Who is your best “harp” friend? Is it your teacher, your harp circle buddy, a fellow student, a colleague? Maybe your best harp friend is your harp itself.
Your harp has a best friend too, and while you’re right at the top of the list, the next best friend your harp has is likely your harp technician.
Your harp technician is not just a “harp doctor.” He or she is a care-taker, a trouble-shooter, an adviser, sometimes even a harp “9-1-1” responder.
This is not a “how to repair your harp” article. Instead, in this post I would like to offer some suggestions for working with your harp technician to help them keep your harp (and you!) happy and playing well. And if you haven’t scheduled a visit with your favorite tech lately, perhaps you will feel inspired after reading this. You can be sure your harp will thank you!
One quick note before we dig in: I have worked with many wonderful and knowledgeable harp experts. I won’t name names, because I’m afraid I will leave someone out. Please know that my harps and I thank each of you so much!
There are three criteria I have for anyone who works on one of my harps. First, they must be certified or factory-trained. I want to be assured that they understand the finer points of harp construction and maintenance.
Second, I like them to be pro-active, to notice the changes in my harp as it ages, to alert me to repairs that might be needed in the near future.
And thirdly, I want to work with someone who takes the time to understand my individual needs, special requests and playing habits. You know you have a good technician when he or she starts the conversation with, “Now last time, we talked about making this adjustment…” I like the teamwork approach to keeping my harps in tiptop shape.
Watch, Ask, Learn
If possible, take advantage of the visit with the harp doctor to watch and learn. Ask questions. These experts are usually happy to offer advice on general care and feeding of harps, especially as to what maintenance or repair tasks you can learn to do yourself and which you should leave to the experts. They may not have time to teach you how to change a pedal felt on that visit, but you can certainly watch and learn.
Remember that lever harps need expert attention too. Certainly, lever harps are less mechanically challenged than pedal harps, but levers can wear and get out of alignment. Some regularly scheduled maintenance can help save wear and tear on your strings and avoid nasty buzzes.
Be respectful of your technician’s schedule. They are in great demand and have carefully programmed travel schedules. Be sure to schedule well in advance, and understand any cancellation policy. You can possibly earn a brownie point or two if you can arrange other harps for them to regulate on the same trip. Just ask first.
If the technician comes to your house, try to provide a room with enough space for them to work that is out of the traffic pattern. If you take your harp to them, be on time for your appointment.
And don’t forget to show your tech a little love, whether it’s a cup of coffee or tea, or a meal they can eat before they head to their next appointment. Here’s to more happy harp technicians and more happy harps!