The Great Musician
In my school years, the only musical instrument I ever wanted to play was the piano. But my school did not have one and neither did I, so that was the end of that. But I yearned to be part of music because I loved it so. In my school we were required to learn to play SOME instrument, and the music teacher handed me a violin and said, “Here, you can learn to play this.” Dutifully, I took lessons in music class and believe me I was no virtuoso on the thing. The sounds I made on it had every person covering their ears, and by the time the year ended and the violin was put away, it was a great relief to everyone, including me! I could not get the hang of it and was grateful that I would not be required to play it ever again. To my relief my singing voice was much better than my violin playing and they allowed me to use that. I enjoyed music class after that, but I was disappointed in myself that I was destined never to learn to play any musical instrument.
Yearning and Determination Conquer All
Fast forward to my old age, and I’m looking for challenges to keep life interesting. One day while listening to my favorite Blue Grass recording “Old Time Gathering,” the sound was so beautiful I yearned to be able to play. I wondered how difficult it would be to learn to play the zither. I decided to investigate. First I looked up information about the instrument itself; the earliest known style of zither is one found in a Chinese tomb from the year 433 B.C., which is known as a guqin. This morphed into several adaptations including the Japanese koto, the Indonesian sitar, the kanun of the Middle East, and many others. In Bavaria and Austria an adapted version known as a volkszither became very popular in the 19th century. In that same time in the United States, the zither received increased popularity as a parlor instrument. But when jazz began overreaching that popularity in the 1920s, the zither lost fans, only to resurge in the 1950s because of a film “The Third Man.” The soundtrack for this movie was done completely on a zither by musician Anton Karas. It was a haunting tune and everyone wanted to know about the instrument that put out such melodious sounds. Of course, Mr. Karas was a professional musician, but could I learn to play a simple tune? Maybe, and here’s what I did.
I get catalogs from all sorts of stores, and in one of them was a Yerbonitsa zither. I purchased it and it’s shown at the top of the page. I felt good but nervous that perhaps I’d spent my money foolishly. So here I am investing money into something I don’t even know if I can play. But the information said it came with sheet music and all I had to do was to place the sheet music under the string area and follow along for where to pluck the strings. How hard can it be? I was right, it wasn’t too difficult and I was able to play pretty quickly. You understand, I’m not speaking of professional quality play, but that play that I and my family enjoyed. I must say, it’s certainly a different reaction than my violin days!
Now I’ve found that these “beginner zithers,” as I call them, are available online at Amazon where they are called “lap harps,” or “melody harps.” To my astonishment, the zither there costs much less than the one I purchased elsewhere. If you, like me, would love to learn to play a musical instrument, or if you love someone who has always wanted to play but felt they couldn’t learn, this is the perfect gift. The gift of music is a joy not only for the player but also for those listening. Below are the ones Amazon offers.
Keep It Clean and Dust Free
When not in use, the zither should be stored in the box it comes in to keep dust from collecting in the places where your skin oils have touched. There are also micro-fiber, eco-friendly and economical, washable cleaning pads to keep it free of those oils. I list them here, along with a tuning key, because every stringed instrument must be tuned from time to time. There’s also seasonal sheet music for the zither if you’d like more choices than those that come with the zither.
PEC-PAD Lint Free Wipes 4″x4″ 100per/Pkg
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