I put my lovely harp up for sale recently. Much as I loved Gabriel, I hadn’t played him since Christmas and felt it was a waste to have such a wonderful instrument sitting there doing nothing.
I remember the occasion which made me want to learn. I was probably around 6 years old, sitting with my sister in front of a tiny black and white television waiting for “Andy Pandy” or “Bill and Ben” to come on “Watch with Mother”. (What a silly title – “Mother’s One Chance Each Day For Ten Minutes’ Peace”, more likely! Suffice to say, my mother was in the kitchen at the time!)
In those dim and distant days, some of you may remember the odd occasion when there would be a break in the broadcast and a sign would come up saying “Normal Service will be Resumed as Soon as Possible” and an alternative short film, usually of some potter ‘throwing’ a vase, would be shown. This happened that day and the music played with it was a revelation to me. I LOVED it. I remember running out to my mother saying, “Mummy, what’s this instrument, I want to learn to play it!”
Many, many years later the opportunity to learn came up. I think I was about 40 at the time. The ambition was to make it my Eighth Grade Eight – and I did eventually reach the stage of working on Grade 7 pieces.
When I bought Gabriel, I threw a Harp-Warming Party for friends etc to meet him and one of the guests brought me a present of a CD of some harp music. On it was the piece I had heard as a child. Instant recognition!!
Hasselmans “La Source” – it’s beautiful!! I still love it and I would still love to play it – I did buy the music and try – but if I’m honest, my arms are too short and my bust is too big for harp-playing! I am not very tall and, having had several lots of major surgery, not strong enough to manhandle it on my own. Then there’s the problem with my right shoulder, which was also operated on, signalling the end of my harp progress. I carried on for a few years but never managed to climb back to the standard I used to be at.
While I was in France, a lady came to meet Gabriel and fell in love. Jean has been learning for 9 months and has got to Grade 4 already. She’s a similar age to me and teaches piano privately. I think they will be very happy together!
So, now I don’t need a car capable of having a harp in the back and the money from the sale has allowed me to consider a change. So meet “Naomi”
– she’s only two weeks old but I’m very pleased with her. She’s not big enough for a harp but she does have a roomy boot with a flat-bed which will allow me to push Billy the Double Bass up on his trolley and roll him in on without needing any help.