Oklahoma City Traditional Music Association

IN THE BEGINNING...Once upon a time...........I made a serendipitous discovery of an instrument called an "autoharp" An instant, mutual, life-long passion blossomed between us...........sigh............ I didn't know anyone else who played either the instrument or traditional music. So I bought a how-to book and located a magazine called the AUTOHARPOHOLIC for persons involved in similar love affairs. 

In time, I wrote a letter to the magazine saying how happy I and the autoharp were, but also how lonely! Another autoharp player in Oklahoma City named Lew Jweid (now deceased) saw the letter and tracked me down and said let's get together. We agreed to meet the last weekend of that month, September, 1983, as I had heard about that Mecca called "The Walnut Valley Festival" in Winfield, Kansas, and had made plans to attend. Winfield was "music heaven" where I met many players and heard lots of songs and different kinds of music on the autoharp. I came home inspired and anxious to meet even more players and learn still more songs.

I invited Ruth Coates, who played with the FRIENDS OF TRADITION, to the upcoming meeting with Lew and I. Ruth invited Bill McMullen, Bonnie Houghton and Karin Stafford, all local musicians. I also invited Charlotte Trobaugh, a member of my church, who had an autoharp. These seven people were the original mem ers of the "Flying Fingers Autoharp Club" and we met in my home from September, 1983, through March, 1984. When we merged into OCTMA we had ten members.

​Along about March, 1984, Karin gave me the name of a man who had belonged to a dulcimer club that had dissolved. I called this stranger whose name was Neil Gaston and said, "You don't know me but Karin Stafford told me to call you and tell you that I have an autoharp club" and his reply was "You're JUST the person I've been looking for!" The statement mystified me until I discovered much later that he and Dennis Jowasis (another member of FRIENDS OF TRADITION) were in the early stages of re-forming the dulcimer club. (Karma, I guess!?!?)

Neil had an editor friend at the DAILY OKLAHOMAN (a fan of traditional music) who put two articles in the paper about the organization of our club which was great publicity! Neil was a member of the Tulsa dulcimer club and he drafted some of those folks to come to our first meeting and lead workshops. He gave me Steve Mayfield's name, who was and still is an excellent autoharp player, and I did another of those "you don't know me but" phone calls and ask him to lead the autoharp workshop (it turned out we'd met at Winfield). As a matter of fact, I remember making several of those "you don't know me but" calls for various reasons.

​Our first meeting was held Saturday, April 6, 1984. More than fifty people attended including Otto McKee, Jean Roberts and myself. The format of the evening was much the same as it is now with workshops, the play-around, a meet and greet and a jam. We ended up with workshops for autoharp, mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer. Other instruments present were mandolin, banjo, guitar, bones, fiddle, concertina and an Irish harp. We first met at the Midwest Boulevard Christian Church in Midwest City in April and May. The June and July meetings were held at Will Rogers Park where the Gazette did a story about us. It was getting hot in August so we moved to Crown Heights United Methodist Church at 37th and Western where we stayed for several years. We grew by leaps and bounds and needed a larger meeting place so we moved to the City Arts Center. From there we have moved to the Tom Steed Centerat Rose State College, then to Central Presbyterian Church and finally back to City Arts Center!!

​Many changes have taken place since 1984. The club has evolvedinto what it is today and I have been pulled kicking and screaming into the future. It has been very difficult for me to cut the "apron strings" when things weren't going the way I thought they should.I'd like to think that this club began because of that one little phone call I made to Neil, but I don't believe the OCTMA could have happened without our joint efforts. We created it together. There may have been an autoharp club, or a dulcimer club, but not what we now have.........and probably neither would have lasted thirteen years.So we deserve equal credit, but even MORE so, everyone that has followed us deserves just as much credit as we do........for keeping it alive!!Many times I thought the club might die because no one wanted to be president, but every year some brave soul picks up the "rhythm"...........

and the beat goes on.........

Anita Roesler

Presidents in order of service have been: 
1984-1985 Neil Gaston 
1985-1986 Anita Roesler 
1986-1987 Wayne Cantwell 
1987-1988 Lloyd Hise 
1988-1989 Jackie Smith 
1989-1990 David Higgins 
1990-1991 Ed Petitt 
1991-1992 Jackie Smith 
1993-1995 Holly Van Auken 
1994-1995 Steve Muns 
1995-1996 Ray Haines 
1996-1997 Karen Petitt 
1997-1998 Kathy Dagg 
1998-2000 Rees Evans 
2000-2001 Jacque Rapp 
​2001-2003 Pam Hamilton 
2003-2004 Ray Haines 
2004-2005 Ray Haines
2005-2006 Ray Haines
2006-2007 Gary Parent
2007-2008 Wyatt Pedigo
2008-2009 Bill Brown
2009-2010 Bill Brown
2010-2011 Bill Brown
2011-2012 Wyatt Pedigo

2012-2013 Cliff McMurray

2013-2014 Cliff McMurray