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A Beautiful Business: Harp Rentals

Santa Clarita teacher, husband own and rent 51 harps.

Posted: March 3, 2008 8:43 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Marcy Pikop, an independent home study teacher, owns 51 harps and rents them to students. She has been in the business with her husband for 14 years.

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Fourteen years ago, if anyone would have told Marcy Pikop that she and her husband would one day, own and rent out 51 harps to all sorts of musicians and music students, she would have most likely thought the person was crazy.

But now looking back on her business, Pikop Enterprises, the independent home study teacher for the Saugus Union School District thinks it all makes sense.

"I've always wanted to do something unique and individual," Pikop said.

The idea for the harp rental business began when her second daughter, Abby McMillen, developed an interest in music at the age of 7.

Pikop soon enrolled McMillen in piano lessons on the advice of a family member.

After a couple years, Pikop said her daughter "wanted to play something unusual."

"By then, I knew she had a talent," Pikop said at her home in Saugus.

After listing the names of various instruments "unusual" instruments, including the harp, McMillen, a teacher at Golden Valley High School, responded that she wanted to play the stringed instrument.

Difficult Task
With the decision made to play the harp, Pikop and her daughter began the difficult task of finding a harp and instructor.

They were able to find a teacher at The Master's College in Newhall and ended up coming across a harp store in Glendale.

But at the music shop, Pikop said she was told that there was a nine-month waiting list to buy a harp.
Knowing that a 9-year-old could not wait that long, Pikop ended up renting a harp for her daughter, which she would later buy.

The situation got Pikop thinking.

If she had such difficulty finding a harp, maybe there were others.

With that thought, Pikop Enterprises began in 1994.

Over the years, Pikop and her husband accumulated just over 50 harps, ranging from pedal and lever harps to ones designed for symphonies.

She bought the harps from manufacturers and even eBay, the online auction Web site.

Pikop's harps are expensive, ranging in price from $3,000 to $45,000, depending on the design.
The majority of her clients are music teachers from the L.A. area, as Santa Clarita Valley schools don't offer too many harp programs.

Other renters have included harp players from orchestras in town for a performance or production companies looking to use the harp as a prop.

Business fluctuates throughout the year, as well. Pikop said she gets more calls at the beginning of the school year, sometimes creating a waiting list for certain harps she owns.

Although Pikop knows a lot about harps, including how to store, transport and handle them, she admits that she barely knows how to play the triangular instrument.

'No Bad Notes'
Her daughter, on the other hand, has continued to play the harp even as she got older. During her teen years before her full-time teaching position, she was hired to play for weddings and parties.
McMillen currently gives lessons on the weekends.

But the middle daughter isn't the only musician in the family. Her older sister, Kathy Carothers, plays the flute and her younger sister, Ellen Pikop, plays percussion.

Despite the business, the mother and daughter also recognize that a harp and its song create a certain appeal to not only musicians and harp lovers, but to the general public.

"It's such a beautiful instrument," McMillen said.

Pikop added, "There are no bad notes on the harp. Even when it is out of tune."


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