When Sarah McWhirt Toler (formerly Musgrave) was a senior in high school, she approached VSA TN with an idea. She wanted to visit area schools and expose kids on the Autism Spectrum to the Mountain Dulcimer. She felt that there were many aspects about the dulcimer that would make it a perfect instrument for teaching music to someone with Autism and that it would be a great instrument to provide ensemble opportunities.

Sarah not only offered the workshops, she also ran a fund raiser to purchase dulcimers that could be used by a group and formed the first dulcimer choir which was inducted at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Sarah went off to college and Sandy Conaster became the group’s artistic director holding rehearsals at the Blair School of Music who partners with VSA TN on this program. However, Sandy needed to tend to some family matters and left the choir after 4 years of service. At that time, Sarah was graduating from college and she stepped back into this program and has remained its artistic director.

Individuals in the program receive private lessons on Tuesday afternoons and evenings through the school year. The group meets the last Saturday of the month in the morning for a group rehearsal. The group performs at various events throughout the year.

Currently, the group is welcoming new members for the fall semester. If you know someone on the Autism Spectrum who may wish to be a part of this program, please contact VSA TN.