Autoharp Workshop

By Ozark Folk Center State Park (other events)

Thu, Jun 6 2019 8:30 AM Sat, Jun 8 2019 9:00 PM

                   Our autoharp workshop features intensive classroom instruction Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon. Performances by instructors, special guests and participants are also included in the schedule. All playing levels, beginners to advanced, are welcome!   Students will choose a class that they will remain with based on playing level. ALL students will have classes with each instructor every day.    


                                2019 AUTOHARP REGISTRATION INFORMATION
                                                         June 6-8, 2019

                       Workshop Schedule, follow link below. Class descriptions, scroll down.

New Registration Format
All workshop registrations for 2019 will be handled through our online portal with Ticketleap. This will allow us track registration information, keep accurate student counts, process refunds and check in students with much more efficiency than in years past. You will need a credit card and a valid email address to register. Online registration for the Autoharp Workshop is available through Wednesday June 5th, 2019.

No registrations will be taken over the phone or by mail.

If you have specific questions about the workshop, class offerings or need to cancel an online registration, you can reach our Music Director, Daren Dortin at 870-269-3853 or by email, [email protected]

Workshop Format
By selecting your level online and answering the registration questions, we will be better able to schedule classroom assignments. Note that you will be able to move from different levels and take classes from different instructors, as you like. Your level selection when registering online does not lock you in to a specific class for the duration of the workshop.

Registration for the 3-day event is $158.50 and is available online through Wednesday, June 5th, 2019. Your registration includes 3 days of workshop classes (Thursday thru Saturday) admission to the evening concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

All registration after the online deadline will be handled “on site” the day of the event. See pricing below.

Single Day and Walk Up Registration
Registration for single day classes and walk up students will be processed at the front desk in the Administration building once the workshop has started. Single day classes are $75.00. Walk Up registration for the 3-day workshop is $175.00.

New this year 3 day Non Participant Pass for $32.50
Save over $40.00 off regular admission prices. This discounted pass is for spouses, friends, and family members of workshop attendees who want to take advantage of all the Ozark Folk Center State Park has to offer and are not attending the workshops. This pass allows admission-- for one person-- to the both the Craft village and all nightly music shows, Thursday-Saturday during the banjo workshop weekend.

On Site Lodging
On site lodging at the Cabins at Dry Creek fills up quickly for workshop weekends. If you are wishing to stay at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, we suggest making reservations as soon as possible.

For Cabin Reservations:  870-269-3851

New Cancelation and Refund Policy
Registration fees are fully refundable for this workshop until the close of business June 1st, 2019.

Accounting and fiscal management with the new online registration format means refunds cannot be issued after the 1st of June. 

In the event you are unable to attend after the refund deadline has passed, you will be offered the opportunity to “roll over” the registration fee for next year’s workshop or other OFCSP workshops, for up to one calendar year

For refunds please call (870-269 3853)  or email ([email protected]) our Music Director, Daren Dortin. Music Director’s office hours are:

Monday-Friday 9am-6pm Mid- November thru Mid-April

Wednesday-Saturday 10am-9pm Mid-April thru Mid-November

Workshop Information

Our autoharp workshop features intensive classroom instruction Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon. Performances by instructors, special guests and participants are also included in the schedule. All playing levels, beginners to advanced, are welcome!   Students will choose a class that they will remain with based on playing level. ALL students will have classes with each instructor every day.

2019 Instructors
We have an All-Star staff for you this year! Each of our instructors is a member of the Autoharp Hall of Fame.

Bryan Bowers (Washington)-- 1993 Charter Member of the Autoharp Hall of Fame.  Presents instrumental virtuosity and masterful storytelling, combined with warmth, expression and professionalism. (

Les Gustafson-Zook (Indiana) — 2001 International Autoharp Champion, an entertaining and energetic performer and instructor, recording artist, and author of the Autoharp Hymnal. (

Karen Mueller (Minnesota) —1986 International Autoharp Champion, experienced and patient instructor, international touring and recording artist, Mel Bay book author, multi-instrumentalist. (

Charles Whitmer (Texas) —Teacher par excellence, author of prodigious catalogue of autoharp and other instrumental and choral music, expert in shape note singing, and favorite staff at multiple autoharp events nationally.

SPECIAL GUESTS!  “HARMONY” returns! Mary and Robert Gillihan and Dave Smith will do an afternoon workshop on how they put a song together and develop instrumental and vocal magic.  

Class playing levels

Please Designate Group 1, 2, 3 or 4 on your registration form. Once the workshop has started, you’re welcome to change groups if you think another would be a better match.

1 Beginners and Begin-again-ers – We will start at the very beginning and teach basic strums, rhythmic backup of singing and other instruments and some very simple melody techniques on beautiful and easy songs and tunes.

2 Early Intermediate – We will add more rhythms and build solid melody-picking skills, learning some great new intermediate-level songs and tunes.

3 Advanced Intermediate – For good melody players who want to learn interesting new rhythm techniques and more complex melodies with new ways to play and arrange more difficult repertoire.

4 Advanced - This is for people who already have a good repertoire of songs or tunes, play melodies with ease, feel comfortable playing for others, and want to add finesse and excitement to their playing, pick up some new songs and tunes, and explore and share new musical frontiers.

Workshop Topics in Detail, OFC Autoharp Workshop 2019
Workshops will be taught at the level stated, so please stay with your level group as much as possible.
*Some workshops will be presented more than once, at different levels.*
Keys will include F, C, G, D; a chromatic (standard 15- or 21-bar) will cover all keys.
1. Les: Care and feeding of the autoharp for beginners- tuning, holding, picks, strums
2. Charles: Essential strumming techniques and fills
3. Karen: ‘60s Folk Songs with melody breaks
4. Bryan: Get your fingers moving with some of Bryan’s favorite songs
1. Charles: Solid Beginnings- Continuing on with strums and basics
2. Karen: Reading autoharp tab and using it to play familiar songs and melodies
3. Bryan: Tunes and songs from Bryan’s early repertoire
4. Les: Beautiful waltzes
1. Karen: More songs and strums to get you rolling
2. Bryan: Understanding and using chord numbers (1,4,5) in any key
3. Les: Autoharp hymns
4. Charles: Sea chanties
1. Bryan: Reviewing the basics and learning songs
2. Les: Melody playing essentials - Using pinch and pluck techniques 3. Charles: Carter Family Songs
4. Karen: Irish tunes to get your fingers flying
1. Charles: Review, Q & A, and strumming old-time songs
2. Karen: Jam 101- The ‘how-to’s of jamming, and some popular tunes to know
3. Bryan: Playing with feeling and expression
4. Les: Spicing up songs with turnarounds, arpeggios and more
1. Karen: Adding minor chords to your left hand setup
2. Bryan: Great songs from Bryan’s repertoire
3. Les: Diatonic tuning: What it is and what you can do with it
4. Charles: Hymns and gospel songs
1. Bryan: Understanding and using chord numbers (1,4,5) in any key
2. Les: Playing with kids- Ways to keep their attention and invite participation
3. Charles: Songs from England
4. Karen: Classical themes that sound great on the autoharp
1. Les: Beyond dum ditty- Additional strums, and pre-melody exercises
2. Charles: Bluegrass songs to get your toes tapping
3. Karen: Irish dance tune styles - jigs, reels and more, melody and backup
4. Bryan: Round robin song share with group feedback
1. Karen: Melody techniques and tunes
2. Bryan: Honing your melody playing skills with two great tunes
3. Les: Fun with fiddle tunes 4. Charles: Bluegrass songs, breaks and licks
1. Bryan: Songs with heart
2. Les: Playing by ear
3. Charles: Appalachian and modal songs
4. Karen: Playing with dynamics and creating musical arrangements
1:15 (45-minute class)
1. Les: Accompanying others -Interesting rhythm and harmony options
2. Charles: Old-time gospel songs
3. Karen: Songs about the West and cowboys
4. Bryan: Bryan shares some of his current favorite songs
2:15 (45-minute class)
1. Charles: Review and tying up loose ends, with 1-2 new songs to take home
2. Karen: Fun ‘60s songs
3. Bryan: Songs and stories with Bryan
4. Les: Fiddle tunes- picking up speed

General Information

Doors to Administration Building open each morning at 8:00 AM

Registration & Orientation

Doors open at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. Students check in with printed registration form from Ticketleap or with registration receipt on your mobile device. Nametags, and schedules will be available in the lobby at check-in.

Orientation begins at 9:00 am Thursday morning in the White Oak auditorium in the Administration Building. The previous evening you are welcome to stop by an informal session to get in tune and do some jamming, in the Dry Creek Cabins Rec Room.