biography




Kara Barnard
 

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

Her experiences 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 Chuck Wills. 

In 2018 Kara launched "Kara's Silver Strings" a mountain dulcimer program that teaches older adults to play the dulcimer using her 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.

Though she considers herself retired as a performer, 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, still see yearly sales in the thousands. She has cut down on her formerly extensive touring schedule, and now only occasionally performs in Indiana and South Carolina 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.

Barnard, once counted among the nation's finest fingerstyle guitarists, was also Indiana's top ranked female mandolinist years ago. Her mountain dulcimer skills landed her a top five spot in the 2009 Walnut Valley Festival National competition and also earned her an invitation to perform and give workshops at an international convention in Bogota, Colombia. 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 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.

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.

Kara working on a map of Bloomington, Indiana in 2009
Kara working on a map of Bloomington, Indiana

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.

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