Mary Lynn Michal’s 52-week video course is—hands-down—the best investment in self-study I have made to date. As an intermediate/advanced-ish player I was initially dubious, thinking my skills were solid in the fundamentals along with what I thought was a productive practice routine.
Following the recommended pacing and order of this year-long program by adding 10 minutes to one’s daily practice really pays off! I cannot recommend it highly enough for players at every level."
—Mark H., NC
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 our newest year-long class—completely different from Mastering Theory.
In fact, it is designed to get that theory out of your head and into your hands with 3-5 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, this skills class does not follow the Theory book in order. We do provide page references so that you can go back to read and integrate the skills with the theory.
3-5 videos that progress through the week. Videos show each skill increasing in speed and/or complexity through the course of the week. We also provide handouts for reference and clarification as needed.
Simon the Sloth pops up here and there throughout the year to slow things down and to suggest some simpler skills to practice if you are a newer player.
We provide page references to The Complete Guide to Theory and Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer (by Ken Kolodner with Mary Lynn Michal), as well as our Mastering Theory class so that you can go back and study the theory behind these skills.
Some skills, like rolling chords into a tune, or practicing the Compact Pattern reference particular tunes (we teach you the Main Melody). If you'd like to learn these tunes (completely optional), we provide discount coupons for HD Homeland classes, or Ken Kolodner's video lessons so that you can learn the theory, backup, arrangements, and lots of arranging ideas.
All of classes, videos, and lessons in HD Homeland include Lifetime Access.
For Sharpen Your Skills, this means you will have a permanent library of skills videos to practice with.
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!
I already see an improvement in both my technical playing and mental comprehension of several things due directly to these guided "exercises". Well worth the time and investment."Join the Class!
—Diane C., OH
You know you should take the time to practice skills but with all the new tunes you'd love to learn, it's hard to take the time. A list of techniques and skills can be overwhelming. It's hard to pick a skill to work on.
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..."
With Sharpen Your Skills, each week you'll get access to at least 3 (short 5-10 minute) videos by ML focused on a new topic. The videos are designed to guide you through the skill from basic to more advanced. We'd like you to spend a week on each skill and then move on to the next. The intent is not to master the skill, but rather to spend some time on it, and then re-visit it as the year goes on.
Each week, the set of videos will progress in tempo or in added difficulty so that you can begin slowly and simply, adding skill as you practice.
After 4 weeks of skills, we provide 2 week review periods, where we will suggest review and practice—combining and maintaining skills previously taught.
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 guide you through essential skills and give you a permanent library of exercises to practice over and over.
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 were 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!
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).
All videos can be slowed down or looped here in HD Homeland so that you can practice along at different speeds.
Check out the list of EVERY video in the class here.
Introduction (5 Lessons)
1. One Octave Scales and Arpeggios
2. Big Dipper / Little Dipper / Smooshed Nevada
3. G Scale in Thirds (Left Hand)
4. Two Octave G Arpeggios
Weeks 5-6: Review 1
7. One Octave Dominant 7th Chords
8. G Scale in Thirds (Right Hand)
9. Two Octave Am and Bm Arpeggios
10. Compact Pattern (Key of D) - Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
Weeks 11-12: Review 2
13. Derivation of 3 Note Chord Patterns
14. Intervals / dim7 Chords
15. Full Range D Arpeggios
16. Roll Chords (RLR) into a Tune - Sommarvals
Weeks 17-18: Review 3
19. Harmonizing a G Scale (RLR)
20. Inversion Patterns
21. Valley Rolls
22. Two Octave F#m and E7 Arpeggios
Weeks 23-24: Review 4
25. Full Range D7 Arpeggios / 2 Octave Scales
26. Harmonizing a G Scale (LRL)
27. Full Range G Arpeggios
28. Roll Chords LRL into a tune - The Winter is Past
Weeks 29-30: Review 5
31. Secondary Dominants
32. Full Range Em Arpeggios
33. Compact Pattern (Key of A) - Dull Chisel
34. Octave Scales / Contrary Motion Scales / Chromatic Trick
Weeks 35-36: Review 6
37. Harmonizing a D Scale (RLR)
38. Three Octave D Scale
39. Tops & Bottoms of Shapes (Key of G) - Bass Bridge / Bass Bridge Lifts
40. Compact Pattern (Key of G) Old Chattanooga
Weeks 41-42: Review 7
43. Full Range Arpeggios for a Tune - Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch
44. Roll RLR & LRL Chords into a Tune - Eleanor Plunket
45. Harmonizing a D Scale (LRL)
46. Tops & Bottoms of Shapes (Key of D) - Treble Bridge / Treble Bridge Lifts
Weeks 47-48: Review 8
49. Duplicate 3 Note Chords
50. Full Range Arpeggios for a Tune - Morag's Waltz
Weeks 51-52: Review 9
Da Capo: You Made it... Now Start Over!