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Rural Girl Built Her Own Harp
A passion for harps led Christina Marshall to add harp builder to her list of accomplishments. She first got interested in them at the age of 16, after already becoming an accomplished pianist and violinist. But at a price of up to $5,000 for the harp she wanted, they were too expensive for her or her family.
  "My dad asked me why I didn't just try to build one, since someone has to do it," recalls Marshall, now 23 years old. "I found a place in California where I could get plans. My dad designed a small sawmill that would work off our old Allis Chalmers and a kiln to dry the wood."
  Marshall and her siblings were all home schooled so she was used to learning by doing. The kids helped their dad build the sawmill and the kiln. Then they cut up a black walnut tree from their backyard for the body of the harp and bought birch and maple for the soundboard and other fixtures.
  "I used basic woodworking tools like chisels, scroll saw, band saw, table saw and hand sanders," says Marshall. "My dad helped a lot with the big joints so I wouldn't lose a harp finger before I ever got to play one."
  After building her first harp, Marshall learned to play and now studies with a master harp instructor. She is already considered a professional harpist. She performs professionally on harp, piano and violin and teaches 30 to 35 students at a time. She has recorded several CDs of hymns with her sister Sarah, an accomplished cello player. She also composes music and sells sheet music for her compositions and arrangements from the website she designed and maintains. She has continued building and selling harps, doing all the work herself. She builds to order and has completed 11 of varying sizes to date. Each is designed differently using combinations of oak, walnut and other woods.
  She is currently building a pedal harp with more than 10,000 metal parts. A local man is doing the metal work, as Marshall prefers woodwork.
  "As I sell more harps, I'm able to purchase better woodworking equipment that will handle larger pieces of wood," says Marshall, still very aware of the danger involved, especially for a harpist. "You have to be there mentally working with tools. One slip could land you where you don't want to be."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Chistina Marshall, Nina Lee's Music Studio, R.R. 2, Box 17a, Bethany, Ill. 61914 (ph 217 665-3636; email: nlm17a@yahoo.com; website: www.ninasmusic.com).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2