He started out in music by playing the drums. He plays the piano “a little bit.” And he enjoys playing the trumpet in the Joliet Catholic Academy band under the direction of teacher Jennifer Szynal.
But sophomore Nate Pultorak smiles as brightly as the name given to his first CD — The Rising Sun — when the question asked relates to the reason behind choosing his favorite instrument, the dulcimer.
It was love at first sight.
“I started playing around 2006,” Pultorak said. “Oh yeah, it’s my favorite one. I like the way I can create a full arrangement of tunes that have a complete sound to them, and I like the challenge of playing it.
“It’s more fun to play than, say, the trumpet, where you just have three keys to press in different combinations. With the dulcimer, you have 80-some odd strings that you have to deal with.”
Since the summer, Pultorak has been dealing with wave after wave of success playing the dulcimer. He recorded his first CD in preparation for the Dulcimer & Traditional Music Festival held in Morris.
That led to an appearance in a national competition in September, with Pultorak coming close to reaching the final round. Then, in November, Pultorak released his second CD in six months.
“I kind of threw the first one together in the hopes of selling a few at the Dulcimer Fest,” he said. “That one did pretty well, so we have the Christmas one, and I really can see the improvement in my playing.
“I’ve been working on different styles and different methods of picking and playing the dulcimer, usually using more than two hammers. And I thought I did pretty well playing in the national competition.”
In between the work on his Christmas CD — A Hammer, A Dulcimer and A Nativity — Pultorak has played at the various services held on holy days of obligation as well as in the annual Christmas Concert.
“I had some experience from the first CD,” Pultorak said. “I learned a lot from my mistakes, with how to use the recording equipment. I was able to fix the effects I messed up on the first album that I made.”
Make no mistake, Pultorak takes time off from the Dulcimer, too. He volunteers with the St. Paul’s Youth Group and will be going to the “March For Life” event in Washington, D.C. with JCA’s Respect Life Club.
“I am thinking of the priesthood,” Pultorak said. “And I am hoping to bring my dulcimer playing even further, maybe go professional with it someday. I’m just looking forward to learning and getting better.”