Regular practices

Today I spent more than an hour attempting to tune my autoharp to a “sweet” tuning.  Tuning can be done many different ways.  This is a recent thing I learned while attending an autoharp workshop with the excellent teacher Charles Whitmer.  In his book, Intermediate book II, there is a page which he went over with us.

Tuning can be done diatonic, which best I can understand means that one key sounds fabulous but the other keys, if there are any on that autoharp, will not sound so good.

Then there is Mean Tone Tuning, which means that you can get the autoharp to sound really good in two or three keys, but it won’t sound so good with other instruments unless they are tuned the same way.

Bringing us to Equal Temperament, which means that each note is tuned precisely.  This is how most instruments are tuned and if you tune the autoharp this way it will play pretty well with other instruments BUT it won’t sound anywhere near so good as tuned diatonic or mean tone.

Our instructor, Charles Whitmer, explained his compromise tuning which gives the autoharp a nice sweet sound, perhaps not so sweet as diatonic or mean tone, but good, and still is close enough to equal temperament to play with other instruments.

What I learned was that my autoharp sound MUCH better to my ear and to my husband’s ear when tuned to Whitmer’s compromise tuning.

So, after all the effort to tune my autoharp correctly I practiced the song Scarborough Fair for awhile and then took a shot at the accompaniment for Swing Low Sweet Chariot. My assessment was that while I did OK practicing that the last two weeks of not so regular practice has slowed my improvement considerably.

Practice time is now set as an alarm on my cell phone.

Retreat–Holy week

A retreat is a special time spent in prayer and in seeking clarity.  This retreat was no different. I signed up for it not knowing much except that this center was known for really well done retreats.  I found out on arrival that it was a silent retreat.  WOW, several days of not talking? I am so glad I went!

There were meditations to think about several times a day deep ones, and during silent prayer in the chapel there were examinations of conscience, so many things to think about, to consider one’s life in the light of these things, passages of scripture presented with words of wisdom that brought home how these lessons were meant for our lives now, today, and not only for the past. The meals were wonderful, and social without speaking.  During meals we listened to Scott Hahn’s newest book on tape and I need to buy a copy.  Mass and Adoration of our Lord were uplifting and we had enough time between activities to journal and to think.

As in any examination of one’s life, there were the uncomfortable elements.  I found myself becoming aware of several serious flaws in how I was living and the need to make some changes of habits.  In the long run these issues will work out for the best, meanwhile, seeing myself in a clearer way was uncomfortable.

After three days of silence, we had a fun time at the last breakfast before we all headed home. I didn’t just take insights into myself away with me, but some new friends too.

The Yearly Retreat

Tomorrow is the day I go on retreat. Once a year it is good to get away for a couple of days and take the time to think about where life is going and if changes are needed.   I’ve not done this exact type of retreat before, one that is directed and intended for spiritual growth.  In the past, I have attended various conferences, taken a room by myself and taken time between events and in the evenings to do my thinking and praying about the direction of my life.  Done this way even a conference without any religious component … Continue reading


Information gives me great pleasure and no matter where my interests head there is always far more information that the majority of people will ever see. I love links. These and the ones which will be added later are chosen because they represent sources of information in their subject area.  There is a lot which I won’t share here, links to information that does not excite me is not going to make the cut. Eventually I would like to make a blog post on every single wonderful link on the list.  I hope you, my readers, find something in the … Continue reading

Home School

Home Schooling is nothing more or less than parent led education of family members, usually children, where the parent determines the scope and sequence, curriculum, hours of study, methods of teaching, teaches, guides, disciples and in general takes parenting to the next logical step. Essential and complex skills such as learning to speak and becoming potty trained are handled perfectly well by parents so why not teach other things as well?  Taking language acquisition to the next level and teaching a child to convert spoken communication into written is no more complex than teaching them to speak in the first … Continue reading


Bifocals are a kind of rite of passage for many of us. The nearsightedness requires glasses for driving or seeing the blackboard, but until later age, when the little parts of the eye begin to stiffen and resist change, there is usually no need for bifocals. There are the age defying lenses that hide this by a continual change in the lens, sliding gracefully from distance to close-up without that tell-tale line but they don’t work for everyone. So along come the bifocals and close behind a second pair with just the reading lens. Last week I picked up a … Continue reading


Spectator or participant? How do I want to live my life? Music is a pleasure for listening but listening is no longer enough for me, I want to make music for myself even if my capacity to play an instrument will never be anywhere near the wonderful skill of the musicians on the CD’s I hear playing though the speakers. I want to DO and not merely to watch or listen.  I enjoy singing but that is no longer enough participation.  I want to accompany my singing myself and lose my dependence on having someone to play for me.  I … Continue reading