Play the Autoharp!

The autoharp is perhaps the easiest stringed instrument to sound "okay" on quickly. Just push down a button, strum, and you're rewarded with a nice-sounding chord. Within a short time you might be playing recognizable melodies. Unfortunately, these beginning melodies are often recognizable only to the one who is playing! On one occasion I was playing for some ladies in a quilting class. I played several songs and ended with "Amazing Grace." When I asked for requests, a nice little lady replied "Do you know 'Amazing Grace?'" I figured, maybe, the dear old thing was deaf as a post, but it's possible, I suppose, that I wasn't playing as clear a melody as I imagined I was. One of the ways to help get beyond this is to record your playing, then listen to it. This gives you a better sense of what your listeners are hearing.

Below are some of the hymn videos on this site that include the most direct A-harp instruction. Though it's not essential, you might want to start at the top and work your way down, as that is, more or less, the way they were developed. Use the link on each page to print out the sheet music with chords you need for playing melody on your 'harp.

Down at the Cross

This Is My Father's World

The Haven of Rest

Jesus Loves Even Me

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

"Nearer, My God, to Thee"

Where We'll Never Grow Old

"Daniel In the Lions' Den" (blues)

There are quite a few good beginning instruction videos for our instrument on the internet. Rather than duplicate them here, I'm including links here to some by Terwilliger Jones, who, along with Spot, the Wonderdog, provide an entertaining series of introductory lessons on to how to play the autoharp!

Terwilliger, part 1

Terwilliger, part 2

Terwilliger, part 3

Terwilliger - Scales

Terwilliger - Pinch, Pluck


Another autoharp teacher on Youtube is Jo Ann Smith. Here are links to a few of her videos.

Basic Melody Techniques

Chromatic vs. Diationic

How to Change the Strings on an Autoharp