Stephen Peterson's Harp Story

Mar 30, 2015

ravenna harp and hands

It's easy to get caught up in the daily business of making, selling and supporting our harps and hammered dulcimers, but every once in a while a customer tells us a story that reminds us of why we are really doing this. Time after time, we hear about the ways in which music has enriched the lives of both players and listeners, and often about a particular experience that inspired someone to learn the harp or hammered dulcimer.

Here is one such story, told by Stephen Peterson of Arlington, VA.

I've loved harp music for many years though I have never entertained the thought of actually learning to play...or so I thought. Recently, I found a Bucket List I wrote back in 1990 while living in Germany.  #3 on the list was Learn to play the harp.  I had completely forgotten about it.  25 years later, thousands of miles, and some major life changing experiences, that desire has come to fruition.  In 2011 I witnessed both my wife's and my mother's passing.  As I sat in each of their hospital rooms waiting for The hour, a harpist entered asking if they could play.  Of course, I agreed. It was then I got to witness first hand the calming effect this music had and a new fire of desire for the harp was born.  Even though I had the desire, I just couldn't bring myself to actually go through it and purchase a harp and dedicate myself to learn.  I don't know why. I just didn't.  Since their passing I've become a very active member in my church.  One of my ministries is to make regular visits to hospitals and retirement centers to give my time and prayer to the patrons.  Still it wasn't until this year that my desire to learn not only was reignited but caught on fire.  Recently, during one of my visits to a retirement center, I witnessed a harpist perform for a group of senior citizens.  During his performance one of the residents passed.... very peacefully while sitting in her chair.  Her last words were "music of the heavens."   During the hectic scene that followed, the harpist continued to play and really made a difficult situation so much better. This experience caused the desire to learn the harp to explode in my heart and [...] I've finally decided I'm going to do it.  I realize it will take time to learn but I'm fully dedicated.  As far as the Ravenna goes, I've research[ed] many harps on line and though most were lovely, Ravenna's sound just rang true to me.  This rich sound, portability, and your company's reputation for excellence sold me.  It will be an excellent first harp to learn on.  Thank you for allowing me to share this.  I'm really excited about this and can hardly wait to begin another chapter in my life providing peace and joy to others. By the way.... I ordered my Ravenna 26 yesterday.

If you have a harp or hammered dulcimer story you'd like to share that you think would bring inspiration to others, email or mail it to us and we'll do our best to include it in a future blog post! Photographs are welcome as well.




Comments

Posted by Karen on
What a lovely and inspiring story, Stephen. I wish you the best, and hope you get a lot of joy making "music of the heavens" with your new harp! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.
Posted by Yvonne Carson on
I echo Stephen's story very closely. I, too, first heard the beautiful harp when my own mother was in a hospice care setting. I think the depth and beauty of harp music spoke to my heart also during that time, as Stephen relates. About nine years passed and I began taking lessons on a 26 string bubinga Dusty Strings harp. I am still a beginner with about a year behind me. Just lately, wanting the lower notes, I have purchased a beautiful cherry FH34. I do hope I can get proficient enough to play some for others and give the comfort that I witnessed being given to others via the harp. That is a huge goal at my age of 64, but you never know; I want to try. Meanwhile, even practicing the harp is therapeutic for me too. No wonder people think of harps and heaven--I don't know how music could be more resonant and beautiful than on the harp. I have played at learning various instruments through the years, but I think I have at last found the one that rings true--thank you for making such lovely, soulful instruments that speak to people's hearts!
Posted by admin on
Yvonne, that is a wonderful goal, and there's absolutely no reason it can't be accomplished at the age of 64! Good for you for following your heart!
Posted by Mary-Ellen Reed on
Stephen -- Thank you for sharing your story. I have a similar one to share!
When I was three years old I began to spend a lot of time playing an old upright piano "by ear" -- 0f course my parents were delighted and "amazed" at what they thought was for sure a "child prodigy"! The songs I played at that time were of course ~simplistic "children songs". . . and I am told I played for hours -- standing on the floor and reaching up to the keys! When I reached seven years old - I started piano lessons -- and I did learn to read music - however, I spent most of my "practice" time playing the tunes that would "pop into my head" at the time.
I continued to take piano lessons up through high school . . . but after I stop taking lessons - I never bought a piece of sheet music again -- I just play by ear. For my 60th B'day my husband bought me a very inexpensive harp (not made in America) because as I told him - the harp is different than piano and I didn't want him to buy me an expensive instrument - just in case I couldn't play it..... Well -- I did play it and played it often. This past year he bought me a beautiful Dusty Strings Harp (a Ravenna) and it is a great harp. . . We live in a retirement community that is a "continuing care" facility - so we now live in independent houses - but there is an assistant living care and then a nursing care unit all under one roof. So now I have a harp in the assistant living area - and play there several times a week for the residents . . and they really enjoy it. The "activities director" for the assistant living area - just purchased a "lap harp" so I could go from room to room of the "nursing care" section. . . Sorry this is so long - I just thought I would share my "story" with you. . .
Posted by Anne on
As a child I was told I had no musical ability whatsoever and so I never learned to read music or play an instrument. However I always promised myself that "one day ..... " And the instrument I wanted to play was the harp .... So when I retired I took the plunge, started lessons on a cheap little instrument and then realised I COULD do this, so I went to the harp shop and fell in love with my Ravenna 34. The sound is pure magic. Three years later, at the age of 64, I am still learning and loving every minute I spend with my harp "Eirian". (Welsh for "the bright beautiful one".)
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