I agree with what you're saying...but will add that I do think the Hammond tapes are quite accessible to a real beginner. I also think another difference in choosing teaching aids has to do with whether one already knows how to play any other instruments. Some materials stay at a very basic level for a long time, others advance more quickly.
I'd encourage a beginner to invest in an electronic tuner, unless they'll always have a piano handy, or know how to use a pitch-pipe well. Getting it tuned well and quickly, and then getting right to the good old playing, is so much more fun than sounding bad or breaking strings.
How is all this sounding to you, Sarah? Are you getting too overwhelmed? What drew you to the dulcimer? For me, it was the drone sound that reminded me of my dad's bagpipes....