Elaine Conger is a native of Nashville and life-long musician and music educator. After years of teaching and touring, she’s finally settled down in the mountains of East Tennessee for another chapter in her musical journey. Her current passion is writing and performing worshipful songs that stir the soul and encourage spiritual reflection.
Music has been at her foundation from the beginning. She began piano lessons at the age of 4½ and started playing in church by age 12. Singing and playing guitar for church youth groups led to being involved in most every musical offering throughout her school career. She received a music education degree from Tennessee Tech, majoring in piano and minoring in voice and organ. She earned further music education certification in Orff-Schulwerk from the University of Memphis and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Tennessee State University.
After teaching in Nashville for a few years, she decided to join a band and go out on the road. Her years as a professional musician include playing keyboards and singing back-up vocals for country artist Faith Hill and performing on the General Jackson Showboat. Once the biological clock started ticking, she went back to teaching and had her daughter, Krislen Sherrill, now a 23-year-old actress living in New York. Elaine’s tenure as the Senior Director of Music at The Renaissance Center had her playing and musically directing numerous music theater productions, including appearing in a few herself. Her favorite role to date is as Patsy in Always, Patsy Cline.
That experience at a fine arts and technological center led her to meet and marry Larry Conger, a former National Mountain Dulcimer Champion. She now adds bass dulcimer to the mix, and they’re found quite often out on the road teaching and performing on the dulcimer when they’re not performing around their hometown of Gatlinburg, just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Elaine is a member of the Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Order of the Daughters of the King and the Diocesan Assembly President of the East Tennessee DOK. Her new ambition is to share the music God gives her with others on a spiritual path to find peace and respite in this busy and confusing world.
2013 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion, Katie Moritz is a musician and teacher hailing from the Chicagoland area in Northern Illinois. She’s been playing music ever since she could remember, starting piano as a very small child and playing the tuba through school. Her taste in music is geared towards more eclectic sounds and it wasn’t till she started playing the hammered dulcimer that she found her authentic musical “voice”. The unique instrument was able to seamlessly sew together Katie’s love of traditional music from around the world, 1940’s jazz standards, Broadway musicals, bluegrass, and pop.
While studying under an Illinois hammered dulcimer master, Bill Robinson, Katie has been awarded 7 consecutive folk arts apprenticeship grants with the Illinois Arts Council (partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.) She has spent over a decade studying traditional music and is dedicated to teaching and continuing a traditional style of playing. At the same time, she has also spent most of her life learning and playing music in scholarly settings, which has influenced her dulcimer playing to encompass an uncommon blend of old and new. This edge has led her to receive various recognitions including placing 1st in the Mid-East and Southern regional contests, and the National Hammered Dulcimer Championship. In 2019 Katie even became a finalist in the National Mountain Dulcimer Championship.
Katie holds a Master’s degree in Design & Media and an Associate’s degree in Music Performance. She has taught and performed at many festivals and gatherings around the United States. Along with the hammered dulcimer, Katie is a multi-instrumentalist who plays mountain dulcimer, ‘ukulele, steel pan, guitar, and more.
Currently, Katie’s dulcimer playing can be heard on a Duet CD called Kaleidoscope, which is available for sale on this website.
To keep up with Katie’s latest news and upcoming performance, check out her page on Facebook by clicking here.
The Hammered Dulcimer is an ancient stringed percussion instrument consisting of wire strings that are stretched tightly across a wooden soundboard. The strings are then struck by small mallets called “hammers”. It’s origins date back over 2000 years and seem to have originated in Persia, where it then spread in all directions. This resulted in different variations of this instrument that can be found today worldwide. A modern instrument that is a direct descendent of the hammered dulcimer is the piano.
Jessica Comeau is a native of Pensacola, Florida, and has been playing the mountain dulcimer since 2003. As a lover of music and literature, she is passionate about the ability of music to reflect timeless stories and illuminate the beauty of life. Jessica is a singer-songwriter as well as an interpreter of folk, Celtic, British, medieval European, and world music. She also loves to share music as a teacher. Within the workshop setting, Jessica gives her students group instruction, individual guidance, and space for personal experimentation with the goal of helping people to make the music their own. In addition to her dulcimer teaching and performing experience, Jessica holds a B.A. degree in English and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. Her most recent musical release is a multi-instrumental, fantasy-themed album called Faerie Memories: Fantasy Music with an Acoustic Heart.
Judy and her husband, Kirk, are the founders of the Camel City Strummers Dulcimer Club and the Triad Dulcimer Orchestra, both of which are local. In early 2021, they founded the First National Dulcimer Orchestra, which meets weekly over Zoom and performs at festivals by invitation. They are the directors of the Winston-Salem Dulcimer Festival which is held the first Saturday in May in Winston-Salem.
Judy’s passion for the dulcimer has led to her teaching at festivals around the country and presenting at conferences and universities concerning the Mountain Dulcimer. She also enjoys working with those interested in becoming effective teachers of the mountain dulcimer and other folk instruments.
Judy has written 9 dulcimer music books with a couple more on the way!
Judy lives in Winston-Salem, NC with her husband, Kirk.
Erin Mae Lewis
Erin Mae is a freelance folk musician and mountain dulcimer teacher who has carved her own path every step of the way. She has a degree from South Plains College in Commercial Music, where she was the first student to study mountain dulcimer. She continues today to be a leader of innovation and education in her musical community. Erin Mae’s passion is to empower and equip others to find their own creative expression in the world.
Sarah Kate Morgan
Sarah Kate Morgan started her musical journey at 7 years old when she was introduced to old-time music through a dulcimer that her grandfather built. From there, she has gone on to develop a uniquely intricate and virtuosic style inspired by the traditional Appalachian music she grew up with in rural East Tennessee.
At 18, Sarah placed 1st at the 2012 National Mountain Dulcimer Championships held in Winfield, KS. She recently graduated from Morehead State University in eastern Kentucky with degrees in Traditional Music, Appalachian Studies, and Arts Administration. Sarah Kate also performs as a regular member of the Michelle Canning Band , calls square dances, attempts to quilt and grow things in her garden garden, and works at the Hindman Settlement School in eastern Kentucky as the Traditional Arts Education Director.
Mountain Dulcimer, Executive Director & Founder
DJ is a composer, teacher, recording artist, and community music organizer. She teaches mountain dulcimer at The Freight in Berkeley, CA, and in her east bay home. DJ founded the Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering in 2013, produced the first online dulcimer festival in 2020, and co-founded the Berkeley Dulcimer Orchestra in 2014 with Steve Eulberg. Since March 2020 she has participated in 10 global virtual dulcimer festivals, and is planning Dulcimoon – a women-led virtual dulcimer festival for 2023.
Musically versatile, she performs with her husband, Buffalo, as The DulciMates. DJ has produced 6 recordings and “Indian Summer,” a book of her music and original arrangements. She is working on a book of original music and arrangements for baritone dulcimer.
Learn more about DJ’s recordings, books, and online classes at:
Melanie Johnston has been playing Mountain Dulcimer since 2001. She is a graduate of the Dulcimer University/Western Carolina University certification program for teaching the Mountain Dulcimer and teaches private students, classes and festival workshops in the New England and North Carolina regions.
Melanie and her husband founded the Northeast Dulcimer Orchestra in Connecticut and the Asheville Dulcimer Orchestra and Black Bear Dulcimer Club in North Carolina. Additionally, they work with Kirk and Judy House to run the National (Virtual) Dulcimer Orchestra.
Melanie and her husband, Mack, perform as a duo with dulcimer, guitar and mandolin.
In addition to playing and teaching dulcimer, Melanie has written TablEdit for Mountain Dulcimer Arrangers (available through Folkcraft Instruments) and writes a quarterly TablEdit Column for Dulcimer Player’s News: https://www.dpnews.com/
Pam is a northern Michigan native – growing up a “stone’s throw” from the Evart (Funfest)
area and hailing from Marion, Michigan. A teacher by trade and a musician by birth, Pam
Bowman has played guitar and sang from the time she was young. It was in this dulcimer
rich region that she first heard and saw a hammered dulcimer being played by a friend’s
father, while still a teen. It was nearly 10 years later when she noticed it’s unique tones
drifting through the atmosphere of a local, historic craft shop – inquired if it was a
hammered dulcimer in the recording – and thought to herself…”I’m old enough to buy one
of those now!” Since that time she has been performing with the hammered dulcimer for
over 25 years as a soloist, as a duo with guitarist Jeff Gardner, and with a five piece group
called Just Jammin’ – performing gospel/country/bluegrass music. In 2005 Pam entered
and won the Southern Regional Hammered Dulcimer Competition in Mt. View, Arkansas.
Pam gives private lessons and group lessons (in person and online) on the hammered
dulcimer, as well as teaching work-shops and performing at various festivals. Her students
love and give acclaim to her incomparable hammered dulcimer tablature, which she
developed and includes with her lessons and arrangement books. Pam also performs her
unique style of hammered dulcimer and arrangements for many other venues. She has
eight recordings available, as well as four books of arrangements for the hammered
dulcimer – and a series of instructional cd’s focused on hymns. Pam gives all of the glory
for her talents and abilities, to our God & Savior and is truly thankful for the gift of music!