Meet Yi Jin, MSO Harpist

Written by Kate Candy Colbert

Yi Jin is our resident MSO Harpist and foundational member of MSO, and we always look forward to her joining our rehearsals and concert performance in our concert venue. The Harp adds a beautiful texture to the orchestra and is a visually stunning instrument. Playing the Harp beautifully takes many years to learn and many more to master! What is important, as with any instrument, is that the player loves the sound of their instrument, and this is certainly the case with Yi. We interviewed Yi leading up to our Scheherazade concert which features lush Harp parts in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite and Rimsky- Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

What age were you when you started to learn the Harp?

I started to learn the Harp at 11 years old.

How do you transport your Harp?

I use a custom-made harp trolley wheel to help transport the Harp to my vehicle (SUV or station wagon). I lay the Harp down flat to slide it onto a foam pad for protection.

What is the brand of your Harp and how much does it weigh?

My Harp is a Lyon & Healy style 23, and weighs 37 kgs.

Is playing the Harp physically demanding?

Playing the Harp is very physical with feet work with seven pedals, the hands with forty seven strings, and the instrument leans on the right side of your body. Playing the Harp uses the entire body and good posture is indispensable, and a Harpist’s gestures should be as free as possible while remaining in the immediate space around the instrument, therefore it is important to have the proper position of the harp.

Most Harpist’s experience pain in the upper spinal column of in the neck and in the shoulders, predominantly on the right side of the body which can come from intense demands from the repertoire, particularly in the extremely high register.

What do you love about your instrument the most?

Beginners can play beautiful music at first sitting; for it’s beauty; always eye-catching; all ages can take it up; and playing will give you years of pleasure. For Harpist’s who want to play it as a career, they have more choices than other musicians. You can play in an orchestra, perform at receptions (wedding) or sophisticated parties, teach in a school or for private lessons, perform at religious services or with a choir.

I love the Harp the most because it can be used as a healing tool, the soothing sounds are very relaxing. The full vibrant tones massage the entire body. Music can affect you emotionally and lift your moods. The tranquility of the harp can refresh the spirit and aid in healing. Playing the harp can connect you to a rewarding community.

Photos by Randy Weaver.