Fun With The Bowed Psaltery

psaltery My posts to date focused on the dulcimer, so I’d like to give another instrument equal time!

I’ve been enjoying noodling around with my bowed psaltery lately, enjoying old tunes and picking out new ones. Holiday music–both Hanukah and Christmas–sound so lovely on the ringing psaltery.

I am a single bow player, but I’ve come to appreciate the artistry of double bowing. Psaltery player Celeste Ray, a member of Four Celtic Voices takes double bowed playing to a new level! (Check out her video on the group’s website: fourcelticvoices.com) Her dexterity is impressive and her sound beautiful! And while most music lovers might stop there, I was equally impressed with her ability to balance the psaltery on her knees. What gives?? Nearly every double bow player I’ve encountered recommends various contraptions to hold the instrument–and now I learn with a little shelf paper (the kind with a tacky surface–a whole roll for $1 at the dollar store!) I too could balance it on my lap! This will open up whole new worlds and increase my comfort even while playing with just one bow.

So as I experiment with Celeste’s approach, I’m reminded of the important question I answer for many of my students–whether psaltery, dulcimer or autoharp: What’s the best way to hold my instrument? And the answer is always the same: Whatever works best for YOU!