The charity shop concert

Seeing the music whilst concentrating on playing the harp isn’t easy.  Your face is turned to the right towards the strings.  The only logical place for a music stand is to the left involving a 90 degree turn!  Some of my pupils confess to blue-tacking their music to the fore-pillar, some place it in vision on the right to see through the strings and some, like me, memorise it.  In the past the harpers were blind.  The job of itinerant musician was very important and well paid.  So much so they employed a guide.  To boost their earnings they wrote tunes for their benefactors and employers.  It was traditionally a male job and the training was vigorous and long.  The females were not encouraged to play but there are notable exceptions, Mary, Queen of Scots was brought up in the French Court which was one of the few in the world where women played, and she did play.  I have sat in the window seat at Castle Bolton with my harp looking out across the landscape wondering if she did the same.  There was a ‘Blind Mary’ in Belfast forced to gather sticks for firewood although she played well because it wasn’t seemly for women to play.  There was the lady in Scotland buried face down because she played.  I am talking of course in the distant past.  Last week  in a charity shop in Halifax I spotted the perfect light – it had a swinging brass arm so each pupil could move it to the best place to see both strings and music without dazzle.  Next to the till was an old piano and a young boy trying a few notes out.  “Do you want to learn a tune?”  A very enthusiastic yes was his reply.  We started on the theme tune to Lord of the Rings and moved on to Pachebel.  My new pupil playing duet.  I counted 5 notes that didn’t work but it made no difference.  We were having a fabulous time.  His mother had chores to do so we played our last note and he ran off.  Half way across the shop he turned and sped back to give me a massive hug, gripping me hard, his face lit up.  “Thank you” he whispered. 

One thought on “The charity shop concert

  1. I would sell my soul and that of my children and raid their savings to hear you play From Past to Present on the harp 🙂


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