A native of Mannington, Patty Looman is a hammered dulcimer musician, mentor, teacher, promoter, and tune collector. She has become a living example of the spirit of music and its joy, and has influenced the lives of many students within and outside of West Virginia. Music has always played an important part in Patty’s life. When she was young she studied organ, piano, cello and trumpet and was exposed to the hammered dulcimer by West Virginia masters Russell Fluharty and Worley Gardner. Patty is the most active hammered dulcimer performer in West Virginia and the busiest dulcimer teacher, currently seeing more than 40 private students. She also teaches group classes at Garrett Community College in Maryland and at the Augusta Heritage Arts Workshops in Elkins. She was the recipient of the 2004 B. B. Maurer West Virginia Folklife Scholar Award, which honors a person who has contributed to the preservation and perpetuation of Appalachian cultural heritage. She is the honoree and namesake for PattyFest held yearly at Camp Muffly, a 4-H camp nestled in the rolling hills south of Morgantown. She also is a master artist in the West Virginia Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program, chairs the Mountaineer Dulcimer Convention of West Virginia, and performs in bands such as Hammers and Strings.
Photograph by Michael Keller.