the story of my new autoharp (obsession)


I've been singing my entire life.

I sang in church choir, school choir, synagogue choir. I've gone to singing competitions (in groups and individually). I've taken vocal lessons, ear training classes. I even took piano, thinking it would help my musicianship grow stronger.

Because there's the rub: I am not a very strong musician. I have had to work, very hard, to hold pitch. To hear my place in the melody, if I'm a soloist. I did work at this, very hard, as a teenager. I even held a slight hope that I might make it into university on a vocal scholarship. (Which did not happen. Having weak musicianship is a real problem, especially for sopranos, which seem to be a dime a dozen.)

I have a pretty voice. I have a strong voice (as long as I am sure of my pitch). I've said it for a long time: I have a folk singing voice.

(That was not something that made me happy back when I harbored opera singing hopes. C'est la fucking vie!)

I met my husband because we're both choir geeks (and we had a mutual choir geek friend). He's a much stronger musician than I am, but we have matching voices and we love singing together. He picks up instruments and plays them naturally. I don't. So I just sang while he played (or while listening to the radio, or randomly around the house). And that was fun,

But I never really clicked with any instruments of my own, and that was kind of a bummer. Especially now that Remy is really clicking with guitar lessons: it makes me want to pick up my own instrument and play along!

Side note: I had a full drum kit at one point, bought used from a guy I worked with. I sold it when we moved to Canada - and as much as I liked having a full drum kit, it really hasn't been something I care to make space for. I do have a number of hand drums. And I'm getting better at the egg shaker, which is fun when we're jamming.

But I've been on a sort of a quest, to find my instrument. My right (solo and jamming) accompaniment.

For awhile I thought it might be banjo. (Oh, I love the sound of a banjo!) But I never could pull the trigger and make the purchase. And it wasn't just money, it wasn't just being daunted. It just... it didn't fit. Not quite. But I thought it might, one day.

And then last month, we watched a folk music documentary and suddenly, it clicked: an autoharp. That would be my instrument. It seemed so obvious once it clicked. I did a few days of research and it was pretty clear what harp would be the right one for me.

My autoharp (not an affiliate link) arrived Tuesday!

(Yup, it's electric: I haven't plugged it in yet, but I'm seriously looking forward to that experience.)

And guess what? It is totally my instrument. So very much so. It feels like an extension of my voice. I love it already.

I'm still getting to know the chord layout (and how to work around chords I don't have). I'm still getting used to tuning it (not that difficult and good for my ear training to be brought back up to speed). I'm still getting used to holding it and not messing my (already messed up) wrists more.

I can do rudimentary things, and I'm looking forward to getting more proficient as I continue practicing.

And I am already having fun playing by myself and with M (and Remy)!

It's love.