About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Courting Dulcimer

With Valentine's Day around the corner, let's look at music's role in the courting game.

I mentioned George & Gerry Armstrong in a recent blog about music; they are the folks who introduced me to the courting dulcimer (George called it a "two-cimer," but I think that was his made-up name for it). The courting dulcimer was a way to allow a couple to get close . . . but not too close. And it also gave them a chance to share, show their talents, and gaze into each others eyes while their knees just slightly touched (oh, my!).

Here is a photo of Joe and Paula McHugh using a courting dulcimer:

Click that photo to go to their website where they display a number of Appalachian instruments and explain the use of music in previous generations.

Perhaps your Valentine's Day will not be spent with an instrument in your joint laps, but what a neat way to get to know your paramour . . . unless, of course, he or she had bad breath! If you are intrigued and want to purchase one for yourself (or a kit so you can make your own), click on the photos above of the instruments to go to sites on the Internet for just such a purpose.

Happy Valentine's Day (or, as a friend of mine calls it, "Single's Awareness Day").


  1. Love this post. It is a great little instrument to play with!

  2. As a MUSIC LOVER, especially old time and bluegrass, I enjoyed this post about the old lap dulcimer. If I had just seen the instrument, I would have decided that it was tuned in two different ranges. Especially since one person would be playing left-handed (on the top one)the way it is strung. The second one is made for two right handed people to play, assuming they are sitting apposite each other as in the photograph.

    1. Both of these are for right handed people if you check. The pick hollows are on opposite ends for both instruments. I noticed because I am looking for an instrument that would accommodate a right handed and a left handed person.


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