I just got back from a camping trip where I brought a dulcimer. Plucked by the lake and the campfire and it was a great time. While out there, a friend remarked that it sounds nice and told me what so many people have told me during conversations about music. "I've never been any good."
Every time I hear this it's like a dopamine rush because I know certainly that if I put a dulcimer in their hands, explain to them the Do-Re-Mi scale as I move up the melody string frets, and then show them that every chord they can play will always be harmonious, they will be enthralled and within 30 seconds their musical confidence will have skyrocketed. Sure enough he was having fun with different rhythms, playing bizarre chords as far as his hands could stretch just to see what they sound like, and once he realized he could barre chords using a lighter as a slide, he was in bliss.
It's an experience I've had many times. I often sling my primitive dulcimers on my back and walk to the river, and along the way people often inquire about it. I really do relish in persuading people who think they lack musical ability to go ahead and try playing. Without fail people who have had really bad experiences with hard to learn instruments get so invested in playing my dulcimer its hard to get it back, and in fact a couple times, they purchased it from me on the spot because the music they made with it spoke to them.
I get a ton of joy from introducing american history enthusiasts, art appreciators, and those who need a boost of musical confidence to my dulcimers. It is so accessible to beginners and is simply gorgeous in the hands of a master.
In my opinion the dulcimer should replace the recorder as the 'student instrument' given that it's so much more likely to spark a love for music. I think if everyone had access to a dulcimer, almost everyone would be a musician :)