“Do you play when you feel sad?” I was recently asked this by a second grader when showing the harp to a classroom. Yes, I do play when I feel sad. I play when I’m happy as well. Since ancient times, the harp has been considered a soothing instrument. I’ve been blessed to have opportunities to play for a variety of settings. In the past, I’ve played for nursing homes, Alzheimer units, Christmas parties, weddings and corporate dinners.
In February, I played background music for a Fragile X fundraiser in Atlanta. It was a wonderful experience to play for a cause that is important and dear to my heart. I combined a mixture of popular songs, classical and even some Disney to entertain guests as they entered the event.
Sometimes setting up for events comes with issues... such as the mic stand being broken—nothing a little duct tape couldn’t fix. Regardless of planning ahead, I have to be flexible and understanding. My goal in playing the harp is not just to entertain, but to inspire others. I must be willing to adapt to situations in order to ease those I'm working with and make the time a fun, enjoyable, relaxing experience for everyone.
I also recently experienced my first time playing solely for children. My sister-in-law is an elementary school teacher and invited me to bring the harp into school to go along with a unit on learning about sound. I demonstrated vibration, pitch and volume utilizing the harp. I demonstrated the difference between minor keys and major keys.
I enjoyed playing for multiple groups of second graders. But my favorite part of the day was answering the questions. It was so interesting and fun to hear their questions. I was asked questions about the strings and design of the harp, and more difficult ones such as, where does the word harp come from? And of course some seemingly obscure questions such as “what’s your favorite drum?” Each question led me to answer by explaining the harp or playing the strings—even the drums allowed me to show that the sounding board of the harp can be used as a percussive instrument.
When we were talking in the classroom about reading music, one of the other teachers brought up the point that music is a type of universal language. That resonated with my soul. You can communicate with anyone across the world, and in most parts of the world, sheet music is understood the same. Of course sounds, types of scales and instruments used vary across the world. But the beauty of vibration to create a harmonious sound is truly universal. One of my lifelong goals is to use music to heal hearts both in the US and around the world. I’m thankful to be a part of an expressive art that can transcend countries and cultures.