Today I had lots of fun buying a new bow for my two tagelharpas. Yes, I've decided to call them by their Swedish name, tagelharpa (which means tail-harp) rather than their Finnish name jouhikko, because I found that NOBODY could remember the name jouhikko. So now I'm calling them 'tagelharpas' which my friends seem much better able to pronounce and remember. I also like that it means 'tail harp', after the strings made from twisted horse hair.
Anyway, the two bows that came with my tagelharpas were becoming a little problematic for me- one was too small and lightweight ...skittered around and didn't give me a hearty tone. The other, which looked cool because it was made from a bent stick bark and all...gave a good tone but was a little too heavy- difficult to be agile with it when playing.
I went to my local music store and was able to try out about 7 bows for cellos and for violas- full sized ones and half sized ones, etc. None of them were very high quality or expensive, but that was fine- I was just looking for a good weight bow I could work with better than my current ones. I had also been borrowing an old cheap fiddle bow from Brian, but that was too light and a little too long again. that told me I should maybe look at the viola and cello bows.
After spending 45 minutes rosining and trying the bows back and forth in the music store, trying them on my tagelharpa (much to the amusement of the various teenage electric guitar customers coming and going).... I found the nicest feeling one with the best tone of the bunch was a full sized viola bow. There were two of them for sale- for $80 and $40, and oddly i liked the feel and tone of the $40 one better. It was made in China. I know it's not a very good bow, but it's a step up from what i've been using!
So I went home with a new bow to practice with, it was quite exciting for me!
I had been shamefully neglecting my tagelharpas over the past 2 months, but for the past two weeks I've plunged back into practicing them again. I found that changing my practice time from evening to morning really helped me, as too often in the evening I was simply too tired mentally to want to get practicing. It seems more inspiring and fresh somehow in the morning, so that change is helping me to better stick with it and progress.
I also ordered a book and CD of simple Finnish kantele tunes which are specifically for the 5 string kantele and will likely be perfectly suited to the tagelharpa which is based upon a 5 or 6 note note scale.
I am very slowly making progress. But more importantly, I am still really loving playing this instrument even though it's a great deal of work and a huge challenge for me.
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990