Mastering Theory

The next launch of the replay sessions of Mastering Theory begins September 4, 2022. Sign up now, or any time between now and September 4, to start your journey through music theory especially for the hammered dulcimer. The first lesson will be available for you to watch on September 4.

Please watch a mini-sampler from 3 of the lessons to get a glimpse into the course.

Welcome potential new students!!! We can't wait to have you in the class—be sure to order your copy of The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer by Ken Kolodner with Mary Lynn Michal now - it's a pre-requisite for joining the class!

"...even though I "knew a lot of it", in virtually every session things were tied together in a new way, or I had a new insight into something. Lots of "ah ha" moments. My ability to apply my "book knowledge" to the dulcimer, to music and to playing advanced immeasurably." — Kathleen S., NC

In 2021, Mary Lynn taught this class live to a group of 100 students. You will be watching the replays of these 40 (1/2 hour) classes as Mary Lynn guides you step-by-step through The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer (by Ken Kolodner with Mary Lynn  Michal). Aside from the all of the pre-recorded lesson videos, extra study aids (handouts, flashcards and sloth-speed videos), you will get your questions answered via email, and participate in 4 live Q&A sessions over the coming year. 

"I found that spending half an hour on, sometimes, 2 pages of the book and actually studying it with the dulcimer and someone explaining it with examples really worked for me. I then had the rest of the week to go over it again, watch the video if I needed to, and ask questions via email." -Pete B., U.K.

Here's what you get:

  • An encouraging email each time a new session is unlocked during the year to help you stay on track (The classes are unlocked for access on a schedule, but they are not live classes - you may watch them any time).
  • Watch all of the pre-recorded lessons from 2021.
  • Once unlocked, al classes will be permanently available to you to rewatch over and over as you revisit theory concepts.
  • Extra study aids (handouts, flashcards and sloth-speed videos)
  • A full year of email support for your questions by Mary Lynn, Simon the Sloth and Laurie.
  • 10% off selected video lessons by Ken Kolodner, and other relevant HD Homeland classes
  • Participate in 4 live Q&A sessions over Zoom (3PM Eastern on the following Sundays: May 22, August 14, and November 6, and Jan 8, 2023–subject to change). The live sessions will be recorded for later viewing. 

"Sign Up! Beg Santa and the Tooth Fairy for the funds! Other than the initial investment in your instrument, this is the best money you can spend on your hammered dulcimer playing. The technology and instruction are excellent and seamless." - Katie K., GA

Scroll down to see all lessons included in this guided online home study course. While the classes themselves are not live, remember that you can ask us questions by email any time over the run of the 40 sessions - we are happy to help out with additional explanations.

96 Lessons

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96 Lessons in Mastering Theory:


Start Here

What to Expect, Things You'll Need...

Welcome from ML


Release Dates for Classes

Navigating the Class

How to Get Around

Try Sloth Speed!

Slow Us Down!

Techniques to Practice

Ask Us Questions!

We Want to Hear from You!

Resources for Beginning Hammered Dulcimer Players

Q&A Session for Beginning Hammered Dulcimer Players

Replay of Zoom Session Feb 23, 2022

Live Q&A Sessions

Live Q&A Session 1 Replay

By Zoom on May 22, 2022 Replay now available

Live Q&A Session 2

By Zoom on August 14, 2022

Live Q&A Session 3

By Zoom on November 6, 2022

Live Q&A Session 4

By Zoom on January 8, 2023

Session 1

1: Learning the Notes; Intervals

pp. 2-5

1: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge

Session 2

2: Circle of Fifths Organization of the HD

pp. 6–9

2: Flashcards

Test your Knowledge

Session 3

3: Scales & Duplicate Notes; Additional Scale Exercises

pp. 10-13

3: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 4

4: Thirds Scales; The "Chromatic" Trick

pp. 14-16

4: Sloth Speed

An extra talk-through of thirds scales (sloth speed)

4: Thirds Scales-Left Hand

Practice Thirds Scales starting with your left hand

4: Thirds Scales-Right Hand

Practice Thirds Scales starting with your right hand

Session 5

5: Harmonic Intervals & The Rule of Nine

pp. 17-21

5: Sloth Speed

Harmonic Intervals Study Guide

5: Flashcards: Harmonic Intervals

Test Your Knowledge!

5: Flashcards: The Rule of Nine

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 6

6: Triads

pp. 21-25

6: Flashcards: Triads-Key of D

Test your knowledge!

6: Homework: Triads Key of G

Apply what you have learned

Session 7

7: Root Position Arpeggios

pp. 26-29

7: Flashcards-Root Position Arpeggios

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 8

8: Combining Root Arpeggio Patterns

p. 30

8: Sloth Speed

Combining Arpeggio Patterns in A minor

Session 9

9: Inversion Patterns

pp. 31-35

9: Flashcards - Inversion Patterns

Test Your Knowledge

9: Pachelbel Exercise - Shed

Plucking the shapes

9: Pachelbel Exercise - Parallelogram

Plucking the shapes

9: Pachelbel Exercise - Nevada

Plucking the shapes

Session 10

10: Derivation of 3 Note Chord Patterns

pp. 36-37

10: Sloth Speed from D (RT)

Start from D on the right treble bridge

10: Sloth Speed from G (BB)

Start from G on the bass bridge

Week 10 Extra: Simon Speed (with Sticky Dots)

Session 11

11: Duplicate Three Note Chord Patterns

pp. 38-39

11: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge

Session 12

12: Harmonizing a Major Scale (RLR)

pp. 40-44

12: Sloth Speed RLR Patterns

Simon takes over!

Session 13

13: Harmonizing a Major Scale (LRL)

pp. 45-48

13: Sloth Speed LRL Patterns

Simon takes over again!

13: Gentle Maiden Homework

Homework for Harmonizing a G scale

13: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 14

14: Harmonizing a Major Scale with the Most Likely (Major) Chords

p. 49

14: Sloth Speed Summary

S L O W it down a little...

Session 15

15: 7th Chords Overview & 7th Chords in the Key of D

pp. 50-51

15: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 16

16: Major 7th Chords

pp. 52-53

16: Practice

Practice Major 7th patterns

16: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 17

17: Minor 7th Chords

pp. 54-55

17: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge

16-17: Review Flashcards

Differences and similarities in major AND minor 7th chords

Session 18

18: Dominant 7th Chords

pp. 56-58

18: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge - Dominant 7th Chords

Session 19

19: Dominant 7th Chords in Minor Keys

p. 59

19: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge - Dominant 7th Chords in Minor Keys

Session 20

20: Diminished 7th Chords

pp. 60-63

20: Flashcards

Test Your Knowledge - Diminished 7th Chords

Session 21

21: Full Range 7th Chords

pp. 64-66

Session 22

22: Inverting 7th Chords; Confusions and Comparisons

pp. 67-69

22: Review Flashcards

Review of all 7th chords

Session 23

23: Secondary Dominants (Part 1)

pp. 70-75

Session 24

24: Secondary Dominants (Part 2)

pp. 70-75

24: Sloth Speed

Simon presents an extra chat about V of the V of the V

Session 25

25: Secondary Dominants (Part 3)

pp. 70-75

Session 26

26: Secondary Dominants (Part 4)

pp. 70-75

26: Flashcards for Secondary Dominants

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 27

27: Relative Minors; Parallel Majors and Minors

pp. 76-77

Session 28

28: Suspensions; Slash Chords

pp. 78-79

Session 29

29: Augmented Triads

pp. 80-81

Flashcards-Review of All Triads

Test Your Knowledge!

Session 30

30: Chord Palette: Developing a Chord Progression (Part 1)

pp. 82-83

Session 31

31: Chord Palette: Developing a Chord Progression (Part 2)

p. 84

Session 32

32: Chord Palette: Developing a Chord Progression (Part 3)

p. 85

Session 33

33: Introduction to Modes

pp. 86-87

33: Not in the Mode for this...

Guest Appearance by Renowned Mode Scholar Mark Grobner

Session 34

34: Ionian and Dorian Modes

p. 88

Session 35

35: Mixolydian Mode

p. 90

Session 36

36: Aeolian Mode

p. 90

Session 37

37: Summary of Modes

pp. 90-91

37: Take the Pop Quiz: Modes

37: Mode Summary by a Sloth

Simon explains the 4 modes using the Key of A

37: Flashcards - Modes

Test Your Knowledge of all the Modes

Session 38

38: Compact Backup Pattern

pp. 93-95

38: Compact Pattern Practice

Play along - Keys of D, G, and A

Session 39 & 40

39: The Universal Backup

40: Last Class Q & A

Big List of Coupons & Resources

Coupons and Resources

Compilation of Discounts and other resources from all sessions