Dulcimer jam held at Christian Reformed Conference Grounds

Musicians from all over West Michigan gathered for a dulcimer jam Tuesday night at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds. This was the eighth year for the event, said Muskegon resident Ruthann Sterenberg - who attended the event with her husband, Edward, who is the dulcimer player in their family. "It's really been growing,' Sterenberg said. Some of the same players were planning to attend a hymn sing at the same location on Wednesday night. They were going to play old-fashioned gospel songs, Sterenberg said.
Becky Vargo
Sep 2, 2011


Organizer Phil Hollar said they started doing the jams around 2004 while camping at the conference grounds in Grand Haven Township during “Senior Week” — that’s when all the Christian school kids go back to school and it’s quiet here, he said.

The Grand Haven man said he just sends out an e-mail and about 30 players show up every year.

“It’s kind of disorganized organization,” Hollar said.

The musicians sit in a circle and take turns suggesting what pieces of music to play, Hollar explained. Then they take audience requests.
Hollar estimated they had an audience of about 150 people on Tuesday.

While the audience is usually from closer areas, Hollar said the musicians came from places like Watervliet, Greenville, Sparta, Traverse City, Muskegon and Holland — as well as Grand Haven.

There were about a dozen hammered dulcimers, three or four auto harps, a saw, guitars, harmonica, fiddles, bowed psaltery and a dobro, Hollar said.

“It’s primarily acoustic instruments,” he said.

Hollar said he became interested in playing the dulcimer while attending a festival in Hastings. The former Grand Haven elementary school teacher bought his own instrument in 1992.

“When I saw the instrument, I fell in love with it,” he said. “I bought a book and taught myself.”

Hollar said he and his wife, Carol — who started playing the dulcimer about five years ago — got a lot of help by attending club events in Holland and Hastings.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



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