the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own
― Mary Oliver
I went on to play two other pieces in the next several months. First I played one with Kylie, and then our head elder requested I do “My Jesus, I Love Thee” for a communion service. Jim and I already had worked out an arrangement of that, so that worked out nicely, because I was decidedly not doing it alone.
We met before Sabbath school the morning of communion for a final practise, during which I clunked along the best I would let myself, very unnerved by the early birds who were starting to trickle into the sanctuary. During a pause in that rehearsal, he asked me I was “feeling it”. I didn’t really get what he meant; all I felt was an urge to get through and be done so I could stop feeling sick from anxiety. Watching the video of it now I can see my tension holding me back. I used one hand when originally I planned for two, because nerves had made me completely forget pretty much everything, and I was rigidly trying to make myself as small and inconspicuous as possible. I was most definitely not feeling the music. I don’t think I really knew how.
Aside from all that, there was a problem. Roisín had had a crack in her soundboard that started even the first year I had her. Thinking it was normal in those early days, I never gave much thought to it. But as soon as I began to play seriously, starting with preparation for the 2012 Christmas program, the crack became noticeably worse, and research informed me that it was not fixable and would ultimately be death for Roisín.
It was time for a new harp. I began to shop around. Internet made my research a lot easier this time around, and experience had rendered me much less swayable by carved soundboxes and Celtic knots, and more interested in quality, even if it does cost a couple grand. I finally found exactly what I wanted, and it would cost me $2663.
I stepped back, a little bit put off by this, but only to regroup and start thinking how I could make this happen. I sold my violin, I had a yard sale. I’d have sold my wedding ring if I could have found it. I started 2013 with under $50 in my harp fund. But then a kind and interested party under whose counselling I was able to get a handle on many of these things you’ve just read about began to drum up interest in my favour, and contributed several hundred dollars to the fund himself as well as several hundred more from others. Finally capped off by a loan from a friend who UNDERSTANDS about Morgan Fitzgerald, I had enough for my new wooden baby—all in just a few short months.
I ordered her from Blevins Harps and I named her Éiden, which means “my delight”. It’s pronounced Eden, just like in English.
Levers that work. A soundboard that will never under normal circumstances crack. Solid walnut and a voice fit for an angel. This, this was what I had been waiting for for years.
I played Éiden in public for the first time just days after getting her: special music and a postlude at a church where some friends attend. Since then I’ve played her at my own church and at a retirement home a few times, and somehow even let myself be talked into playing solo in public. The flexibility granted by levers that work has also permitted me to dive into a wider range of music. I’ve found that the more I play the better the brain-finger connection becomes, and I surprise myself with abilities I did not know I had. I’ve been able to bring a little more depth to the hymns I have always loved so much, and even taken on Bach and Mozart. I’m far from being spectacular, but I have to start somewhere. There need be no limits.
Perhaps most significantly of all, I feel the music inside me again. After so many years of being generally immune to feelings of pure-joy-from-music, another Mozart piece hit me in just the right place to wake that back up, and ever since then I am happy to say that I really truly feel what I’m playing for the first time (ever).
Music is amazing. Go out and immerse yourself in it.
Return to: IV – Out of the Closet