Harp Adventures: Day 1 in Chicago

Sad. I am sad. I wanted to get my Chicago posts done right when I got back home from my trip, but as soon as I got home I was bombarded with prepping for my move with Mr. Envoy to Long Island, NY! I’m here now (in Long Island that is) and am finally ready to share with you all what happened on my trip to Chicago to pick out my new harp. Also, I do have lots to share with you guys regarding my week-long drive out here to NY, so since I have exhausted my house hunt for the day (and since the weather is too rainy to go out and explore/enjoy the 4th of July fireworks) I’ll get some posts typed up from my backlog :)
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I had a 6:20 am flight out of San Diego to Chicago, which meant getting up at 2 am to get ready so Mr. Envoy and I could leave in time to pick up my dad’s wife on our way down to San Diego to catch our flight. I’ve been getting better at the whole early morning thing thanks to dating a Marine (my body has been naturally waking up around 5:30 am, but I choose to go back to sleep instead of getting up lol), but 2 am is still a big stretch!

Airport selfie before going through security.

I hadn’t flown since the last time I went up to visit my ex-boyfriend in Northern California, which was nearly 2 years, so I was excited! I’ve always loved flying, particularly the take-offs and landings. My mom and I used to fly back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota a lot when I was a kid to visit my grandma (her mom) when she still lived there, so I guess that’s how I learned to like it! And boy howdy am I glad I like flying because it sure would suck to hate it and be forced to drive everywhere… flying is just so much faster and WAY more fun! At least to me! But I’m on a tangent so back to my trip to Chicago :P

My dad’s wife and I flew Southwest because they are usually pretty reasonably priced and they let you check two bags for free (yes, free!). I know most people tend to tune out the flight attendants when they give their safety speeches about the flotation devices and oxygen and what-not, but the Southwest flight attendants have so much fun with it that I can’t help but giggle as I listen.

My favorite part about flying (and having a window seat) is being able to watch the landscape change as we travel. Everything looks so small from 35,000 ft above the ground, it’s almost as though I’m playing SimCity but zoomed out super far! I got a little excited while we flew so I took some pictures from the window of what I could see. There were clouds, mountains, desert, farmland, and rivers! So here’s my picture spam of all that :P

Our flight was very smooth, and we actually made it to Chicago 30 minutes ahead of schedule! So as soon as we landed we grabbed our bags and caught a taxi to our hotel. I know this may sound kind of weird to some of you, but this was my first time ever being in a taxi. I’ve seen them in movies and TV shows before, but I’ve never needed to take one back home because I’ve always just driven everywhere myself or with someone I knew. It was a little weird (and expensive) but hey, I can check that off my list I guess lol

After getting checked into our hotel, we set off for the one place we flew out here for – Lyon and Healy Harps! Since we flew all the way out here and didn’t have our own transportation, my dad’s wife introduced me to the public transportation that Chicago offered. We took the hotel shuttle to the orange line train at Midway International Airport, and navigated the train stops/changes that we needed.

And then finally – I had arrived at Lyon and Healy! The place where my amazing Elizabeth was made! It was like a dream come true!

I could barely contain my excitement as we walked through the double set of glass doors and up the steps to the front desk. After signing in and having the lady at the front desk get someone to bring us up to the showroom, I looked around. On the other side of the front desk sat a very old harp in a display case. It was one of the first harps Lyon and Healy had made, a style 22 if I remember correctly, back in the late 1800s. It was amazing to see such a piece of history, and to see another harp older than my own Elizabeth. She was absolutely stunning!

After a few moments, someone came to let us into the huge freight elevator they use to move harps between all five floors of the factory and take us up to the showroom. As soon as I stepped off the elevator and walked down the hallway into the showroom I knew I was in harp heaven. I had never seen so many harps in one place before! It was absolutely incredible! All of these gorgeous, handmade instruments were available for me try out, and then I’d get to buy one! How lucky was I?!

Before I had even gotten on a plane for Chicago I had been drooling over their harps online for a while. I knew which styles I loved – their Style 23 Bronze, Style 23 Natural, and Style 100 Natural; but I decided to start with my favorite, the Style 23 Bronze.

I was taken to one of their private rooms used to try out harps. I ended up in the Grandjany room (the room next to it was the Salzedo room). Soon, two Style 23 Bronze harps were wheeled in and I was set loose on them. I played arpeggios on both, and played my two pieces I’ve been focusing on as of late: First Arabesque by Claude Debussy and Fire Dance by David Watkins. They both sounded great, and it was such a neat feeling to be playing brand new harps! But alas, my ear was having trouble picking up on the differences between the two harps. Although I suppose I really shouldn’t be too surprised by this, I’ve always been much better in music theory than in musicianship… my ear just isn’t that well developed yet =/

So I sheepishly asked Steve (the national sales manager and the man who was helping me out) if he could help me figure out the difference between the two. He went off to find another harpist to help me out, so while we waited I looked out of the 5th floor windows into Chicago, and gosh was it a pretty sight :)

When the other harpist came in, she played arpeggios on both harps while he, my dad’s wife, and I sat down on the couch in the Grandjany room and listened. I had noticed something about the middle section of one of the harps (pictured on the right), but I couldn’t quite distinguish it. As it turned out, what I was hearing was that it was sort of dull compared to the other one (pictured on the left).

After listening a few times I could finally notice a difference between the two, and was able to narrow it down to just one of the two Style 23 Bronze harps, but I still had a lot to look at before I could make my decision! Thankfully though we had all of the next day to come back and try out harps before I had to make my decision, because Lyon and Healy was ready to close for the day. So very quickly I went back out into the showroom and picked out two Style 23 Natural harps to compare against the Style 23 Bronze harp when I came back.

With that done, my dad’s wife and I caught the next train back to Midway International Airport and had the hotel shuttle pick us up and bring us back to our room so we could enjoy a famous Chicago stuffed pizza from Giordano’s!

It was a great first day in Chicago! And the next day would only get better because it was the day I would pick out and purchase my brand new harp!

<3 and harp strings,
Kate

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One response to “Harp Adventures: Day 1 in Chicago

  1. Pingback: NY Adventures, Manhattan Edition: Train Rides & the American Museum of Natural History | Heart and Harp Strings·

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