Meld your playing seamlessly into a section of harps with tips and advice from our experts

Playing in an orchestra tends to be a solitary experience for harpists. Most orchestral pieces call for just one harp, and the lone harpist sits on an island tucked in between the strings and the percussion. The harp doesn’t really fit into a family of instruments. Sure the string and percussion families will claim loose family ties with the harp, but in reality, the harp is an instrument without a family and without a section with which to play.

Most of the orchestral experience harpists get is as the lone harpist in the ensemble; playing in a section of harpists in an orchestra is a rarity. Harpists spend most of their time alone in practice studios, drilling scales, arpeggios, etudes, and solos, being released for the occasional solo part in orchestra.

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About Author

Elizabeth was the Principal Harpist of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 2017, after 6 years as harpist with the National Ballet of Canada. She teaches at UBC, the VSO School of Music, the VSO Institute and privately. In 2011, she was the Chair of the Host Committee for the World Harp Congress in Vancouver, and currently is President of the West Coast Harp Society/ BC Chapter of the AHS.

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