When Dave Henry was in the 5th grade, he fell in love. The object of his affections was not the classmate who played "Silent Night" on her harp for the Christmas program. Dave fell in love with the harp.
"The sound of the harp has such a relaxing, calming effect," Dave said. "From that moment on, it's been a life long dream of mine to have and play a harp. We couldn't afford one then. There were 10 kids in our family. But my goal since that time was to own a harp.
"To me it's a very angelic instrument," Dave continued. "In I Samuel 16: 14-23, it talks about David being called to play his harp for Saul. Verse 23 says, 'And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.' I'd like to play for people and offer the comfort and relaxation that the harp provides."
Originally from Fort Wayne, five years ago Dave came to Brazil, the hometown of his wife, Soni Henry. They have two sons, Patrick Czizek, 15, and David Henry, 13. Recently they moved to Center Point.
Though Dave played the violin and viola while in middle school and high school, he never had an opportunity to continue playing after he graduated. But the Farm Bureau Insurance agent never gave up his goal.
Last year while browsing the Internet, Dave viewed the website of John Kovac from Front Royal, Va., in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kovac, a harp player and builder, helps individuals to make a harp.
Last December, with encouragement and support from his family, Dave went to Virginia and spent three days with Kovac and made his own harp.
"We built it together," Dave said. "He told me what to do and I did the work. I cut each piece then shaped, finished and assembled it. It took about 22 hours to complete the project."
Dave's instrument is a Paraguayan Harp. It has no pedals or levers. It's made of five different kinds of wood: birch, walnut, western red cedar, rosewood and Sitka spruce.
"The top and bottom of the sound box is the Sitka spruce," Dave explained. "It's very durable and very flexible with temperature and humidity. The harp weighs only 12 pounds. There are very few screws used to assemble it. Tension of the strings mostly hold it together."
The strings are made of nylon. The neck of the harp, which has an S curve, is where all the strings attach at the top and where tuning is done. Dave has an electronic tuner. Strings are color coded to make it easy to identify note location.
A video cassette on how to learn to play the harp was included. But Dave said Kovac told him to learn to play by ear first.
"He said if you learn to play only by using sheet music, when you go somewhere and don't have any music, you can't play. If you first play by ear then learn how to read music, you can play under any conditions."
It's been less than a year but Dave is doing well with his music.
"All the songs I've played so far, I've played by ear and heart," Dave said. "To me it's a gift and a blessing from God. I want to make that very clear. I couldn't do this on my own. I feel that music is from God, a channel He uses to bring us back to Him."
Dave said he's plays a lot of the older church hymns just for relaxation and daily time with God. Right now he's working on Christmas tunes and traditional church hymns. The first song he learned on the harp was "Amazing Grace."
Then Dave played "Away in the Manger" while sitting by the fireplace and Christmas tree at a friend's home. The musical sounds reverberating from his harp were soft, slow, soothing.
"Lots of people have told me the music is so relaxing and comforting to them, actually therapeutic," Dave said. "I'm just a beginner but I'd like to minister to others because of the therapy it offers, whether to churches, seniors, weddings, restaurants."
Dave said his intent is not so much to secure business opportunities as it is to just be able to reach out to people. He has already played for some individuals and churches. He is scheduled to play Christmas tunes and hymns for other churches and some organizations during the Christmas season. Anyone interested in securing his services may call him at 812-835-1179.
"Going back to David and Saul. Saul asked to have somebody play a harp for him and they found David. That's pretty neat," David said with a big, warm smile. "I just love it."