About Kara Barnard

About Kara Barnard

Learn about Kara Barnard here. Press information, including printable pics and links to more information can be found here.

A 2019 photo of Kara Barnard relaxing on a patio with Dobie Jo on her lap.

Kara and Dobie Jo in 2023

Kara Barnard is a multi-instrumentalist, music instructor, singer-songwriter, and talented visual artist.

Kara instructs hundreds of guitar, mandolin, banjo and dulcimer students each year. Beginner to advanced students seek her out for her technical excellence and outstanding teaching skills. She is one of the most highly respected music teachers in Indiana.

In 2022 she was the 2022 Walnut Valley Festival National Mountain Dulcimer contest champion.

A 2019 photo of Kara Barnard relaxing on a patio with Dobie Jo on her lap.

Kara and Dobie Jo in 2023

Kara Barnard is a multi-instrumentalist, music instructor, singer-songwriter, and talented visual artist.

Kara instructs hundreds of guitar, mandolin, banjo and dulcimer students each year. Beginner to advanced students seek her out for her technical excellence and outstanding teaching skills. She is one of the most highly respected music teachers in Indiana.

In 2022 she was the 2022 Walnut Valley Festival National Mountain Dulcimer contest champion.

In 2007 Kara opened The Weed Patch Music company, a music store featuring instruments built by Indiana Luthiers as well as stocking Kara’s instructional books. Weed Patch quickly became a destination in Brown County, and the store has been featured on many television travel shows. Weedpatch is still going strong under the ownership of Kara’s former banjo student, Kristin Thompson.

A photo showing the instruments on the wall inside the Weedpatch Music Company in Nashville, Indiana.

Inside Weedpatch Music Company in Nashville, IN

A photo showing the instruments on the wall inside the Weedpatch Music Company in Nashville, Indiana.

Inside Weedpatch Music Company in Nashville, IN

In 2007 Kara opened The Weed Patch Music company, a music store featuring instruments built by Indiana Luthiers as well as stocking Kara’s instructional books. Weed Patch quickly became a destination in Brown County, and the store has been featured on many television travel shows. Weedpatch is still going strong under the ownership of Kara’s former banjo student, Kristin Thompson.

Theresa Wills, Chuck Wills, and Kara Barnard wearing and standing in front of a display of the 2022 Indiana State Fingerstyle Guitar Festival TShirts.

Theresa and Church Wills with Kara. Photo by Theresa Thompson.

Kara’s experience competing in international guitar contests led her to create her own contest in 2010.

The Indiana State Fingerstyle Guitar Contest takes place each year in Brown County, Indiana, on the last weekend in July. Top guitarists from all over the world come to compete.

Kara co-produces the weekend with longtime friend and musical co-conspirator, Chuck Wills.

Theresa Wills, Chuck Wills, and Kara Barnard wearing and standing in front of a display of the 2022 Indiana State Fingerstyle Guitar Festival TShirts.

Theresa and Church Wills with Kara. Photo by Theresa Thompson.

Kara’s experience competing in international guitar contests led her to create her own contest in 2010.

The Indiana State Fingerstyle Guitar Contest takes place each year in Brown County, Indiana, on the last weekend in July. Top guitarists from all over the world come to compete.

Kara co-produces the weekend with longtime friend and musical co-conspirator, Chuck Wills.

In 2018 Kara launched “Kara’s Silver Strings” a mountain dulcimer program that teaches older adults to play the dulcimer using age specific curriculum and specially designed dulcimers. 

Eric Rose teamed up with Kara and the two have focused on taking the program to assisted living facilities across the country.

A photo of Kara Barnard leading a Kara Silver Strings class.

Kara leading a “Kara’s Silver Strings” class. Photo by Ellen Aleshire.

A photo of Kara Barnard leading a Kara Silver Strings class.

Kara leading a “Kara’s Silver Strings” class. Photo by Ellen Aleshire.

In 2018 Kara launched “Kara’s Silver Strings” a mountain dulcimer program that teaches older adults to play the dulcimer using age-specific curriculum and specially designed dulcimers. 

Eric Rose teamed up with Kara and the two have focused on taking the program to assisted living facilities across the country.

The Barnard Sisters sitting on a hearth with their mom, laughing.

Kara performs with her sister Pam Barnard Hays as the Barnard Sisters. Here she and Pam perform a song with their mom, Kay Allen.

Kara’s seven CDs, Cheshire Cat Moon, The Water’s Edge, Home, Fret Hopping in Brown County, Dishpan Brigade, Brown County Waltz, and Flying Down King Street, see yearly sales in the thousands. 

While Kara has cut down on her formerly extensive touring schedule, she still performs on occasion as a solo performer and with her sister, Pam Barnard Hays (as one half of The Barnard Sisters).

The Barnard Sisters sitting on a hearth with their mom, laughing.

Kara performs with her sister Pam Barnard Hays as the Barnard Sisters. Here she and Pam perform a song with their mom, Kay Allen.

Kara’s seven CDs, Cheshire Cat Moon, The Water’s Edge, Home, Fret Hopping in Brown County, Dishpan Brigade, Brown County Waltz, and Flying Down King Street, see yearly sales in the thousands. 

While Kara has cut down on her formerly extensive touring schedule, she still performs on occasion as a solo performer and with her sister, Pam Barnard Hays (as one half of The Barnard Sisters).

During her busy performing years Kara worked live and/or in the studio with many nationally recognized artists and bands such as Tret Fure, Ferron, Wishing Chair, Jamie Anderson, Sindacato (co-producing their critically acclaimed third CD, Logan County), Slats Klug, and Buzzy Jones.

Photo of Trina Hamlin, Kara Barnard, and Kia Heartwood performing onstage at the National Women's Music Festival.

Trina Hamlin, Kara, and Kiya Heartwood onstage at the NWMF in Illinois. Photo by J. Rickert.

Photo of Trina Hamlin, Kara Barnard, and Kia Heartwood performing onstage at the National Women's Music Festival.

Trina Hamlin, Kara, and Kiya Heartwood onstage at the NWMF in Illinois. Photo by J. Rickert.

During her busy performing years Kara worked live and/or in the studio with many nationally recognized artists and bands such as Tret Fure, Ferron, Wishing Chair, Jamie Anderson, Sindacato (co-producing their critically acclaimed third CD, Logan County), Slats Klug, and Buzzy Jones.

A photo of Kara Barnard on stage with one of her students, playing guitars at her annual student showcase.

Kara and a young student on stage at the annual Brown County Youth Showcase. Photo by Allison Watters.

Kara earned an invitation to perform and give workshops at an international convention in Bogota, Colombia. 

Barnard, once counted among the nation’s finest fingerstyle guitarists, was also Indiana’s top ranked female mandolinist. Her mountain dulcimer skills landed her a top five spot in the 2009 Walnut Valley Festival National competition, and she was the competition winner in 2022.

A photo of Kara Barnard on stage with one of her students, playing guitars at her annual student showcase.

Kara and a young student on stage at the annual Brown County Youth Showcase. Photo by Allison Watters.

Kara earned an invitation to perform and give workshops at an international convention in Bogota, Colombia. 

Barnard, once counted among the nation’s finest fingerstyle guitarists, was also Indiana’s top ranked female mandolinist. Her mountain dulcimer skills landed her a top five spot in the 2009 Walnut Valley Festival National competition, and she was the competition winner in 2022.

Kara has received many awards in several areas including music entrepreneurship, mentoring students, and even her lifetime achievement award presented by the Brown County Playhouse in 2019.

Though she still loves performing, over the last few years she has focused on teaching and setting the stage for others to perform in front of appreciative crowds. Nashville, Indiana audiences enjoy performances not only by adults counted among the most skilled instrumentalists in the world, but also by her young students, some performing for the fist time. Teaching and sharing music with others has become her passion.

A candid photo of Kara Barnard and other playing bluegrass in someone's living room.

Bluegrass Jam

A candid photo of Kara Barnard and other playing bluegrass in someone's living room.

Bluegrass Jam

Kara has received many awards in several areas including music entrepreneurship, mentoring students, and even a lifetime achievement award presented by the Brown County Playhouse in 2019.

Though Kara still loves performing, over the last few years she has focused on teaching and setting the stage for others to perform in front of appreciative crowds. Nashville, Indiana, audiences not only enjoy performances by adults counted among the most skilled instrumentalists in the world, but also by her young students, some performing for the fist time. Teaching and sharing music with others has become her passion.

Kara has written several of her own instruction books and is credited as the technical editor for Banjo for Dummies and Bluegrass Banjo for Dummies by Bill Evans and Wiley Publishing.

Kara has written several of her own instruction books and is credited as the technical editor for Banjo for Dummies and Bluegrass Banjo for Dummies by Bill Evans and Wiley Publishing.

A photo of one of Kara Barnard's "Cartoon Cartography" maps being created.

Working on a map of Bloomington, IN

Kara still occasionally accepts work as a visual artist but prefers to stay focused on her teaching. Kara is a cartoonist and has designed everything from signs to T-shirts to book covers, but is perhaps best known for what she terms “cartoon cartography,” folk art influenced hand-drawn maps.

When Kara’s not teaching, making her own music, or creating art, you’ll probably find her traveling or hiking through the hills of Brown County with her beagle, Dobie Jo.

A photo of one of Kara Barnard's "Cartoon Cartography" maps being created.

Working on a map of Bloomington, IN

Kara still occasionally accepts work as a visual artist but prefers to stay focused on her teaching. Kara is a cartoonist and has designed everything from signs to T-shirts to book covers, but is perhaps best known for what she terms “cartoon cartography,” folk art influenced hand-drawn maps.

When Kara’s not teaching, making her own music, or creating art, you’ll probably find her traveling or hiking through the hills of Brown County with her beagle, Dobie Jo.

Background image of a row of hands, based on a drawing by Kara Barnard
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