WorkshopsBing leads a workshop at The Canaan Institute in the fall of 2011

They aren't just for festivals anymore!  In fact, anyone who has a few musical friends and the desire to learn can arrange for Bing to visit and work with the group on whatever subject you like!  From rank beginners to advanced players, all skill levels are accommodated.  Below, you'll find a sampling of subjects that Bing has taught over the years alongside some new curriculum for 2012.  However, if you or your group has a direction in which you'd like to go, custom lesson plans can be created on the spot, thanks to Bing's mobile resource center (read: laptop, printer and Winnebago.)

Mountain Dulcimer Boot Camp

Everything you've always wanted to try on a mountain dulcimer but were afraid to attempt.  This is a comprehensive session of exercises involving right-hand rhythm training, major and minor scales, chord shapes and performance techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, accents and harmonics.  We'll introduce and play through some tunes that will utilize these tips and tricks.  (Intermediate)

Beginning Mountain Dulcimer

You've got to start somewhere and we'll do just that, beginning with the basics of strumming, picking, playing melody against the drone and how to read tablature.  You'll learn a few tunes and get to know your instrument a little bit better as we cover subjects like putting on strings, tuning, how to practice and learning the fretboard.  Ask about loaner instruments! (Beginners - Novice)

Primal Mountain Dulcimer

Or, as Bill Schilling calls it, "mountain dulcimer Zen."  This workshop is about getting spirit, mind and body ready to work together for a simple approach to playing mountain dulcimer.  Relaxation and breathing techniques, visualizations and affirmations will be introduced to help conquer fear of public playing as well as develop good playing and practicing habits.  You'll learn rhythm basics and how to create your own grooves using phonetics.  We'll also make improvisation (making melodies up on-the-fly) easy to understand and less scary.  Getting out of the way of the music is the key here, and there's always plenty of smiles and laughter during this wildly refreshing session! (Beginners - Advanced) 

How One Little Fret Will Change Your Life

More and more players are adding the 1+ and 8+ frets to their dulcimers and loving it!  In this workshop, you'll discover how these frets can be useful for not only playing tunes, but also understanding the basics of music theory.  Includes a spin through a couple of really cool tunes that really take advantage of those extra frets.  If you don't have the 1+ fret on your dulcimer, we'll help you put on a temporary one using our materials. (Intermediate)

Learning To Play Native American Flute

This beautiful, haunting and expressive instrument dates back 4000 years on the North American continent.  Originally used in courtship and later in ceremonies and, more recently, ensemble performance, the Native American flute now enjoys great popularity in all types of music.  You'll be surprised at just how easy it is to play!  In this workshop, you'll learn basics: flute anatomy, how to hold it, breath control, major and minor scales, ornamentation techniques and how to discover your very own spirit song.  Must have a six-hole Native American flute, preferably in the key of "B minor."  You can purchase one from Ray Wood at Island Flutes.  Be sure to tell him it's for Bing's workshop. (Beginner to Intermediate)

Two Crooked Fiddle Tunes Walk Into A Bar

Crooked tunes drive dancers crazy, because those off-kilter bars of beats throw them off their groove.  But they are great fun to play.  In this workshop, we'll tackle two crooked fiddle tunes; tunes in 4/4 time that feature strange little extra measures of 2/4 thrown in.  They're highly addictive and usually have killer riffs that make for lots of fun jamming, once everyone gets the hang of it.  We'll engage ear-training through learning the tunes by hearing and imitating at first.  Then, we'll look at the music and see what makes each tune crooked and why. (Intermediate)

I Got Those Mountain Dulcimer Blues

Woke up this mornin', all my dulcimer played was the blues

Woke up this mornin', all my dulcimer played was the blues

You'll get scales and chords and riffs, baby

and you'll sho' 'nuff learn to groove! (Intermediate - Advanced)

The Songs Of Lead Belly

The music of Huddie Ledbetter, aka Lead Belly, has spanned decades and influenced many performers in all genres.  Songs that he wrote or popularized have been recorded by mainstream artists such as Harry Belafonte, Van Morrison, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beach Boys, The Weavers, Johnny Cash and Nirvana, just to name a few.  In this workshop, we'll learn a handful of tunes, singing and stomping along the way! Oh, lordy! (Intermediate)

Rockin' and Rollin' With Mountain Dulcimer

Are you ready to ROCK?!  After this workshop, you will be!  Learn the basics behind one of the most popular forms of music on the planet, starting with the power chord.  That's right!  The power chord is the key to freeing your dulcimer from the confines of a diatonic fretboard.  Once we explore a variety of familiar chord progressions, we'll turn it up to 11 and learn how to get in the groove with a solid right-hand rhythm, use a combination of palm mutes, accents and finger lifts to shake things up,  explore extended chords for added color, learn about playing in different keys and stage-dive right into the secrets of successful solos.  Besides working through some old-school rock 'n' roll and some new-school rock, we'll even let you plug into an amplifier and stomp box as we talk tone, effects and how to wake the neighbors.  Not for the faint-of-heart or folk purists.  This WILL get loud! (Intermediate - Advanced)

Three Irish Ballads

Learn three lovely Irish ballads while incorporating playing techniques such as slides, turnarounds, hammer-ons, pull-offs and vibrato.  We'll also get into the dynamics of rhythm and volume to bring tremendous emotional power to tunes like "Danny Boy." (Intermediate - Advanced)

Arranging A To Z

If you've ever wanted to create your own arrangements of tunes, then this is the workshop to get you started!  Whether you've just stumbled across an interesting tune or have had a favorite rolling around in your head and don't know how to translate it into an instrumental arrangement, we'll cover the basics.  How to plot out a tune and find the key, if you don't already know it, will be covered as well as identifying bass lines which lead to chord progressions.  Each 90 minute workshop will take one song from simple melody and chord accompaniment to full-blown arrangement and performance-smoothing techniques. (Intermediate - Advanced) 

Seven Modes For Seven Dulcimers!

The mountain dulcimer was created as a modal instrument and, in this workshop, we'll take a grand circle tour through each of them  Yes, there will be re-tuning!  Discover the history of the modes, why we tune to DAD and DAA, hear and play some familiar tunes that were written using the modes and also learn to use a capo (required) for playing in seven different keys without re-tuning.  You'll be more confident in the jams and know a lot more about your instrument after this one! (Beginners - Advanced)

Traditional Dulcimer Tuning - CGG & DAA

Learn to play your dulcimer in the traditional way by taking this workshop, which gets back to the roots of the instrument.  You'll get familiar with the 1-5-5 tuning and explore new territories within this versatile mode.  Deeper drones and fuller chords lead the way into a sound made popular by the Jean Ritchie's "The Dulcimer Book."  We'll learn chord shapes, harmony building and gorgeous chord melodies.  Yes, DAA and DAD can play happily together! (Beginners - Intermediate)

Performing For Others

Playing your instrument is one thing.  Playing in front of people is a whole other matter entirely.  Add to that a set-list designed to entertain, stage business and poise, mindful dynamics and an unpredictable audience.  If this gives you the butterflies just reading the description, then join us for a fun and encouraging introduction to live performance.  This workshop is designed to get you prepared for taking your show to the people, from repertoire and rehearsals to a well-defined check list of things to handle and be aware of, like how to gauge audience response and adjust your show, dealing with distractions, tuning issues, working with amplification, building self-assurance and handling not only those aforementioned butterflies, but hecklers as well.  Whether it's bedside in a medical or assisted living facility, in the church, at the park, or the fair, in a pub or a club, on open stage at a festival, under the hot lights somewhere in a music hall or even simply presenting your music on YouTube, come see why this is one of the more popular workshops that Bing teaches!  All instruments welcome!  (Beginner - Advanced)

The Amazing Dulcimer Band

If you've never played with a mountain dulcimer ensemble before, here's your chance to explore yet another fun facet of playing this wonderful instrument.  We'll work through arrangements of familiar tunes that feature three specifically different parts.  The result is like that of a hearing a small orchestra perform.  During the workshop, we'll touch briefly on the why's and how's of arranging, covering melody, harmony, counterpoint and special notation symbols with a special look at using TablEdit to create your own arrangements. (Intermediate)

It's A Minor Thing - DAC Tuning

We'll get warm and cuddly with this dark and mysterious tuning both by re-tuning and also via capo (1st fret.)  We'll learn scales, chords and popular traditional tunes written in this mode including "Shady Grove", "Road To Lisdoonvarna" and "Cluck Old Hen." Must have a capo.  (Intermediate)

Chromatic Dulcimer 101

More and more people are taking up the chromatic mountain dulcimer and for good reason!  It allows you to freely explore the wide world of music without leaving out notes or "cheating" chords.  It's also not as hard as you might think.  We'll work out of DAD tuning and get right into playing with chord shapes, scales and basic tricks to help familiarize yourself with the fretboard, take any piece of music and perform it! (Intermediate - Advanced)

Chromatic Dulcimer 102

The focus of this workshop is freeing yourself from tablature and being able to pick out and play tunes using standard music notation.  It is, in fact, part music theory training and also tips and tricks on how to find and play Major, minor, seventh, Major seventh, minor seventh, sixth, minor sixth, suspended, ninth, diminished, augmented and other "extended" chords. (Advanced)

Get Rhythm!

The heartbeat of nearly every tune is its rhythm.  In this workshop, we'll cover fundamental aspects of groove, from counting beats and exercises designed to get you strumming fluently to mixing and matching poly-rhythms and incorporating stops, accents, mutes and strum variations to create vibrant and dramatic percussion as you play! (Intermediate - Advanced)

Jamming Without A Net

Learn how to jam by the seat of your pants with confidence!  How to play tunes that you don't know.  Rhythm and melody creation, harmony, counter-point, chops and arrangement support are all covered in this workshop that focuses on improvisational skills.  Capo required.  (Intermediate - Advanced)

Songwriter's Crash Course I (Beginners)

Covers song basics such as chord progressions, melody, arranging and lyric-writing.  By the end of this class, you will have written your very own original song!

Songwriter's Crash Course II (Intermediate)

For songwriters now looking to make the next step.  Goes over the basics of tablature and standard music notation.  Re-writing and fleshing out first drafts, incorporating harmony and counter-point, performance approaches and recording tips.

Songwriter's Crash Course III (Advanced)

For the hardcore songwriter who has been actively writing for awhile, this master's class is designed for exclusive one-on-one time with Bing, an award-winning songwriter with over 20 years experience, radio airplay, record sales and song commissions.  Bing will work with each person on one song of their choice - workshopping it and analyzing the tune. 

Project Studio/Home Recording

Anyone with a laptop and decent software can record their music at home or on the road.  Workshop will cover set-up, audio interfaces, microphone placement, engineering tips, using plug-ins and effects, mixing and e.q. (Pre-registration required.  Must bring laptop and functional recording software with microphone, headphones and audio interface.) (Beginners - Advanced)


Workshop Fees

(includes gratuitous resource materials!)

1 Hour Workshops 

$25 per person

$40 for two workshops
$55 for three workshops
$70 for four workshops

Bing can teach as many as four workshops in one day, with breaks for lunch and supper, ending with a concert and post-concert jam.

House Concerts

Enjoy an intimate concert with Bing!

Bing provides the sound system and brings his award-winning live act to you!  Whether literally taking place in a house or in a church, music hall or city/state park, Bing brings stellar entertainment! 

And how much does that cost?  Depending on the length of the show, Bing typically asks for a donation of whatever the audience feels is appropriate.  Talk about affordable!

For more information, contact Bing directly.

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