Harp sitting

A few days ago, I called Jack McGowan, the man who gave me my first harp. He answered like he always does: "Yeah, this is the old man." And when I said, "Hi Jack, this is your favorite harpist," he replied, "Oh, the good looking one!"

(Yeah. I'm the ONLY harpist he knows.)

We talked for a little bit about the website he was creating for his History Fest extravaganza, and then I asked the question that had been nagging me for a long while: "So, have you been playing your harp much?" There was a long, guilty silence. "Ummm..." Jack began. I know he's been busy. I know he's making life wonderful for countless people with all his entertaining doings (case in point: he's taking a group of church youth group students to a reservation in South Dakota this weekend to put on a History Fest entertaining / learning opportunity for the children there).

But that doesn't negate the fact that - THE MAN HAS A HARP AT HIS HOUSE THAT IS BEING NEGLECTED. My protective streak took over. And I told him, "I'm coming out to get that harp, and I'm going to get it tuned and stablized and cleaned up and regulated and I'm going to PLAY it - even take it to gigs. And when you're ready to have it back, when you're ready to PLAY it again, come and get it." There was no argument. I think I even heard relief in his tired voice.

I drove out to his farm this morning, packed up the harp and took her home. Jack has had this harp since 2002. He bought it from the sisters at Good Counsel Convent. I remember seeing that harp sitting in the sacristy in the Chapel long before I even had my own harp. (Did you know I lived at Good Counsel for a year? It's true...but that's another story.) Jack took the harp to its birthplace, Lyon & Healy in Chicago, and had it restored.

She's a lovely little thing. 
Lyon & Healy Style 14 Gold. Built in the '30s.

And, as befits a gold harp, 
she even has a crown on her column.

I was wondering how the cats would take to the addition.
But they recognized those "claw" feet and 
welcomed it as one of their own.
"Oh, it's just another one of THOSE things," 
I could hear Harry thinking.

Jingle Belle even approved of Jack's masking tape
"crib notes" on the pedals...
(I'm leaving them on because it's just so hilarious).

Jack sent me home with the harp's equipment box -
extra strings, tuning wrenches, etc. 
There was even a remote in the box.
Jack said he used it to play the harp. Har har.

Getting the harp into the house (and finding a place for it amid the other 4 harps plus the piano in my living room) were just the first steps. It needed some dusting (ok, a lot of dusting) and a good checking over. Now I'm ready to get out the tuner and start the long, exacting job of getting the little gold beauty back in tune. It'll take a couple of weeks. Why? On first pluck, middle C was somewhere down below F...


  1. Lived at Good Counsel ?!

  2. Will you be busy playing Easter music this weekend?

  3. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  4. Thanks for this informative post. This will really help a lot! as we know it, it is not that easy to play the harp and knowing the proper positions and sitting the harp is really important.