Well, I did it.

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    Janis Cortese on #183126

    Although I anticipate ultimately owning a lever and a cross-strung, I finally dropped the flag on a Ravenna 34. It should arrive at my place of work by next Monday, upon which point I have a great deal to learn. I bought a few Sylvia Woods books, and I look forward to learning my way around.

    I want to start with a harp that has a more established, commonly known pedagogy, and I especially love the idea of playing an instrument that has a great deal in common with the folk instruments (arpe popolare) in southern Italy, especially in the town where my last name is from (Marsicovetere).

    I may or may not end up with a teacher, and if I do, it will have to be over Skype. I know that young Canadian fellow on YouTube who does all those detailed harp videos does Skype lessons, and my cousin who is studying harp has a teacher who may teach via Skype. I’ll mull my options.

    But for now … I appear to be Of The Tribe, at last. 🙂

    Allison Stevick on #183128

    Congratulations and welcome! I hope you have endless hours of fun with your harp. 🙂

    Janis Cortese on #183130

    Thanks. 🙂 I dread tuning it. I’ve never had to worry about that before. I could get a viola on the dot, but that’s only 4 strings, untempered, and one can use harmonics to tweak it.

    I downloaded a PDF set of directions on how to tune a harp, and I suppose I’ll see what happens when it gets here.

    Allison Stevick on #183132

    I went from guitar to harp, so I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of strings in the beginning, too. It will take some time to get used to it, but before you know it you’ll be tuning quickly and spending more time playing than tuning. 🙂

    Janis Cortese on #183135

    I hope so! I’m actually a little concerned as well about quake-proofing it. I live in quake country, and I’m an apartment dweller, so driving an eyebolt into a ceiling beam isn’t an option nor strapping a wall stud. 🙁 It doesn’t weigh much, so there shouldn’t be a huge amount of mechanical strain involved in laying it on my bed on its side when I go to work, and I could probably put a blanket on the floor and put it on its side at night as well.

    If there are any other harp owners who live in apartments in that situation, I’m curious as to how they may have dealt with this issue.

    GAGH, this is going to be a painful couple of days. I feel like an 8 year old who has to wait for a trip to Disneyworld.

    Sherj DeSantis on #183146

    Welcome Janis! A new harp is so exciting! Wishing you lots of fun in your journey. Sherj

    Janis Cortese on #183236

    Well, it’s here (at work). At 1pm, I have to go downstairs and:

    1. See how big the box is, and consequently how stupid I was to have it delivered to work instead of home,
    2. Unbox it and put it in its padded case, and
    3. Hope it will thereby fit in my fairly unremarkable sedan with the passenger seat all the way reclined.

    It’s not a pedal harp, so it should be okay ultimately, but it may be an exciting time. I don’t want to put it into my car now, because it will have to sit in there from now until I go home; I’m cautiously optimistic that I should be able to get it into the car by myself. It’s not an Apollonia, for pete’s sake. The Dusty website says it weights a titch over 20lbs. I’ve lifted boxes of cat litter that were heavier.

    I spent the entire weekend transcribing Italian tarantelle and quadriglie for folk harp, and even worked out “Vaga Luna” such that no mid-piece lever changes are required despite the accidental in the middle. Of course, they will all be well beyond me until I work my way painfully through the Sylvia Woods starter book and otherwise pay my dues. Not to mention that … well, as a non-harp player (yet!) they may be unplayable for far more basic reasons, mostly that I probably haven’t a clue WTH I’m doing. 🙂

    Donna O on #183238

    Janis, My Dusty Crescendo (same size as Ravenna) fits across the back seat of my Toyota Camry. I have to tilt it just a bit to get it through the top part of the door. Good Luck and enjoy! DonnaO

    Janis Cortese on #183239

    I’m looking at it right now — and it should indeed fit into my car without any major problems. It appears to have arrived in excellent shape, and it’s torture to see it sitting here in its case and to be at work for the next five hours!

    Biagio on #183241

    Congratulations Janis! I often suggest that Ravenna 34 for people just beginning. I often suggest a number of books and aides. Sylvia’s book is fine but it does not have a lot of information on technique and goes pretty quickly, so here are some others to consider:

    Pam Bruner “Play the Harp Beautifully” Vols. 1 & 2 including DVDs
    Maria Grossi “Metoda per Arpa”*
    Yolanda Kondonassis “On Playing the Harp”*
    *Although written for pedal harp most is transferable and the photos are excellent.

    Also very useful:
    Laurie Riley “The Harpers Manual”
    David Kolacny “Troubleshooting Your Lever Harp”

    In addition to Josh Layne, Laurie also teaches via Skype and of course there are more, those are just the two I happen to know personally.


    Biagio on #183242

    I forgot to address the storage question (I live in an earthquake area also). Aside from laying it on it’s back, the next best option is to stand it in a corner. The Ravenna comes with optional stand or drop down leg – if you did not get the stand you might consider one.

    Have fun!

    Rachael Rosenbaum on #183265


    I once tried out a Ravenna 34 and quite liked the sound. Nice and bright. Enjoy!

    Janis Cortese on #183270

    And here it is in its new home:

    My new Ravenna 34

    I hope to blog about my experiences with it, partly to help me keep on track and partly (someday) to help popularize Italian folk music on the harp, but that will be a long time coming since … well … this is hard! I have large hands for piano, but that’s almost a drawback in some ways since I think smaller fingers might fit a bit better on it, and the hand position on the harp is nothing like that on the piano, making my existing flexibility not very useful.

    And the potential for surface noise is immense. For an instrument that can sound so heavenly when well played, it can sure make some cringe-worthy noises when it’s not.

    I spent an enormous amount of time on it last night, concentrating on keeping an open, relaxed hand, closing into the palm, and keeping my thumbs up (thank you, Josh Layne!), and just trying to get used to the new landscape of strings as opposed to a keyboard.

    I may want the 8″ legs on it since I can currently turn my head to one side and rest my chin on the top of the neck with no effort whatsoever, and that seems a bit low to me. It’s comfortable, though.

    I even spent about a half an hour on it this morning before leaving for work. It’s a subtle, quieter instrument so it isn’t offensive in the mornings to either me or very likely to my neighbors. I’m quite happy about the potential for a half hour of practice every morning.

    Anyhow, I’ll have to put all of these burblings on my new blog so I don’t keep babbling at you nice people — and thanks to Biagio for your book suggestions and to everyone for your welcome. 🙂

    (I can also highly recommend Dusty Strings, like most people who have dealt with them. They were extremely responsive and pleasant to deal with, and the harp is lovely.)

    Janis Cortese on #183329

    Having fun with the new baby; I think its name might be Chiacchierone, which is Italian for “chatterbox” and a word I heard a lot growing up. 🙂 I’m always surprised at the way the bass strings/wires will vibrate in sympathy with anything at all, so that I need to quiet them down. Unsurprising, I guess — it’s a bit like a piano with a brick on the damper pedal in that way.

    I’m enjoying getting ready quickly in the mornings and then taking the 15-20 minutes free until I have to leave doing arpeggios and extremely slow scales in each hand and, even more slowly, hands-together. I am very, very surprised to find an instrument the noise of which I like enough that I can tolerate it in the mornings, and after a whopping two days :-), I hope this continues. It’s nice to have something relaxing and pleasant to do in the morning before heading off to the salt mines.

    I’m finding myself annoyed with my ring fingers, though. On the piano from the way the hand is held, their relative length (or lack of it!) really means nothing, and I’m happy to have somewhat larger than average hands for piano. On the harp though, the fact that it’s a bit shorter than my index finger is a real pain. That’s typical for women though, and women are typically all over the harp, so I suppose it’s not a fatal problem, just an aggravating one that has to be dealt with as time goes on.

    I can feel the proximal sides of my middle fingers wanting to toughen up too, especially on the left hand, which makes sense as that’s on the thick bass strings. My thumbs are already somewhat tough, so they’re okay with things.

    Anyhow. 🙂

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