Biographical Notes: Merv Rowley
Merv was raised and educated in north-central Ohio, and
graduated from Case Institute of Technology (Cleveland)
with both a BS and MS in Engineering. He served as a
reserve officer in the Navy during WWII, followed by 40
years of industrial experience in research and foundry
engineering. Merv took early retirement in 1982, then
spending 16 more years as a dulcimer builder (Roselle
Dulcimers) in the suburbs of Chicago. His instruments
are found coast-to-coast.
Discovery of the mountain dulcimer was by accident,
during a business trip to Cincinnati in 1976. He bought
and built a kit by Bill Walker that year. but didn't
take time to learn to play it until 1979. Merv's
education in music has come from self-study, built upon
early beginnings with keyboard instruments. Since 1995,
he has devoted attention to chromatic dulcimers and
music arrangements. He discovered the 1-3-5 tuning in
2002 upon hearing a tape with a piece by Connie Allen, played in that
arrangement. The music was chromatic, and Merv's
interests were suddenly redirected to finding and
arranging public domain music for the diatonic dulcimer.
To date, he has written three books of 1-3-5 tablature
in order to direct attention to this tuning.
His other activities besides building and arranging have
included private teaching, workshops, pro bono
performances at nursing homes, schools and heritage
festivals. In his spare time, he served twelve years
as a director of the Homeowner's Association in the
community where he lived. He has now retired to Florida,
but remains actively involved in the DF#A website
Ruth grew up in Augusta ME, and
graduated from the Maine Medical Center School of
Nursing in 1962. She has lived in Northern VA for the
past 30+ years. She worked as an O.R. nurse at a local
hospital until her retirement. This area, known as the Greater Washington
Metropolitan Area, is a "hotbed" of dulcimer activity
and wonderful folk music. Ruth "met" her first dulcimer
at a performance of the local Mill Run Dulcimer Band in
1983, a group which is still very active today. Its
leader, Keith Young (also the luthier who made her first
dulcimer) is responsible for organizing more than 30 years
of spring and fall classes for mountain dulcimer,
hammered dulcimer and guitar, held at a local
church. These classes consist of a 7-week series of
lessons, at all levels, ending with a "recital" for
friends and family. Ruth credits much of her playing
skill and musical knowledge to the teachings of Neal
Walters in the "Advanced Repertoire" class. He
introduced her to many different types of music, various
playing techniques, different tunings, and even working
out tablature for the mountain dulcimer. After more than
of attending those classes (and making lifelong friends)
Ruth is now teaching some of these dulcimer classes
She has recently added the Bowed
Dulcimer to her collection. She is gradually getting
acquainted with this new instrument, a petite
"Grand Pardessus" model with a big voice, built by Ken Bloom.
Bowing it in the upright position, like a cello, means
learning a whole new set of skills.
Ruth was a member of the "Circle of Friends" band in CT
which produced a dulcimer CD by that name, and was
a member of "Noteable Strings" near her home,
5 folk musicians who played occasionally at retirement and
nursing homes, Art Guild shows and other such local
events. For many years, she was editor/music editor of the DF#A
(Dulcimer F#olk Assoc. of CT) monthly newsletter for
many years, creating most of their tablature using the
Finale and TablEdit programs -- either for her own arrangements, or
transcribing the arrangements of others. She has also
been on the staff of DPN (Dulcimer Players News) as
Her current interest in the DF#A tuning has been fueled
by an ongoing exchange of information, knowledge and
tablature with Merv Rowley for the past several years.
She maintains this website, and participates in
arranging tunes for monthly publication.
Biographical Notes: Elizabeth DiPietri
Elizabeth DiPietri,grew up in several places –
West Chester, PA – Washington, IL – Wheaton, IL –
Memphis, TN. Music has always been part of her life,
starting with the Tonette in 1st grade. She has also
studied piano, trombone, violin, and voice. Along the
way she learned some about recorders, bagpipes (very
little there!), tenor drum in a bagpipe band, fife, tin
whistle, bodhran, guitar, and a few others.
After graduating from Covenant College with a BA in
English, Elizabeth went to work in the library in
Memphis. She worked there for several years before
moving to St Louis where she met and married a handsome
engineer, Joe. It was around then that she first heard
dulcimers. They bought a kit (think it was a McSpadden)
and she built one. However, when that one was traded for
an upgraded thermostat, she didn’t have the heart to try
again. Instead she spent her time working at furniture
finishing, beading, keeping house and raising and
homeschooling 2 active sons.
Christmas 1999, was when Joe made up for the thermostat
fiasco. He gave her a beautiful Gila Mountain dulcimer
and music again became a big part of their lives.
Although they don’t get to many Festivals (only those
with fishing nearby!) Elizabeth is now teaching dulcimer
– both privately and in the classroom of a local
community college. With both sons grown and on their own
(one is a Marine) there is more time to devote to music.
Interest in the 1-3-5 tuning began when Merv sent out a
challenge to write music for E. A. Poe’s poem, “El Dorado”.
“That time I chickened out and went with D-A-d tuning. But it got
me thinking.” Since then she has been exploring this
tuning and has begun using it in arrangements and
Notes: Gail West
is very happily
married and spoiled by her husband, Kerry. They were
introduced to the mountain dulcimer world by hearing the
music of Nancy Blough of Shipshewana, Indiana at a
benefit tea that Gail had helped organize. The rest, as
they say, is history.
Gail took lessons from Nancy and performed with her for
two years. In 2000, she and Kerry went to the Dulcimer
Chautauqua on the Wabash Festival in New Harmony,
Indiana. They have been Festivaloholics since then.
Fortunately, at a festival several months later, Gail
met Susan Trump – who didn’t have brochures. She made
some up for Susan, and GMW MarketingPLUS was born. Her
“small”, home-based service now includes design and
production for all marketing needs: website design and
timely updates; brochures; flyers; mailings;
newsletters; business cards; organization, etc.
Gail works as an Office Manager for a small
architectural firm. She has one son, Kenny who blessed
her with a grandson born in May, 2004. She is finding
her grandson to be a source of great joy.
Gail currently enjoys the bowed dulcimer. She plays a
double-bass bowed dulcimer that was built by Ken Bloom.
She especially enjoys playing it within the mountain
After meeting Merv at the Gebhard Woods
Dulcimer Event in 2004, she began exploring the 1-3-5
tuning and discussed with him the possibility of doing
a web site dedicated to the 1-3-5 tuning. She believed
she could learn a lot more about the tuning that way.
She also believed the 1-3-5 arrangements and knowledge
should be shared with the dulcimer community. Gail has
enjoyed her experience with the 1-3-5 gang and is
excited to be a part of it.