February 25, 2015

In the Bleak Midwinter....

I assume, if you’re reading this, that you have a harp and likely you love it very much – all the joy it brings to your life, the opportunity to share your gift with others, the just plain physical pleasure of playing.  I think we would all say that our existence would be diminished without our harps.

So, the obvious question becomes, are you taking care of your harp?  In this, the bleakest part of the year, you can’t be harp healthy enough!

It is winter – a time when the air is very cold and dry.  Be sure to heat your house enough to keep your harp room warm enough.  Don’t let it get below 55oF.  Ok, that’s not so much for your harp as for you – below 55o you will not have enough feeling in your fingers to do the fine work of playing.  You don’t have to keep it excessively warm but I do find that below 65o it’s a challenge to sit still long enough to get any practice in.

Whether you have electric, gas, or wood heat, the air is being dried – and that’s not good for the wood of your harp. If you get a shock every time you touch something, your house is too dry.  Try to keep the humidity up between 45 – 55%.  I suggest investing in a room hygrometer (inexpensive ones are available at your local ginormous hardware store) so that you will the humidity in your harp room. You can also invest in a humidifier - this could be anything from a pan of water (best if you have a wood stove), a small water fountain (best if you have the room for it), or a humidifier (best solution although the most expensive) for the room.

Take good care of your harp in winter so you can enjoy it year ‘round!

February 18, 2015

Aim is true

It’s February, and everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s grayer than sunny, the days are still short…and we’re far enough in to the year that most of us have already lost interest in working toward the goals we set just a few weeks ago - our own goals! It is much more satisfying to curl up in a chair by the fire with a cup of tea and read. Which is what I was doing…reading that intellectual journal, “Family Circle”* when I saw this:

“A goal is not always meant to be reached. 
It often serves simply as something to aim at. – Bruce Lee” 

Wow! Was that man was right!

Sometimes, especially if you’re goal oriented, you might forget that the goal is not the thing; it’s just the plan on how to get where you think you’d like to go. And where you wanted to go might change.  How you think you’d like to get there might change.  What you’re willing to do along the way might change.

All along, Bruce Lee knew that sometimes the goal would morph, change, and become a guide light rather than the target.  And that’s ok – you need light to see your target. This thought might be just what you need to move you along. 

So, while I might harangue you about setting and achieving goals, remember Bruce’s wise thought.  Your aim can be true even if your target is moving. 

* March 2015, page 13 – it pays to look at the whole page! And I’m not sure I get any more wisdom (or blog fodder) reading a professional journal…

February 11, 2015

Travel can break your harp - air

If you have ever contemplated going on a trip with your harp (like HARPA 2015 Scotland?) you will quickly come to realize that you have to get your harp where you are going too!  Like air travel isn’t challenging enough!  There are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

First, you need to assure you have the right harp for your trip.  Are you going to be playing to amuse yourself?  Will you be sharing with friends?  Will you be performing?  Are you taking your only harp? This will help you decide the size harp you’re going to bring.

Second, you’ll have to decide where your harp will make the journey. This will be decided primarily by the size you’re your harp.  If your harp is small enough, you can carry on and use our soft case.   
Although there are small harps that will fit, typically even small harps are too large to go into the overhead.  Be sure before you go if your harp will fit.  Do not wait until the day you travel – it would be disappointing to get to the airport assuming you will carry on, learn you will have to check, and have nothing more than the soft case.  In addition, while I used to be an advocate for carrying on, nowadays with packed planes and overhead hogs aplenty, it is a bad idea to pack assuming you will get bin space – you should be ready to have to gate check!

Third, if you are going to send your harp as checked luggage, it is essential that you get a hard protective case or crate.  In some cases, the case is a crate with a handle!  However, a good hard case will protect your harp and allow you to carry your harp through airports, train stations, and hotel lobbies safely and comfortably. And remember that you will need to include the possibility of oversized luggage fees in your planning.

There are a number of case makers available with different approaches so you can select the case that looks to support your budget and style of travel. Consider the following elements – the overall weight (include the harp in your thinking!), the placement of handles (really think about how you’ll move this through the airport, into and out of the car, bus, taxi), and the good sense of including wheels, pockets and identifying marks.  All of these things should factor into your decision when selecting your case.

Flying with your harp does require some planning but don’t let that stop you – get out there!