"The best hammered dulcimer player I’ve heard in my life."
-- Pete Seeger
"If Paganini played the hammered dulcimer he’d do it a lot like Tina."
-- Jeff Esworthy, WKSU FM, NPR Radio
"Prepare to be more enthusiastic about your dulcimer and to hear all music a bit differently."
-- Ian Heisey, dulcimer student
"You have an inherent gift for teaching. I wish more musicians had it."
-- Jill Smith, Northeast Dulcimer Symposium
"In my experience it has been the rare individual who can both do something exceptionally well and teach it exceptionally well. You are one of those rare individuals."
-- Kim Winebrenner, dulcimer student
Tina and Bryan create engaging concerts of traditional American fiddle tunes and waltzes, string band rags and Celtic jigs and reels, with a sprinkling of South American gems and the occasional Classical piece thrown in for good measure. Tunes gleaned from late night jam sessions and dances with incredible old time musicians, from their travels to festivals throughout the country, from collegiate ragtime archives and from Bryan's solo bass repertoire are all part of the music of their lives. With their playful and relaxed stage presence they create an entertaining and memorable program ideal for a multitude of events.
Tina and Bryan’s joy in their music is readily apparent. A quote from their release, All Roads Lead Home, says it all ".... Like most people, we are exposed to music and stories from all over the world. The common thread of the music here is how we’ve chosen to own what we’ve found. We travel many roads in our lives, and when we encounter something that rings true, we take it home."
Tina and Bryan have been performing together for 15 years. This husband and wife duo met at Kent State University where Tina received a degree in Music Education and Bryan received a Bachelor of Music in Bass Performance. Their mutual love of and interest in music of many cultures brought them together and they began performing together in the fall of 1995. They were married in June of 1998 and now have two wonderful children, Isabel and Theo.
Tina Bergmann began playing music at age eight, learning the mountain dulcimer from her mother in the aural tradition. What had begun as simply listening and watching a group of old-timers getting together and playing the music of their youth soon blossomed into a family activity. It wasn't long before the Bergmann family was embraced by and an active part of the rich community of old-time music and dance in northeast Ohio. Tina started playing the hammered dulcimer during a particularly bad bout with the chicken pox and fell in love with the powerful energy of its sound. Soon after, her father began making hammered dulcimers-one of which Tina still plays today.
Tina is a primarily self-taught musician of 27 years and a highly regarded teacher known for her warm and engaging teaching style. Teaching her first workshop at age 12, Tina went on to establish a thriving private studio while instructing and performing at festivals and camps throughout the country. Promoted as the "Diva of the Dulcimer" by Apollo's Fire, Cleveland's nationally known Baroque Orchestra, Tina is known for her driving energy and syncopated rhythms and was described by Pete Seeger as "The best hammered dulcimer player I've heard in my life."
By the time she earned an education degree from KSU in 1994, Tina had already been teaching privately for 11 years. Her teaching experience included planning and facilitating master classes, workshop series and teaching weeklong camps in a number of states.
With her critically acclaimed contra dance band Strings & Things (Tina on hammered dulcimer, David Rice on harmonica & fiddle and Mark Delozier on piano,) Tina has played contra dances and family dances throughout Ohio as well as in Kentucky, Michigan, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Since 1983, with dance maven Carol Kopp calling the dances, Strings & Things and now Hu$hmoney, have been the house band at a bi-weekly contra dance now situated in Peninsula, OH at a historic high school built at the turn of the 19th century.
Bryan Thomas is a versatile bassist with an active teaching schedule, and performs as a free-lance musician throughout northeast Ohio. He is the double bass instructor at Kent State University's Hugh A. Glauser School of Music, and also teaches in the jazz program of the Metro Campus of Cuyahoga Community College. His major teachers have included Anthony Knight and the virtuoso double bass soloist Francois Rabbath. Mr. Thomas, who graduated from Kent State University in 1992, has been an Ohio Arts Council guest artist in residence, and toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1994. He plays many different styles of music, and, most notably, has studied Cuban music and dance in the Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, Cuba. He has performed many solo bass concerts, both with piano and orchestra.
Bryan began playing music in his grade school string program on cello before he discovered there was something bigger and switched to the bass. His playing has been influenced greatly by his exposure to Ray Brown, Gary Karr, David Walter, and particularly Francois Rabbath. Bryan can be heard as a soloist and support musician in an incredible array of diverse situations such as symphonic and chamber ensembles, salsa and swing bands, playing and singing jazz, blues, bluegrass, Cuban music, American old time, as well as helping to create Ohio Arts Council projects involving poetry, art dance, theater, visual arts and community works.
ABOUT TINA AS A TEACHER...
"In my experience it has been the rare individual who can both do something exceptionally well and teach it exceptionally well. You are one of those rare individuals." -- Kim Winebrenner, dulcimer student
"Prepare to be more enthusiastic about your dulcimer and to hear all music a bit differently." -- Ian Heisey, dulcimer student
"You have an inherent gift for teaching. I wish more musicians had it." -- Jill Smith, Northeast Dulcimer Symposium
"On behalf of the all the Augusta staff, thank you for doing such a splendid job at Spring Dulcimer Week. It’s very obvious that you are a dedicated and gifted teacher in addition to being a fine musician and performer." -- Margot Blevin, Director, Augusta Heritage Center
"After attempting to 'teach myself' the hammered dulcimer and attending a couple of workshops -- without satisfying results, I began taking lessons from Tina. What a gift to find a patient and creative teacher in a talented musician! While addressing technique and repertoire, Tina encourages students to 'make beautiful music' at whatever level of skill we have attained. She sets a great example in her own music-making and encourages me to stretch and grow in playing this instrument." -- Jody LeFort, dulcimer student
"As an elementary teacher I’m very aware of teaching pedagogy and am very in touch with when my needs as a learner are being met. I am intrigued with Tina’s ability to tap into my understanding and develop my new skills/ awareness using demonstration, imagery and visualization, diagrams, focus on body awareness and its effect on my playing. Tina stays within my learning zone while gently nudging me to new playing levels." -- Steve Schack, dulcimer student
You were rightfully crowned "Dulcimer Queen" by our class at the 2006 Swannanoah Gathering's Dulcimer Week. For the beginning or advanced player, you gave learning techniques which resulted in an immediate improvement in tonality and skill. In my 10 years of attending classes at Swannanoah, I have never experienced an instructor that had your combination of instrumental skill, teaching ability,and sense of humor that made our classes so enjoyable." -- James Brown
I can't say enough good things about your sessions at the Swannanoa Gathering. I was often overwhelmed with what I didn't know, but you did such a good job of organinzing your sessions, keeping control of 13 or so dulcimers (!!), and conveying information, that I felt like I learned enough to keep me busy for at least the next year! Thank you for your patience, and for not making your slower students (that would be me) feel reeeaaalllly bad!
I hope you are an instructor at Swannanoa Gathering again another year. In a few years I may even be READY for that intermediate class!
-- Donna Robertson