How did you get started?

Interested in learning how to play the zither and wondering where to start? Use this section to post your questions.

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DonO
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:46 pm

Re: How did you get started?

Post by DonO » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:21 pm

I got my start with the Zither by inheriting a very handsome Alto Zither (Key of F) that was played by my paternal grandmother's cousin; he played in a zither band in Astoria (NY). Through an internet search, I found the Long Island Zither Ensemble in Oyster Bay, NY and they warmly welcomed me to join them and to learn some basic techniques of zither playing in a group setting. From reading this forum, I have picked up some very nice Methods books that are resourceful. Reading music, sight-reading in a variety of clefs and performance are no problem for me as I've been playing piano for many years, and am also a horn player in a brass quintet. So the zither has presented intriguing and unique challenges; it is the first stringed instrument I've played. I also learn by watching a lot of YouTube videos of several zither players I think are really good, to glean tips on their playing styles. I have picked up a second zither, a handsome Schwarzer (Key of C), from eBay. I have had both zithers refurbished by Sasha Radicic and despite their respective ages of 100+ years, they each look like new and sound great! They are a pleasure to play. I have a lot of things going on, and I am one of those players who gets inspired periodically and play/practice consistently and then let them languish for several weeks. And yes, I do make some progress with this routine despite what others may say. If at all possible, one should try and look for a group to play with, or seek another person to play with. You may need to travel a distance. When I played with the Long Island group, it was a 120 mile round trip once a week, in the thick of New York City/Connecticut traffic. But it was fun playing.

NutmegCT
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:31 pm
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by NutmegCT » Wed May 02, 2018 8:33 am

Don - thanks for the details.

Are you able to play new music without watching your fingers? In other words, a piece you've never played before, can you look at the printed music and "just by feel" find the RH and LH strings?

LH melody notes aren't a problem for me. But finding RH accompaniment strings - that's almost overwhelming unless the chord stays the same.

That's where I think I'm hitting a roadblock. If I'm supposed to be able to play something without checking where my fingers are, then I'm really stuck in a rut. Whenever the accompaniment changes, for example from C chord to D chord, I have to look to be sure the fingers are on the correct strings. The RH doesn't move as a "unit". Fingers on the C chord are fine as long as repeated; chord changes to D, and I can't find the D strings without looking. I can "guess" - but usually don't hit the right string combination.

Thanks.
Tom M.

jbug_zither
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:10 am

Re: How did you get started?

Post by jbug_zither » Mon May 28, 2018 8:00 pm

I started playing zither after the 2011 North American Zither Gathering in Davenport, Iowa. I had my mother-in-law's zither (she grew up in Austria) - I never had the pleasure of having any instruction from her before she past away. I did a search online, contacting Janet Stessel who put me in contact with Anne Prinz. I sent her my zither to re-string and clean with an invitation to come to the workshop at the gathering. Unfortunately, due to to the weather, I did not get the zither back until just before the workshop. Even though I had played violin back in grade school/junior high, I was completely lost, but I did have a lesson with Tomy Temerson (I had my second lesson from him at this year's gathering).

I have been on and off with my practicing as I did not have anyone to play with nor did I have an instructor (in Florida). I have several books, and the one from Ilse Harris has a CD with it to help me. In the last year, Anne contacted me about another beginner in Florida, and we connected at this years Zither Gathering in Washington, Missouri. We are going to work on getting together to play. I have also told the Missouri group that I plan to visit them again for a practice. For the past 2 1/2 months, I have been playing daily, which has helped greatly. Practice, practice, and more practice is the only way to learn the strings and finger positions. Also, it is the only way to build up the necessary finger-tip calluses!

I now have two zithers... my second one is a Schwarzer that we found locally after coming back from Missouri. It has spent the last three weeks at Sasha Radicic's place getting some much needed restoration. He said it was in great shape and I am excited to get it back this week!

June

NutmegCT
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:31 pm
Contact:

Re: How did you get started?

Post by NutmegCT » Mon May 28, 2018 8:07 pm

June - thanks for that detailed background. We all seem to come to zither using slightly different paths.

I think it would be a great help to us to know where you are technically, and how you've progressed since your 2011 "first encounter".

What music and exercises are you working on now?

Thanks.
Tom M.

jbug_zither
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:10 am

Re: How did you get started?

Post by jbug_zither » Mon May 28, 2018 9:57 pm

Hi Tom -

Technically, I can read music (thanks to years of playing violin). Since my first 'encounter', it has been slow. At present, I am working in the following books since the first of May:

Von Anfang an Band 1, von Günter Andrich

Die Zither in der Volksmusic, Manfred Schuler

The first book is geared towards children and starts in the third position. I tried playing in the third position for about four weeks before the gathering, but my brain has not gotten wrapped around that yet! I can see where the different positions would be beneficial for different songs! I play in the first position, and the book has helped me get my fingering more fluent.

The second book starts out with the accompaniment strings first instead of the fretboard (interesting). It has been good for learning the strings! It then works into playing the fret board and the open strings together.

June

Kennethpauls
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:45 pm

Re: How did you get started?

Post by Kennethpauls » Wed May 30, 2018 9:02 pm

When I graduated college I went with a buddy of my through Europe for the first time. I happened to see a zither in a music store in Munich. Anything so unusual with 42 strings I just had to buy. When I returned home I was lucky enough to find a wonderful teacher, King Keyes, and finally decided to take some lessons.He taught me for a year; and then, being restless or too busy with work, I stopped playing for three decades. King was such a talented instructor that I could still recall all his teachings when I decided to start playing again. I opened the Darr book to page one, with all of King's notes inside, and relearned how to play.
I love the zither, and all its variations. It is annoyingly difficult, yet so full of potential that it is my daily quest to both improve, and to enjoy what I've accomplished.

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