Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hobby Roulette: The Harp

I have a very tumultuous relationship with my harp.  First, there is the aesthetic joy.   Harps are beautiful, and Lyon and Healy harps are incredible.  The lines are magnificent, the wood is divine, and the scrolling artwork on the soundboard is breathtaking.  They are smooth and sturdy, feel sensuous against the skin, and my particular model has a brass crown and feet like a badass bath tub - if only I could find them.

The next layer is the guilt.  I've always been pretty piss-poor at practicing, when it comes to music.  I love to play, and feel I am transcending this mortal coil when I sing or play a particularly moving please in an ensemble.  This means that while at home, by myself, I feel kind of. . . lackluster.  It embarrasses me to make mistakes if there are humans around to hear them, and sometimes even when I'm all by myself.

Can you imagine the pressure of this magnificent creature, staring at you accusingly whenever you walk through a room?

Why don't you practice more?

You know, my strings wouldn't break so much if you tuned me every day. Twice.

What's the point of having a handcarved sitka spruce soundboard if no one ever plucks the strings?

Oh, my life. . . why am I even here?


 Our relationship status: It's complicated.

On the one hand, it hurts my back to play.

On the other, there is nothing as satisfying as playing the last arpeggio on the last note of a well executed song.

On the other hand, I am handicapped by my persevering inability to read the bass clef.  I can only memorize songs - never play them from a book fluidly.  It has to be fully memorized for me to play without starts and stops.  It is, as they say, frustrating.  I currently know two songs.  Le bummer.

On the other hand: What is my problem?  This is why I can't have nice things.  Because I agonize over them.  I feel guilty for spending my own money that I worked hard for.  What?

The third and most important thing is: the joy of making music.  I played the other night for a while and it was glorious.  I finally got my new strings in, and replaced them and tuned them, and then I sat down and played.  I love it.  It's calming, it's beautiful, and the harp is its own accompaniment. 

Can you guess what happened next?
Remind me to order a new F-string.  Because the one that broke?  Right in the middle of all dang everything.


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