So you think renting harps is easy???

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    I got a call yesterday morning from a harpist you all would know. She was frantic. She had rented a natural 23 to a student who was enrolled at Berklee here in Boston(she’s in New York). The student had had the instrument for about two years and was constantly behind in the rent payments. After endless dunning calls the girl’s mother would pay up, and then it would start all over again. But now, the girl(and her mother) were 8 months behind in the rent, to the tune of $1,800! One of the phone numbers she had for them had been disconnected, and the other one had an answering machine, but they never returned calls. So the New York harpist asked me for advice on what to do. I asked her for all of the information(names, address, phone numbers, etc.) and said I’d go check it out. The New York harpist was assuming that these people were no longer at the address and had disappeared with the harp.

    I drove to the address which was on the other side of Boston from me and found the building: a triple decker with one apartment per floor. I rang all of the bells, and a man in the ground floor apartment came out. I asked him if he knew the people on the second floor(the mother and daughter in question), and he said he did and that they were still there. He let me in, I went to the second floor and knocked on the door. No one answered. As I was coming down, a woman came out of the ground floor apartment, looked at me, and said, “Aren’t you Carl Swanson?” She was a harpist I had done work for years ago!! She invited me into her apartment and I told her the whole story about the people upstairs. She knew them and was in fact friendly with them. To make a very long story short, I gave her the New York harpist’s information, then called the New York harpist and gave her this woman’s contact information, and for the rest of the afternoon the three of us were phoning back and forth trying to 1) find the people with the harp, and 2) arrange for them to turn it over to me. We finally managed the exchange at 8 that night. The harp is now at my house until the New York harpist comes this week to pick it up. I felt badly for the New York harpist because I’ve been in exactly the same position as her one or two times before. Once a harp goes out on rental, it can be difficult or impossible to keep tabs on it. People can move and not tell you, get waaaaaay behind in the rent and avoid you, and generally make your life miserable. For this reason I never rent harps farther than I can easily drive to retrieve them, and even then, I’ve occasionally had problems.


    That is shameful.


    It’s sad that it has to be so problematic. I rent out some property, and even though the renters can’t take off with the house or apartment I know that when you rent to the right people it is a pleasure and when you rent to the wrong people it is a total nightmare.

    But bravo to you Carl. Your generosity going through all that trouble to help someone out is really great. You’re a good guy to do that.


    Thanks Tony. I really appreciate that. Several years ago I was in exactly the same position as the New York harpist, and Dickie Fleischer was the angel who helped me out. The harp was in Jacksonville FL at the time. So I feel like I’m paying Dickie back by helping someone else.


    Carl, that was a really good thing you did. It’s heart-warming to read that the woman got her harp back because a colleague cared enough to help out.


    Well, the New York harpist come up on Wednesday and picked up the harp. In all of the confusion on the day I picked up the harp from the renter-from-hell, the New York harpist forgot to tell me there was a bench to pick up too! So when she got here on Wednesday, we had to go back over to the renter-from-hell and retrieve the bench.


    Very beautiful!!!! How do you like the sound? Congrats on the newest member of your harp family!!


    I think the driver is just required to take the harp off the truck. Sometimes you’ll get a nice driver who will help you get the harp into the house just out of kindness, but more often they are in a hurry and unwilling to do more than the bare minimum.
    That’s a very pretty 15! Enjoy!


    Wow. That’s just awful, I’m sorry to anyone that has to go through that. However, this story made me slightly angry because now I see why I have so much trouble finding a rental instrument. I guess one bad experience and the good people in the industry shy away from those who really do want the opportunity to play. What a shame. I’m very glad the harp is back with it’s owner though.


    It’s really galling, isn’t it, to think that someone would behave that way with someone else’s property? When I was renting my harp (which I eventually bought from the Harp Connection and not an individual person) it wouldn’t have occurred to me to try and skip out on payments or in any way not hold up my end of the bargain. This is why it’s tough for renters. A few bad apples…Thank God for people like you, Carl.

    David Ice

    Good for you Carl, and yes that’s paying it forward for Dickie’s help! I’m like Kathleen…it would never even occur to me to skip out on paying ANY bill, let alone such a valuable item as a harp! My brain just doesn’t function that way. I know it’s corny, but I got hooked on watching JUDGE JUDY…..mainly because it utterly appalled me to see how amoral and dishonest some people can be, all the while smiling and looking you in the face. (Besides that, there’s something about Judge Judy’s voice that literally puts me to sleep before the first commercial break if I have insomnia!) Even still, I’m amazed how method books, tuning keys, etc. still manage to disappear from my house…..
    Dave Ice


    JUDGE JUDY!? She is my MAIN competition when I play at Hospice! I’ve had people close the doors so they WON’T hear me if she is on! Hmmm . . . I just can’t imagine Judge Judy being the last thing I experience before I leave this world. Oh well.

    Kay 😉


    Believe it or not, Judge Judy was recently the guest programmer on Turner Classic Movies! And she chose one of my favorites, “The Goodbye Girl.”

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