Falling in Love With a Bowed Psaltery

Here at BoomerCafé we love it when baby boomers not only get a second chance, but get it through their own innovation. That pretty much describes Ann Tucker, who always yearned to make music and finally found a musical instrument that provokes the question, “You Play A What?!?”

I have always wanted to play a musical instrument. But in second grade, they pulled me out of class, stuck a violin under my chin and said “Play!” I stayed in that program for only a few months. No matter how hard I tried, it always sounded like I was torturing a cat!

A Bowed Psaltery

When my parents saw that I really wanted to play music (just not the violin), they paid for guitar and then piano lessons. But it was no use. I was hopelessly musically challenged.

Over the years I tried different instruments to see if I had outgrown this affliction and each time I was reminded that I hadn’t.

Then while wandering the internet, I discovered the Bowed Psaltery.

It seems to be made for the musically challenged like me!

The Bowed Psaltery is a simple stringed instrument. It sounds a bit like the violin with the droning quality of the bagpipes. If you love Celtic music, Folk Music, or any music that stirs the soul, you’ll love the sound of the Bowed Psaltery. You can find some videos of the instrument being played by enthusiasts … click here.

As a child, I grew up listening to Peter, Paul and Mary sing ballads that embedded themselves in my mind. Folk Music, maybe due to that early influence, has always had a pull on me. Who among us can’t sing at least half the words from Puff the Magic Dragon?

Ann Tucker

So when I discovered that the Bowed Psaltery was an instrument that even someone like me could play, how could I walk away?

My repertoire of songs includes traditional Celtic tunes, folk tunes, some of the slower Beatles songs, and of course, Puff.

I recently had the opportunity to get together with a group of about 45 Bowed Psaltery players at the Second Annual Bowed Psaltery Symphony in Beckley, West Virginia. Players came from as far as Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. Some were real musicians, some wannabes like me. Most were women who had gotten to a point in our lives where we felt we could spend time on ourselves. Learning to play an instrument was one of those things many of us wanted to do. Many of us were self-taught.

The Second Annual Bowed Psaltery Symphony was four days of song-playing. Practicing melodies and harmonies together with a public concert on the last day. This was the first time I had played a musical instrument in public and the first time I’ve played alongside others. It was a life-long dream come true.

Some advice from that kid who wanted to play music and couldn’t: keep trying for your dreams. You never know when one will come true.

Follow Ann online.


  1. The article is great! Thank you!
    With my birthday last week and attending a festival over the weekend, I hadn’t been reading any of the blogs I follow. So it was a very pleasant surprise to open this blog and find this great article waiting for me.
    What a great birthday present!

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