By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – For a group of Northeast Mississippi musicians, there’s no such thing as too much dulcimer.
The sweet sounds of 28 dulcimer players, along with a couple of guitar-strumming friends, filled the Natchez Trace Visitor Center Saturday as the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association gathered for its monthly music-making.
The group’s youngest member, 13-year-old Anastasia Morris of north Pontotoc County, bounded up to a young friend during a break in the music which ranged from traditional dulcimer tunes, gospel, Americana and even modern country.
“What did you think?” Morris asked. “Wow! That’s a lot of dulcimers.” her friend replied.
The first Saturday of each month, the dulcimer players gather from around the region to make music together at the visitors center.
“The great thing about the North Mississippi Dulcimer Association is not only that they provide music – which is wonderful – they’ll also take the time to teach someone how to play,” said Natchez Trace Parkway Ranger Amy Genke.
The dulcimer is an accessible instrument, said Pontotoc Ridge Dulcimer Club member Donna Mooney, who has been playing since 2004.
“I can play even if I can’t read a note,” Mooney said. Instead of traditional sheet music, dulcimer music uses a tablet format with each fret numbered. If the number is repeated, the player strums twice.
“In an hour, you can learn a song,” Mooney said.
When the group finished at the Natchez Trace, they headed over to the Traceway Retirement Community campus and played another two hours at Cedars and Mitchell Center.
“We’ve got music in here for about 400 tunes,” said Collinwood, Tenn., dulcimer player Jack Brewer, the informal MC for the group’s performance. “Most of the people in here can play them all.”