Meet the Instructors
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.
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 & Jim Gaskins
Phyllis Gaskins specializes in the “Galax Noter/Drone Style Dulcimer” she learned to play over 40 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 and 2018-2019 “Virginia Master Folk 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. Since 1989 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.
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.
Dave Haas lives in Charleston, WV and has been playing the mountain dulcimer since 1990. He teaches dulcimer in both private and group settings, and was the founding member of the Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club in Charleston. Dave loves to share the mountain dulcimer and its history with schools, churches, civic organizations, and has even brought the dulcimer to those in prison! Dave is a popular instructor at dulcimer festivals, and has taught and performed in over one-half of the United States, and also in the United Kingdom. He is known for his gentle, fun, and enthusiastic teaching style. Dave has released seven dulcimer instructional books/CDs, four instrumental dulcimer CDs, and a popular dulcimer chord chart.
Dave also enjoys teaching science as a Chemistry Professor at the University of Charleston. One of his favorite teaching activities is to sing chemistry songs (on dulcimer and guitar) with his students. In addition, Dave plays the guitar, sings, and enjoys leading music on Christian retreat experiences such as Kairos Prison Ministry, The Walk to Emmaus, Cursillo, and Teens Encounter Christ (TEC).
More information on Dave can be obtained at www.davehaasmusic.com.
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.
Gary Sager became interested in the mountain dulcimer in 1991 after seeing David Schnaufer’s “Fischer’s Hornpipe” video. He has been building and playing dulcimers since that time. Gary’s mountain dulcimers bear the name “Prussia Valley” and are known for fine craftsmanship, pleasant tone, and great sustain.
Gary began teaching mountain dulcimer in 1995 at various Midwest festivals. Gary, along with wife Toni playing autoharp, released their first CD in 2006 titled “Rats In The Fence Corner” which features an eclectic mix of fiddle, country, contemporary and Irish tunes. Gary can also be heard on Doug Felt’s recording, “A Little Of This, A Little Of That”. Gary authored his first tablature book for mountain dulcimer entitled “Other Tunes for Appalachian Dulcimer”.
In 2001, Gary, along with wife Toni, opened the “Prussia Valley Dulcimers Music Shop” in Waverly, Ohio. From there, they supply instruments, recordings, and instructional material to folk musicians throughout the US and world.
Gary Sager will be our “Dulcimer Doctor” during the festival. While you are in classes, Gary will be available to replace strings, perform fret work, install strap buttons, and other additional work. Gary and Toni will have a display with items for sale such as soft cases, strings, tuners, straps, dulcimer books, music stands and dulcimers. It would be helpful for you to contact Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know what your needs are for your dulcimer.
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.
Kendra Ward’s music has its roots deep in the mountains of Appalachia, and it possesses an honesty that appeals to audiences around the world.
Kendra is a musician, teacher, author, and composer, with a lifetime of experience in traditional Appalachian arts. She has played the dulcimer since the age of four, continuing an unbroken family tradition that began in the 1800’s and is considered a master of the traditional noter/drone style of playing. She primarily learned to play from her Father, her Grandmother, and her constant interaction with the dulcimer players, banjo players, fiddlers, dancers, and other traditional artists who live in the Appalachian hills she has always called come. This instilled her with an authenticity, unique in today’s post-revival era.
Together Kendra Ward and her guitarist-husband Bob Bence have earned a reputation as one of the most entertaining and influential traditional music duos in the nation. The have released ten CDs and are the authors of a number of DVDs and instructional books. Kendra and Bob also produce a free weekly video series called “Sunday Sunrise” which features traditional hymns and gospel music played on dulcimer and guitar.
Tish Westman of Beckley, West Virginia is a singer/songwriter, performer, teacher, builder of stringed instruments, and folk artist. She and her husband, Greg, have been Resident Artists since 2001 at Tamarack, an arts center in Beckley, West Virginia that showcases art and artists from around the state. In their studio, you may find them making Bowed Psalteries, Mountain Dulcimers, or one of a few other things.
Tish is a multi-instrumentalist with a love for Celtic and Old-Time music. Her passion however, is sharing and teaching people to play music. She teaches Bowed Psaltery, Mountain Dulcimer, Clawhammer Banjo, Autoharp, and Ukulele.
Tish and Greg have organized an event to bring Bowed Psaltery players together from all over the country. This year marks the 11th Annual Bowed Psaltery Symphony. Now with an attendance of over 60, this four-day, intensive gathering ends with a performance at Tamarack.