Pages Navigation Menu

A Satellite of the North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association

General Guidelines


  • Have fun!
  • Play! Play! Play!
  • Be considerate of others
  • Listen to each other
  • Learn from each other
  • Come often
  • Group participation consensus rules


  • Just do what you can!  It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, advanced or professional, as long as you love the music and want to play and share with others.   Everyone can make a contribution.
  • Playing will be focused on the ability level(s) of the majority of those present at any given gathering.
  • Not everyone can play everything on a Satellite tune list – so don’t worry; just keep working on it at your own pace and for your enjoyment.
  • Breakout sessions for beginners can be helpful but are not always managed the same way in all Satellites at all times.  Beginners can enjoy participating in the main group with some side guidance and creative guidance from the group.
  • Some participants will make steady progress over time; others will not, but will remain serious about their dedication to the instrument and their playing Satellite.   It’s ALL OK!


  • Recommended tab source for all Satellite beginners:  NGFDA Tablature book.
  • Copyright protection and etiquette must always be a consideration when providing/distributing tab among Satellite members.
  • Obtain permission from a performer, instructor tab author to copy and distribute BEFORE you do it.
  • Utilize free tab offered on the INTERNET by various dulcimer artists/instructors and consider purchase of their tab books to support the artists!
  • Do not copy tab books.  Consider bulk purchase of a tab book from vendor or source.  Discount prices can often be negotiated.
  • Keep tab sheets in top loader (non glare) protective sheets in a 3 ring notebook and bring it to every meeting.
  • Tab is a “guide” a kind of “road map” to playing a tune. There is melody line – and the rest is accompaniment. Make the music (the tab) your own. Study it. Learn it if you are beginning. Change it to fit you.
  • Basic Tabs from different sources will vary but can be played together if it’s for the same tune, in the same key and time signature!  The variations can be complementary.   The differences can often be easily adjusted.  Try it before shouting “that note is not on my paper!”
  • Add to the group list by bringing copies of your favorite tab to share.
  • If you have a specific tune you want to learn, ask for it or bring the tab in for distribution.
  • You don’t have to know, like, or be able to play everything on a playing list.  These are t tunes that have accumulated – ones that we will keep working on so that they can become familiar fun jam tunes.   You may start out air playing a tune, then go to just the melody string, and then add chords, etc.  If you get tired of a tune, try working on the harmony or some new embellishments and add them to the group play mix.


(Also see the JAM ETEQUETTE menu)

  • One of the best and most pleasurable ways of improving your playing is to participate in jam sessions; big ones, little ones, organized, and informal.  It is an exercise in sharing, give and take, and cooperation.
  • The intent of a jam is never to overwhelm a beginner, but it can happen.  It is the responsibility of both the leadership, group at large, and the individual feeling overwhelmed to correct or adjust to the situation.  It is the responsibility of every player to be familiar with basic jam etiquette.


  • Bring a recording device to Satellite sessions to capture new tunes you intend to work on at home.  Ask someone to play the tune (or difficult segments) slowly, moderately, then up to speed.
  • Be kind to your volunteer Satellite leader(s); contribute to Satellite operations when and where you can.  Take your turn if you are able.
  • Maintain NGFDA annual membership.