Making the Switch


We harpists do not travel lightly. After packing harp, bench, music stand, and other miscellaneous equipment for an average trip from the house, is there anyone out there who really wants to add binders of sheet music to that list? I challenge you to find me one harpist anywhere who would answer with an enthusiastic “Yes!” So if you had the chance to lighten your load—while simultaneously keeping your entire library of music at your fingertips everywhere you go—why wouldn’t you?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I already know what you might be thinking about using a digital device. What if the battery runs out? What if I lose it? What if it crashes? It will take me forever to scan everything. It’s too confusing. I’m too old. I’m too tech-challenged. I’m too set in my ways. The truth is, crashes rarely happen, you’re just as likely to lose printed music, and you’re never too old/tech-challenged/insert your excuse to learn something new.

Three years ago I moved overseas. Shipping my entire music library would have been logistically difficult, not to mention expensive. I had a little music on my first-generation iPad that I used while traveling or if I ran out of my “real” music at a gig, but I hadn’t really made the switch. Moving made the decision for me, and I haven’t looked back. A year later I upgraded to the iPad Pro, and the larger screen, combined with the Apple Pencil, was a game changer. Now, I find it hard to play from traditional print music at all.

Lightening the music load is just one reason harpists are making the switch to digital. I asked some of them to share their reasons, along with some helpful hints for others wanting to do the same.

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About Author

Kimberly Rowe is co-founder of Harp Column and served as Editor of the print edition from 1993–2013. She now serves as Web Editor. Kimberly performs and teaches in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. She is co-founder of the Young Artist's Harp Seminar, and on the faculty at Temple University, in Philadelphia.


  1. It would have been nice to hear from someone using an Android device, since iPads are so much more expensive. But I guess maybe it means that it’s just that much better? For me the only reason I haven’t switched yet is the cost of the iPad Pro.

  2. Finally making the switch! Love all the good advice above. One last thing . . . what stand do you like for the Ipad? Need something simple and clean looking but versatile that can handle a bit of wind, vineyards surfaces, etc. as well as indoor gigs. Thanks so much!

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