Lesson Learned

Teachers are in the business of doling out valuable lessons. Some are practical, some are philosophical. Some go in one ear and out the other, while others stay with us for a lifetime. Many lessons extend far beyond the nuts and bolts of nailing a cross-under or shaping a phrase to life beyond the harp. Students often absorb these messages through pesky, persistent reminders that come with regular lessons, and sometimes it is just one simple statement from a teacher that changes a student’s perspective forever.

We asked harpists to tell us what lesson has stuck with them. From generosity to rhythm, we received a wide range of unique answers. What gives these lessons staying power in a student’s eyes, though, is seeing its value played out time and time again in their own lives.

Emilie Whitman, Bellingham, Wash.

Emilie Whitman

“I learned from my teacher Karen Gottlieb not to be selfish about your career, no matter how hard you’ve worked or how brilliant a musician you are. Teaching and working professionally should be acts of generosity; never withhold an opportunity from another person for your own interest. If you’re a great harpist, help your student be even greater. In an often cut-throat world, treating everyone with kindness will actually give you better returns than being a diva.” —Emilie Whitman, Bellingham, Wash.

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What is the best thing you learned from your teacher? Pass on your own teacher’s words of wisdom in the comments section! 



About Author

Elizabeth Huston (née Morgan-Ellis) is the founder of A Change of Harp, a Philadelphia based organization dedicated to expanding the harp's repertoire and establishing it as a contemporary instrument. She has dedicated the majority of her career to performing works by living composers and commissioning new and innovative pieces for the harp. Her organization also explores new ways of presenting music, and produces shows that have immersive, mobile, site-specific, multimedia, and other buzzword-worthy elements. Elizabeth attended Western Washington University and Temple University. She has studied with Elizabeth Hainen, Heidi Lehwalder, Jill Whitman, and Judy Loman. She currently teaches for the Play on, Philly program, and after school program that offers group harp lessons to inner city youth.

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