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Melanie Johnston

melanie johnston photo

Melanie is from Asheville, NC and has been playing dulcimer since 2001 when her husband Mack, introduced her to the instrument. Both graduates of the UNC-based Dulcimer University Teacher Program, together they teach mountain dulcimer to groups and individuals. In additional to their own students, they teach for the OLLI program at UNC Asheville and at festivals in New York, New England and North Carolina.

Now retired from careers in health care (Healthcare Administration for Melanie and Physician for Mack), they are thoroughly enjoying their second careers as musicians. Together they founded the Connecticut Mountain Dulcimer Gathering and the Northeast Dulcimer Orchestra. Since moving to NC, they founded the Black Bear Dulcimer Gathering and the Asheville Dulcimer Orchestra.

Melanie has a special interest in helping arrangers use TablEdit to make clear, helpful tablature for students. To this end, she teaches TablEdit at festivals and has written instruction books in it for PC and MAC.

Melanie and Mack created the Jam Training Wheels book after seeing students struggle in jam settings. This book provides the basic melody of tunes in an easy to read and play quarter note version. The book is also meant to be helpful in encouraging students to graduate to playing these tunes without music, adding their own strumming patterns and passing notes.

In addition to teaching, Melanie and Mack perform as “Heartstrings” in Asheville area including at the Biltmore Estate, the NC Arboretum and in the River Arts District. Melanie plays mountain dulcimer and Mack plays mandolin, guitar and mountain dulcimer.