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    amy-walts on · in reply to: broken foot- how long before pedalling possible? #151684

    I had bone surgery on both feet simultaneously (!) two years ago, and got the go-ahead from the doc to pedal as soon as I felt up to it, which in my case was as soon as I got the casts off. His opinion was that if the bones were strong enough to walk on, then they were tough enough to pedal with. Having said that, if you have had the cast on for a while you will find that your muscles may get tired faster and you may not be as fast as you were just prior to the injury. You’ll need to build up some stamina again. My physical therapist actually thought the pedaling was great therapy to increase flexibility and stamina in my legs and feet after the surgery. So I be you’re back in the saddle very soon.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: Wurlitzer Harp Stake Model #68706

    Hi Jerusha. As a former Camac pedal harp owner, I can say that the Camac harps are designed to allow owners to make more minor adjustments to their instruments than ever before, yes, most notably the pedal tension, but the regulations are absolutely still necessary by a professional. The harps come with a “key” type tool to adjust the pedal tension by making adjustments in an area of the column. No instructions or documentation about full regulations are provided to the consumer by Camac, however, so unless you’re a trained regulator, it’s not like you can just leap in and regulate your harp. Even if you are a trained pro, Camacs have some quirks that are different than other harps (like some of the disks rotating in the opposite direction you would expect), so you have to be very knowledgeable about the Camac action in order to make adjustments. I would not recommend that the average Camac owner even attempt it. When I bought my Athena, Camac was not marketing it as a “regulation free” design so much as a harp that would, by virtue of the new design of the frame and action, require *fewer* full regulations and would allow the owner to make some of the simpler adjustments (ie pedals) at home.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: Salvi Eire #71988

    When I read Spike’s original question for the board, and saw that this is the ONLY post he has ever made to this forum (a useful thing to do when dealing with new people on the board), I considered the possibility that he is not a harpist. He might have inherited the Eire, for example, and was looking for an educated opinion on what to do with it in terms of resale. Simple enough.

    Your odd response to him was that it wasn’t a harp, it was a toy. Consider how that might have influenced what he did next. He wasn’t interested in comparing it to a concert grand, although that’s precisely what you turned it into. He wanted to know about the Eire and where he could resell it. Given your diatribe, he probably considered it worthless after you were done spouting off.

    You are so NOT going to turn this into a “lever harp versus pedal harp” debate. It’s bad enough you gave Spike questionable advice.

    So. When someone asks a question, answer it accurately and well and without personal bias.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: Salvi Eire #71986

    Boy, you’ve got me really fired up about this one. Let me tell you why I’m so irritated.

    When you tell someone an instrument is a “toy”, you imply that it is not good enough to even be called an instrument. You indicate that it has no value from a musician’s perspective.

    If the Eire is not a concert grand in tone or repertoire, fair enough. It does not claim to be. The people buying it are not buying it expecting it to be. But that does not negate its value as an instrument, or its right to be called one. Calling it a toy is, frankly, an insult.

    To someone unfamiliar with harps, to hear that the harp in front of them is a toy rather than a real instrument might erroneously indicate that it has no monetary, resale, or playing value. It implied that it is worthless and useful only– as toys by definition are– for children.

    That is a very gross disservice and on principle I think you should be called on that.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: Salvi Eire #71985

    Backpedal, backpedal, backpedal.

    Given your original comments on the subject, you imply that harps fall into two categories, “real harps” of 47 strings or “toys”, with nothing in between. You told someone that their smaller harp was a toy, and now you’re trying very hard to regain your credibility by giving the old “what I meant was…”. It’s not working. And you probably made a harp owner feel bad about their instrument for no reason, which is really shameful.

    Different harps are for different purposes. I’ve seen some shabby harps, like those mid-eastern ones. Those are very definitely toys. I wouldn’t lump the Salvi Eire in with those.

    To make a risque but apt observation, “It’s not the *size*, it’s what you *do* with it, darling”. You’d think a MAN of all people would be familiar with that concept.

    I’d watch my words carefully in future if I were you to avoid getting yourself into a similar trap. The backpedaling didn’t kid anyone and didn’t save you on this one, I’m afraid.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: Salvi Eire #71983

    Wow, you’re treading on a slippery slope there, Mr. Doe… all 47 strings are required for it to be a real harp in your eyes? Well then, that disqualifies a great many excellent instruments by a great many excellent makers.

    And, for the record, harps with less than 47 are not always starter harps. As a professional– not a beginner, not someone buying a toy or an ornament, not a child or a tiny short person, either, for that matter– I play a 36 string just as often as my concert grand.

    I think you’re digging yourself in deeper with every word you write.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: GETTING PAID #149990

    Surveys are always a cool idea, but of course people worry about anonymity to keep things objective and honest. A survey of this sort went out in my area a few years ago and it was pointed out that things like handwriting and postmarks are enough to give the identity of the respondent. Using a website like Survey Monkey ( is awesome for this kind of thing. You can set up a (free!) online survey that each musician can complete, and not even have to worry about mailing anything back in. SurveyMonkey will interpret anonymous and confidential reponses and report response statistics back in any number of formats for you. It’s definitely worth checking out. I have used it before in the past to conduct follow-up “customer satisfaction” questionnaires and it’s worked very nicely. Worth checking out for anyone thinking about doing a survey.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: harp finish? #164198

    I’ve mostly owned natural harps over the years. Part of it is that I drag harps to gigs constantly, and a natural finish is very forgiving in terms of not showing every tiny microscopic ding. Dark finishes tend to show off even small blemishes. I treat my harps with kid gloves, but when an occasional moving-related ding has occurred, it has been miraculously easy to disguise. When I recently bought my newest pedal harp, I went to L&H and tried an awful lot of harps in various finishes, and I must say that I perceive a slight difference in the tones of the harps based on finish colors. I thought I must be nuts until several other harpists told me the same thing. Whether it’s real or imagined, I think that I do prefer the sound of natural wood, but it’s the cosmetic resilience that wins me over.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: GETTING PAID #149959

    Deposits I collect are refundable if I can re-book the date with another client; otherwise the deposit is mine. If the original booking is cancelled far enough in advance that I’m reasonably sure the date will refill, I’ve been known to give people the benefit of the doubt on that. If the client moves their event to a different date when I’m available, I apply their deposit to that date.

    Since we’re sharing stories about “near misses” on getting stiffed: I did a wedding and reception job earlier this season. The bride and groom had not paid on time, and had sworn they would bring cash to the wedding. Of course they didn’t, but said that they would send someone to the ATM after the ceremony and get me the cash before I played the reception. Being a softy, I trusted them and played anyhow. Midway through the reception, still no cash, even though I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt thus far and had been playing dutifully away. By the end of dinner hour…. still no cash. I was sure it was going to be the first time I’d been stiffed! I was furious with myself for not having refused to play as per my contract. As I was grumpily starting to get packed up, I mentioned it in passing to the bandleader of the band who was about to start playing. He was horrified. When it came time for his group to start the dancing music, SILENCE. Five minutes later, SILENCE. The father of the groom came racing up to him in a panic asking where the music was. The bandleader said that as a musician, he couldn’t in good conscience play knowing that another musician had been stiffed, and that his band wouldn’t go on till I had been paid. Cash. “Musicians stick together, dude,” he explained. “You owe me money too and now I’m not taking chances.” Instantly a hat got passed somehow and my fee was raised in full– in small bills obviously gleaned from guests! So it was a very near miss indeed! And to think I would have grumpily ridden off into the sunset. I learned my lesson to stick to my guns in future! (Can you imagine being a guest at that wedding and having to pony up for the music? Gads…)

    amy-walts on · in reply to: GETTING PAID #149949

    Most of them are surprisingly good about remembering. Still, just to make sure, when I first meet with a bride I mention that we should, if at all possible, have her music chosen a few weeks or a month in advance of the wedding date to give me time to order/prepare any music not already in my repertoire, or to allow time to coordinate rehearsals with vocalists and such. Most brides are quite happy to pay their balance at that meeting as well– kill two birds with one stone. When I put a client’s event date in my calendar, I jot a reminder to myself to follow up with them a month beforehand to touch base on music and remind them that they have a balance due if it’s not already been paid. It’s super efficient and means I’m never hunting people down at the last minute. E-mail reminders work great as well (and don’t require stamps!). I found that mailing invoices USPS is dodgy when working with brides as many of them are changing addresses because of the wedding, or staying at different addresses out of town or whatnot, and they may not have access to their mail until they get home from honeymoons. But it’s the rare bride that doesn’t check her e-mail compulsively! My experience is that brides actually like that phone call or e-mail the month ahead of time and are quite happy to pay then. That’s oftentimes when they have to pay their photographers and reception halls and everything else so they’re in check-writing mode already. I always lightheartedly mention that my check is probably the smallest one they’ll write in the entire process, and they always chuckle and agree and write it cheerfully.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: GETTING PAID #149947

    Hi Carl! Thankfully I’ve always gotten paid in the end, but after a “close call” years ago, my contract makes it unlikely that I’ll play for free. Currently, I require 50% of the event quote to hold the date, and then I ask that payment is due in full 3-4 weeks before the wedding/event. That way, it gives me time to chase people down if needed, or to follow through with them if (heaven forbid) their check bounces. In my contract, it states that if payment is not received by the agreed date, Ithey run the risk of me cancelling the performance. If a client wants to pay their balance with less than two weeks before the date, cash or money order is the way to go since I don’t have to worry about them bouncing. I have also done PayPal for people so they can pop it on a credit card (be sure to add the PayPay surcharge, about 4%, to the balance they owe you so you don’t wind up paying their convenience fee). If a client for whatever reason needs to pay me on the day, I ask that the money be given to me at the *beginning* of the event, not the end. All of this is in the initial contract that they sign when booking, so there are no surprises later on. Doing this, I have managed to never have an event that didn’t pay. Brides and grooms get so busy in the weeks leading up to a wedding, and are so distracted and excited on the day, you have to get paid in advance or you run the risk of them forgetting. But at least in theory, you have to be prepared to put the harp back in the car without playing if you haven’t been paid. You can’t repo services already rendered if they wind up stiffing you!

    amy-walts on · in reply to: lever harp vs. pedal harp #145086

    OoooOooo, Sarah! I’d *love* to hear more about your experiences being a lever harpist in a conservatory environment. What an interesting article that would be to read, from both a lever harpist’s and a pedal harpist’s standpoint! HarpColumn, hit this girl up for an article! Woo hoo!

    amy-walts on · in reply to: Harp Dog #162274

    About ten years ago, my husband and I added a badly abused shepherd mix to our assortment of cocker spaniels. Hoover (named after our vacuum cleaner and her uncanny ability to suck just about any foodstuff off a carpet) was desperately frightened of people, but LOVED harp music. In fact, it was the only thing that would bring her out of hiding for a long time. The first time we boarded her to go on vacation, the kennel called us to say that Hoover had been crying for two days straight and was inconsolable. I told them to go to the local music store and buy a harp CD to play for her. Sure enough, she settled right down. So did all the other dogs, I’m told, so the kennel now has several they keep in heavy rotation, LOL! Hoover insists on sleeping in the harp room at night, sprawled out in such a way as to touch as many of them with her body as she can. Rearranging the harps or keeping one out overnight means she doesn’t sleep well. Happily, she has overcome her fear of people entirely, and now occasionally *leans* on the harps as I play, audibly grunting with pleasure at the noise and vibrations. One of my spaniels, Basil, gets SO excited when I tune bass notes! He comes running from wherever he is, wagging his whole body ecstatically. Only the bass notes, though. He’s a Bass Man Only, I guess.

    amy-walts on · in reply to: lever harp vs. pedal harp #145064

    I used to get this a lot, but it seems to be happening less and less these days. The lever harp is not inferior, it’s just different, and many pedal harpists either haven’t been trained in using lever harps at a professional level. The “old school” mindset that a lever harp was a steppingstone to a pedal harp is simply not true any more now that lever harp manufacturers have started making truly professional calibre instruments and lever harp performers are center stage instead of hidden away. The published repertoire has come a looong way in the past 20 years too. I’ve seen a LOT of pedal harpists dusting off those lever harps and toting them to gigs because they like the portability and the tone. With the resurgence of all things Celtic, many clients actually prefer lever harp to pedal. Now having said that, there are times when it’s easier to drag my pedal harp to a job simply because the music I’m playing is written for pedal harp exclusively, and perhaps some of your fellow musicians are worried that your decision might limit your repertoire somewhat. (And in some cases, let’s be honest, it might; and some things are just plain easier on pedal harp.) But with come ingenuity, you’d be surprised what can be accomplished on a smaller harp. I think most harpists and musicians who are well-versed in lever harp view it on par with larger instruments. Welcome the rest into the new enlightened age!

    amy-walts on · in reply to: Where are you? #110313

    I’m up in Rochester, New York, on the shoreline of Lake Ontario. It’s about an hour east of Buffalo/Niagara Falls. So when you see on The Weather Channel about Buffalo getting pounded with snow, odds are Rochester is too. I grew up in London, England, but have been here nearly 20 years since coming here for university… oh sheesh, doing that math just made a few new grey hairs pop out… gack…

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)