Dulcimer

Heidi plays mountain dulcimer in every performance and is known around the US for her playing and teaching. She loves to take the dulcimer to new audiences as well as try out all sorts of new music, using the dulcimer for songwriting, song accompaniment and instrumental tunes. She's played her dulcimer onstage for audiences from 6 to 6000 -- including mainstage appearances at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, appearing with Nanci Griffith at Seattle's Opera House, opening for Richie Havens at Northwest Folklife, playing solo dulcimer at Seattle's Benaroya Symphony Hall on Christmas Eve, and performing on the live performance show Mountain Stage on National Public Radio.

Heidi & BobTeaching lessons and workshops in Seattle in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, she often gave workshops at folk festivals or when touring in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and British Columbia. Living in New Jersey and later in West Virginia from 2000-2012, she was invited to teach at music festivals and dulcimer club gatherings from New England to Florida to Missouri. The Northeast Dulcimer Symposium, Great River Road Festival, Gebhardt Woods Dulcimer Festival, Kentucky Music Week, Vermont Dulcimer Daze, Allegheny Echoes, South Florida Folk Festival, Augusta Spring Dulcimer Week, and Dulcimer Chautauqua on the Wabash are just a few places where she has taught and performed.

Heidi first encountered the dulcimer in 1978 in Hope, New Jersey, when her housemate Bill Vanheteren tried his hand at making some instruments. Her old singing buddy and college roommate Gail Finnie bought one and learned to play from Lorraine Lee. It wasn't long till Heidi was smitten with its range and sound and decided to get one herself. Yet long before seeing an American dulcimer, the delicate sound was familiar from growing up with a German uncle who played Erzgebirge folk tunes every night on a zither. Hearing music played every evening for fun was a great alternative to nightly TV. It was natural to be attracted years later to the sound of the dulcimer, which is actually an American fretted zither. Finding the dulcimer brought her full circle as she discovered its roots in the German Hummel, or Scheitholt, the original instrument in the German zither family.

Gail FinnieGail Finnie helped Heidi buy her first instrument -- a Jay Leibowitz cherry dulcimer made in the 70's. But with no teachers in Seattle, she turned to percussionist and dulcimer player Mark Filler for some beginning guidance and then went on to teach herself. She started out in DAD tuning and felt most at home singing with four equidistant strings as accompaniment. Upon discovering the Seattle contradance scene, old-time tunes kept her up late at night, and before long she went back to three-string playing for traditional fiddle tunes. By the late 80's she acquired a Sunhearth dulcimer which she still uses in performance, especially for songs and fingerpicking with four equidistant strings. A number of other dulcimers came to live with her after she left her Leibowitz dulcimer with musical relatives in East Germany. It was love at first hearing with a red maple instrument made by Bill Van Dusen of Hale, Missouri -- that became her main choice for three-string old-timey tunes. These days, she also performs with a dulcimer made by Los Angeles luthier Rick Probst that she uses as a baritone, and a sweet cherry/cedar instrument made by the late Pete Belcher of Princeton, West Virginia. These dulcimers and more can be heard on the CD, Dulcimer Moon.

Heidi's dulcimer music reflects both the East and West Coast influences of Lorraine Lee Hammond, Leo Kretzner, Joni Mitchell, and Robert Force, combined with her early exposure to German folk music and her mother's 1920's and '30's piano tunes. Heidi likes to use syncopated rhythms, delicate fingerpicking and uncommon chords to create innovative arrangements. Her eclectic tastes combine many genres of music -- from contemporary songwriting to West Virginia fiddle tunes to European folk tunes and early classical music.
Heidi encourages players to follow their own Muse and explore a wide range of dulcimer music for their own enjoyment.

Now living in Enterprise, Oregon with her partner Bob Webb, Heidi and Bob teach children and adults. They host the annual adult music camp Dulcimer Week in the Wallowas, held in early July at Wallowa Lake with nationally known instructors. They give workshops in schools and community settings and mentor dulcimer groups across the Inland Northwest, and have started a new dulcimer club for the Wallowa Valley based in Enterprise.


Heidi has taught and performed at:

Dulcimer Festivals, Folk Festivals & Music Camps

Allegheny Echoes, WV
Augusta Heritage Spring Dulcimer Week, WV
Autumn Dulcimer Daye, MA
Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering, CA
Buckeye Dulcimer Festival, OH
Cambridge Spring Dulcimer Festival, MA
Cedar Lakes Conference Center, WV
Central Florida Autoharp & Dulcimer Festival, FL
Chestnut Ridge Dulcimer Festival, PA
Clayville Music & Storytelling Festival, IL
Cranberry Dulcimer Gathering, NY
Dulci-More Festival, OH
Dulcimer Chautauqua on the Wabash, IN
Dulcimer Week in the Wallowas, OR
Flower Carol Dulcimer Festival, MA
Fort New Salem Dulcimer Weekend, WV
French Creek Dulcimer Gathering, PA
Gebhardt Woods Dulcimer Festival, IL
Great River Road Dulcimer Festival, IL
Harmony Harvest Dulcimer Festival, OH
Harvest Festival of Dulcimers, CA
Heritage Dulcimer Camp, MO
Housatonic Dulcimer Celebration, CT
Kentucky Music Week, KY
Kentucky Music Winter Weekend, KY
Kindred Gathering, WA-OR
Knoxville Dulcimer Retreat, TN
Melodies and Musings, Lake Guntersville, AL
Mountain Dulcimer Music Festival, NY
Northeast Dulcimer Symposium, NY
Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle, WA
Ohio Valley Gathering, KY
Pickin’ Porch, Townsend, TN
Pocono Winter Dulcimer Fest, PA
Shady Grove Dulcimer Camp, OH
South Florida Folk Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Tumbleweed Music Festival, Richland, WA
Vandalia Gathering, WV
Vermont Dulcimer Daze, VT
Wallowa Fiddle Tunes Camp, OR
Winter Festival of Acoustic Music, TX
Yellowbanks Dulcimer Festival, KY

Workshops

Baker City School District, Baker City, OR
Boardman Schools, Boardman, OR
Brazos Friends of Dulcimer, Weatherford, TX
Canyon City School, John Day, OR
Clearwater Community Concert Association, Orofino, ID
CREATE Place, Newport, WA
DAA Dulcimer Club, Albany, NY
Davy Crockett Dulcimer Society, Crockett, TX
DF#A Dulcimer Club, Winsted, CT
Dusty Strings Dulcimer Co., Seattle, WA
Groups in Hermiston & La Grande, OR; Lewiston & Boise, ID
Hills of Kentucky Dulcimer Club, Alexandria, KY
Louisville Dulcimer Club, KY
National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City, OR
Oregon Folklife Festival, Corvallis, OR
Palouse Folklore Society, Moscow, ID
Pocono Dulcimer Club, Stroudsburg, PA
Players’ group, Russia, OH
San Diego Dulcimer Heritage, CA
Three Rivers Folklife Society, Kennewick, WA
Three Rivers Dulcimer Society, Richland, WA