about moving onto a pedal harp

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    Alison on #195215

    What do you do with borderline pupils, whom you suspect could not or would not cope with the coordination required with a pedal harp. and conversely what do you say to parents when the pupil is obviously going to cope, would progress leaps and bounds musically with a pedal harp and of the required stature etc but it’s early days and you can’t put unnecessary pressure on the family’s finance and commitment etc ?

    Sorry I have been so quiet lately, glad to say I have a new day job, locally, so can still get home for any lessons.

    Gretchen Cover on #195232

    I think in both situations, I would suggest renting a harp (if that is possible) to see how the students progress. For the student with more potential, perhaps you could look into a rent-to-own program.  I believe you are in the UK so I don’t know what options you have there.

    Elettaria on #195237

    I’d go for renting a pedal harp, but only if the family’s finances can support it, and if they will be able to manage buying a pedal harp eventually.  If they’re never going to have eighteen grand to spare (is that about right?  I’ve seen a few second-hand instruments around, but a lot of them seem to be either antiques needing oodles of restoration, or student models which are frustrating due to fewer strings and strings without discs at the bottom), then I’m not sure that studying an unaffordable instrument is the best option, not when you can do so much with the lever harp.  I’d have a serious talk with the student about how they are enjoying the harp, what they are planning to do with it, and with the parents about what they can afford and where they see this going in the future.

    Tacye on #195244

    The students you expect to have problems with pedal changes would probably also have difficulties with lever changes, and diatonic music can be played on either instrument.  They probably wouldn’t be using either a pedal or lever harp to its full capabilities, but if they want one its their choice.  There are cheaper harps which wouldn’t limit their musical development, which merits mentioning, but that doesn’t mean the big gilded one won’t give them more pleasure. Just like all the snazzy cars out there that don’t get people from a to b any better than cheap ones, but the owners like them.

    For the students you think would really benefit from pedals I would suggest not inflicting surprises – mention or discuss them early, but there is far more good material for lever harp than there used to be.

    Renting isn’t always the cheapest financial choice, if the student can buy a harp without VAT through the school system, or 2nd hand, they can generally sell it for what they paid however long they keep it, which needs to be balanced against renting long term.

    Alison on #195250

    Well what’s also frustrating is the number of grade 2-3 pieces, which aren’t very practical on lever harp and one old lever harp with slow plastic levers.  BTW  I think playing both is important, if the student likes the chromatic repertoire and orchestra, and approaching 5ft in height- I had to go back to lever harp when I left high school, so developed a large clarsach repertoire until I could afford a concert harp in my 30’s. my smallest is a 27 stringer.

    Gretchen Cover on #195251

    Tacye, just to clarify, I was suggesting harp rental as a short-term test to see how the students work out on a pedal harp. I was really thinking about a six-month or so trial.  I agree that renting a harp long-term could be pricey unless you luck out with an inexpensive rental agreement.  Alison, perhaps you could ask around or put a  harp wanted ad in the local harp society newsletters/websites.

    Tacye on #195342

    Renting a pedal harp as a trial is one option, but I don’t see it as necessary to have a pedal harp of your own to get to know how it would work out – giving lessons on one is one way of doing this.  I have never rented a pedal harp, but the costs, long or short term, look high to me and some have rather long waiting lists.

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