About Karen’s Instruments

The Appalachian dulcimer is a descendant of the German scheitholt, brought to this country in the 18th century. Today’s instrument usually consists of three strings and there are many styles of playing. Some musicians play melody notes on the highest string and allow the other two to drone in the background. Others make use of all three strings to incorporate chords and harmonies.

If you can count, you can play dulcimer! You don’t need to read music– melodies are learned by using “tab.” This is a simple numerical system that allows anyone to play successfully—even after one lesson.

The autoharp is a versatile and fun instrument! With the push of a button and a strum across the strings, anyone can play chord accompaniment! Autoharps can be played in your lap, on a table or held against your shoulder. Once a player gets comfortable with a number of strumming and finger-picking techniques, melody playing is an option. The autoharp lends itself to all kinds of music—from children’s songs and folk tunes to holiday classics and international melodies.

The bowed psaltery (SAUL-tree) is a triangular-shaped instrument developed by a German school teacher in the 1940’s. It’s easy to learn—especially for those familiar with a piano. The strings on the right are the same notes as white piano keys; the strings on the left are the same as the black keys.

The psaltery is played by drawing a bow across individual strings. Once a noted is played, it continues to ring. The result is a uniquely beautiful and haunting sound.