Sing and Play Rosa Betsy Liner (pronounced "rosa-becka-lina") or review Johnny O'Brown from Lesson 2.

People used to hold "work-swappings" (review from lesson 2) to help other families quilt, harvest crops and build homes. As the work was underway, people stopped to play games such as Johnny O'Brown and Rosa Besty Liner.

When they had a chance to enjoy some time off, they might be lucky enough to have a musical instrument in the house, and listen or even dance to some music on that instrument. This instrument, called the dulcimer, was one of the instruments commonly used in Kentucky mountain families for enjoyment and singing.

Listen to this dulcimer accompanying Jean Ritchie.

Ask questions to prompt a discussion about instrumental accompaniment. Questions can include such prompters as:

  • How many singers did you hear?
  • Would you be inclined to dance to this music?
  • Do you think it would be loud enough to hear at a crowded party with everyone singing?

Play an excerpt of Old Joe Clark (DLA).

Ask students to listen and identify some of the differences in the music from The Cuckoo by Jean Ritchie with dulcimer. The sounds of the fiddle, the guitar accompaniment and the quick tempo makes better dance music.

Lead students in a circle dance to the music.

Use movements learned in "Rosa Betsy Liner" or in "Johnny O'Brown" or create your own simple dance with circling left, right, clapping and promenading.

With students seated, play the music once more (or just an excerpt) having students listen for specific instruments.

List them on the board:

  • Fiddle
  • Banjo
  • Guitar
  • Bass (aka Upright Bass, Bass Fiddle, String Bass)

With students working in pairs or small groups, assign each group the task of thinking about one of the songs in today's lesson.

Ask students to decide how their song fit into the lives of mountain people one hundred years ago. Prompting questions for group discussion can include:

  • When did people sing/play this music?
  • Where did people sing/play this music?
  • Why was it played with/without instruments?
  • Why was it played with _ instrument instead of another instrument?

Learn More

Dulcimers are fun to learn about and accessible for children to play.

Jean Ritchie reported that she had good success with the dulcimer when working with special needs students.

Check out The Dulcimer Book by Jean Ritchie to learn some simple tunings and traditional songs from Kentucky.