Brett Ridgeway's Hammered Dulcimer Lessons are great for those who can or can't read music or standard tablature! No matter what your musical knowledge or ability, you will learn from Brett's unique method of audio tab. Each CD lesson "painfully diassects" the tune note for note. Each tune is played note for note, phrase by phrase and verbally explained so that you know exactly where to find it on your instrument. All your attention and focus can remain on your instrument, and not on written music or tablature falling off your music stand! Each CD also includes a tuning chart which explains the audio tablature for each song. I truly believe this is one of the easiest methods of learning a song that you will find! (We tested this method on someone who does not play the hammered dulcimer and the individual was able to follow the instructions and play the song!) Our previous cassette lessons, now discontinued, have had nothing but an overwhelming, positive response from HD players all over the country! In fact, we have had regular requests to reintroduce them!

Brett Ridgeway's Hammered Dulcimer Lesson CD series is a "listen & learn" method to help students learn various skills and techniques on the hammered dulcimer as well as increase their repetoire. With the exception of the first CD, "Introduction & Embellishment", which covers some basics, finding harmony notes, playing arpeggios and chords, etc., every following CD will focus on teaching a tune as well as various techniques. Each track of the CD takes the student through the tune, step by step, one phrase at a time beginning with a note by note explanation, then moving to playing the song at a slow tempo and gradually increasing up to the performance tempo. The series is a great way for the dulcimer player to learn skills and techniques while adding new tunes to his/her repertoire.  The "Introduction & Embellishment" CD is priced seperately from the tune lesson CDs.


1. Each CD lesson is priced at $12.50 and includes shipping and handling. The "Introduction & Embellishment" CD is $22.00 and also includes shipping and handling. 

2. If you purchase at least ten CD lessons, I pay for the shipping. That basically means you will save $2.50 PER LESSON! An order of ten CDs saves you $25!

3. Lessons can be purchased in an order and by any amount though some lessons do build on one another. Some lessons are "tune" lessons. They are easy to learn, will help develop skills and add to your repetoire. Some lessons teach ideas, techniques, theory, etc. If you have a question, just ask. I DO recommend you purchase them in order and at the very least, purchase the first introduction CD lesson.

Questions? Email us at

To order, send check or money order to:

Brett Ridgeway
​105 Ashwood Drive
Industry, PA 15052

4. Or order both the "Introduction & Embellishment" Audio CD Lesson and the first tune lesson by sending a check or money order to the above address for the amount of $30.00

Lessons currently available:

1.   Intro & Embellishment Lesson - $22.50 (Booklet Revised January2008)

2.   Cluck Old Hen - $12.50 (Revised January 2008)

3.   The First Noel - $12.50

4.   Devil's Dream & Over the Waterfall  $12.50

5.   When I Survey the Wondrous Cross - $12.50

6.   John Ryan's Polka - $12.50 

7.   Morrison's Jig - $12.50 

8.   Chords, Chord Progressions, & Back-up - $12.50

9.   Soldier's Joy 101 - $12.50

10. Soldier's Joy 102  - $12.50 
Soldier's Joy 101 &102 teaches an infinite way to play this old fiddle tune, rather than simply memorizing an arrangement and playing it the same way over and over and over. The techniques and ideas learned can be applied to other tunes as well. These two lessons will help expand your horizons in playing.

11. Got Rhythm? - $12.50  
Using rhythm to dress up and embellish a tune. 

12. Miss McLeods Reel - $12.50 

13. Rhythm Revisited - $12.50 
Using techniques taught on a previous lesson CD, we apply those same rhythm techniques to learn and play "Whiskey Before Breakfast", an old traditional fiddle tune.

14. Christmas Carol Repetoire CD Lesson - $12.50  
Teaches the simple melody lines to four Christmas carols: Away In The Manger, Silent Night, Joy To The World, and Hark The Herald Angels Sing along with some ideas of embellishment from our previous lessons. The CD is just over an hour long and broken down into 48 tracks
15. Hymn Repetoire - $12.50 
(Teaches the simple melody lines to four hymns: Sweet Hour of Prayer, Be Thou My Vision, It Is Well, Come Thou Fount.)

16. The Rag Lick - $12.50  
A very neat little lick, that you can incorporate in almost any tune you know and really 'fancies up' your playing!

17. Forked Deer - $12.50 
More than a "tune" lesson, we learn Forked Deer with a review of previous lessons with ideas ranging from rhythm techniques to the newly acquired rag lick along with a new technique. This one is a lot of fun!

18. Golden Slippers - $12.50 
Teaches several variations of this old traditional tune, along with ideas to embellish it yet further. Also a guitar accompanied play-a-long track!

19. Devil's Dream - The Chromatic Version $12.50 
You DO NOT need a chromatic dulcimer to play this tune! This is a fun variation of an old tune that adds a real twist. The techniques learned can be applied to other tunes as well. Not difficult, but will definitely get your hands playing independently and "out of the box"! The ideas taught for playing chromatically are also applied to Cluck Old Hen, Over The Waterfall, and Forked Deer.

20. Sailor's Hornpipe - $12.50 
This is a great tune to play as a medley with Devil's Dream and will touch lightly on right-- hand-left hand lead. Other that that, its just plain fun to play!

21. Hogeye - $12.50 
This old traditional tune, sometimes called, "Sally In The Garden" will help you to use both hands equally and independently. We take this tune and teach it with a right hand lead and then teach it again using a left hand lead! Which hand is most important in your playing? Both of them!!! Learn to find and use different patterns and note locations!

22. Red Haired Boy - $12.50 
Another traditional tune of Irish origin, this lively piece is a great addition to your repetoire. Straightforward, note for note instruction this lesson uses several practice tracks to help increase your speed and accuracy!

23. The Rights of Man - $12.50 
This traditional Irish tune will challenge you in strengthening your less dominant hand. We once again review the right hand vs. left hand lead in this lesson. This tune will help BOTH hands to be equally adept in their playing ability.

24. Planxty Irwin - $12.50 
This is probably one of the most beautiful tunes written by Turlough O'Carolan. Planxty, which means "in honor of" and Irwin; this tune was written by O'Caroan in honor of Col. John Irwin. Its movement, and embellishment ideas are virtually limitless. This slow classical piece is perfect for weddings. It is also one of my favorite slow tunes to play.

25. Cuckoo's Nest - $12.50 
A lively upbeat traditional tune that incorporates several fun little runs. Includes several practice tracks to help develop spped and accuracy. Briefly discusses right hand/left hand lead. A fun tune to play!

26. Gettysburg Rain© - $12.50 
I wrote this tune shortly after playing on the streets of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was a warm summer evening and the rain was falling. It rained off and on, sometimes steady and sometimes light throughout the evening. My fear was that the rain would keep people off the streets, but I was pleasanty surprised as we passed the evening playing to several passerbyers, some from out of town and many in period clothing. It was a wonderful time and memory. This tune reflects the mood and even the rain of the evening. The tune is simple, the embellishment interesting and open.  Great for developing your less dominant hand. This is always are most requested tune we play.

27. The Chicken Reel - $12.50 
This is a very cool and quirky little tune that you may remember from the older cartoons, usually anytime chickens were involved. And it is truly a traditional tune as well. It utilizes a "line" chord which is explained and used as an exercise at the beginning of the lesson. 

28. Soldier Boy's Dream - $12.50

See what others who have tried our lessons have to say:
"I recently ordered Brett's Hammered Dulcimer lessons.  So far, I've completed the first three CDs.  I want everyone to know that I'm totally elated with the results.  Over the years I've tried, with very little success, to understand other methods of playing the hammered dulcimer, but I found them difficult to understand.  I'm over 50 and need something simple to understand and Brett has done it in his lessons.  I have learned in one day, from listening to his instructions, things that I never could quite grasp before.   He teaches the embellishments, rolls, drones, fill-ins etc. on a particular tune, I've managed to follow his instructions and put those same embellishments into other tunes as well.' 
"Before I started with Brett's lessons, all I could do was hit the string I was told to hit - I had no understanding of why I was doing what I was doing.  There was no connection between the strings.  I couldn't add notes to fill out the song at all.  Brett had me doing that and more in a just the first three lessons!'
"These lessons make it easy for anyone to learn to play the hammered dulcimer, even those with no music experience at all!  The only problem I've found with Brett's lessons at all is that he doesn't offer them once a week.  I have to wait a whole month for the next one to arrive!"
--- Mary Boardman, a Very Satisfied Brett Ridgeway for Life Student in Des Moines, IA

And another from Mary:
Yippee! I'm placing another order for more of your lesson CDs. I loved my Christmas present CDs and my favorite was "Gettysburg Rain"...I had never thought of rain drops being played on an instrument but you captured it perfectly...That's absolutely beautiful. It sounds so perfect. Just like a slow drizzle. Beautiful. That one will be my all time favorite.  Thanks, Mary Boardman Des Moines. IA 

  "The lessons arrived safely this morning. I have listened (and I must confess already played along with) the introductory CD and just wish to express my gratitude to you for making available such well thought out workshop style lessons with such infinite patience for the use of newcomers far away from any traditional centre of dulcimer playing. No questions at the moment, and thank you for the recommendations." -- Alan, Arizona

"I just recently tried an instructional tape to learn some old hymns.  The tape was produced by Brett Ridgeway, and I recommend it highly.  He has also produced a tape of old hymns that was exactly what I have been seeking.  His manner of teaching is so simple it is unique and a whole hymn can be learned in one day if one will listen and practice along with the tape,  There are also some little goodies that have puzzled me up to this point.  Mysteries solved!  "I have learned all of the hymns and from your instruction have already learned a few more using the techniques and embellishments I have learned from the tapes. It is so encouraging to realize that I can learn even with...a 'tin ear'."
    "I (also) recently purchased Brett Ridgeway's set of six instructionals, "Hornpipes, Jigs & Such" and am more than pleased--even elated.  Again he teaches in a simple unique way using "vocal tab". He coaches techniques that have improved my playing even in my own personal repertoire.  One learns a lot more than just the tunes provided and this reason alone makes them well worth the price.  I am convinced that anyone can learn to play the HD.  I had purchased the hymn lessons earlier and immediately learned all of them. That is a real accomplishment for me. It is very encouraging!  He has a web site or can be reached at his Email address.  Visit him!...I highly recommend both sets of lessons."   --Lynn Cox, FL

    "I've been struggling with my HD for more years than most of today's players have been around. I live in the suburbs of Seattle and have no access to any one close to me that teaches by ear.  I've only just started with Brett's tapes but feel that this is the approach that I've been looking for. I don't read music and rely on my hearing to learn tunes. Brett has set up a very simple system that even I can understand. After 20 years of on and off attempts at learning the HD, I'm now beginning to make real progress with Brett's series of instructional tapes. I feel this is a real break through for me and I thank Brett for giving me hope when I'd given up!"
    "Please put my order in for a second series. I am progressing (slowly) but I'll tell you it's a GREAT improvement over any other method I've tried in the last 20 years! I feel so good about the progress I've made. I'm a sold believer in your teaching methods."     
--Evie Scott, WA 

    "Brett, you are truly amazing to come up with these lessons.  I've learned so much from the first tape, can't wait to get the rest of them...I've had fun with the lessons, hard to believe I can play from a tape, but you make it so easy. I love the lessons; I plan to buy every one you make... Keep the tapes coming.  Bless you." I'm sending my check out tomorrow for the new lessons.  I'm learning all the songs from the last tape and can't believe I can play so pretty. Learning things I never thought I could: rolls , drones etc.  so pretty.  Looking forward to the next tapes" - --Karen Bloomer, MI
    "Thanks for your prompt delivery on the tapes I ordered. My wife and I really enjoy listening to the hymns and the instructional tape is A+. I am a beginning player and your tape makes it so easy to follow and play. I have learned some things that I thought would take me a long time to learn. I look forward to getting the rest of the series and learning them also. Keep up the good work!!"  
--Jerry Truett , TX

   "Brett Ridgeway, has created a great way to teach others how to play the hammered dulcimer. His tapes can teach even those who have no experience with music at all. Brett's voice on the tape is patient, clear and soothing. His instructions are precise and easy to follow. For anyone wanting to learn the hammered dulcimer, Brett's program is an excellent tool to use."   --Judy Caudill, PA

    "Thanks so much for your tapes. I have just learned "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and really enjoy teaching method. I am looking forward to learning the other fine hymns. I'm eager to order your next sets as well. Your teaching of fill-ins, rolls, drones,etc. is great as well. I am already trying some of these ideas with some Christmas tunes and having a lot of fun."    --Janie Bartel, NM  

    "Well, I must say that I am impressed.  I started on the tape on Saturday morning and went right through it.  Within an hour, I had it down.  Today, I am almost up to speed.   It is absolutely the fastest I have ever learned a tune.  I think you have a winner with your technique.  Keep it up!   Thanks again."   --- Marion Cashion

   "I just wanted to let you know I received my order yesterday!  I sat down last night and have memorized the verse to "Sweet Hour of Prayer".  I love it!!  I even got up this morning and played the verse part a couple more times.  I definitely love your method of instruction and it is the way I tend to learn the best so I am definitely looking forward to learning all the songs." -- Wanda Hinnant  

Brett, Thanks for another wonderful program at Slippery Rock last Friday. Each semester my students get so much out of your program! With schools cutting music programs,I feel it is so important for each of my students,who are training to be teachers, to learn that anyone truly can create music. Your enthusiasm and down-to-earth style of teaching is highly motivating. On a personal note, I never would have believed that I would be able to play a hammered dulcimer until I learned about your CD lessons. I feel like you are standing beside me giving me personalized instructions. I would highly recommend these CDs to anyone-- if I could understand them and learn, ANYONE can. Keep the CDs coming!On a personal note, regarding your hammered dulcimer CD lessons, I never would have imagined that I could play a hammered dulcimer. I have always loved the instrument and enjoyed listening to others play it, but just the looks of it alone intimidated me. After watching you share your hammered dulcimer with my students last sememster I felt that I might be able to tackle it. When you shared that you had lessons on CD, I was so excited since I enjoy your style of teaching and felt that I would be able to learn under your direction. I have only been playing a few months and feel as though I have learned so much from your CD lessons. I am grogressing much more quickly than I did on the mountain dulcimer as a result of these lessons. I hope you keep them coming!                     --- Anne M. Slanina, Ph.D., Associate Professor
    Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA

I received your two CDs - and Wow - the Morrison's Jig - I can acutally play this - your method really worked for me.  How do I keep these lessons coming to me?    --- Thanks, Bob Sullivan
 I bought my 15/14 HD six weeks ago. I learned a few simple songs from a book while I waited on my first CD lessons. I learned techniques and embellishments that I couldn't learn from the book. Then, in one day, I learned Cluck Old Hen. When I play it with the quitar accompaniment provided, it sounds great for a beginner! Your system of teaching makes it easy to learn. My check is on the way for Lesson #3!       --- Mark Crittenden,  Indianapolis, IN 

Soldier Boy's Dream Sample: Track 3 of 22
Red Haired Boy Sample: Track 2 of 26
Golden Slippers Sample: Track 8 of 33
CD Lesson Samples
In all three samples below, G=1, A=2, B=3, C#=4, D=5, E=6, F#=7, and G=8. The tablature and method is explained in each lesson which includes a tablature/tuning chart.
Hammered Dulcimer Color Coded Help Sheet
A great TEACHING tool for teachers or LEARNING tool for students, this easy-to-follow color coded, laminated sheet illustrates chord shapes, how to locate octaves and duplicate notes, form chords, play arpeggios, locate notes on the bass bridge and more. It provides easy to follow color coded diagrams to provide a clear understanding of the instrument. Written explanations are color coded to match the color diagrams on the chart. The picture shows the front of the sheet on the left and the back side of the sheet on the right. Sheet is printed on 8 1/2 X 11 card stock and laminated for protection.  $6.00 each-- FREE shipping. Five or more is $5.00 each with FREE SHIPPING.

Brett Ridgeway's

Hammered Dulcimer CD Lessons
On this page you will find Lesson descriptions, lessons currently available, samples, references, and a brief description of our new color coded "Understanding Your Dulcimer" sheet. Check back as new lessons are continually added!
For information on instrument care please read below:

Most people, when owning an instrument, never consider the damage that can be done by both indoor and outdoor elements. We protect our instruments by keeping them in well padded cases, guard against scratches by belt buckles and buttons, and are careful about bumps and nicks. But sometimes the worst damage is caused by temperature and humidity extremes. Here are a few guidelines to help protect your instrument.

1. Treat your instrument as you would a young child or pet. If it is too hot to leave a child in the car with the windows up, it is too hot for your instrument. If it is too cold to leave a child in the car, it is too cold for your instrument. If you take lessons after work, and you take your instrument to work as a result, do no leave it in the car – take it into work with you.

2. If you are travelling with your instrument, do not leave it in direct sunlight. Even with air conditioning running, the sun’s rays through a car window can cause you problems. The back seat, with your instrument covered, is better than a heat trapping trunk.

3. Humidify your instrument! Summer months offer no problem where proper humidity is concerned but in winter when you turn your heat on, your instrument can become too dry. Your instrument’s ideal humidity should be kept about 50. Buy a GOOD humidifier and keep track during winter months to make sure you stay around that number. Just because you have a humidifier on your furnace, does not mean the humidity is adequate for your instrument. Check it! One way to resolve the humidity dilemma is to buy a room humidifier. This is great if you have several instruments. A more affordable option is to purchase a guitar humidifier. These are available in a variety of styles and prices and most can be used on any stringed instrument. Just follow the instructions.