Baby it’s Cold Outside!


The Holiday season means lots of harp gigs. But what about all that cold and snow? (Photo by Meg Rodgers)

The Holiday season means lots of harp gigs. But what about all that cold and snow?
(Photo by Meg Rodgers)

As we head toward the holiday season, and it starts to get cold in many parts of the northern hemisphere, a question I am asked a lot is whether it is safe to move a harp on very cold days. Fortunately, as long as you take basic precautions, the answer is yes.

You may have heard that cold weather can have a negative impact on a harp and its finish. Many harp makers do not ship their products in weather below freezing. However, it’s perfectly fine for you to take your harp to an office Christmas party or three. The difference lies in how long the harp is exposed to the elements. Several days in an unheated freight truck can be very damaging to a harp. But if all you need to do is wheel your harp from a warm car to a warm building, the elements will not have enough time to affect it. The harp is large enough to maintain its ambient temperature for the few minutes it will take you to go from house to car and then car to gig.

The thing you don’t want to do is leave the harp in a cold place, such as your garage, for hours. In that case, it might get as cold as the air around it, and the finish–even the wood itself–can crack. A good rule of thumb is to remember that your harp belongs in places where you yourself are physically comfortable. If it is too cold for you to sleep in your garage, it’s too cold for your harp as well.

Another point to remember is the importance of covering the harp to protect it from rain or snow. In last month’s newsletter, I discussed the importance of purchasing a three piece transport cover if you will move your harp with any regularity. This goes doubly for place where it rains or snows a lot. Again, if you need to put on a coat, so does your instrument.

Other than that, there’s nothing to worry about. The holiday season is the busiest of all for most of the working harpists I know, and harps are constantly being moved around in the winter. So take that harp with you to the party and enjoy yourself!

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About Author

Steve Moss has been regulating and repairing harps for over twenty years. During his eight years with Lyon & Healy, he trained and worked with Master Regulator Peter Wiley. Steve oversaw the company’s lever harp production for two years before moving into pedal harp assembly and regulation. He also specialized in training new employees and visiting apprentices. Steve holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Theory and History from Yale University. He has been active as a performing musician and songwriter, both as a solo artist and in groups. He has produced two CDs and plays the guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, and jaw harp. As a traveling technician, Steve has serviced harps in the Midwest and across the country. Recent clients include the principal harpists of the Milwaukee Symphony, the Omaha Symphony, the Toledo Symphony and the Utah Symphony, as well as the University of Michigan , Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University , Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and the University of Toledo.He makes frequent regulation trips to Lyon & Healy West in Salt Lake City. Steve is the author of Harp Care with Steve Moss, the first instructional DVD on harp maintenance, covering tuning, string replacement, cleaning, and moving of pedal and lever harps. Steve lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with his wife and two daughters.

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