2014 East TN Bowed Psaltery Gathering

Thursday Oct. 30

Building open at 10am today.

This is move in and set-up day for me.  The building will be open and available for jamming and getting acquainted.  Very informal day, but a good chance to kick off the Gathering.  When I have everything moved in and set up, I’ll be ready for jamming. 

Just remember, when you need help with anything, or have questions, there are lots of experienced players that can help.  I know there will be lots of beginners at this years Gathering. 

This year we are going to try something a little different from past years.  The smaller room will be where the “Anything Goes” jam will take place.  This is usually where the more experienced players will gravitate.  This does not mean, if you are not an experienced player, you won’t be welcome.  It just means that it can be a faster paced jam with folks playing whatever song anyone calls out.  These fast paced jams can leave the beginners behind and sitting there holding their psalteries, essentially becoming the audience.  Whether you want to join in, or just listen, that is entirely up to you.

The large main room will be dedicated to “Slow, Easy, and Learning”.  The workshops will be held in there.  There will only be two workshops each day, Friday and Saturday.  The remaining time I am asking a few folks to lead us through learning to play some easy songs.  We will take our time picking through those songs and helping you to get a nice song list started.  Songs that you will actually be learning to play and hopefully will continue to build on.  In between the workshops and song learning sessions, we will be doing some jamming, but very controlled.  Everyone will know the song title,  have a chance to find their music, and move through the song at a pace most will be able to keep up with, so even the jams will be a learning process.

I am hoping this will help everyone get what they want out of the Gathering.  I do want everyone to have a great time.  We will still have the open stage and concert sessions.  The schedule for the other three days is below.  Welcome to everyone and I hope you enjoy the gathering.

Rick Long 

Friday Oct. 31

9am  Building opens

The room off to the side of the large room is where the “All Out Jam” will be ongoing during the Gathering.  Just jump in and hang on.  No rules, other than be considerate of others and at least call out the tunes before you start to play.  Anyone is welcome in here and you are very welcome to move back and forth between here and the main room.

9:30am Beginner Workshop with Richard Switzer - Richard says if you have had, or just bought a bowed psaltery, and are asking, “Now What?”, this is for you.

11am Song Learning Session

Lunch Break Noon to 1pm

1pm Song Learning Session

2pm  Gregg Schneeman Holds Forth On All Things Bowed Psaltery - Gregg will try to cover as many topics as people can stand. History, Techniques, Tunes, psaltery and bow design, replacing strings, and any other questions people come up with.

3:30pm Song Learning Session

5pm Open Stage - but you don’t have to get up on stage.  We will go around the room and give everyone a chance to play one to two songs for the rest of us.  It is great to see all the different techniques and playing styles.  Don’t be shy and don’t worry about making a mistake.  We are all rooting for you and want you to share.  I have been very surprised by what I have heard during these open stage sessions.  Everyone remember to be quiet and show respect for players.

6pm Dinner Break

7:30 Slow Jam in the big room.  Lets play some of the songs we have learned today and whatever slow tunes you want to try.   

10pm Building Closes.

Saturday Nov. 1

9am Building Opens for the Day

The room off to the side of the large room is where the “All Out Jam” will be ongoing during the Gathering.  Just jump in and hang on.  No rules, other than be considerate of others and at least call out the tunes before you start to play.  Anyone is welcome in here and you are very welcome to move back and forth between here and the main room.

9:30am  Paul Sykes will present his workshop.  Paul has a “transposition chart” that he will share with you.   Using this, he will share with you  how to transpose songs from one key to another for easier playing on their psaltery.  Londonderry Air (Danny Boy), Greensleeves, Rosin the Beau, and Scarborough Faire will be used for his class.  These songs are all in Donna Malus’s “Psaltery Strings Songbook Vol. 1".  A lot of you already have this book.  Donna will have them available at the Gathering.  If Paul runs short on time, he can teach the songs he didn’t get to in one of the Song Learning Sessions.  There is one of those sessions next on the schedule, so we can extend into that time, if needed.

11am Song Learning Session

Lunchbreak Noon to 1pm

1pm Song Learning Session

2pm Rick Long’s workshop - Playing by Ear, Giving the Written Music a Rest
I most always play by ear, from memory, learn from hearing another person play, or whatever term you want to use.  How do I do that?  How does anybody do that?  You may think that you have to have that music or tab in front of you to play.  Maybe I can help you think about that.  Your bowed psaltery is one of the easiest instruments to learn to play by ear.  I’ll include tips to take what you learn from my workshop and apply it to any instrument you play.  It’s not magic, it didn’t just happen overnight for me.  It will take some work and, of course, practice.  I think it is well worth the effort, and hope you will too

3:30 Song Learning Session and Slow Jam. 

5pm Continuation of the Song Learning Session, but if we ran short on time for the open stage on Friday, we can use this time for more.

6pm Dinner Break

7:30 Concert

10pm Building Closes - Maybe Later if everyone is up to a late jam.

Sunday Nov. 2

Remember - Daylight savings time went into effect at 2am this morning

Building opens 10am

All Gather in the big room for a Hymn Jam.  Be prepared to call out your favorites.

Lunchbreak Noon to 1pm

1pm - Informal Jamming for the afternoon.  Put what you have learned to work.

Last year everyone had headed home by 4pm

Still around and have questions or need more help.  Please ask.

Notes for the Gathering -

This will be the largest attendance for any of the Gatherings to date.  Be considerate when arranging your space.  Instrument cases can be stored on and under the tables provided around the perimeter of the rooms.

Anytime you want specific help on anything related to the bowed psaltery, please ask.  Someone will surely know the answer and be glad to help.  There are lots of experienced players here at the Gathering.  Take advantage of that and pick some brains.

The folding chairs that are provided by the park don’t offer much padding.  You might want to bring a cushion.

The restaurant next door to the Gathering building has some great food.  They tend to get very busy at times, especially on the weekends.  Cathy and I found a great way to beat the rush last year.  Call your order in and bring it back to the Gathering Hall to eat.  I’ll be sure we have some menus available.  Lots of tables and chairs.  Time it just right and you won’t have a problem.  There are lots of other restaurants in Lafolette  and a Shoney’s at the Interstate.  There are also several pizza delivery places.

There is also a fridge and microwave in the building, if you decide to bring your own meals.  Just be sure to mark them with your name.
Ringing Strings Bowed Psalteries  

handcrafted by Rick Long
Clinton, Tennessee
(865) 660-4026

Pictures by Paul Sykes
You can register now -

Email or Call Me



You can pay by credit card, Paypal, or send me a check.

Contact me first and I'll add you to the list.  I will need your full name, city, and state for your nametag.  The same info for anyone coming with you, even if they are a non-player, if they are going to be at the building, they are taking up some of the space.  We love listeners, but they have to pay their way too.
In order to help our jams be a little more organized, and also give folks a chance to prepare, we will use a songbook arranged by Donna Malus for the primary source of tunes we will be using at the slow jams.  This will be a great help to all jammers.  You will have a chance to practice and learn the tunes before the gathering each year.  I encourage everyone planning to attend go to this link and buy a copy. 

Psaltery Strings Music Book by Donna Malus

Here's a link to the sound clip page for the songbook - Psaltery Strings Music Book Vol. 1

Fifty songs in this first book and I think there will be more, Donna entitled this one Vol. 1

I'm not saying these will be the only songs played at the gathering, we can play whatever anyone wants, but this will be great to help us all be on the same page, so to speak, in our jams.  You will even see me using a music stand for once. 

The book can also serve as a source of material for workshops, helping beginners or even creating harmonies to play along with the melody parts in the book.

The gathering will be at Cove Lake State Park

It is located just off I-75 at Exit 134.  You can search Google for lodging there.  The other exits with lodging, that are close by are, Exit 129 Lake City and Exit 122 Clinton.  The 122 exit is about ten minutes from the park and has lots of lodging and restaurants.
Update 10-24-14  New total that have registered is 59, as of noon 10-25-14  Six spaces left.  I'll keep the number updated  as it changes.

The time for the Gathering is coming up quickly.    As of this morning I have 53 people registered and planning to attend.  My limit is 65 for the Gathering, the building will be getting very crowded if we go over that number, so registration will be halted when I reach that number.  We may still have a few cancelations.  It would be best to contact me to find out for sure.

I have placed this year's schedule below.  There could still be some changes, but that will pretty much be what we will follow.

Remember, if you want to get registered to attend, you have to contact me and pay the $15 registration fee now.  Don't wait and just show up, if the 65 person limit has been reached, you won't be admitted.  I am making name tags for all that have registered, if you don't have one, you will be asked to leave.  Sorry, I'll have to be strict about this.  I'm just not willing to overcrowd the building for the folks that have followed the rules and pre-registered and paid their share of the building rent ($15).


Don't just show up at the door, you need to pre-register and pay your $15 fee like everyone else.
There's still time, you have no excuse.  I'd hate to see you travel a long way, only to find out there is no room for you.  There is still time, you just have to follow the rules like everyone else.

Here is this year's schedule.  It is subject to change, but I think it is pretty much how we will go with it.  I'll have copies printed up for you to collect along with your name tag, as you come in the building.

East Tennessee Bowed Psaltery Gathering

Oct. 30 - Nov. 2  2014

Cove Lake State Park

Just off of I-75 Exit 134

Plan to join us for the 2014 East Tennessee Bowed Psaltery Gathering.
Have you been wondering why the dulcimer folks seem to have all the great festivals and gatherings, and events for the bowed psaltery are too few.  Well me too!  I think the bowed psaltery is well worthy of a gathering where players of all skill levels, and even wannabe players, can meet and enjoy some time spent focusing on these great little instruments.

I decided it is time to get something started that hopefully will be such an event, and one that will be held each year to quench our thirsts for some fellowship, jamming, sharing, and learning opportunities.