular choice for playing on multiple recordings, including music from Ireland, Scotland, the Appalachian Mountains, and American folk tunes. Jeff describes himself as a musician with a day job. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC.
Stephen Seifert’s career as a professional dulcimer player and educator has taken him around the globe, and his artistry has touched listeners far beyond the traditional dulcimer playing community. As one would expect, his performance resume includes scores of dulcimer festivals from Appalachia to the Orient. However, classical music fans also enjoy Stephen’s work as the dulcimer soloist with Orchestra Nashville, and he has played with other symphony and chamber orchestras across the U.S. A former Adjunct Instructor of Mountain Dulcimer with Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, Stephen holds a strong dedication to teaching dulcimer skills. He has produced a variety of instructional books, CDs, and videos. In addition, students worldwide can study with Stephen on the Dulcimer School website dulcimerschool.com. Learn more about Stephen’s schedule, activities, and offerings at stephenseifert.com.
CRDF Director Marsha Harris lives in Morehead City, NC. She is a multi-instrumentalist (mountain and bowed dulcimers, BanJammer, fiddle, and Native American style flute) and enjoys many genres of music. Her CD, A Nice Combination, reflects the character of her music. Her teaching and music travels take her to areas in NC, GA, VA, VT, LA, AL, KY, FL, AZ, IA, TN, PA and TX. Additionally, she performs at local events, weddings and schools. She has received awards at various fiddle festivals and the NC State Fair Folk Festival. In October 2014, Marsha received the Annette Pulley Trophy from the NC Folk Festival. The award is given to an individual or group for outstanding talent, sportsmanship, audience appeal and continuing support of the Folk Festival. Marsha also calls Civil War balls at reenactments. Additional information can be found at www.marshaharrismusic.com.
Joe Collins has been a folk musician and mountain dulcimer player since the late 1970s. A songwriter and vocalist, he performs with a lot of humor and some excellent dulcimer playing that brings smiles to audiences of all ages. His competition wins on the dulcimer include the 2007 National Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Winfield, Kansas. In addition to performing, Joe puts his doctorate in Adult Education and laid back teaching style to good use as an instructor at dulcimer festivals all over the country. Find out more about Joe on the web at www.jcdulcimer.com.
North Carolinian, Nancy Galambush began playing dulcimer in the 1990s when her husband, the late JC Bradshaw, asked her to learn to play an instrument he had built. Almost from the beginning, Nancy has enjoyed teaching others to play and watching them experience the joy of playing traditional music. Over the years she has learned much about teaching, taking classes from some of the best-known dulcimer instructors in the country and studying teaching at Western Carolina University’s Dulcimer U program. Perhaps her most important teachers have been her own students without musical experience; they have helped her find teaching strategies that meet their needs. Nancy’s goal for beginning students is for them to experience the excitement of finding they CAN play and are eager to learn more. With more advanced students she uses a variety of approaches, recognizing that students have differing strengths and therefore differing needs. In addition to teaching private students, Nancy has taught at dulcimer workshops across North Carolina and in Cordova, Alaska. She has a special interest in the history of the mountain dulcimer and has shared that history during her concerts and through East Carolina University’s Lifelong Learning Program. A member and coordinator of the Waterbound Dulcimers Club in Kinston, NC, and a cellist in the Pitt Community College Symphony Orchestra, Nancy plays in Flat Mountain Dulcimers with Dave and Margit Roberson, combining the sounds of the mountain dulcimer with the guitar, mandolin, and cello. Nancy lives in Snow Hill, NC.
Phyllis Gaskins & Jim Gaskins
Phyllis Gaskins specializes in the “Galax Noter/Drone Style Dulcimer” she learned to play over 30 years ago from Galax dulcimer player and maker Raymond Melton. This style goes back in Raymond’s family to the middle of the 1800s. Born and raised in the foothills of the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, Phyllis learned mountain-style singing from her grandmother and mother. She has won numerous dulcimer competitions and was recognized as a 2010-11 “Master Traditional Artist” by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Since retiring from 39 years of teaching elementary school, she has focused on finishing The Galax Dulcimer Book. Check out www.virginiadulcimer.com for more about Phyllis.
Over the past 20 years Phyllis has been assisted in her workshops and performances by her husband, Jim Gaskins. Jim has been an exponent of traditional music and its history since the early 1970s. His instruments include fiddle (Celtic and Appalachian), clawhammer banjo, guitar, bodhran, mandolin, and mountain dulcimer. His mentors include the older traditional players of the Galax area, such as Luther Davis and Albert Hash, and the traditional players of Ireland and Cape Breton, such as Buddy MacMaster and John McDougall. Jim has studied the history of the tunes and has read many books and primary source materials on the various aspects of traditional music and culture. He has a strong resolve to keep all facets of traditional music alive in his playing and in workshops. He has a wealth of history and anecdotes about the music and its players, which he loves to share. Together the Gaskins were the 2013 recipients of the Highland County Fiddlers Convention “Recognition of Devotion to Old Time Music” award.
Now based in North Carolina, Ken Bloom has been a professional musician all his live and has had experience playing in a wide range of circumstances. Traditional music from this country as well as many other parts of the world has been a keen interest of Ken’s for decades. He was trained in woodwork by his father from an early age, and Ken now devotes much of his time to building bowed dulcimers as well as several other instruments. He developed the bowed dulcimers he is now building from the older traditional ones, some dating back centuries. Performing has also been a very important part of Ken’s musical life, and he has done so in several countries and at many festivals all over North America.
Ben Seymour & Becky Cleland
Ben Seymour has been building dulcimers since 1994. A friend had him make a dulcimer for her, and after that Ben says he became obsessed with it–“Now I can’t stop!” Wanting to keep the Galax dulcimer from disappearing from dulcimer history, he decided to add it to his line of instruments (which also includes reproductions of the scheitholt, an old German instrument and likely dulcimer ancestor;bouzoukis, psalteries, harps and other custom instruments). He carefully reproduced Galax dulcimer features by studying original instruments and photographs in Ralph Lee Smith’s preeminent history of the dulcimer, Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions. When shown one of Ben’s Galaxes, Ralph stated that Ben had achieved the “traditional-style instrument of the Virginia type.” Ben teaches the playing of the mountain dulcimer to students from third graders to retirees. He is a member of the Guild of American Luthiers and a graduate of the Chimneys Workshop for Violin Makers, is on the Artists Registry of Handmade in America, and is included in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area online Artist Directory. For more information visit Ben’s website: http://www.kudzupatch.net/ben.htm
Becky Cleland holds a Master’s degree in Library Science and a Bachelor of Science degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and she has served as a librarian for twenty-two years at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, North Carolina. Becky performs Appalachian and Celtic folk music with Ben, her husband, in a duo known as Gingerthistle. Her artistic talents extend to pottery, which she makes under the label Greenthorn Pottery, as well as jewelry making for herself and friends. Ben and Becky live in western North Carolina with two cats and lots of nature.
Don Pedi is a Traditional Mountain Musician who started playing the dulcimer in 1968. He shares songs, tunes and stories in a warm, often humorous and always entertaining manner. Don is known for developing a playing style for the fretted mountain dulcimer that can match a fiddle, note for note, while maintaining the rhythms and characteristics of traditional music.
In 1974, he won first place in the first contest he ever entered, at Fiddler’s Grove, in Union Grove, N.C.
In 1979, Don was declared “Master Dulcimer Player” and removed from future competitions at Fiddler’s Grove. Before retiring from competition in 1984, Don had amassed over forty first place ribbons in contests throughout the south east, both in solo competitions and as a key band member.
Over the decades, he’s been recognized and honored for collecting, preserving and performing Traditional Appalachian music.
Since 1985 Don has championed folk music as an on air host at NPR affiliate WCQS 88.1 in Asheville, NC. His weekly show “Close to Home” airs on Saturdays, locally from 8:00-10:00pm (Eastern Time) and simultaneously streams on the web.
Don has appeared in the motion pictures “The Song Catcher” and “The Journey of August King”, as well as a number of documentaries and music specials.
Carol Walker’s formal training includes a degree in Music Education, with majors in piano, harp, and voice. For 32 years Carol was a high school choral teacher in northern NJ. In 2003 she was honored to receive the NJ Governor’s Teacher of the Year Award, and in 2008 retired from teaching.
She branched out from her formal classical training after purchasing her first mountain dulcimer in 1999, and a folk harp in 2001. It wasn’t long before she found a way to combine her love of teaching with her new direction in folk music, and has been a popular workshop leader at festivals across the United States.
Carol has made two trips to the Isle of Man where she has done extensive research into traditional Manx music, producing two books of arrangements for mountain dulcimer (Tailless Tunes and Tailless Tunes 2) and a CD (Alas! The Horse is Gone), all exclusively devoted to this delightful Celtic-flavored music.
Carol has also written three other instructional dulcimer books (DNA* Dulcimer Ditties), each with accompanying CDs.
In 2015, Carol released her first instructional DVD (Exploring the Beauty of the Appalachian Dulcimer), produced by Happy Traum of Homespun Tapes.
Her long-awaited book of classical melodies appeared in 2017: Classical Dulcimer – for Wascally Wabbits.
Since 2002 Carol has been performing with Wayfarers & Company, a Pennsylvania-based eclectic, old-time gospel folk group for which she adds vocals and also plays dulcimer, upright bass, piano, melodica, and harp.
In 2014 and 2016 Carol placed in the top five finalists in the Winfield Kansas Dulcimer Championship.