Next day the rain was pouring down, again. I spent the morning NOT in costume going out for lunch with a good friend and getting a few things done. Then in the afternoon I had a lesson planned so I wanted to dress up for that.
This lesson was a harp lesson, or workshop. The Jane Austen center organizes harp workshops sometimes and I wanted to try that last year but it was sold out, so I was excited to get to try it this year. It was as part of the deal with this group I was staying with. Except it wasn’t the Jane Austen center one as I thought, our wonderful hostess Helena had arranged something privately and we had our own instructor who came to teach us at one of the houses we were renting (not the one I was staying in, this was a different, more special place). So it ended up being only three of us doing this, which meant it was practically a private lesson!
I have wanted to try playing the harp for a really long time now. It is such an elegant and truly beautiful instrument and I’ve been dying to give it a go. So I was very excited to be doing this little workshop. And tell you what, I loved it even more than I thought I would!!
Our instuctor, Mike, is a fantastic harpist and he started off by showing us the instuments and telling us about them and their history before moving on to letting us try to play. The harps he had brought were truly beautiful instruments. They were all old. One of them dated from the time of the French revolution and was from Paris, another was a real Regency harp rumored to have belonged to Princess Charlotte and the third one was also I belive early 19th century by the harp maker John Egan and was the only one of his surviving harps in private ownership. And you know what? HE LET US PLAY THESE HARPS!!!!
The three harps. The little one to the left is the John Egan one, in the middle is the Regency one and the one to the right is the oldest, the one from the French revolution.
Mike, our teacher, playing for us
And then we got to try. We rotated around so we all could try the different ones. I couldn’t decide which one I liked best, they were all so lovely! (oh and thanks again to Claire whom I’ve borrowed some pictures from since I didn’t get any of my own of us playing)
Me, Lyze and Jeanette playing. Oh and there’s my new Spencer too btw.
See how different they all are? Not sure how well it shows in these photos but they are all decorated in completely different styles. The oldest one has beautiful paintings all over it, like was fashionable at the time it was made. The Regency one is much plainer but with a beautiful elegance to it, just as was in style at that time. I loved you could see the reflections of the times they were constructed on them. Mike also told us they all three have their own personalities and he has given them names! Unfortunately I cannot remember all of their names but I know the little one was Lydia.
Me with one of the gorgeous harps. I want, I want, I want one!!
It really was fantastic and I could have kept going all day! It was a little tricky of course because it is a completely new instrument to me, but I do think playing the piano helped me to get a hang of it fairly quickly. I so want to properly learn to play the harp now, I’ve been looking around for places where you can rent them as that sounds like a good thing to start off with. It was just so exciting and fun! And I like how it is an instrument that ladies played in the Regency era, that was so popular then. But also you can do so much with it! And I’d like to learn to play so well that I could eventually accompany myself when I’m singing. Well, that’s a goal at least. First I need to get hold of a harp!
”A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself; and both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a little lawn, surrounded in the rich foliage of summer, was enough to catch any man’s heart. The season, the scene, the air, were all favourable to tenderness and sentiment.” ~ Mansfield Park
That evening too was full of fun and I’ll tell you all about that soon!