Sharpen Your Skills
Sharpen Your Skills is a 52 week online course - all recorded videos, all self study. You may join any time to get started.
Sharpen Your Skills is all new material — completely different from our Mastering Theory class. In fact, it is designed to get that theory out of your head and into your hands with 3-4 short videos per topic for a full year. Lifetime access included. All pre-recorded; all self-study. Go at your own pace! All you need to invest is about 10 minutes a day while ML guides you through each skill from basic to more advanced.
Sharpen Your Skills builds on the theory topics presented in Mastering Theory and helps you sharpen your execution of and technique for skills such as: one, two, and three octave scales, arpeggios, three note chord patterns, and more (scroll down for the full list of skills and topics). Please note that unlike Mastering Theory, the skills class does not follow the Theory book in order. We do provide page references so that you can integrate the skills with the theory.
Everyone knows they should practice skills but when it gets down to it, who's got the time? You're already trying to learn new tunes, and keep up the old ones. Who wants to spend their limited time with techniques practice when there are all those tunes out there?
And just having a list of skills doesn't cut it. It's overwhelming, so you end up playing a couple of arpeggios and stopping. Or you play a few Contrary Motion Scales and think: "well, maybe that's good enough..."
Let's add just 5-10 minutes to your already scheduled practice time and busy life. The goal of this course is to guide you to add 10 minutes to your practice daily—or take a part of the time you already use for practice—all the technique practice you'll need for the year. That's doable isn't it?
With Sharpen Your Skills, each week you'll get access to at least 3 (short 5-10 minute) videos by ML focused on anew topic. The videos are designed to guide you through the skill from basic to more advanced.
Each group of videos will progress in tempo or in adding difficulty so that you can begin slowly and simply, adding skill as you practice. After each set of 4 topics, we provide 2 week review periods, where we will suggest review and practice—combining and maintaining skills previously taught. After all, you cannot expect to master any skill in one week.
Please remember, there is no expectation that you will master any of these skills in one week! Mary Lynn has been working diligently on these skills for 9 years now, and she will be the first to tell you that she has not mastered them. It is a process and a practice. This course will expose you to essential skills and give you a permanent library of exercises to come back to over and over.
As the year progresses, Laurie will make 5-10 minute review videos with various skills chosen from all previous topics so that you will have a library of short "Play along with ML" videos to become a part of your regular routine and help you maintain your skills and techniques.
A Note from Mary Lynn
As a result of taking our Mastering Theory class (based on the book, The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer), Ken Kolodner and I saw a huge boost in people's comprehension of music theory as it applies to the hammered dulcimer .
I predict that there will be an equivalent jump in our ability to take these concepts and actually play them on the hammered dulcimer after completing the Sharpen Your Skills class with 10 minutes of practice a day.
Throughout the year, we will take those theory concepts you learned in Mastering Theory, and instead of just talking about them, we'll apply them—hands on—topic by topic.
Can you imagine being able to fluently play a chord progression like F#7 to B7/A to Em to E7/D to A7/G to D? (Note from Laurie: I'm exhausted just typing that).
An important part of this class is to maintain all of these skills, not just play them one week and forget them the next. That's why we have designed this course with nine review periods built in.
Each review period lasts 2 weeks, and is meant to be a time for you to go back and work on any of the preceding skills to make them more fluent. We will even guide you through that!
Let's get started!!
All videos can be slowed down or looped here in HD Homeland so that you can practice along at different speeds.
Scroll down for the complete list of topics covered in Sharpen Your Skills.
Some questions we've received:
I'm going on vacation for two weeks this summer; I'll never keep up!
Here's the good news. There is no race or finish line involved in this course. If you take a week or two off due to fun or necessity, come back and start where you left off. Put in your 10 minutes a day on whichever topic you ere working on, and then continue.
But what if I don't get finished in a year?
You have lifetime access to the course. There is not going to be a graduation ceremony in 52 weeks. In fact, you will probably want to start over again. Or go back and pick skills that are a little harder for you and work on them again. If you create a habit of focusing on skills for 10 minutes a day, you will have graduated with honors in our eyes, no matter where you are in the list after a year. You'll see an improvement in your playing!
124 Lessons in Sharpen Your Skills:
Welcome to Sharpen Your Skills
How to Get the Most Out of This Class
More Technical Bits and Useful Info
Habit & Study Trackers
Spreadsheet Habit Tracker
1. One Octave Scales and Arpeggios
Week 1-1: Ascending Scales / Descending Arpeggios
Week 1-2: Scales Down & Up / Arpeggios Up & Down - Treble Bridge
Week 1-3: Scales Up & Down / Arpeggios Down & Up - Bass Bridge
Week 1-4: Five Minute Practice: Random Scales & Arpeggios
2. Big Dipper / Little Dipper / Smooshed Nevada
Week 2-1: Big and Little Dippers
Week 2-2: Smooshed Nevada (3rd Inversion 7th Chords)
Week 2-3: Resolving 7th Chords / Chord Progressions Practice
Test Your Knowledge!