Restoring humanity through the harp
The harp is known as a musical instrument that lifts moods of both the artist and the listener, while also helping the musician to acquire concentration, confidence, freedom of expression and creativity.
This is why the harp is the Arts Performance Centre’s weapon to change the lives of its students in Oshikuku and Tsumeb.
Lis Hidber, who is the co-founder of both centres said playing the harp helps students manage anger issues.
“Young people in the troublesome age of the puberty like to express their mood with the special sound of the harp. The harp can heal psychological sickness, can change a bad mood in satisfaction, can bring happiness and change an aggressive, angry feeling into a happy and quiet mood,” Hidber said, speaking to the Economist.
Despite the harp not being a very popular musical instrument in Namibia, musical history shows that that the San people were playing a string instrument similar to the small David Harp. Hidber said elderly in the Tsintsabis area still play a musical instrument, which is similar to the harp.
“The harp is a universal instrument. Today the harp is famous in all Continents, why should Namibia be kept away from such a wonderful instrument?” Hidber asked.
Being the harp teacher at APC, Hidber leads over 200 students and since teaching the instrument needs time and devotion she gets voluntary teachers from abroad to step in. Some of the best students also step in to assist beginners.
“Children who start with music lessons in harp are very much challenged. The technique is difficult, the express has to be trained, the memory is strongly activated by exercising . At the begin the exercising is hard work, it needs a strong discipline, but once a child masters the first level, which means to play some songs at the internal concert at APC, big things can be done with ease,” Hidber says.
“I like to teach our children this musical talent, and at the end of the day I feel so good to see so many youngsters in a happy and peaceful mood at the end of the day,” she added.
The sound of the harp is soothing and is suitable for weddings, funerals, smaller meetings or special events like Christmas, church- festivals and for family meetings. Hidber said the instrumental sound of the harp is attached to the heartstrings of the listener.
In this vein, the APC Tsumeb recently held a concert at the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) in Windhoek were Hidber, Selma Angala, Karina Francis and Katya Francis gave the audience blissful evening of harp music.
In the APC in Tsumeb at the moment only has 14 students for harp lessons. Some are beginners, while some are at an advanced level, ready to give international concerts.
Furthermore, the APC, in general aims at job creation and an open mindedness by using arts as the its primary language.
Hidber said that students from the APC get employed as art teachers at different schools, while some have jobs in the Military, Navy and Police bands. A few went to study abroad in order to get a Diploma in Arts.
The APC, every two weeks holds a general concert with different musical instruments.
“Our youth orchestra is not touring far around in Namibia, because of the finances; as it would costly to travel over 30 youngsters. However, the Marimba band tours often, especially for tourists in lodges and big festivals as the band needs only 6 people for performing, which is loud enough,” Hidber said.