Dulcimer Music Theory 201

7 Week Course: 8 Classes, Summer, 2020, Syllabus

Instructor Information


Mark A. Wade, DMA


See my contact page.

Office Location & Hours

Zoom, 7:30-8:45 PM Eastern
For dates, see the course schedule.

❕ ❕ SOLD OUT ❕ ❕

General Information


This course is designed to teach applied music theory to mountain and hammered dulcimer players. In this class, we will learn the inner workings of music, deepen our understanding of chord progressions, modal scales, tonal harmony, diatonic seven chords, & inversions. We will be using standard notation on a music staff in treble & bass clefs and relating concepts back to our dulcimers. You do not need to be a good sight-reader, but some may want a cheat sheet handy for reference. By using dulcimer-friendly keys for the applications, theory will be relevant and accessible. We will also encounter unfriendly keys for comprehension, but not for applications. Tuition for 8 sessions: $125.

Expectations and Goals

As we meet weekly, we will review past concepts, and build on them into the next area. There will be time for interactive questions and answers, as well as discussions and hands-on learning– all from the comfort of your home. Mark will provide handouts and other supplemental materials as needed. Assignments are optional, but are a valuable tool to learn the material and practice new concepts.

We may not get to all the topics above. Our goal is learning for mastery.


This is a 7-Week class commitment that meets on Tuesdays weekly for 75 minutes with a bonus class on Thursday, August 6th. Your tuition holds your space for all 8 sessions. There is no penalty for missing a session, but no refund will be provided. Mark cannot guarantee a recording for missed classes (but he usually records them).

Course Schedule

Week Date Topic Reading Exercises
1 July 21

Diatonic Chords: diatonic triads in major and minor keys, diatonic seventh chords in major and minor keys.

These topics help you predict the chords that come up in our repertoire and will help you expand your chord choices when arranging on your own.

Pg. 59 - 70 Checkpoints,
2 July 28

August 4

- and -

August 6

Principals of Voice Leading: Introduction, melodic line, tune-writing, notating chords, voicing chords, parallel motion.

These topics will make you a better arranger and tunesmith by explaining what you already hear and like so you can apply it in new ways.

You’ll be able to write your own melody and embellish ones you know with the best sounding chord voicings.

Note: This section has a session on a Thursday, too!

Pg. 73 - 87 Checkpoints,
4 August 11
5 August 18

Chord Substitutions and Application: Harmonic progression, sequences, circle of 5ths, differences in the minor mode. Using 7th chords, harmonizing a simple melody.

These topics will get you out of your chord rut of only using the same 3 chords all the time. I’ll help you know what to look for so you can add a lot more colors to your chord pallets.

Pg. 103 - 122 Checkpoints,
6 August 25
7 September 1

Nonharmonic Tones: Intro, classifications, passing tones, neighbor tones, suspensions, retardations, embellishing, lead sheet symbols, appoggiaturas, escape tones, neighbor groups, anticipations, pedal points.

This topic is the basis for embellishing the melody itself. We’ll learn to identify them first, and then how to add them into our dulcimer tunes.

Pg. 181 - 208 Checkpoints,

Course Materials

Required Materials

Optional Materials


A non-refundable $125 registration fee is required to secure your spot in the class. Checks are welcome, mailed to the address on my contact page. Workshop seats are limited to only 30 maximum. After you register, Mark will email you instructions within a few days.

Use the following form to pay for your registration online:


Use my contact page to email me with any questions you might have.