A new member of the householdPosted: 22 August 2015
Every time I enter my living room, I’m pleasantly surprised by the sight of this new member of the household. He’s large, dark brown and very beautiful: my new pedal harp.
Due to extremely lucky and amazing circumstances I was able to buy a pedal harp. Apparently, my parents and grandparents were secretly saving up for me. I remember how I often whined to my parents that I’d like to have a better harp than the clunky old thing I have – now I feel slightly ashamed, knowing that they were working on it. I think I prefer it this way, not knowing that they were planning to buy me a harp and now being extremely pleasantly surprised by it.
It is a dream come true, a lot sooner than I expected. I was just coming to terms with the fact that things like getting my diver’s license, buying a car, finally buying some decent furniture have a higher priority than ‘saving up for a harp that costs four times as much as the car we’re looking at’. My harp teacher gave me really awesome pieces that are very challenging so I had myself almost convinced that I wasn’t ready for it anyway.
And then the pedal harp happened. I’ve always been a huge lever harp proponent – no the lever harp isn’t a starter harp, you can have fun with it for life!!! – but this instrument, well it’s something completely different. The pedals are one thing, but the size and increased string tension is another factor: I actually got muscle aches all over after having it just one day, it takes a lot more core strength to play it. They’re both called ‘harp’, but playing on this huge guy is more like tango dancing than blues dancing, it really demands a lot in terms of technique and posture. And I love it. It’s like starting a new style of dancing, getting to know your body in a different way, finding faults you hadn’t noticed before and discovering something completely new and amazing you didn’t know that existed. The sound; when I pull the bass strings it sings and resonates through the entire house!
My harp teacher forbade me to practice more than 1 hour a day and told me to practice in 3 blocks of 20 minutes to avoid overstraining my muscles. Just one hour is really short and after 20 minutes I am just getting into it! I can totally imagine why some patients ignore their doctor’s advice… 🙂 Of course I tried to play all the pieces I’ve always wanted to play (these pedals take some time getting used to!) and every now and then I’ll remember another cool piece and add it to my ‘finally able to start studying this!!!’ list.
So the lever pieces are now on hold (Clair the Lune, I will get back to you!!!) and I’m working on some pieces to get used to the pedals: the Serenade Melancholique by A. Hasselmans, the first prelude in the first prelude book by Bernard Andres and the sonata in C minor by Sophia Dussek. Yes, the sonata in C minor with the awesome bass part. My struggles with the sonatina in G major did pay off because I can manage this piece, it is most definitely less difficult than Clair the Lune. Apart from the pedals it only consists patterns I’m familiar with, it’s a lot like a cross between the Händel concerto and the Sonatina in G. It is sooo nice to finally play this!!!
Here’s the first line in practice tempo, of course it doesn’t sound like how the professionals play it. But just to produce these lines of music myself… It really is a dream come true.