I went through a "planned midlife crisis" as I approached my half-century mark, pondering what I may have missed out on in life. I had failed to thrive with a number of musical instruments as a child, so I decided to give it one last try as an adult. As I researched what instrument might give the most satisfying results for someone with with little musical skill, I discovered the mountain dulcimer. The first dulcimer I ever saw in person was the student model I ordered from Harpmaker. I did some playing and became fascinated by the many shapes and different constructions of the instrument. Since then, I have amassed a collection with some fine instruments (like my Homer Ledford and my carved-body Mastertone) and some far-less-than fine (including a couple wall hangers). I've built a few from a variety of kits as well. I enjoy this instrument which isn't "settled" yet, unlike orchestral instruments which have developed norms for things like shape and tuning.