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“Hands On” Dulcimer Workshops at Garfield Farm

CAMPTON HILLS, IL — Garfield Farm Museum will host two mountain and hammered dulcimer workshops in April. The April 6th workshop will serve as a basic introduction while the April 13th workshop will cover more advanced techniques. Musician Dona Benkert will provide the instruction on these unique stringed instruments. She will have some instruments on hand for individuals who do not have their own. During each workshop, there will be a 1 pm mountain dulcimer session and a 3 pm hammered dulcimer session. There is a $25 donation per session. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting the museum at (630) 584-8485 or

    The Mountain Dulcimer is often considered the only real American instrument. On April 6th, visitors can discover the origins and evolution of this traditional, easy to play instrument. After learning the basic right and left hand techniques, participants will try playing some easy traditional melodies. No experience is needed. The April 13th session is for individuals that can play a basic melody. They will learn full richer sounding chords, strum variations, and more right and left hand techniques.

    The Hammered Dulcimer is among the most beautiful sounding and oldest instruments.  The fore-runner to the piano, it is a trapezoidal instrument played by striking the strings with hammers, much like climbing inside a piano to play.  On April 6th, visitors will explore its history and learn basic playing techniques and a few easy tunes. No experience is needed. The April 13th session is for individuals that have played some before. They will learn easy melodies, focusing on tune and chord structure, and then add embellishments that will make their music more exciting.

    Dona is the owner of Folk-Lore Center music school in Warrenville and founder of Warrenville Folk Music Society. She is an accomplished hammered and mountain dulcimer artist and winner of the 2003 Studs Terkel Humanities Award.  She is on staff at the renowned Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago as well as DuPage Girl Scouts as a music and dance badge program facilitator. Her arrangements are rooted in the traditions of the British Isles, New England Country dance music, Appalachian fiddle tunes, and the music Irish harpist Turloch O’Carolan.  She enjoys sharing her love for traditional music and helping to preserve our musical heritage.

    Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL, off of Illinois Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. Garfield Farm is a former historically intact 1840s prairie farmstead and teamster inn that is being restored as a working 1840s farm.

For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.

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