I can still feel overwhelmed and lost in the social media world — the same way I often feel in the real social world — but I have a very strong sense of connection to the 5000+ people who ‘like’ my official Facebook page, and I often find myself curious about them …
They’ve become a kind of creative and logistical mastermind for me — and I go to them with questions about how to understand tech problems, build unique tools, find a better power-supply to run the lights on my harp – and for sometimes-silly, sometimes-profound conversations about everything from watermelons to personal tragedies.
Last week, on a whim – I asked how many people who ‘like’ my page also play the pedal harp – the kind of harp you see at the back of an orchestra – the kind of harp I used to play all the time (and that I played again recently in my “Für Elise” video).
I was floored by the number of comments to that Facebook post – nearly 100 in short order.
But it just made me more curious.
I started wondering why?? How did each of them come to play this unusual, esoteric, off-the-beaten-path, hard-to-get-around instrument?
So I asked — and I got a magnificent deluge of tiny, wonderful stories about what led to each person taking up this unusual instrument – nearly 60 little stories – some that made me laugh and some that had me in tears. Here’s one of my favorites – you can read and enjoy the rest right here (thanks to Betty Widerski who answered my Facebook question about how to create that very link to a specific post … and then wrote a whole blog about it)
“My grandfather, who can hardly play a radio and has NO musical ability whatsoever, left a harp concert with the dream of one of his grandchildren playing the harp. And, I was the blessed one out of eleven grandchildren who was asked if I would like to take lessons. So, at the age of ten, he drove me three hours round trip, once a week to my lessons, rented a harp for two years, and then bought me my pedal harp when I was thirteen. He has only asked one thing of me the entire time and that is to play “Claire de Lune” at his funeral. So, twenty-seven years later, he is now 89 and hanging in there, and I believe it’s because I keep telling him I’m not done practicing …” Kipper Edens Ackerman
Just LOVE these! I jumped off FB for security reasons here at work and don’t really have time when I’m home to be be on the computer – shhhhh, don’t tell!
Anyway, I’ll share MY story of playing the harp here if I may. . . I have ALWAYS been fascinated by the harp since I was a little girl and saw it in Ricky Recardos band on Lucy AND the old Marx brothers movies. Here in MD, EVERYBODY and their Grandmother had a piano in there house, so that’s what I learned to play, but NEVER gave up my quest at wanting to play the harp. FINALLY, at the ripe old age of 46, I asked the right person at the right time if they knew of ANYONE who could teach me how to play a harp. “YES” was their answer and the first time I laid my hands on a harp was at my first lesson! That was 12 years ago and now with my lever harp AND my L&H 85E Concertino pedal harp, I STILL take lessons from a concert harpist with whom I have become DEAR friends. I have students of my own, do the “Gig” thing etc. and you’d think I would be satisfied – RIGHT? Well, I just need one more harp to make the fleet complete and that is the DHC! The more I have, the more I want – now why is that?
What a WONDERFUL journey the world of harps has taken me on. Who would have thought that at 58 I would have had a Masters Class with Yolanda K. and Alice Giles? AND, I even had a private lesson with YOU in Williamsburg!
Just LOVE this journey and who knows where it will take me next?
Thanks for all YOU do for us harpists and our love of the instrument!
I love reading these stories! I had my moment in my mid-20’s when I went to a Renaissance Festival and there was a booth with harps for sale. It was the first time that I had ever seen a harp in person and I touched it, and… the angels sang, violins played and a light beamed down from above…Well, okay, nobody else noticed these things, but I was SMITTEN at that moment, I knew that I had to get one and learn how to play. It took several years before I could afford to buy a harp and there was no internet then (imagine!) so I had a hard time finding a harp, I called many music stores asking if they had one and people LAUGHED at my request.
After going through this frustrating time, I moved to a new town and mentioned to a new neighbor that I was going to learn to play the harp, and she gave me the name of a teacher who lived only 16 miles away! I contacted the teacher and she was able to hook me up with a place that rented harps to students.
The night that I picked the harp up at the store and brought it home was very memorable. I put it in my living room and looked at it and thought, ” oh my gosh, now I have to learn how to PLAY it!” I totally freaked out. That was 19 years ago and I am still learning all the time! (And freaking out occasionally, I have so many things to learn…) I now have 5 harps and never met a harp I didn’t like. It’s been an incredible journey and will continue on as long as I am physically able to play and learn!