I decided to share some of the emails I personally
received and those I read on the Sweet Music Digest.
Merv is a kind gentleman who would never toot his own
horn, so I am doing it for him. Enjoy the toots;)
Sweet Music Digest after Gebhard Woods Festival, 2004:
On this date in history, Tue, 13 Jul 2004 at 08:28 Judy
>I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your class at
Gebhard Woods this past weekend. It was my first
festival, but not my last!>...
I too enjoyed getting to meet Merv in person (finally!)
this past weekend at the Gebhard Woods festival. My
biggest regret was that due to scheduling conflicts, I
was not able to sit in on his workshop. However, I asked
a friend of mine who attended to take copious notes, and
seen a copy of the handouts. They really go a LONG WAYS
towards helping to "unlock the mysteries" of the 1-3-5
tuning. As is true of most other tunings, there are
certain chord patterns/shapes that are "moveable" up and
down the fret board, and once you learn those, it is
easier to find the basic major, minor, and seventh
chords. But the real beauty and "elegance" of this
tuning is heard when you start exploring the shapes that
yield the diminished and augmented chords. Those, plus a
few others, provide the sounds that for the most part
are "missing" from a standard fretted dulcimer in the
1-5-5 or 1-5-8 tunings. The chart that Merv handed out
showing how to find those extra "color chords" is
invaluable to anyone wishing to explore arranging in
For those of you who were not able to attend Merv's
workshop this past weekend (and maybe especially for
those of you who were lucky enough to be able to
do so), just a reminder that Merv has generously posted
a couple more of his exquisite 1-3-5 arrangements at
There are arrangements for "April Showers" and "When
Irish Eyes Are Smiling" posted there. Check them out!
It's an eye-opening (actually EAR-opening) experience
when you start exploring the chord voicings possible out
Merv Rowley's class was great. Just ordered his last
book from Gary Sager.. He is so knowledgeable and nice.
I went to the class because I just had to put a face to
the name. I even got him to autograph my book!
Merv came over to our booth at Gebhard and introduced
himself. We had met about 7 years ago over at the Great
Plains festival. Merv is a very knowledgeable man
willing to share with others concerning dulcimers, music
and more. Nice to see you again Merv. I know John
Sackenheim enjoyed your meeting.
Review of Merv's books:
" . . . Got the book Saturday and it looks FANTASTC.
You've done a great job and I really like the
discussions included about the songs."
-- Riva Laughlin
"Your book is going to open a whole new world for most
of us. I've looked at songs like these many times and
wished that there were some way to play them on the
dulcimer. Now you have shown us the way!"
-- Walt Coddington
-- North Carolina
*** That is great, Gail... I LOVE the 1-3-5
tuning... just takes a little retraining of our
brains... but if I can do it, anyone can !
---Lynn Holberton (used with permission)
Review of John's book:
In the Volume 31, No. 2 (May 2005-July 2005) issue of
the dulcimer Players News Neal Walters wrote, "John has
published a wonderful book of gospel material arranged
for the mountain dulcimer using the 1-3-5 tuning. The
book is designed for beginning and intermediate players,
but advanced players will find it fascinating as well.
This book is an introduction to 1-3-5 tuning.
There are familiar tunes to get you started plus a
number of less familiar tunes to enjoy as well."