Harping on

August 29, 2016

I've started learning the harp. It's pretty much a lifetime ambition and it's every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped. What were the chances that DB would have its very own professional harpist prepared to take me on as a student? Slim to none, but luckily for me, the slim = 1 and that's all I need!

 

So, I am renting a lever harp, as opposed to a pedal harp. The main differences between the two types are 1) a lever harp can only play up to 5 sharps or flats and 2) about HK$150,000... Hence renting a lever harp until I win the Mark 6 (note to self: start playing the Mark 6).

 

Being a pianist (after a fashion) meant that the basics were pretty much fine, except the right hand thumb plays the highest, rather than the lowest note, which messes with your head something rotten if you've been used to the other way around for 35 years.

 

Many people aspire to play the 'cello. I think Jacqueline Du Pre + Elgar had a lot to do with that, but also the act of wrapping yourself around an instrument is quite attractive. The harp has the same draw, except - and this is a biggie for me - when you play a wrong note, it's still a note, rather than a painful scratching sound - and therefore doesn't cause too much anguish for either the beginner or their soon-to-be long suffering family. My daughter enjoys playing the odd glissando (glissandi?) on it and she sounds heavenly.

 

Going back to almost the beginning of learning an instrument aged 40 is wonderful so far. I love practicing it and only stop when my back starts to ache. I dream of becoming a fully working harpist with a diary full of wedding bookings where I can bring out my collection of beautifully arpeggiated musical wallpaper... But I'm not sure how many brides-to-be would book a harpist with a buzzcut?

 

 

 

 

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Bethan Clark, 2018