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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NutmegCT
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How did you get started?

Post by NutmegCT » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:41 pm

Attention all members!

How - and when - did you get started playing the zither?

Parent? Friend? Club? Zither group? Method book? Zitherist/teacher?

How many years have you been playing?

Especially interesting would be to learn how experienced zitherists were first introduced to the zither, and how you learned the basics. Did someone help you get started? or did you start with only a method book?

Thanks.
Tom M.

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by NutmegCT » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:37 am

Anyone?

Andy
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by Andy » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:17 am

I suppose I’ll start, but I still feel very much like a new kid in class. 


Back in November on a trip home to visit my family, my Grandmother gave me her fathers zither. He got it back in Germany when he was young and played all his life. I had heard them talk about it many times growing up, but had never actually seen the thing before then.

As soon as I got home to Texas I began searching for a shop to have it cleaned up, ordered strings, and began studying. I read everything I could on this site and watched every YouTube video I could on the subject. I wanted to be able to hit the ground running when the luthier was finished with his work. Finally at the beginning of February the luthier gave me a call back and I was off. Been practicing at least an hour every day since then.

For the most part I have been working pretty exclusively out of a very old copy of “Volkstümliche Zitherschule” by Adalbert Albrecht, with the recent addition of “Scales for Zither” by King Keyes.

- Andy

Musicmaker
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by Musicmaker » Wed Apr 25, 2018 6:44 pm

If I may be included in this although my Zither has not arrived yet.
Firstly I have to rely on Tutors in book form,You Tubes and You guys!
If this makes any sense at all...I am playing the Zither already!
I am playing mentally.
I am studying the books and left hand positions for playing the scale of C and wher to put my fingers.
Later, to accompany this i would use the chords C F and G.
I have studied the cord layout and it strikes me as being similar to an accordian.
I play the accordian and violin amongst others.
So I see the finger board as a violin upside down, A La bass strings on the right.
I am mentally preparing myself for actually doing it.
Before i start on a new instrument or piece i always mentally prepare for it which I find important.
This is just my take on it so please count me in.
Pete

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Re: How did you get started?

Post by NutmegCT » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:48 pm

Thanks Andy and Pete. It's good for us beginners to see how we're climbing the learning curves together.

Now we need to hear from experienced zitherists. After trying to learn for almost three years, I'm wondering if zitherists who achieve some success actually start by studying with another zitherists. We can all analyze and appreciate the method books, but it sure seems the beginner needs at least a few experienced zitherists to check progress - and provide encouragement - along the way. Just hearing "keep practicing!" without specific suggestions, or worse, hearing nothing at all, can get pretty discouraging.

So - do we have experienced zitherists here who can tell us how they got started?

Thanks!
Tom M.

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Dave
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by Dave » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:46 pm

My introduction to the zither was through my Bavarian Oma. I’m happy to say that I was fortunate enough to have a few lessons from her before she passed.

http://www.zither.us/?q=zitherist.ellen.george

After, I studied with Jane Curtis for ~ 10 years. I’ve had a teacher for almost as long as I’ve been playing and, believe me, I know that makes me lucky. There are so few experienced zither players here in the US, it’s important for experienced players to convey what has been learned to those just getting started.

“Keep practicing!” is sound advice! I’ve heard of folks trying to learn who pick up the instrument for a day or two, put it down for a few weeks, and revisit it. How can any meaningful progress be made by doing that? The zither is not a forgiving instrument. One must make the effort to try and practice each day, and learn to appreciate the small victories. In fact, my Oma gave me a print of Uncle Sam pointing his finger, with the caption, "I Want You....To Practice Every Day." :-D I have it hanging in my space at work. I try to fit in an hour each evening.

When I’m practicing, more often that not, I will have played through a Freundorfer piece or two. Early music, such as pieces composed for lutes, also work wonderfully for the zither. Try “Lesson for Two Lutes” at Franz Berwein’s site and see what you think:

http://www.paleloterz.de/duette.htm

Anyone who picks up the instrument in semi-isolation is to be commended! It was my hope that a forum such as this would help to address some of those gaps to learning, and I agree wholeheartedly that we need more experienced players to chime in.

Hope this is helpful,

Dave
We do not take humor seriously enough. —Konrad Lorenz

kenbloom
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by kenbloom » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:54 am

Hi all,

I started on the zither as the solution to a problem. I was working on a lot of fingerpicking guitar pieces with a lot of moving voices and was finding the fingerins for the left hand quite cumbersome. I kept thinking that there must be an easier way. I came across the Darr book and saw how the music was written and that piqued my curiosity. Shortly thereafter we moved to SanFrancisco and the shop that I was teaching in had seveeral zithers that no one was paying any attention to. With my guitar background I thought " how hard could this be?". And so I started out. The tuning that they gave in the Darr book was not the common one and I broke quite few strings until I caught on. Between what was in the book and what I could figure out on my own I began to play some simple pieces as well as come up with a few of my own ideas. That was back in 1972. After we moved to Chicago, I found a few people who could show me some things like Rudi Wacek and Ludwig Karlbrunner, both great players and wondeerful people. My approach is not typical buyt I do enjoy it.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.org

NutmegCT
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by NutmegCT » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:18 am

Hi Ken - thanks for the details.

Question for you: Can you look at a piece of new zither music and pretty much play it by just looking at the music? Or do you have to carefully find where the right hand fingers go for each of the right hand accompaniment notes?

Thanks.
Tom M.

kenbloom
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by kenbloom » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:21 am

HI Tom,
After all these years I can just look at the music. That being said I have spent my whole life playing so music reading is second nature to me. Because I play a perfekta zither I sometimes take some bass notes and put them down an octave, like the F bass string. I am not a great sight reader on the zither and I mostly play my own arrangements of tunes. I came to the zither in a different way than most people. Most of the music I play is American and my approach to playing the zither is to make believe it's two guitar players playing together.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.org

Rudy Mueller
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Re: How did you get started?

Post by Rudy Mueller » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:04 am

After repeating, repeating, and repeating the introductory exercises in Darr and Kabatek, I learned to "sight read" on the griffbrett side and simple accompaniment, but have to look when trying to play melody on the open strings. Now I have the other problem...I need the notes to play most pieces.

When beginning the learning process, I hand wrote most non-lesson melodies, on a scale large enough to see clearly at a distance. Now I use the Forte notation software (older rev 8, ~US$ 50) which has a large print (120%) option, printing the melody line, ad lib the accompaniment. My goal in learning the zither was to play the melodies sung with family as a youth. That goal has been reached, and further progress continues, albeit slowly.

Rudi

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