Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Andrew Bird

Well... Here's a short video of me playing the intro to Andrew Bird's "Sovay". This is the first song I picked out by ear on my first day with the Dusty Strings harp I rented last January. I still play it all the time as a warm up. This video is actually from a while ago... I've since cut all my hair off. I'm still working on the Fauré Pavane and Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte, but I'm taking a couple of months off from harp lessons. Work has been so busy and we've been traveling a lot. I'm starting to miss my routine. And I also miss strings not breaking! Curse you, summer!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Misty Mountain Harp

Spent a long weekend in the mountains of Western North Carolina with some great old friends who live in DC. Matthew bought himself a new banjo and I took some time to bond with my beloved Hummingbird. I'm bummed I couldn't bring my harp. Loving such a giant, cumbersome instrument can be heartbreaking when you drive a 4 door sedan.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ben Sollee

Mmmh! Pretty harpness.

Thanks for sharing this song with me, Matthew!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ma Vie

This is my life now. Come home from work around 1-2am... glass of wine... snack... harp... cat... vine/instagram cat cuteness. Not such a bad set up! I'm overdue for a new harp practice video. Currently learning Pavane by Gabriel Fauré. This is not a vine of that song.

Monday, February 18, 2013


My wonderful husband bought me Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia for Valentine's Day and I am loving it. I'm not terribly far along, but it's super interesting so far. The bits I've read have had a lot to do with hearing music (when none is actually playing) just before seizures, or seizures being prompted by specific types of music or tones... Craaazy. There have also been some peculiar accounts of people, later in life, often after a near death experience or medical event, developing sudden strong desires to listen to or play music... And this passage, although not at all like my path to harping, made me pretty giddy and struck a familiar chord with me for obvious reasons:

Here's Dr. Sacks chatting a tiny bit about synesthesia... So cooooool! I don't think I've ever seen colors when I hear music. Kinda jealous.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Musical House

Our living room has been the scene of many an unconventional music recital. My super sweet 6 year old piano student occasionally puts on a tiny concert when her parents come to pick her up after lessons. When my friend who plays bass comes over I like to ignore him until he gets un-shy and cranks out some crazy ass Jaco Pastoruis solo, or silly RHCP riff. I love playing harp with the windows open when the weather is nice and imagining some passer-by is TOTALLY impressed with my mad skillz.

The other day, my friend Fitsum came over and played accordion for us. Like, that's his main instrument. I was surprised/delighted to learn that it's not an uncommon instrument in Eritrea! Anyway, until that day, I had never seen anyone play the accordion and appear to have a clue what the hell they were actually doing. It was so cool! In return, I played Pavane for a Dead Princess and Clair de Lune for him on harp, and my husband played a couple of songs for us on his banjo. We should probably invite people over to serenade us more frequently... maybe even stop being so craaazy shy and actually try playing music with other people! It's been so long since I've done that...

These pictures are of me at this place in Loachapoka, Alabama (seriously) called Fred's Feed & Seed. I used to go there on Thursdays my senior year of college and jam with these old men (always on different instruments - guitar, accordion, mandolin, hammer dulcimer). The guy who owns the place (Fred, go figure) is a super kind, enthusiastic music-lover and apparently suffers from my same instrument addiction. Any time I expressed an interest in an instrument he'd totally HAVE ONE and then promptly bust one out for me to try playing. I wish I could roll up in there this Thursday with my harp and just be like, "SUP Y'ALL"... but it's pretty unlikely I'll ever go back. In fact, if I went anywhere near my college town on purpose it'd probably just be to visit Fred's Pickin' Parlour and make sure Fred and the guys are doing alright. I miss that place so much, but my house is really starting to resemble it, which makes me feel even more at home here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Give Me Your Harpmobile, Julia Child...

Matthew and I re-watched Julie & Julia last night. Ooof! Y'all think I could fit my harp in that amazing car?! The summer before my senior year of Chemical Engineering I studied abroad in Paris for a month... It was so magical (as you might imagine). Julia & her husband's apartment in that movie was a place I walked by so regularly while living there. I remember FLIPPING OUT when I saw it in theaters. I quickly grabbed my phone & pulled up a picture of it on my flickr stream to prove it to my friends (who were probably rolling their eyes and actively shushing me... I don't remember, I was too giddy to notice). Anyway... Now my husband and I both have Paris-itis. Like, can we please board a plane and go live in France immediately?! I wonder if Camac is hiring???? Although not my style, I get quite a kick out of their harpes bleues.

Friday, January 18, 2013


I intermittently find myself daydreaming about what amazing dresses I'll wear SOMEDAY when I have gigs as a harpist! A closet full of elegant, flowy gowns for formal occasions... Neon+glittery nail varnish?... Decorative headpieces?... Retro gowns with giant poofy chiffon skirts?... My beat up, old, way too big for me Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt with jeans and Dr. Martens?... It all sounds perfect.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sara Tyler Harp.. Technician? / Getting to Know You!

Ever since my short trip to Richmond last year to fix my harp's buzzing I haven't been able to stop thinking how awesome it would be to be a harp technician. I felt so tempted to twist and push and pull everything to isolate the problem, but I also felt like I might mess something up so I resisted. Then I found out someone gets to do this, like, as their job?! Hang out with harps all day and take things apart and make harpists' days by repairing their beloved instruments? What could be better?! Apparently that means moving to Chicago and working for Lyon & Healy or something. I wish it were easy for me to do that... I don't want to rule it out, but I don't know if I can go for it anytime in the very near future.

I think something changed in me after seeing Amy get my harp in the back of the giant SUV I rented when we were all done... She's tinier than I am but she just wheeled it out and shoved it up in the SUV all by herself. No fussing or worrying about whether the right parts were supported after putting it in (like I had after loading it at home). I felt less scared of my harp. I think when I first got my harp, it barely felt like it was really mine. I'd been swooning over pictures of it online for months, but it seemed a little impossible that I'd be able to buy one. At first, I was a little scared to move it from room to room, and I was very shy about the pedals. Like, oOoOoOohh, it's this giant, heavy, wooden, stringy, complicated mechanical thing! Beware!

It seems less fragile to me now. I guess that just comes with time. This is still a new instrument to me. A broken string doesn't make me panic anymore. I have no problem wheeling the harp around without assistance. I'm probably still pretty gentle on the strings when I play... but I'm still such a beginner. It's becoming more like a friend than a stranger, if instruments can be friends. It audibly resonates sometimes when we're sitting around talking. I've come to think of it like an animate part of our house. Maybe I'm just crazy and instrument obsessed.