The Grand Old Dulcimer Club is special. One of the first mountain dulcimer clubs in Nashville, it possesses some unique characteristics and has a very long and treasured history. To understand its history, you must return in time twenty some years ago.
In 1998, a group of mountain dulcimer students got together occasionally to jam in a Nashville church on an informal basis. Their instructor was musician/composer and Vanderbilt professor David Schnaufer, about whom you can read more under the Homepage “David Schnaufer” link.
By January 1999, the small group had begun to meet regularly on the third Sunday of the month; they referred to the gathering as "Dulcimer Sunday." By June of 2000, after meeting for a year and a half, the group put on a first for Nashville: The Grand Old Dulcimer Day, a festival that celebrated all things dulcimer held at Two Rivers Mansion. With the goal of spreading the music of the mountain dulcimer, over thirty members lent their enthusiastic support to stage and perform at the festival. The Club took off as many new members joined and performed in and around Nashville. The Club changed practice locations from time to time, but the format we follow today has its origins in the past: members meet on the third Sunday of the month for two and a half hours, and perform by invitation for the public. Most of our members belong to other local clubs they attend weekly in the greater Nashville area. Members drive into Nashville from as far away as Bowling Green in South Central Kentucky.
Click on the Gallery photos above to see some 2017 moments from GODC sponsored workshops. This year we had visits from Bing Futch and Sue Carpenter.
Despite the tragic passing of David Schnaufer in 2006, the Club continued thanks to the efforts of his students and other Club members dedicated to keeping it alive. The GODC meetings have taken a variety of formats over the years, but the democratic nature of the Club has remained the same with a focus on fun, skill development, and a welcoming atmosphere. It has been blessed with members who stepped up to the leadership plate when needed. The Club might have ended in 2005 if it weren’t for the leadership of Sandy Conatser, who was followed by Judy Beier, Ethan Chastain, Judy Pass and Marvin Farris. We currently have rotating leaders on a voluntary basis. We still treasure the legacy that David Schnaufer left for us to pass on to others, and hope you will consider joining us no matter your skill level or instrument. If you love Americana music with an occasional world music song, we’d love to have you as part of the Grand Old Dulcimer Club tradition.
Some of David’s original students have been playing with the GODC for close to twenty years now.
The Club is also fortunate to have regular visits from Stephen Seifert, one of David's students. Stephen became a virtuoso dulcimer player and master teacher in his own right as well as a close collaborator of David's.
Since David's death, Stephen has been the Club's patchcord to the best dulcimer playing, teaching and performing. Despite his busy schedule and travels around the world, Stephen continues the tradition of teaching us how to become more skilled and joyful players whenever he is able. Stephen, along with those who were originally David Schnaufer's students, share their passion for the music and the mountain dulcimer with new members who are drawn to the fold. We play traditional songs and, thanks to our veterans, we learn to play the musical treasures that David Schnaufer composed, along with original tunes and arrangements from current and previous members.
In the early days, the students never turned away a stringed instrument, so it was common to hear guitars, bass and other instruments playing along with the dulcimers. If you attend our monthly practice-and-jams nowadays, you’ll see we continue that tradition: some of our members play other instruments such as guitar, fiddle, flute, penny whistle, banjammer, bass, or psaltry. We welcome new members who play any instrument that contributes to the sound of old-time music and who are devoted to growing their skills at playing with others. The only prerequisite to belong is to share our love for mountain dulcimer music. We welcome players young and old, with skill levels from beginning to advanced.
In addition to our monthly meetings, volunteers from our group regularly play by invitation in and around the Nashville area and host internationally recognized music teachers for workshops from time to time. Most of our members also play in smaller groups in Tennessee and Kentucky, but reunite once a month in the Grand Old Dulcimer Club.
There are many mountain dulcimer clubs throughout the United States, but Nashville has the grandest, Grand Old Dulcimer Club. For more information, go to our Contact page and send us a note. We’ll respond back to you within 24 hours.
Click the images below to get a peek at players past and present.