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Folkcraft Player - Nori Gill

gill pic 1I was introduced to dulcimer by a friend in 2009. I accompanied him to Mountain View Arkansas where we spent 4 days learning to play dulcimer from Margaret Wright. My musical interest had started years before with accordion lessons when I was only 8 years old. I had progressed through recorder, simple piano, classical guitar, and electronic autoharp all on my own and primarily self-taught after that. I always played just for my own enjoyment. During my youth and young adulthood I also wrote poetry. It was an emotional outlet which later grew into a few attempts at song writing.

Then in 1994 I suffered a stroke. After my stroke I lost use of the fingers on my right hand for anything intricate like typing or playing music. So I had given up playing music and even sold my guitar. But by 2009 I had started missing the self soothing I always got from playing music. So I had explored a few ways to get music playing back into my life. A few years earlier I had tried several instruments I thought I might be able to play one handed (French Horn, Harmonica, Tabor Pipe), but nothing had ever spoken to me. In 2009, as I prepared to go to Mountain View, I discovered a special pick called a "Zero Gravity Guitar Pick" that I thought might be my answer. That didn't work well enough for me, but it became my inspiration to try and find a way that would. So after trying several different ideas, I eventually perfected something that worked well enough. 
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After my friend and I returned from Mountain View, we started practicing together weekly and eventually joined a group in our local area. That group led me to another group I played with in Civil War Era costumes. Eventually I got brave enough to perform in public with one or two other players in a few settings. 

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 During the early years of my playing after 2009, I learned of the Folkcraft factory not far from me. So a few of us started driving from Toledo, OH to Woodburn, IN for the Second Saturday jams and workshops. Then in 2014 I felt I had gotten good enough as a player that I wanted to replace my older E-Bay dulcimer with a better and newer one. I decided to have Richard Ash make me a Folkcraft custom dulcimer. After he asked me several questions, we decided on African Purple Heart Wood for the back, sides, and fretboard and a lighter wood for the top. I do not remember what that lighter wood was. I had the dulcimer made with a 27.5" VSL, four strings that had the option of 4 equidistant or a double melody on a 3 string, and 1+, 6+, 8+, and 13+ frets. Then I waited. I finally picked up my new baby in September that year at the end of the Indiana Dulcimer Festival. It took a little while for me to get used to playing with the 1+ fret but now I can't imagine being without it. 

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I retired in 2015 and moved to the Orlando, Florida area. Since then I have acquired two additional instruments from other builders: a chromatic baritone and a 15/16 hammered dulcimer. I also have a one-handed Native American Flute I got some years ago. So today it is becoming a challenge deciding which of my 4 instruments to practice when or how to stay skillful and growing on all 4. But my Folkcraft Custom remains the instrument I play the most easily and the one where I have my greatest skill. I will never forget the joy of its acquisition as my first custom instrument. 
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