Lessons for the Autoharp &
I, Mary Park, can teach you how to
play a wonderful instruments called autoharp, or the mountain dulcimer (also
known at the lap dulcimer or Appalachian dulcimer).
Autoharp - Most autoharps have 36-37 strings.
They are played by pressing down chord bars that only let the strings in a
designated chord ring. It is a wonderful instrument for accompanying
singing. What is not known by many people is that the autoharp can
also be used to play melodies. This instrument joins the beautiful
full sound made by the ringing chords with the lovely sound of music
plucked from its many strings.
Mountain Dulcimer - This is a three or four
stringed instrument that is played on the lap. This is not to be confused
with the hammer dulcimer which is a big box with lots and lots of strings
hit with little hammers or the little toy-like instruments that look a lot
like a little hammer dulcimer and have cards under the strings to let you
know which strings to pluck. The mountain dulcimer is a great
instrument to learn to play at any age. You can learn to play a tune at
your first lesson and you can start making nice music right from the
but the instrument also lets you progress to high level of musicianship if
that is your desire.
Music Lessons - The following is information
that answers most of the commonly asked questions about my teaching. Please
feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have.
Before Your First Lesson
I take students from thirteen to two hundred years old. Donít
be afraid to start late in life. Many of my students began after reaching
If you have an instrument, I will need to see it to evaluate
its playability. There are many great makers around the country, but there
are others that donít know much about building an instrument. Believe me
when I tell you that it is very hard for me to tell someone that they donít
have a very playable instrument. Sometimes these faults can be remedied at
little cost and sometimes not.
If you donít have an instrument, donít buy one until you
contact me. I know a lot of great resources for fine instruments at
varying costs. I can make recommendations for what you want on your
instrument such as types of tuners, wood, shape, etc. It may also be
possible for me to help you get an instrument at a discount.
- I charge $25 an hour. I will do lessons of
30, 45 or 60 minutes in length, prorated. An hour lessons works
very well for adults and is what almost everyone chooses. An hour allows us time to evaluate progress
on material from the previous lesson and time to work on some knew
skills before you leave. An hour is also best if there is a long
time between lessons. Shorter lessons with less time between are better for younger students.
- If you want to take a lesson with a friend, the
charge will be $15 each. You should know that in such
situations, I must teach to the slower of the students. If you are
well matched with a partner, this can work well. If not, you may
- For the first lesson I will need to see you for
an hour and I will want to meet with you for the second lesson in about
one week so that if you are doing anything incorrectly it wonít
- As I am now retired from my former elementary
teaching career, I am very flexible in my teaching schedule. I can
see students during the day, in the evening, and on weekends. We
just need to schedule around my other commitments.
- Most of my students come about every two weeks
(after the second lesson), but some choose to have a longer space
between lessons. We schedule each new lesson before you leave from the
current lesson to meet the needs of both of our calendars. I always
tell my students that if they are willing to work around my schedule, I
am willing to work around theirs.
- I use a lesson card that gives you your new
assignments and lists the next lesson date and time. You bring
this card back to the next lesson and it also helps to remind me what I
assigned you to work on.
- Autoharp - I use materials written by
Charles Whitmer (with his permission) supplemented with materials that I
have prepared. The initial cost of materials will be $20.
- Mountain Dulcimer - I have developed my own
teaching materials (in book form), which costs $20. Once you have
finished this material, you will know a lot about how to play the
- Dulcimer Picks - I sell a dulcimer pick I
prefer at my cost of $1 each. I sell these to my students because they
are not available in local music stores. These picks are not a
mandatory purchase, but most people find them preferable to most other
picks. Iíve tried many picks over the years, but I keep coming back to
this one. If you are are not going to purchase a pick from me, be
sure to bring a flat pick of medium to light weight.
- Autoharp Picks - You will need a plastic
thumb pick and three finger picks for your index, middle and ring finger
for your first lesson (plastic or metal will do). When purchasing these, make sure they fit
snuggly. Many beginners find that plastic finger picks are easier
to use at first, but metal ones of medium to heavy weight are also good.
- Tuner - You will probably want to purchase
a digital tuner to help to keep you instrument in tune or download a
tuning app to your phone or tablet. Most of us,
especially at the beginner stage, find tuning by ear a difficult
challenge. A good tuner can be purchased for between $15-40.
I have had really good luck with Korg tuners and the app called DaTuner.
- Dulcimer Capo - If you are choosing to
study the dulcimer, after a few lessons you will also have to purchase
a capo. This is a little contraption that will allow you to play in
some different keys. I usually have these on hand to sell at my cost
to students, or I can help you with resources for buying them. These
are also not available in local stores. This will cost you $18-22.
What If you are Not Sure If These Instruments Are
I do offer a sample lesson for those who donít know if
either of these instruments is for them.
- You come for an hour and I lend you an instrument
of mine to use for a sample lesson.
- Iíll take you through what we would do a first
- The cost is $25 for lesson and materials.
If you are interested, please contact Mary Park at
[email protected] (or