"Your workshops are fantastic! I plan on attending whenever they are offered!" --Jim Beck, Willowick, OH
"I just returned home from the Christmas Hammered Dulcimer workshop. I highly recommend this workshop, presented by
Brett Ridgeway, to hammered dulcimer players of all ages and levels of understanding. You do not have to know music
theory or even how to read music to come away with a complete package of materials and techniques that will remain with
you and your dulcimer for a long time. Brett presents the material at a very comfortable pace, with no pressure to participate
if one is not ready. You leave with a sense of accomplishment and a renewed desire to practice...practice...practice!
I am sure if you apply the methods presented, you will become a better hammered dulcimer player.
Now, where did I put that dulcimer??" – Jay Blizman, Beaver, PA
"As a fairly new musician, I enjoy attending Brett's workshops. His teaching style is relaxed, humorous, patient and helpful. I always leave a workshop knowing I've learned something new to help me progress as a musician, no matter what instrument I choose to play." – Lynn Delp, New Galilee, PA
"I just attended on of Brett's workshops at Dulcimer Days in Coshocton. I learned more in one hour with Brett than I learned in a three day workshop in Gettysburg, Pa. I am very pleased with his easy and to-the-point teaching methods. I'll be attending many more of his workshops in the future. Kudos to you, Brett for a great workshop!" – Tammy, Wooster, Ohio
"I strongly recommend Brett Ridgeway as a hammer dulcimer teacher. When Brett first suggested that I try it out, my first thought was that I couldn’t because I had no musical ability or aptitude whatsoever. He encouraged and challenged me to try and I’m so glad I did. Brett has been a wonderful teacher. His methods of teaching had me playing songs right off the bat. His teaching practices are very clear and understandable, as are his CD lessons. He really makes it easy (even for someone with no musical background!). He is patient with questions, slows down and repeats things when you need him to and does not make you feel like a beginner. I have not yet been playing a year but I have quite a few songs and hymns that I can play successfully. I am thrilled with the instrument and I love to play and I have Brett to thank for that!"
– Diane Dombroski, Boston Heights, Ohio
"Thank you so much for conducting the dulcimer workshop last weekend at Touchstone. I learned so much. You are a fantastic musician who knows how to communicate your love of music to others. You made us all feel at ease and gave us the feeling that anyone can learn music. You certainly impart much information in a weekend and send us home with a desire to practice and learn all that we can. For all those who might be reading this and wondering if they should try to learn this instrument, take a class from Brett and you will be very glad you did. It was a great time. Little did I know when I signed up that I would come home with many new friends. Wish I was closer to PA so I could meet with the other participants." --Sue Blackburn, Indiana
Evaluation Comments from the Pocono Winter Dulcimer Festival"
– "Brett was very patient in answering questions and being sure all understood."
– "Valuable technique; “play” changing!"
– "Outstanding hands-on workshop – excellent instructor!! I would definitely take another class with Brett!!"
– "Excellent Handouts"
– "Great course – useful ideas."
– "Very helpful! Would love more from Brett!"
– "He’s really approachable & his lessons are easy to understand."
– "Good teacher."
– "Great workshop."
– "Brett spent extra time after teaching to help even more – really appreciated his help!"
"Because of Brett, I am hooked on an instrument I have never even heard of six months ago! As a beginner with no musical background, I have seen immediate progress on the mountain dulcimer. The beautifully produced videos are sharp, engaging and well-paced, demonstrating exactly what he is explaining. Somehow he even anticipates my questions and addresses them!
His professional and personable teaching method has enabled me to ease into the next level of playing, adding embellishments, which in turn has inspired me to practice even more! Brett, you are such a good communicator. I’m looking forward to another round of quality materials! The Band Club is a unique opportunity and we are blessed to have such an accomplished musician as our teacher! Mr. Ridgeway creates an atmosphere that is supportive and fun. His amiable personality puts the students at ease and his style of teaching instills confidence and brings out the best in everyone. He sincerely cares about individual progress as well as the cohesion of the band as a whole. Students from elementary through high school and parents learn and perform together, which fosters team spirit and builds camaraderie and respect among club members. It has been a blast playing alongside my 7 year-old. We already see ministry opportunities opening up for us as a family…which is a God-thing since we have never even heard of these instruments a few months ago and have no previous musical experience!" – Donna M. Schipani, West Mifflin, PA
"I have been taking independent group music lessons from Brett Ridgeway since December 2006. Initially my goal was to pick the guitar back up and continue learning from where I’d left off 35 years prior. Brett’s enthusiasm and love for music fueled me to not only pick the guitar back up, but also learn two new instruments – the mountain dulcimer and the banjo. I have thoroughly enjoyed our group classes as well as the rare one on one lesson that I’ve received from him. Every week he is just as excited to teach as we are to learn. His style of teaching is very flexible and creative. He is very knowledgeable, yet open to input from students, which may help his creative flow continue to flourish. I would recommend Brett as an instructor for people of any age looking to find their joy through music. We’re never too old too learn and absolutely never too old to have fun doing it. Brett has been a wonderful teacher and I look forward to continuing to improve my skills on all of the instruments I have." – Dana Plagens, Twinsburg, Ohio
"I began playing the mountain dulcimer about six months ago. My boy-friend (he plays guitar) suggested I take lessons from a dulcimer player and arranged for me to take lessons. I had not seen the dulcimer played before and was very excited about the prospect of learning techniques and how to create the wonderful sounds I heard on my CDs. I expected to grow in my skills, learn techniques, and build a solid foundation for enjoying an instrument I fell in love with. My lessons with Brett exceeded my expectations. From the very first song Brett played for me at my first lesson, I knew I had the right teacher. Brett is an accomplished musician and knows how to bring out the beauty, and excitement, in a song. As a teacher, Brett created an environment that made me feel comfortable and confident about my playing and my progression as a student. Brett is also patient and has tailored his instruction to my particular goals. Because of this, I have rapidly improved my technique, increased my versatility, and my list of songs! Would I recommend Brett Ridgeway? You bet! I recently traveled one and a half hours, one way, in a snowstorm, to make my evening lesson. I love my instrument and love my lessons!"
– Kathleen Lockhart Vernon, Newbury, OH
"Brett Ridgeway has been a wonderful clawhammer banjo instructor for me. He's great on music theory, is very patient, and has an extremely pleasant personality. Since he plays several instruments, he can accompany you on your own instrument or another to aid in playing with others and gaining confidence. I give Brett high marks." – Tom Olexa, Brecksville, Ohio
"We have been taking dulcimer lessons from Brett for over two years and we are proof that anyone really can "make music." The dulcimer is a great instrument and under Brett's guidance we were playing songs during our very first lesson. Brett is so kind and patient, always willing to accompany us with his guitar or his dulcimer. If you open to new and interesting experiences....give the dulcimer and Brett a try. You'll have fun!!" – Marcia Macbride and Deborah Brown
"Brett Ridgeway has the philosophy that anyone can LEARN and ENJOY making music, and he's proved that in teaching me to play the dulcimer! He opened up a whole new world for me, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Not only did Brett introduce some instruments with which I wasn't familiar, but he also introduced one area of music, among others, with which I wasn't too familiar, music from America's history. This has been great for me, because I am a teacher and have had fun with my dulcimer in my classroom. Brett is a knowledgeable teacher. More importantly, to me, he is a patient teacher! He also encourages his students to "stretch" and not be afraid to reach beyond their comfort zone. This is helpful to me. One of the things I like best about learning the dulcimer (in addition to meeting lots of nice and fun new people) is that it's good for building new neuron pathways, which is recommended by doctors for people who are aging! Since I fall into that category, having begun to play only a few years ago, now, at the age of 61, I am very grateful to Brett for having introduced me to this whole new area of interest. I love my dulcimer, and I love making music with it! And I'm glad I met Brett Ridgeway and that he taught me how to play! I look forward to working with him in the future and would recommend him to anyone who is looking for a good teacher!" – Marilyn Rowell, OH
"If you are considering lessons with Brett Ridgeway, don't do it unless you are looking for a teacher who can adapt his teaching style to match the student's learning style, is patient and not condescending. I have been taking hammer dulcimer lessons with Brett for 6 months and am amazed at the number of songs I have learned already. He balances the lessons between teaching how to just play a song, how to care for your instrument and other playing techniques that allow even a beginner to play with others. A number of times when I would come for a lesson somewhat discouraged at myself, and he will help boost my confidence by teaching me something new. I would highly recommend him for music lessons. "
– Chris Ontko
"I've been taking banjo lessons from Brett for almost one year. He is very supportive, patient, nonjudgmental even when I mess up, understanding of me having a life besides playing the banjo and knowledgeable of how to challenge me to be a better player. He is an excellent banjo teacher. He makes lessons fun and I have thoroughly enjoyed each one."
– Anne D Raspey, Ohio
"Thank you so much for the wonderful mountain dulcimer workshop at Touchstone last weekend. It's only been one week and I can truly say I'm making great progress. This, thanks to your instruction and positive way of instilling confidence in the participants. I'm hoping to take your next workshop in November because I feel it's a perfect follow up review and reinforcement of the last lesson. Although it's a 2 1/2 hour trip for me I feel it's well worth it! The instruction and fellowship were very uplifting for me. Keep up the good work!" – Judy Parker, PA
"Thanks again for wonderful Mountain Dulcimer class at Touchstone in Pennsylvania. You can tell that both of you love to teach. For the absolute beginner, you were patient and had the material well organized. You made it fun and made me want to go home and practice, which I have. Wish you the best of everything. "Thanks again for wonderful Mountain Dulcimer class at Touchstone in Pennsylvania. You can tell that both of you love to teach. For the absolute beginner, you were patient and had the material well organized. You made it fun and made me want to go home and practice, which I have. Wish you the best of everything. Hope to see you again in the future."
– Tom Anthrop, Michigan
"I just want to thank you for inspiring me to become skilled at everything there is to learn on the mountain dulcimer. Your workshops are so inspirational. When I got home that evening, I just had to show what I had learned and the new options with the imagination for making me a better player. This is my second workshop and both have been enlightening and worth all the effort you have placed on teaching us future musicians. You construct your workshop for all learning levels making sure that you take the time to spend with each person understanding the instrument and what is being taught for quality knowledge. I look forward to more educational and enhancing music workshops in the near future."
– Carissa Shaffer, Ohio
"I just finished my second dulcimer workshop with Brett. He continues to be so calm and patient always making you feel that there is never a dumb question. He is willing to take the time to address everyone's need no matter what level they are at. He is such an accomplished musician who knows how to teach others and instill confidence in them. I never knew that a dulcimer could be played so beautifully before. Now I feel that with practice it is even possible for me to play that way. This second workshop challenged us to go above and beyond what is written on the printed page. We were given much information to digest and practice. I know that I have a long way to go but I have made progress in just the four days I have been home. After each workshop, I have come away a better player who is inspired to learn. Thanks Brett. I'll look forward to seeing you again for some more inspiration!!" – Sue Blackburn, Indiana
"A great learning experience with plenty of opportunities to improve. From chording to finger picking, Brett offered large doses of encouragement and support. He took his time and when anyone fell behind, he stopped and made sure everyone understood the lesson and was with the class. His laid back attitude and support only emphasized that anyone can play the mountain dulcimer with style." – Curt, Fairfield, Ohio
"Thank you for the workshop on July 9-10, “Christmas in July.” I left the workshop knowing that I could come home and put what I’d learned to use. Instead of once again playing a piece of music that someone else has arranged, I can now learn a tune, put appropriate chords with that tune, and then provide the back-up and rhythm that I want rather than what someone else has chosen. Your method of teaching was simple and made sense. I’ve always thought I had to memorize many things to have this knowledge but you’ve made it practical and sensible." – Alice Richmond, Cincinnatti, Ohio
"Thanks again for having such a great workshop. You have a great way of explaining things, making it very simple to understand. You give a great deal of information – and I've already applied it to some of the songs I've been playing, what a difference it makes! I've even thought of a few more things to do with a song that you didn't cover, but what you did was get the brain thinking, and now we can create our own songs – how awesome is that!?!" – Ruth Wright, Aurora, Ohio
"I just attended a day and a half workshop given but Brett Ridgeway for the mountain dulcimer and it was wonderful!! I am a beginner and so I wasn't sure that it would be fruitful for me to attend this early in my learning but I had no trouble following and understanding. I got much more out of it than I had anticipated. Brett is a great teacher. He does his best to make you feel confident in what you are learning, and his style of teaching lets the material just click. Given the opportunity, I will take more workshops from Brett". – Laura Smith, Ohio
"Just wanted to write a note of thanks for the great dulcimer workshop you put on last weekend! It was very informative and helpful. I have been to a couple of others, but I must say I got the most from your workshop. I really love your Hammered Dulcimer CD lessons, also. I want to purchase the rest of them when I am able to. Thanks again! Please know that if you ever hold another dulcimer workshop in the area, I will be there!" – Kathy McGinnis, Ohio
"Thank you for a wonderful workshop at Christmas Pines campground. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Considering I had never even hammered on a dulcimer even once before that friday night, it was wonderful to be making music so fast. The time just sped by, and you certainly gave us enough to go home and practice. I appreciate you having student instruments to practice on, giving me an opportunity to come and experience the instrument before committing to buying one. Now I just need to decide on one so I can begin practicing and playing. I look forward to coming to future workshops with you. Thanks again."
– Cynthia Long Island, NY
"I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed the workshop and I learned SO much! It was just what I needed to get off to a good start with my dulcimer, plus it was a lot of fun. I'm really glad I was able to come. Thank you!"
– Sharon Gartley, Ohio
"Just got back from the Laurel Highlands Hammered Dulcimer Workshop held at Benner's Meadow Run Campground in Farmington, PA. What a fabulous weekend. The weather, campground, and workshop were so much fun my whole family is looking forward to going again next year. The instructor for the workshop was Brett Ridgeway and I can tell you this is one workshop where you will not have to hunt for him or race to catch him. He was available for questions and more for nearly EVERY waking hour. We learned some tunes, techniques, embellishments, and so much more. It was definitely NOT hard to learn how to play with Brett's method of instruction. We even participated in a mini concert for the other campers at the campground. In fact, his style is so straight forward that my wife saw how easy the dulcimer is to play and now she has enrolled too. We also had an 'absolute' beginner who did just fine. The truth is, she picked it up faster than I did. (Great job MaryLou!)
Our whole family went since the campground has plenty of other activities for all ages to enjoy while I was enjoying the workshop. So don't leave others in your family behind, take them too. Plans are already being laid out for next year, so watch for more information and mark your calendar. I know we are going back." – Dave Willis, Indiana
"Just got back from Brett Ridgeway's workshop at Benner's Campground in Pennsylvania. It was a delightful and very educational weekend. Even though I've been playing for 6 years (sort of), I came away with a lot of very helpful information as well as learning five new tunes. [Brett] has a very good ear and a special knack for teaching that anyone can understand & follow and not, so to speak, get left in the dust. If anyone gets an opportunity to take one of Brett's workshops, I highly recommend it." – Mike Reese, Ohio
"I have to say the 6 hour drive was well worth it. This workshop was one of the best that I have taken. The camp ground was great & Brett made you feel right at home. If anyone has had trouble learning the HD his workshops are for you. I have been to Evert twice, great time but lots of people. It was nice to have the close attention to work out the problem parts without making you feel stupid. Looking forward to his September workshop!" – Dave Zarnstorf, New York
"Brett, I took note of your emphasis stroking at the (Laurel Highland's) workshop when you were playing Morrison's Jig and using that technique has helped me with my RDD. Got it down pretty good now and up to speed. Wow! Me? Still working on the other jigs and hornpipes. I'm doing pretty well. Thanks more than you could know." – Lynn Cox, FL
(NOTE: Lynn drove from Miami, Florida to Pennsylvania JUST for this workshop at 70 years of age!)
"Hope this finds you both well, have had some computer issues so....better late then never to tell you how much I enjoyed the dulcimer workshop. It was a day well spent, you made it easy to follow from the workbook to the hands on. A lot of areas were covered that helped with understanding things better and it was also fun trying some new things. It will definitely help in practicing...thanks again for a good day." – Gail Oviatt. Ohio
"Just want to say thank you for the Appalachian Dulcimer Workshop held in Macedonia, Ohio. I learned many new ways to play the dulcimer and I am sure I will continue playing with these new skills." – Pat Johnson
"Skype banjo lessons with Brett Ridgeway have been the best fit to a busy schedule and provide a very relaxed way of learning the banjo. The lessons are brought right to your home via Skype and Brett's style of teaching will help even the most challenged students, like myself learn how to make music! Along with the reasonable cost, Brett's knowledge of music and the ease of taking lessons from home, I would recommend lessons via Skype for anyone interested in making music." – Drew Laird, PA
"I own what may be the only hammer dulcimer in all of northern Sweden (certainly none of my friends in the Swedish folk music and dance community had ever heard of them before seeing mine). As a result I had assumed that I would be doomed to teaching myself to play. Therefore you can imagine my delight when I heard that Brett would do lessons over skype, and I quickly arranged a meeting time with him. The logistics of the lesson went very well–despite being on opposite sides of the planet we could see one another's instruments and hear one another. I am impressed with his technique and tablature charts--the few tunes I had managed to teach myself so far each took more than a week to learn, despite being songs I already know to sing, because of the need to carefully work out which dot on the sheet music corresponded to which note and therefore which string I should hit. However, at my very first lesson with Brett he had me play a tune I had never heard before, and I could do so, straight away, thanks to his pattern-based methods."
– Reia Chmielowski, Luleå, Norbotten, Sweden
"Brett Ridgeway comes professional and timely. His instruments and music can either be the center of attention or played in the background while still lending a nice touch to any event. We recently used Brett at a corporate reception at the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center for a bbq themed reception with a country twist. He was the perfect final touch to all the fine details of the event. All guests were curious by his variety of instruments, in which the music, at all times seemed to flow with the reception. Thank you, Brett!"
– Christina Stanley
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112 Washington Place | Pittsburgh | PA 15219