Serenity in the strings

Freshman finds herself with a strong love for the harp


Freshman Halle Kenyon receives her first harp after only having a baby harp before. This was a step up for Kenyon as she grew along with her passion for the instrument. photo contributed by freshman Halle Kenyon

The gentle yet firm plucking of strings, a swiftness in the way the fingers move and an ethereal sound filling the air. One may not think much of the harp, given that it’s not a widely accessible instrument to play. However, when looking deeper into the art, for freshman Halle Kenyon, it’s a wonder.

“It’s very unique. It’s not like any other instrument,” Kenyon said. “If you mess up, it doesn’t sound like you messed up because it’s just so pretty.”

When Kenyon was in the second grade, she was inspired by her great aunt at a family gathering to start playing. Several years since then and many lessons later, she now finds herself immersed in the strings of a harp.

Once Kenyon expressed her interest in playing the harp, her family wasted no time in getting her private lessons. The first two weeks consisted of extending her pointer finger and her thumb and followed by Kenyon having to close them. This mimics the plucking motion when one does play the harp. By this time, it was clear that harp-playing was a natural talent for Kenyon.

Travis Kenyon, Halle Kenyon’s dad, was ecstatic upon hearing that news that an instrument had piqued the interest of his daughter because he plays the piano.

“It takes a lot of patience and determination,” Travis said. “She does not get upset with herself very easily when it comes to that. She is very patient with herself, so I’m very proud of that.”

Thinking about the harp, Kenyon’s favorite things about the beautiful instrument are the angelic sounds that it makes as well as just how graceful the instrument is.

“I get awards for my playing,” Kenyon said. “I’ve gotten ribbons for recitals.”

For private lessons, Kenyon would always have Christmas recitals where the players would play pieces of music that they’ve spent time learning. There aren’t any competitions when it comes to playing the harp, so the recitals are just to see the amount of improvement that was made.

Judging would be based on how well the music was played, if there were any mistakes and how well the plucking technique was executed. In general, it is just the harpist and a judge in the room.

Sarah Kenyon, Halle Kenyon’s mom as well as Halle’s dad, both agree that their favorite memory of Kenyon playing the harp was a touching moment during the funeral of her maternal great-grandmother.

“At my grandmother’s funeral, when she was probably six, maybe eight, she combined two of her songs that she had learned on her baby harp, and at the end of the funeral, that was what we all listened to,” Sarah said. “I think everybody was about in tears. It was absolutely beautiful.”

Currently, Kenyon is off-and-on again with playing the harp. She hasn’t been as firm with playing but hopes she can completely pick it back up again. Her harp is there when she wants to play and not going anywhere.

Kenyon’s mom would love for her to pick the harp back up, given that it does not become a stress to Kenyon and that she still has love for her natural talent. Neither of her parents want to burden her with the pressure of playing an instrument, and as much as they feel that playing an instrument is a beautiful thing, Kenyon knows what is best for herself no matter what.

Reassured, Kenyon wants to take her harp with her as she walks her future path.

“I really want to play for weddings and just be someone that people want to play for funerals or anything,” Kenyon said.