This summer we built 6 superfab autoharps at the group home I work in, Talbot Boys Home. It’s a therapeutic program for boys age 12-17. They are residents of the home for 6-12 months.
The boys received one-on-one instrument in woodworking and instrument building, gaining experience with drilling, sanding, glue-ups, measuring, stringing, chord voicing, tuning etc. A highlight was spending time with each boy at the drill press where one of us held the autoharp in place while the other lowered the bit. Each autoharp has 157 holes, so there was lots of time at the drill press to work together while listening to music.
In the end we created six sweet sounding instruments that the boys now own, having built them from gorgeous solid woods such as cedar, redwood, walnut, maple, and poplar. One place where I really feel like the mission is being fulfilled is when I’m teaching a kid about the confusing inch (no, 23/32nds is not a practical number to work with when there’s the metric system, but we’re in America and that’s how we do).
It’s so fulfilling as a teacher seeing a kid breakthrough and finally feel comfortable finding measurements on the sliding square and transferring them onto the instrument-in-the-works.
Big thanks to Youth Homes for sponsoring this build. They have been a force for good here in Montana since 1971, working very closely with thousands of kids since then. I’ve learned tons from them since they hired me in 2016.
Also, thank you to the great MusicMakers who’s blueprint we used for this project.
PS: dig the autoharp cake!