Monthly Archives: September 2007

Travelin’ with Dulcimers…A Northwest Report (September 2007)

[originally published in 2007 on, copied and republished here with corrected formatting on 4/11/2009]

I just returned from a trip to South Carolina. I was visiting a lifelong friend who lives near Charleston. This was a great time for me to test the baggage claims of Northwest Airlines….

Some of you might have seen my “golf club” airline travel case, as I have had it standing in my kitchen next to the garage door for a few weeks….ready to go. On the advice of a friend of a friend..(David Beede told Adrian Kosky, and Adrian told me…) I purchased from a store called Sports Authority, a hardshell golf bag case that is approved for airline travel. The case meets the weight and length requirements for the checked baggage on most airlines, as I understand. My double duty mountain dulcimer bag which I purchased from Lee and Doug Felt while attending my sixth or seventh week long mountain dulcimer workshop at Western Carolina University, fits very snuggly inside the hardshell golf case. From what I was told by my enthusiastic and musically excitable source…the hardshell golf club case is the perfect guise for safe airline transportation of my beautiful and precious mountain dulcimer(s) (yes, I traveled with TWO mountain dulcimers — a gorgeous Blue Lion and my cutesy/handsome Bill Taylor’s dulcimette — as I go most places with more than one instrument these days), as the baggage claim technicians might assume a pilot’s golf clubs are contained inside it and….more gently sling the case into the plane’s cargo compartment.

I’m assuming that info was true, because when my mountain dulcimers finally did arrive at my destination via Northwest Airlines, they were safe and sound and snug inside the Doug and Lee Felt, double duty, dulcimer bag which was sandwiched between two beach towels that could expect a day or two in the sun very soon and wedged at the either end of the DDDB inside the hardshell golf case. (click on the blue title to continue reading this article)

This was the first flight for me, traveling as a dulcimer whatever…and I was a little nervous about the safety of my mountain dulcimers. The banjo on my back was doing just fine….once I quoted the regs to the nice gate attendant who wanted me to throw it on the gate check baggage cart. It does pay-off to read up on an airline’s regulations about carry on luggage…and then arrange to have the largest purse one can carry in hand and the allowed musical instrument hanging discretely in a backpack style soft case. Note to self, and to whomever might read this….don’t travel with a favorite sparkly belt if your intention is to travel low profile with a banjo on your back….it was a little awkward to buckle my shoes and belt up, too, with that banjo case bouncing around on my back.

Well, the point of this article was to write about traveling with my dulcimers via Northwest Airlines…Baggage check in Memphis, TN, was a breaze….the flight was fine….and my dulcimers were safe, as I mentioned earlier, once they finally arrived. It was my first disheartening experience to have my luggage lost. Not the first time my luggage was lost…..but I really don’t mind replacing old t-shirts, sandals, and such, but not having my dulcimer…I mean golf club case…arrive in Charleston when I did, was very upsetting. Particularly since the airport in Charleston, SC, has no Northwest Airlines Baggage Claim Office, and on the day I arrived no one was to be seen at the ticket counter for over an hour and no answer to the airport intercom page was received when I whined at the information desk about not having my coughgolfclubcasecough or my other withinthespecifiednumberofpiecesof checked luggage.

After visiting with my dear friend and her three sons, I took a midnight rental car ride, directed by Hertz’s NeverLost GPS system…a system that I HIGHLY recommend btw, back to the airport to find a friendly Northwest agent to be the ONLY one at any of the ticket counters at that hour….and, my golf club/dulcimer bag case(s) were awaiting being picked up by moi.

Amazingly, the trip home from Charleston, SC, to Memphis, TN, was a piece of cake…no hastles (save the sparkly belt situation), and my golf club case was the first thang off the plane and onto the baggage claim conveyor belt and waiting for me when I arrived. <br><br>Hmmmmmmaybe it’s the Memphis pilots who are the golfers….maybe we need to convert them to be players of sweet music? Waddayathink? Any pilots out there reading up on this and wanting a lesson on less stressin’ through makin’ more Memphis music?
Back to Strummin’ in Memphis….
Carla Maxwell

Stephen Seifert Workshop & Concert Success!

[originally posted in September 2007 on, copied and reposted here with corrected formatting on 4/11/2009]

On September 16, 2007, Steve conducted three workshops and a house concert in my home. It was an honor to host this one day event for my friend — talented, energetic, musician/dulcimer enthusiast.

It was just a matter of pushing the couch back against the wall, setting up the folding chairs, and greeting folks at the door. Steve took care of everything else to make sure he gave the participants the instruction they needed and the friendship and entertainment they desired. 
Steve is a true giver. As a teacher, he shares all his secrets. It seems he holds nothing back! Of course, it’s up to us, his students, to practice what he preaches…which only will take a few years, I’m hoping, to get to the performance level to which his instruction will lead. 
He arrived Sunday at noon, driving in from Nashville. I opened the door, he walked in with his dulcimer and tab, went to the middle of my living room, sat down and began his first workshop checking the tuning of each dulcimer in the class. From that point on, he conducted the workshops at a pace that met the needs of each participant. Steve is a gifted teacher who has the ability to modify and adjust instruction as needed. I personally appreciate that, as I find myself lost in the tab at times. I learn most from teachers who are observant and can identify the “I’m lost” vibes from the room. Steve not only has that ability, but he acts on his insight, making sure everyone is confident and courageous to continue learning. 
During the house concert, Steve interacted with the audience in a warm and friendly manner. He led casual discussion about the builders of the mountain dulcimers he played. He was very complimentary of our club president/luthier, Bob Magowan…for good reason, too. Bob’s chromatic dulcimer sounded out to perfection as Steve strummed, hammered, flatpicked, and slid up and down the fretboard. 
Steve knows just what to do to intrigue and entertain.
When I hosted house concerts in the past, many people in the audience were dulcimer players themselves. The audience in my home during Steve’s concert consisted mostly of non-players/not musicians…and several had never before heard or seen a mountain dulcimer. It was a privilege to observe my guests as they learned about this beautiful folk instrument. Actually, it was not just a privilege….it was really fun to see the faces of people learning something new. 
The feedback from the folks who were discovering the mountain dulcimer for the first time via Stephen Seifert’s house concert was very positive. They enjoyed Steve’s flexibility during the concert…playing songs by request and answering questions about the mountain dulcimer. 
As his house concert host, I want to thank Steve for making the evening so wonderful, and I would like to encourage others to invite Stephen Seifert to do the same in your home. You will be rewarded with music AND friendship as you offer this gift of opportunity to others…..and you’ll be helping a fabulous, full-time, mountain dulcimer playin’ musician pay the bills. 
Thanks Steve! 
Carla Maxwell

Stephen Seifert Workshop & Concert, September 2007

[originally posted in September 2007 on , copied and reposted here with changed formatting  on 4/11/2009]

Stephen Seifert, National Mountain Dulcimer Champion, will be conducting a workshop and house concert at my house in September.

Here’s the info from Steve’s e-mail: 
Steve Seifert will be teaching three workshops this coming Sunday afternoon, September 16, 2007. 
I know this is short notice, but it is a great opportunity to get dulcimer instruction from one of
the best dulcimer players and teachers in the land. The workshops will be held at Carla’s house
(address below) and following the workshops will be a jam and a concert. 
Hope to see you there! 
Stephen Seifert Is Teaching and Performing in MEMPHIS this SUNDAY, September 16, 2007 
SUNDAY– (Memphis)
Location: Carla’s house 
12:00 – 1:30 
Hold, Tune, Strum, and Fret 
(This class is for new players and those who have only played for a short while.) 
I’ll show you exactly how to continually vary your strum. I’ll also train you to play any melody you already know on the bass string and up high on the melody string. I’ll leave you with a great shortcut for knowing chords. 
1:45 – 3:15 
How I Arrange for Fingerpicking 
I pick a melody, hum it, and figure out the easiest place to play it on the dulcimer. I then add filler picking, brushes, and chords. After I play it for a while, I start looking for ways to play everything down low and up high. I write none of this down and constantly vary many of the elements in real-time. I’ll show you exactly how I do it. 
3:30 – 5:00 
Intermediate and Up
Blues for Two 
After we work through a bluesy arrangement, you’ll learn the basic blues form and a few of its variations. You’ll then learn a few tactics for blues back up including bar chords, riffs, dampening, and muting. Finish up with some easy to remember ways to play “melodies” while another player backs you up. 
5:00 – 8:00 Break/Jamming 
8:00 – 9:00 Concert 
$20 for one workshop, $35 for two, $45 for all three 
Concert – $10 
Location: Carla’s house 
More info: Carla Maxwell 901-270-3585
or Bob Magowan 901-751-8306