Where to Find Us:

Lois Hornbostel

135 Pine Meadows Road

Bryson City, NC 28713

Leave messages on CONTACT page of this website.

What's New:



RECENT DULCIMER PLAYING CHAMPIONSHIPS! We've been attending Appalachian fiddle conventions, getting into the roots of the area's music, showing folks what the mountain dulcimer can do, and picking up some honors along the way...




After winning the Galax (VA) & Fiddlers Grove fiddle convention Dulcimer Championships in 1987, Lois did not compete much more until 2014 when she and Ehukai started visiting fiddle conventions. She's honored to have been awarded:

’14 Mt. Airy, NC Dulcimer Champion

’14 Grayson County, VA Dulcimer Champion

’14 Alleghany County, NC Dulcimer Champion

’16 Alleghany County, NC Dulcimer Champion

’16 Tazewell, VA Dulcimer Champion

'16 Laurel Bloomery, TN Dulcimer Champion

'17 Grayson County, VA Dulcimer Champion

'17 Laurel Bloomery, TN Dulcimer Champion

'18 Grayson County, VA Dulcimer Champion

'18 Tazewell, VA Dulcimer Champion

'18 Alleghany County, NC Dulcimer Champion




'12 Fiddlers Grove, NC Dulcimer Champion

’13 Union Grove, NC Dulcimer Champion

’14 Union Grove, NC Dulcimer Champion

’15 Union Grove, NC Dulcimer Champion

’15 Alleghany County, NC Dulcimer Champion

'15 Ashe County, NC Dulcimer Champion

’16 Ashe County, NC Dulcimer Champion

'17 Tazewell, VA Traditional Singer Champion                                          '17 Alleghany County, NC Dulcimer Champion

'18 Tazewell, VA Folk Song Champion

'18 Tazewell, VA Harmonica Champion

'18 Fries, VA Dulcimer Champion


NEW – Mountain Dulcimer History article:

The Mountain Dulcimer Renaissance -

1950s-1980s, by Lois Hornbostel, 2004

Editor's Notes: This is a list of developers of the mountain dulcimer who were especially active during what is called the "Mountain Dulcimer Renaissance" (defined here as roughly beginning in the 1950s thru the early 1980s). Many of the playing, building and teaching techniques we know now first happened in that lively period, and organized dulcimer events and clubs helped develop future generations of dulcimer players. The dulcimer website Sweet Music Digest asked me to compile this because I am very involved with playing, touring, teaching, writing books on the instrument and organizing mountain dulcimer events. As big as this list is, it is not possible for one person (even with help from many others) to acknowledge every developer in this time period. We apologize to any we may have missed. Updates are welcomed, and I can be contacted via Personal Message on my Facebook Profile.

Lois Hornbostel, December 1, 2014


Jean Ritchie, KY, NYC (best known, player, builder, teacher, collector, author) Perhaps no one has done more to popularize the mountain dulcimer than the great Jean Ritchie. Born and raised in Viper, Kentucky, Jean was the youngest in a musical family of fourteen children born to Bailis and Abigail Ritchie. From before the '60s folk revival, through her appearances at the Newport, Philadelphia, and other folk festivals, Jean introduced this gentle mountain instrument and the ballads and play-party games of her family's Scottish, English and Irish ancestors to a new audience. This triggered the revival of the mountain dulcimer. For a time, the only instruction book widely available for the instrument was Jean's classic, The Dulcimer Book, which taught the basics of playing to many who followed. Jean has been the recipient of countless honors and awards, was featured in Bill Moyers' PBS documentary, "Amazing Grace," and is the subject of "Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story," produced by Kentucky Educational Television. Jean passed away on June 1, 2015.

Edna Ritchie Baker (dec.), KY, Jean's older sister (player, teacher, collector)

In addition to the Ritchie family, there were veteran traditional mountain dulcimer players from various parts of the country who carried on their families' dulcimer traditions from substantially earlier than the 1950s, notably the Melton family from Galax, VA, the Hicks family in Watauga County, NC, and others who came to the instrument and were especially active in sharing their music and knowledge with others. Some of them were:

Stanley Hicks (dec.), NC (player, builder, teacher)

Nettie Presnell (dec.), NC (player, builder, teacher)

Edd Presnell (dec.), NC (builder, teacher)

Homer Ledford (dec.), KY (builder, player, teacher)

Frank Proffitt, Sr. (dec.), NC (player, builder, song collector/writer)

Frank Proffitt, Jr. (dec.), NC (player, builder, teacher)

Raymond Melton (dec.), VA (player, builder, teacher)

Jacob Ray Melton (dec.), VA (player, builder, teacher)

Bonnie Russell, VA (player)

Roscoe Russell (dec.), VA (player, builder, teacher)

Anne Grimes (dec.), OH (player, teacher, instrument collector)

Chet Hines (dec.), OH (builder, player, teacher, author)

Jean Schilling (dec.), TN (player, builder, teacher, festival organizer, author)

Bill Davis (dec.), TN (player, builder, teacher, festival organizer)

Ken Hamblin, VA (builder, player)

A. W. Jeffreys (dec.), VA (builder, player, author)

Leonard (dec.) & Clifford Glenn, NC (builders, players)

Bob Harman, NC (player, builder)

Ken Ward (dec.), OH (player, builder, teacher)


Ralph Lee Smith, VA, NYC (player, collector, historian, teacher, author)

Richard Farina (dec.), NY/CA (player, builder)

Howie Mitchell, VA (player, builder, teacher, author)

John Pearse (dec.), England (player, builder, author)

Paul Clayton (dec.), NY (player)

Len & Sue (dec.) MacEachron, MN (players, builders, teachers, authors)

Lynn McSpadden (dec.), AR (builder, author)

Jean Simmons Jennings (dec.), AR (player, teacher)

Pam Simmons Kirby, AR (player, teacher)

Betty N. Smith, NC (player, balad collector, teacher, author)

Margaret Winters, Asheville, NC (player, author)

Margaret MacArthur (dec.), VT (player, teacher, song collector)

Roger Nicholson (dec.), England (player, author, teacher)

Caroline Paton, CT (player, music collector, teacher, author, festival organizer)

Lorraine Lee Hammond, CT (player, teacher, author, festival organizer)

Richard Wilkie, NY (player, teacher, author)

Virgil Hughes, CO (player, teacher, author, builder)

Bob Mize (dec.), TN (builder, teacher)

Dorsey Williams (dec.), TN (player, builder, teacher)


Joni Mitchell, Alberta, Canada/CA (player)

Holly Tannen, CA, (player, teacher)

Mary Faith Rhoads, PA (player, teacher)

Sam Rizzetta, VA/MD (player, builder, teacher)

Joellen Lapidus, CA (player, author, builder)

Chuck Kline, NYC (player, teacher)

Kevin Roth, PA/FL (player, teacher, author)

David Field, PA (builder, player)

Bonnie Carol, CO (player, builder, teacher, author, festival organizer)

Albert d'Ossche' (dec.) & Robert Force, WA (players, teachers, authors, festival organizers)

Neal Hellman, CA (player, teacher, author, record company "mini-mogul")

Lori Cole, CA (player, teacher)

Peter Tommerup, CA (player, teacher, author)

Michael Rugg, CA (player, builder, teacher, author)

Keith Young (dec.), VA (player, builder, teacher)

Leo Kretzner, OH/CA (player, teacher, author)

Jay Liebovitz, OH (player, teacher)

Eileen Rains, SC (player, teacher)

Andy & Sue Kardos, NC (builders, players, teachers)

Elaine Silver, CO (player, teacher)

Jerry Rockwell, VT/OH (player, builder, teacher, author, festival organizer)

Phillip Mason, VA/KY (publisher, player, teacher, author, builder)

Madeline MacNeil, VA (player, teacher, author, publisher of DULCIMER PLAYERS NEWS)

David Schnaufer (dec.), TX/TN (player, teacher, author, builder)

Lois Hornbostel, NJ/LA/NC (player, teacher, author, festival organizer)

Walter P. Martin, PA (builder, teacher, festival organizer)

Sally Rogers, MI/CT (player, teacher)

Ron Ewing, OH (player, builder, teacher, author)

Mark Nelson, OR (player, teacher, author)

Janita Baker, CA (player, builder w/husband Bob, teacher, author)

Larkin Bryant Cohen, TN (player, teacher, author, festival organizer)

Randy Wilkinson, AZ (player, teacher, author)

Mark Blair, D.C. area (builder, player, teacher)

Warren May, KY (builder, player, teacher)

Cyntia Smith, CA (player, builder w/husband Dale Foye, teacher, festival organizer)

Ruth Barrett, CA (player, teacher, festival organizer)

David Beede, CA/FL (player, teacher)

Barbara Truex, CT/ME (player, teacher, festival organizer)

Alan Freeman, WV (player, teacher, festival organizer)

Dick Albin, KY/TN (player, teacher, festival organizer)

Anne MacFie, KY (player, teacher, festival organizer)

Nancy Johnson Barker, KY (player, teacher, festival organizer)

Sally George (dec.), KY (player, teacher)

Mary Ann Samuels, VT (player, teacher, festival organizer)

Willie Jaeger, CO (player, teacher)

Neal Walters, VA/PA (player, teacher, author)

Doug Berch, NY/CO/MI (player, builder, teacher)

Fred Meyer, IN (player, teacher)

Baila Dworsky, CA (player, teacher)

Peter Cooney, IN (builder)

Rodger Harris, OK (player, builder, teacher, author)

Linda Russell, NY (player, teacher)

Don Pedi, MA/NC (player, teacher, festival organizer)

Phyllis Gaskins, VA (player, teacher)

Masato Inoue, Japan (player, teacher)

John Molineux, France (player, builder)

Carrie Crompton, NC/CA/PA/CT (player, teacher, author)

David Marks, CT (builder, player, teacher)

Mark Biggs, MO (player, teacher, author)

Bob "Hutch" Hutchinson, PA (player, builder, teacher, author)

Gail Larsen, CA (player, builder, teacher)

Robin Mohun (dec.), CA (player, teacher)

Steve Smith, TX/NC (player, teacher)

Bud & Donna Ford, CO (players, builders, teachers, authors)

Mark Gilston, PA/TX (player, teacher)

1970s to early 1980s:

Steve Mayfield, OK (player, teacher)

Neil Gaston (dec.), OK (player, teacher, author)

Anna Barry, NC (teacher, author)

Dana Hamilton, TX (player, teacher, author, festival organizer)

Gary Gallier, MO (player, teacher) Mark Tindle, ME/CO (player, builder, teacher)

Wayne Seymour, NC (player, teacher, author)

Kendra Ward, OH (player, teacher)

Susan Trump, NY/FL (player, teacher)

Ed Stephens (dec), OH (player, teacher)

Quintin Stephens, OH/TX (player, builder, teacher)

Cyndi Lauper (player)


Lois Hornbostel is a key figure in the world of Appalachian music and the mountain dulcimer. Do you have comments or questions about her article? Contact Lois direct via Facebook personal message. To learn more about her, see the Contributors section of Sweet Music Index or www.DulcimerMusic.Net and www.LoisHornbostel.com

Sweet Music Digest