the wings come later
I want to play the harp.

We've been through this. Today isn't the first day I've searched eBay for harps, violins, dulcimers, wooden alto recorders with baroque fingering that will magically turn my living room into a cathedral nave... And every time it comes back to the same unfocused uneasiness: "what if it isn't fun in practice?" "what about the ongoing backlog of other intellectual and time commitments?"

When I was twelve-going-on-thirteen and changed over to a very odd and new private school (“L'aventure School" in Romeo, Michigan — at the Methodist Church, if you're putting together a bus tour) my parents signed me up for both piano and harp lessons. I got out of the harp lessons, forseeing very little play time in that overbooked scenario. Not to mention that playing the harp seemed, frankly, lovely but frivolous. I had some piano experience and therefore was semi-agreeably stuck with the piano lessons.

What a mistake. I loved playing the piano, but couldn't agree with the instructor's two main philosophies. These were that a) thirteen is pushing it for beginning piano instruction and b) recital performances are mandatory.

So, instead of getting into the playing, after a few weeks the lessons focused on preparing for the recital in the spring. What made it even worse was that I had acquaintances who would also be performing and who had been playing since they were knee-high to one of the middle pedals.

Great. Nothing rounds out the awkward teenage years like tinking out basic Brahms with one hand on a big stage while one's peers, the people one must survive passing in the halls come Monday, poke and giggle as they wait to ruffle out majestic lullabies.

Plus, plus, the teacher, the wife of the Methodist minister I believe, seemed distinctly uncomfortable with my moving my body while I played. “Ah, yes," she'd say, squirming, "just, ah, keep time with your, ah, body.”

She did put stickers on my exercise books. That was nice. I miss the piano.

I have my pennywhistle, but let's face it: it's shrill. I've had it for seven years and nothing has happened. My contract is up, surely? I can now regard it fondly as a nice souvenir from the trip to Ireland?

The hamsters don't want me to play the pennywhistle. They're a little nervous about the recorder. (“A-L-T-O" I spell out to Snout. Snug whispers in his ear. Snout extracts a corn piece from one of his cheek pouches. I'm not sure what has just gone down.) I don't think the harp would bother anyone. We could pretend we were at a seafood buffet during the holidays.

I may have waffled and wandered away once more today, except I found a little online harp playing simulator.

SOLD! Give me the first eBay auction ending in the next 10 minutes.

That's the worry — harps seem to be expensive no matter which keywords you use. One harp-playing FAQ has slightly endorsed cardboard harps as an entry-level option. These cost $130-$190 depending upon just how assembled you want them. Hrm.

There seem to be some decent "Celtic Harp" rosewood options on eBay for under $200. If anyone knows the catch, please holler. I'm not naive, but that doesn't mean that the romance and hope won't godzilla-stomp my common sense into an F#-size splat.

You know, the harp is strung like the piano. No desperate fret-grasping like other stringed instruments, either. Also, I want it. Gimme. Now.

Or as soon as I finish doing my taxes and know what I have to negotiate with. I knew something would inspire me soon, despite the prospect of declaring an 80 cent dividend. Come, Uncle Sam, our duet is waiting.

08 March 2003 |






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