My tongue is in my hand…

This never even has to leave the room

Posted on: December 29, 2008

I just spent an hour practicing on the bowed psaltery I was (re)given for Christmas by my mother. It was my grandmother’s and after she died, it was given to me.  I was in high school and though I played the piano and sang in choirs, I had little interest in playing it, so it sat in my room, unfortunately beside my floor vent. The strings on the bow frayed and broke, so when I got married and moved out, I left it.

In the past few years, during our trips to the mountains, I have mentioned that I’d like to be able to have the instrument back and be able to play it (we assume my grandmother bought it in the mountains as she traveled there a lot and it’s a folk instrument). so my mom ordered me a bow, and here I am, on the floor in my computer room sorting through old sheet music trying to find something I could use with it.  I found a couple pieces, worked through them a little, as well as the beginning of “ode to joy” that I’ve had memorized since I began piano (which I no longer play, mainly for lack of having one at this point, though I had a keyboard I never played, but that was a different me…)

I need some rosin and I’m sure it needs to be tuned (I don’t know how, though I have the tuning tool) but it’s nice to just sit down to play just to do it (and it’s nice to refresh myself on reading music, as I’ve been out of chorus since I graduated college 3 years ago : (

You know, so much of what I did as a kid and teenager and even young adult has been driven by performance. Do this well so you can do [   ] with it…not to mention my desire to excel at everything (preferably with little effort) and this is different, this is just to do. If I do it well, great, if I do it not so well – oh well.

bowed psaltery

bowed psaltery

I have a list I started of things I’d like to do this year, and another of things I’d like to do sometime in my life and this is one of those things, and several other things run in the same vein. Paint just to paint, learn to dance just to learn to dance, study a language just to study it – no destination, no performance, just the experience, just the learning.

5 Responses to "This never even has to leave the room"

The photo finally loaded and that has got to be weirdest instrument I’ve ever seen in my life. What does it sound like?

i guess you could compare it’s sound to a violin a little. you can find some on you tube, which is what I did so I could hear it and get a feel for it. It can sound really crappy or pretty cool (I guess like any instrument)

Happy new year 🙂

Hi Becca, I have a bowed psaltery also. I started playing it in April and just love it.

What do you like playing? I just got mine out the other day for a few minutes, but honestly haven’t played it much lately. I’d like to get decent at it though, just cause.

I mainly play folk music or Celtic like Greensleeves and Danny Boy. Recently I learned Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Edelweiss. Recorder sheet music or keyboard sheet music usually can be played on the bowed psaltery.
I play to relax. I’m not particularly good, but working on it : )

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