An associate professor at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College, Doug Herren is a master dulcimer maker.
Herron is the program director for the electrical technologies program and teaches in the electrical technologies program and the industrial maintenance program.
“I have been employed at the college since 2005,” said Herren.
“Prior to that, I worked as an independent electrical contractor.”
Now 58, Herren has lived in Loyall all his life. He enjoys music and woodworking as a hobby.
“Several years ago my wife, Debbie, and I attended the Great American Dulcimer Convention at Pine Mountain State Park where dulcimer players from all over the world gather and learn from each other,” said Herren. “As a result, I became interested in the mountain dulcimer. I began making them in 2008 with a little coaching from a long time dulcimer maker and employee of the college, Al Cornett.”
Herren said the mountain dulcimer, or Appalachian dulcimer, is the official instrument of the state of Kentucky and is unique to Appalachia.
“The dulcimer is an important part of Appalachian culture,” said Herren. “I construct all of the dulcimers I make in the style of the traditional Appalachian dulcimers from this area and use wood that is local to eastern Kentucky.”
He said, “Each dulcimer is unique due to the individual characteristics of the wood they are made from. My personal choice of wood is cherry with a cedar top. I have found this combination to provide a sweet mellow sound.”
Having made approximately 15 instruments, Herren said he will begin teaching a class at SKCTC in cooperation with the Workforce Development Program.
“When Al Cornett was at the college, he taught students how to make dulcimers,” said Herren. “He has now retired and I have been asked to teach some classes on the Harlan campus on how to make dulcimers. Hopefully, we can get enough people interested to begin this class.”
And the work is done, “I’d like to also teach students after they finished building one how to play it,” he said.