Merv Rowley
Ruth Randle

Elizabeth DePietri

Gail West


  Merv Rowley





  Ruth Randle








Biographical Notes: Merv Rowley

Merv was raised and educated in north-central Ohio, and graduated from Case Institute of Technology (Cleveland) with both a BS and MS in Engineering. He served as a reserve officer in the Navy during WWII, followed by 40 years of industrial experience in research and foundry engineering. Merv took early retirement in 1982, then spending 16 more years as a dulcimer builder (Roselle Dulcimers) in the suburbs of Chicago. His instruments are found coast-to-coast.

Discovery of the mountain dulcimer was by accident, during a business trip to Cincinnati in 1976. He bought and built a kit by Bill Walker that year. but didn't take time to learn to play it until 1979. Merv's education in music has come from self-study, built upon early beginnings with keyboard instruments. Since 1995, he has devoted attention to chromatic dulcimers and music arrangements. He discovered the 1-3-5 tuning in 2002 upon hearing a tape with a piece by Connie Allen, played in that arrangement. The music was chromatic, and Merv's interests were suddenly redirected to finding and arranging public domain music for the diatonic dulcimer. To date, he has written three books of 1-3-5 tablature in order to direct attention to this tuning.

His other activities besides building and arranging have included private teaching, workshops, pro bono performances at nursing homes, schools and heritage festivals. In his spare time, he served twelve years as a director of the Homeowner's Association in the community where he lived. He has now retired to Florida, but remains actively involved in the DF#A website activities.


Biographical Notes: Ruth Randle


Ruth grew up in Augusta ME, and graduated from the Maine Medical Center School of Nursing in 1962. She has lived in Northern VA for the past 30+ years. She worked as an O.R. nurse at a local hospital until her retirement. This area, known as the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area, is a "hotbed" of dulcimer activity and wonderful folk music. Ruth "met" her first dulcimer at a performance of the local Mill Run Dulcimer Band in 1983, a group which is still very active today. Its leader, Keith Young (also the luthier who made her first dulcimer) is responsible for organizing more than 30 years of spring and fall classes for mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer and guitar, held at a local church. These classes consist of a 7-week series of lessons, at all levels, ending with a "recital" for friends and family. Ruth credits much of her playing skill and musical knowledge to the teachings of Neal Walters in the "Advanced Repertoire" class. He introduced her to many different types of music, various playing techniques, different tunings, and even working out tablature for the mountain dulcimer. After more than 20 years of attending those classes (and making lifelong friends) Ruth is now teaching some of these dulcimer classes herself.


She has recently added the Bowed Dulcimer to her collection. She is gradually getting acquainted with this new instrument, a petite "Grand Pardessus" model with a big voice, built by Ken Bloom. Bowing it in the upright position, like a cello, means learning a whole new set of skills.

Ruth was a member of the "Circle of Friends" band in CT which produced a dulcimer CD by that name, and was  a member of "Noteable Strings" near her home, 5 folk musicians who played occasionally at retirement and nursing homes, Art Guild shows and other such local events. For many years, she was editor/music editor of the DF#A (Dulcimer F#olk Assoc. of CT) monthly newsletter for many years, creating most of their tablature using the Finale and TablEdit programs -- either for her own arrangements, or transcribing the arrangements of others. She has also been on the staff of DPN (Dulcimer Players News) as music transcriptionist..

Her current interest in the DF#A tuning has been fueled by an ongoing exchange of information, knowledge and tablature with Merv Rowley for the past several years. She maintains this website, and participates in arranging tunes for monthly publication.

Click for larger picture of Elizabeth DePetri from the 1-3-5 mountain dulcimer website

Biographical Notes: Elizabeth DiPietri

Elizabeth DiPietri,grew up in several places – West Chester, PA – Washington, IL – Wheaton, IL – Memphis, TN. Music has always been part of her life, starting with the Tonette in 1st grade. She has also studied piano, trombone, violin, and voice. Along the way she learned some about recorders, bagpipes (very little there!), tenor drum in a bagpipe band, fife, tin whistle, bodhran, guitar, and a few others.

After graduating from Covenant College with a BA in English, Elizabeth went to work in the library in Memphis. She worked there for several years before moving to St Louis where she met and married a handsome engineer, Joe. It was around then that she first heard dulcimers. They bought a kit (think it was a McSpadden) and she built one. However, when that one was traded for an upgraded thermostat, she didn’t have the heart to try again. Instead she spent her time working at furniture finishing, beading, keeping house and raising and homeschooling 2 active sons.

Christmas 1999, was when Joe made up for the thermostat fiasco. He gave her a beautiful Gila Mountain dulcimer and music again became a big part of their lives. Although they don’t get to many Festivals (only those with fishing nearby!) Elizabeth is now teaching dulcimer – both privately and in the classroom of a local community college. With both sons grown and on their own (one is a Marine) there is more time to devote to music. Interest in the 1-3-5 tuning began when Merv sent out a challenge to write music for E. A. Poe’s poem, “El Dorado”. “That time I chickened out and went with D-A-d tuning. But it got me thinking.” Since then she has been exploring this tuning and has begun using it in arrangements and composition.

Biographical Notes:  Gail West

Gail West  is very happily married and spoiled by her husband, Kerry. They were introduced to the mountain dulcimer world by hearing the music of Nancy Blough of Shipshewana, Indiana at a benefit tea that Gail had helped organize. The rest, as they say, is history.

Gail took lessons from Nancy and performed with her for two years. In 2000, she and Kerry went to the Dulcimer Chautauqua on the Wabash Festival in New Harmony, Indiana. They have been Festivaloholics since then.

Fortunately, at a festival several months later, Gail met Susan Trump – who didn’t have brochures. She made some up for Susan, and GMW MarketingPLUS was born. Her “small”, home-based service now includes design and production for all marketing needs: website design and timely updates; brochures; flyers; mailings; newsletters; business cards; organization, etc.

Gail works as an Office Manager for a small architectural firm. She has one son, Kenny who blessed her with a grandson born in May, 2004. She is finding her grandson to be a source of great joy.

Gail currently enjoys the bowed dulcimer. She plays a double-bass bowed dulcimer that was built by Ken Bloom. She especially enjoys playing it within the mountain dulcimer world.

After meeting Merv at the Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Event in 2004, she began exploring the 1-3-5 tuning and discussed with him  the possibility of doing a web site dedicated to the 1-3-5 tuning. She believed she could learn a lot more about the tuning that way. She also believed the 1-3-5 arrangements and knowledge should be shared with the dulcimer community. Gail has enjoyed her experience with the 1-3-5 gang and is excited to be a part of it.



This website is brought to you by Merv Rowley,
Ruth Randle, Elizabeth DiPietri, Suzanne Campling, and Gail West
Please email gwest1955@aol.com with any website questions, broken links, etc.
Copyright © 2006