Reuben and Naomi Hostetler don’t have a single family member with musical ability. Instead, the Mennonite family has a household of talented musicians who have turned that gift into a successful harp-building business and musical group.
“We’ve always loved music,” Reuben Hostetler says, describing how his family of nine became one with the harp almost a decade ago. “Our son Joel created this wood box with wires strung over it, and he’d play music with that makeshift box.” Seeing his son’s interest flourish, Reuben decided to try his hand at building a harp, despite the fact he’d never attempted such a project.
Today, the Hostetlers make beautiful music together in their group, Harps of Praise, a modern-day von Trapp family that performs in nursing homes and at community events in their hometown of Coshocton. Natural musicians, Joel, 24, Darlene, 22, Daisy, 21, and Joshua, 18, each learned to play by ear, relying on innate talents. Joel’s wife, Helena, is the newest addition to the group.
In addition to performing, the family has built a business creating instruments for others. Reuben, a skilled woodworker, saw the opportunity for the fresh endeavor eight years ago. “I really began to enjoy this process,” he says. “I’ve built 109 harps so far, enough to keep the income going.”
And though income is certainly a benefit, Reuben adds that the harps mean so much more to the family. “We bond together through this,” he says, explaining that it’s their faith that drives them. “We believe God invented music, and we should honor him with it.”
Darlene agrees. “I’ve been really blessed to play, especially with my siblings. It’s been a great experience for us all.”
Despite his business acumen, Reuben remains philosophical about his family: “Watching my children play,” he says, “feels like home.”
For more information, visit www.harpsofpraisehf.com