10 year old and school orchestra

Posted In: Young Harpists

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    unknown-user on #167805

    My son 10 has played for a year. He has a Salvi prelude and wants to
    play in orchestra. The strings teacher wants him to learn cello, and
    then play the harp parts in concert. He is willing to learn cello.
    Is this wise? I need sugestions on how to get him involved in
    orchestra, most are strings programs, and he gets frustrated waiting
    while the strings learn their parts.

    unknown-user on #167806

    My husband recently took up the Cello and has been at it for 1 year now (I play the Harp, Piano and Flute) so the Cello is rather near and dear to my heart, if you know what I mean.

    paul-knoke on #167807

    Dear Martha,

    Hmmmmmm. Proceed with caution. Has the strings teacher said exactly
    WHY he should play cello in rehearsal but harp in concert? My feeling
    is that everyone would be much better served if he played harp both in
    rehearsal and in concert. Your son would better learn orchestral and
    rehearsal skills, always desireable in a harpist (and harpists do need
    a somewhat different set of skills from other orchestral players.) The
    other players would get to rehearse the music the way it will sound in
    concert, and without having to rearrange stand partners. The teacher
    would have a more secure and reliable ensemble.

    Sitting and waiting is just part of life in harpland. Perhaps your son
    could use some of the time to do homework, or do what I did and
    develop a new skill by becoming the orchestra librarian (ulterior
    motive: I can get my parts first!) I know that the vast majority of
    educational orchestra music does not include harp parts, but around
    here the teachers, students, and sometimes even the parents will write
    harp parts tailored to the skill level of the student. Sometimes the
    part is just a chord on the downbeats, or doubling the melody in both
    hands, but at least it’s something!

    Do let us know how this situation progresses.


    unknown-user on #167808

    The situation Paul describes sounds familiar to me! I spent three-quarter of my time in orchestra’s listening to the others play, an other quarter counting and after all the last quarter playing! Harpists just have to be patient musicians in an orchestra, that’s always one of the disadvantages of playing the harp. It could be a solution to let your son play the cello in pieces in which the composer didn’t write a harp part, but I would say that he definetely should rehearse the harp parts with the rest of the orchestra, because some parts really can be tricky, especially when you have to count a lot! Hope to have helped you with my vision! Your son’s choice to play in an orchestra is definetely a wise one, I always love my orchestral work the most!

    unknown-user on #167809

    My daughter was in middle school orchestra and played a L & H troubadour or a Salvi Angelique (I think).

    Tacye on #167810

    When I was starting out I played a couple of times with orchestras on a lever harp- I was just given the part for any other instrument (as there never was a harp part -double bass parts are easy) and picked out the bits I could play.

    elinor-niemisto on #167811

    The orchestra director probably wants your son to learn “ensemble skills” like following the conductor’s beat, listening to other members of a section and balance.

    unknown-user on #167812

    I suppose I come at this from a slightly different angle. I started
    the cello in 5th grade and the harp in 11th grade. I played cello in
    school and community orchestras, and later on added playing
    the harp in some cases.

    I would say, without hesitation, go for it! I learned much more
    about being an orchestra musician from playing the cello than
    from playing the harp. Having a section of people all playing the
    same part (or, at least, attempting to) fine-tuned my ear to
    recognize when people were not playing the correct rhythm or
    pitch. I also learned to hold my own when I knew that I was right,
    even if my stand partner was wrong. Playing the harp is all about
    playing alone and with confidence, and I have found it’s much
    harder to play against a section of cellos than to play a harp part
    alone with no one to know if the harp is right or wrong.

    The other huge bonus of playing another instrument in rehearsal
    and harp in the concert is learning the music. Harp parts are,
    let’s face it, full of rests and counting. I found it much more
    interesting to count my rests when I was already familiar with the
    piece from my perspective in the cello section. I also knew
    exactly what was going on at each rehearsal letter or number in
    the piece because of all the weeks spent drilling those parts. If I
    ever daydreamed while counting my rests in the harp part, all I
    needed to do was listen for a few measures to get my bearings
    straight and know exactly where in the piece the orchestra was.

    In any case, good luck!

    unknown-user on #167813

    I placed my harpist daughter in her elementary school orchestra after she had been playing harp for one year.

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