Reply To: Advice for a new player

Home Forums How To Play Advice for a new player Reply To: Advice for a new player


I don’t pretend to be an expert here. I’m new to the site and have only been learning to play for a year (I did have a few attempts at teaching myself before that but they weren’t terribly successful and I only count my learning from the first proper lesson.

Re those ‘bad habits’ – a few things I can think of would include incorrect hand position and perhaps using the ‘wrong’ fingering. I’m sure other more experienced players will have others to add.

Re finding a tutor, I do believe that some people learn just fine on their own (I’m not one of them) and others need the discipline of a regular lesson and another person to pull them up on their mistakes. If you do decide you need a tutor and can’t find one advertised in the obvious places (yellow pages, small ads, ads in local music shops etc) you could always try contacting your nearest college or university that has a music department to see if anyone there can recoimmend somebody. The important thing, though, is to keep putting the word around and, if necessary, leave contact details with everyone you speak to just in case they hear of someone. I tried all these things and, in my case, I wasn’t successful but I eventually heard what sounded like harp music while I was shopping, followed the sound and came upon my wonderful; teacher while she was busking; it was one of the luckiest days of my life! So keep your search at the front of your mind and don’t be afraid to approach anyone who might be able to help.

I have also been learning with the Sylvia Woods book and I’d recommend it very highly indeed. It is easy to follow, sets you right on all those bad habits and progresses you fairly gently through everything you need to know. If that one works out for you, then you will almost certainly want to try some of her other books eventually. She has music for almost every possible occasion and style and often writes a simple version of a song, together with a harder one so that you can progress with a favourite tune as your skill grows. Another book I’ve found very useful is The Harper’s Manual by Laurie Riley (but I’m one of those people who just can’t resist buying books about their hobby, you can manage just fine with the Sylvia Woods one for a long time).

My apologies for an over-long message – I’ve been starved of people to ‘talk harps’ with and am so glad to have found this site!

Edit – Just wanted to add that The Harpers’ Manual is more about tips and general information than actual music to play.