If you want to start playing
What do you do, then, if you feel that you just HAVE to play nyckelharpa yourself?
First you have to get one. That's not so easy. There are more players than there are good instruments. A good thing is to talk to somebody that already plays, to get information about which builders are considered to be good, decent, or even bad. Do NOT buy a nyckelharpa that you find in a newspaper advert without having spoken to a knowledgeable person first! After having gathered information you can order an instrument from a builder who keeps a suitable price level for you purposes. A nyckelharpa costs, i principle, anything from 5.000 SEK to 70.000 SEK, and usually you get what you pay for. Wooden instruments, like nyckelharpas and fiddles, usually gives you your money back (at the least) if you sell them. The concept "second hand" is not applicable in this context. Good builders are, for example, (there are more) Esbjörn Hogmark, Olle Plahn, Peder Källman, Sören Åhker and Harry Hedbom.
Then you need a bow. Sometimes the instrument comes with a bow, but not always. The same goes for the bow as for the instrument - talk to somebody knowledgeable before you buy. Here, too, you usually get what you pay for, and it is good to rid yourself of the idea that a bow is some sort of insignificant little stick that you get for a fiver. Nyckelharpa bows cost somewhere between 1.000 och 9.000 SEK, also money that you probably will get back if you sell the bow.
Finally it is time to start playing, and I strongly recommend visiting a good player/teacher for instruction. Where are those to be found, you might ask. Well, you can
- check if there are any evening classes going on in your area (Sweden), or
- have private lessons from a nyckelharpa player in the vicinities, or
- take a course. Two summer courses at which I teach myself are Knavertorka at Eric Sahlström-institutet, taking place the third week of July usually, and the nyckelharpa course at Ekebyholm, the week after midsummer each year. The latter is administrated by the educational association Bilda. If you go to the course at Eric Sahlström-institutet you can borrow an instrument for the week, to find out if this really is something for you. If, after the course, you decide against continuing, at least you have hade a great week!
If you do continue, there are possibilities for deeper studies into the world of nyckelharpa. You can
- take the distance course Knavra Mera at Eric Sahlström-institutet, and/or
- attend the one year course at the same institute, and if that is not enough you can
- apply for studies at Kungliga Musikhögskolan (the Royal College of Music) in Stockholm, to be a musician or a teacher (3 years or more).