To get people to understand what kind of a harp I really want to play music on, I created this infogram that shows everyone the kind of harps I want to play and the kinds of harps I don’t want to play.
As you can see in the infogram, I crossed out the Celtic and folk harps because I hate them (Sorry, Sylvia Woods and everyone else who love such harps!) due to their shape. To me, it’s ugly and unappealing for a harp. In fact my first harp I ever played was unfortunately the Lyon & Healy Troubadour harp which I greatly despised playing due to its shape that’s unappealing and hateful to me. I wanted to get rid of it because I didn’t want to play such a harp in the first place. Here’s more of my harp playing experience starting at the very beginning.
Back in 1991 when I was 17 years old, my mom with the help of a high school counselor was able to locate an awesome harp teacher named Ellen Grafius who lives in E. Lansing, MI. She taught the harp and was willing to show me the strings and the pedals of her harp. So we all went over there and visit the teacher. Oh, how I fell in love with her harp and the music coming from the instrument was wonderful. I was motivated, willing to learn to play the harp– but not on the troubadour harp which I ended up getting one year later!
The Troubadour harp, the harp in the photo on the left, was the wrong kind of harp for me! When I was told that I was going to get a troubadour harp to rent from a high school in E.Lansing, Michigan, I thought it resembled the concert grand pedal harp like I always envisioned and admired in books and in TV shows ever since I was a little girl. But I was wrong. When I actually did saw the harp, I got a bit upset over it. This is not the harp I want to play! But I had no choice but to take it and learn to play music from it because back then before the days of the internet, we haven’t found anyplace else locally where we can find a much better harp than what was available. Still, I didn’t want to play that kind of a harp at all! I tried to put up with the instrument and be thankful for it, but I just couldn’t do it! It was the wrong shape, the wrong image, everything about the troubadour harp was entirely wrong for me!
I tried to tell everyone that I just couldn’t play the harp anymore and that I want a much different better harp than what I ended up renting for 6 years. But they misunderstood me. Everyone wrongfully thought that I was going to give up on the harp completely when I, in fact, wasn’t. I want a much different and better harp than what I had to put up with for 6 years until I finally was able to take it back to the school where it belong in 1997 and be rid of it for good.
I had to go without a harp for almost 5 years until I finally discovered a place near Detroit, MI called The Michigan Harp Center where they have some really decent harps available as part of a rent to own program. So me, my mom and a friend from church all went down there and low and behold I saw that there are harps– Lyon & Healy pedal harps! Harps that I want to play, rent, and to own at the store!
So I tried them out… and fell in love with them. This, ladies and gentlemen, is THE harp I want to play, to rent, and eventually own! The pedal harp, straight pillar, curved neck, an instrument similar to what Harpo Marx played in the Marx Brothers films. This is THE exact harp I want to play, THE exact harp I want to study the harp with, THE exact harp I want to own!
This is myself performing on the Lyon & Healy Style 15 an absolute favorite harp that I just couldn’t live without alongside the Lyon & Healy Style 14, The Style 23, the Style 17, The Chicago, All Venus Harps including the Classic, Prodigy, Traditional, and Encore, The Salvi Diana, Daphne, Arianna, Iris, the list goes on and on and on. I rented the harp for two years, learning the pieces, the pedals and the strings. But the harp had buzzing issues to where every time I pluck a certain string, it created an unpleasant buzzing sound instead of the usual harp style tone so I had to switch harps. I ended up renting the Lyon & Healy Style 14 which I also enjoyed playing immensely even though I was looking forward to playing the Style 15 again. Eventually the buzzing issue was temporary fixed and I was able to have the 15 back for a little while longer until sadly, after two years of renting from Michigan Harp Center, I had the heartbreaking experience of returning the harp back to the store where it belonged because I couldn’t afford it any longer. The rental contract I signed was expiring and I couldn’t afford to renew the contract thus I had no choice but to let the harp go. When I wanted to rent the harp again, I called up the harp center and learned that the harp was sold to someone else. I cried. I cried the day the harp was taken back and I cried when I found out that the harp was sold to another person. I never have felt so heartbroken in my life, losing a harp you truly love. Not being able to afford getting it back. It was the most saddest day of my life. And I’m still sad about it to this day.
The Lyon & Healy Style 15, alongside the Venus Classic that I rented for two years from Budget Harp Rentals in Jacksonville, FL from 2010 to 2012, which I’ll tell you about next post, is one of the many favorite harps I fantasize in my mind, draw on paper, and look at photos of online and in books about music, in encyclopedias, and in dictionaries. In recent years I’m also finding myself weaning my way into choosing a lever harp that perfectly replicates the pedal harp such as the Salvi Ana, the harp my harp teacher owns that should have been my first harp instead of that dreaded troubadour harp.
This is the Salvi Ana, the lever harp that replicates the pedal harp in so many ways. I played that harp once at my harp teacher’s house and loved it! This truly should have been my first harp, not the Troubadour harp or any other similar harp ever. For this harp, like the L&H Prelude which was introduced many years after the debut of the Ana, is everything the pedal harp has shape wise. It has a beautiful shape that appeals to me with a straight pillar and a curvy neck (top part of the harp). For years I hated the lever harp because of the inconvenience the levers have when you had to let go of your left hand on the strings at one point to reach for the right lever to change the pitch of the sound during a song. That could be an inconvenient move when you’re trying to play the song in a very smooth fashion.
On the other hand, when it comes to the pedals, all you have to use is just your feet to change the pitch and your fingers always stay on the strings for the duration of the song. That’s what I love about the pedal harp. I played the pedal harp and worked the pedals with no trouble at all. But now I am working on weaning my way towards getting a lever harp that replicates the pedal harp and be able to afford owning both the actual pedal harp and the lever harp that replicates the pedal harp together. With the pedal harp replica and the actual pedal harp together, I should have no trouble learning how to work both the levers and the pedals once I am able to afford purchasing both the likes of the Salvi Ana and the pedal harp such as the likes of the Style 15 and the Classic.
This is what I want for a harp. No folk, medieval, or Celtic-style harp will do. To see a much bigger version of the Infogram I made this morning, click here.