"...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

Mastering Theory is the indispensable companion piece to The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer by Ken Kolodner with Mary Lynn Michal.
Mastering Theory is a 40 Session online course - all recorded videos, all self study.
Lifetime Access included!
You may join any time to get started.

Join the Class!

In 2021, Mary Lynn taught the Mastering Theory class live to a group of 100 students.

In this class, you will be watching the replays of 40 (1/2 hour) classes as Mary Lynn guides you step-by-step and page by page through The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer (by Ken Kolodner with Mary Lynn Michal).

You get all of the lesson videos, and extra study aids (handouts, flashcards and sloth-speed videos), as well as access to have your questions answered by email.

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 can rewatch the lessons whenever I like, even at the breakfast table, to just pick up the info I missed first time around."
—Pete B., U.K.

The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer is our textbook for the 40 session class. Be sure to order your copy of the book—you'll need it to read, understand, and follow along.

Following the book page by page, each lesson focuses on one topic presented clearly and concisely in 30 (ish) minute videos. Mary Lynn explains each concept, and demonstrates them on the dulcimer. Through example tunes, she shows how knowing all of this theory helps us to play more efficiently (and impress our friends). It's not so scary after all.

Here's What You Get in Mastering Theory

40 Lessons unlocked for access on a schedule over the course of one year. ONCE UNLOCKED, you may watch them any time

Simon the Sloth steps into the limelight with extra videos to slow things down. He brings along sticky dots and other visual aids to help explain thorny concepts. And he sleeps a lot.

Flashcards, printable handouts, and other study aids, Who doesn't like a pop quiz?

10% off selected video lessons by Ken Kolodner, and discounts on other relevant HD Homeland classes

Lifelong Access Included! You will have a permanent library of theory.

A full year of email support for your questions by Mary Lynn, Simon the Sloth and Laurie..

I found the course Mastering Theory to be excellent. It has greatly increased my arsenal of chords to choose from when accompanying others."
—Richard B., TX
Join the Class!

Some questions we've received:

I've got too much going on; I don't have time for a year-long class!
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. 

But what if I don't get finished in a year?
You have lifelong 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. 

Wow, there's a lot here! I'm going to binge and get through it this week!
While you can do that (sometimes you do just need a quick review or answer to a theory question), we will recommend that you follow our carefully considered schedule to go through the class and book over the course of a year.

When you enroll, you'll also get emails each week (sometimes 2 weeks apart) giving you motivation to continue learning.  intentionally give you either one or two weeks between sessions because we do not want you to speed through the class! We'd like you to stop and take the time to read the book pages, watch the videos, and try out the flashcards. Maybe your flashcard results will tell you to go back and read or watch again.

And please don't skip over things you think you already know
. We hear over and over again that folks learn something unexpected even when they think they know it already!

List of Theory Topics and Page References

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

Introduction (7 Lessons)
Q&A Session for beginning players
Previous Live Q&A Sessions (4 sessions)

1. Learning the Notes; Intervals (pp. 2–5)
2. Circle of Fifths (pp. 6–9)
3. Scales and Duplicate Notes; Octave Scales, Contrary Motion Scales (pp. 10–13)
4. Thirds Scales; The Chromatic Trick (pp. 14–16)
5. Harmonic Intervals; Rule of Nine (pp. 17–21)
6. Triads (pp. 22–25)
7. Root Arpeggio Patterns (pp. 26–29)
8. Combining Root Arpeggios Patterns (pp. 30)
9. Inversion Patterns (pp. 31–35)
10. Derivation of 3 Note Chord Patterns (pp. 36–37)
11. Duplicate 3 Note Chord Patterns (pp. 38–39)
12. Harmonizing a Major Scale with Triads - RLR (pp. 40–44)
13. Harmonizing a Major Scale with Triads - LRL (pp. 45–48)
14. Harmonizing a Major Scale with Most Likely Chords (pp. 49)
15. 7th Chords Overview; 7th Chords in the Key of D (pp. 50–51)
16. Major 7th Chords (pp. 52–53)
17. Minor 7th Chords (pp. 54–55)
18. Dominant 7th Chords (pp. 56–58)
19. Dominant 7th Chords in Minor Keys (pp. 59)
20. Diminished 7th Chords; 7th Chords Contain Two Triads; Comparison of Dominant and Diminished 7th Chords (pp. 60–63)
21. Full Range 7th Chords (pp. 64–66)
22. Inverting 7th Chords; Comparison of 7th Chords (pp. 67–69)
23. Secondary Dominants - part 1 (pp. 70–75)
24. Secondary Dominants - part 2 (pp. 70–75)
25. Secondary Dominants - part 3 (pp. 70–75)
26. Secondary Dominants - application - look at tunes (pp. 70–75)
27. Relative Minor; Parallel Minor or Major (pp. 76–77)
28. Suspensions; Slash Chords (pp. 78–79)
29. Augmented Triads (pp. 80–81)
30. Chord Palette Developing a Chord Progression - Part 1 (pp. 82–83)
31. Chord Palette Developing a Chord Progression - Part 2 (pp. 84)
32. Chord Palette Developing a Chord Progression - Part 3 (pp. 85)
33. Modes (pp. 86–87)
34. Dorian (pp. 88)
35. Mixolydian (pp. 89)
36 Aeolian (pp. 90)
37. Modes Summary (pp. 91–92)
38. Compact Pattern (pp. 93–95)
39/40. Universal Backup / Replay of 2021 Q&A with Ken (pp. 96–97)
Da Capo: You Made it... Now Start Over!

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
Join the Class!