A Kindergarten Dream This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 18, 2010
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I was five year old kindergartener when the thought to play the harp first crossed my mind. Every year in August, without fail, my family and I would go to the annual Irish Festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It takes place at the popular Summer Fest grounds along the shore of Lake Michigan. Irish Fest is a sea of green, intermixed with freckle-faced, red headed Irish folk, and some people that are just pretending to be Irish for the weekend. When my sister and I were younger, we spent most of our time during the weekend at the children’s area. There were tables set up for decorating potatoes, coloring shamrocks and pots of gold, a children’s theatre and kid friendly Irish music playing in the background at the children’s stage.

One year, there was a group of young harpists playing at the children’s stage. There were about ten to twenty elementary school aged harpists on the stage. They all were in sync and looked absolutely perfect to me. They brought their harps up and down at the same time and their hands all gestured perfectly together. Never seeing a real harp before, I was very intrigued and watched their entire performance, which for a five year old was impressive. After the performance I announced that I wanted to play the harp. I don’t remember it exactly, but my mom says I was very straight-forward and pronounced and said “Mom, I’m going to do that!” She had no idea what she was in for. I wanted to be like the people on the stage and do what they did. My parents were reluctant, and their reaction was understandable since most kindergarteners can’t even make a clear decision on what color to finger paint with, let alone learn, and invest in such a complex instrument such as the harp. My parents just assumed it was a little phase that I was going through, and that by the end of Irish Fest weekend I would be over it. I wasn’t.

The next year I was still drawn to the idea of playing the harp. Once again, while spending time in the kid’s area, we saw another harp performance. Once more, I sat through the whole performance and still wanted to learn this beautiful instrument. After the harp performance, my Mom thought it would be a good idea to bring me to the harp tent, where throughout the entire weekend there were harpists. When we arrived at the tent they were between performances. I saw a woman that was letting people touch her harp, and my face lit up. My mom saw my reaction and said “Honey- go see if you can play it too.” So I ran over and the woman let me play a few strings. That was it, I was hooked. My parents saw how happy I looked to be able to play what I’ve been dreaming of, and took a picture (that we still have today) of me playing a harp for the first time in my life. They realized from my reaction it was something that I genuinely cared about doing, and it was something that I was determined to make part of my life. After getting to strum a few strings, I was even more obsessed and asked, actually more like begged, my parents to let me get a harp and learn how to play. I kept repeating “Please Mom!”(or dad, depending on who I decided to bother with my pleading at the moment) . So they told me that I had to wait one more year until they would seriously consider the possibility of me playing the harp.

A year had passed and I was still determined to play the harp. My whole family was shocked this obsession had lasted. My parents had discussed it and caved into the idea. Before long I had a harp teacher had had picked out my very own folk harp from Lyon and Healy Harps in Chicago, Illinois. The first harp that I bought was a small lever folk harp. The wood was real dark and on each side of the sound board was a beautiful Celtic design. And I loved it.

Every August when and my family and I go to Irish Fest, I still take a walk past the children’s stage where I made one of the biggest and influential decisions so far in my life. I now play on a much bigger pedal harp for intermediate/advanced harpists, than when I started. It is equivalent to a baby grand piano, and is made with wood from seven different countries! It is cool to me to have a hobby that is different and is unique to my Irish heritage. I do not think that I would be the same person if I hadn’t become interested in harps. Learning how to play has influenced and broadened my musical taste.

Learning or playing harp music is not always easy, actually sometimes it’s the most frustrating task I have to do. I’m not always “in the mood” to practice, but that doesn’t take away from how much I love it. It’s something that makes me, me. Whether I’m mad, happy, stressed, or bored it’s the one constant thing in my life that I know I can turn to. It is something that I do for myself. I love playing the harp because it makes me feel good, and even though I don’t intend on pursuing a career in the harp word, I know for a fact it will always be a part of my life.





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