I am new to the harp forums and would love to have your advice on a few things before I actually decide to purchase one in the near future. I do not want to purchase one and not being satisfied with the sound and things.
First of all, I am 26, but I do have a strong background in music. I am a piano player, so, would this make it easier to learn the harp, despite my age?
Second, I am more of a classical/instrumental kind of person, so, I was also wondering what type of harp would be best for that style of music, since I have noticed that some harps have more of a celtic/folk sound (which is something that I am not interested in playing).
Thirdly, I live in Eastern Canada, and teachers for classical style harps are hard to find. I have done searches online for a while now, and still, nothing, unless I’m interested in learning on a celtic harp. Are there any teachers located around here that I haven’t come across in an internet search that you may be able to recommend for me?
Lastly, since I am a piano player, would I be able to acquire and master proper technique without instruction in person? I am DYING to learn the harp, and have wanted to learn one since I was a kid, but I have never owned one, or even seen one around here. I took piano lessons when I was young, but learned everything else on my own afterword. Is the harp any different? Would you need constant feedback regarding proper technique and things?
Oh, and one more thing. Is it best to rent one before purchasing? I don’t know of any place around here that even sells harps, so, I won’t have the opportunity to try it out before getting it.
Thanks for all of your help! 🙂
Yes you can learn – and if you put a lot of determined work in you can expect fast progress.
For classical sound and music I would suggest you look at 34 strings (or at least 30+), full levers so you can play in different keys, medium or higher tension strings, and I would suggest you seriously investigate gut strings. 34 gut strings and full levers is a very standard harp in the UK.
I would advise looking out for a rental harp so you have something under your fingers while you decide what you want.
Nova Scotia. I found one teacher, who I’ve contacted earlier today. I am just awaiting a reply. She lives five hours away, though, but I’m sure we can arrange something where I can travel once every month or two for a lesson. She is the only person I found so far who knows how to play on a classical-style harp. Every other person plays only the celtic/folk/gaelic type of harp.
Thank you for the reply. I am currently trying to find a teacher, and yes, I am definitely going to rent one (or try out several different ones) before I actually decide to purchase one. It’s just hard to try to find the right person to teach me in the style of music that I want to go with.
Thanks for your response, Tacye. I am trying to find a teacher who is familiar with both, so, if I do end up starting on a lever harp, or a pedal harp, I can use either one later, with no problems. I am still trying to rent out a pedal harp, or as you’ve just mentioned, a lever harp with pedal type stringing (which I can look into as well). And yes, it is VERY hard to find someone around here with classical technique.
Thanks, Mary. I will definitely check out that website. Bridgetown is much further away from where I live, but I am trying to find every opportunity I get to visit every harp shop in the Maritimes. What type of harps does he make? This is the first time I’ve heard of him.
Hello M. Baby,
I just wanted to encourage you to follow your dream of playing the harp. I, too, am a pianist, a piano teacher, and about twice your age. I started taking harp lessons a year ago with a rented Lyon & Healy Troubadour. This spring, I was fortunate enough to purchase a Lyon & Healy 85XP pedal harp. After many hours of practicing, I am able to play intermediate to late intermediate music. Yes, the technique is different and can be quite difficult at times to get it “right.” I have an excellent teacher who is about 50 minutes away. A teacher makes all the difference. I hope it all works out for you!
Vixen Harps has a couple of locations in Canada, but I’m not sure which provinces. You could google them. As a pianist, you will have a great advantage in starting the harp. Your musical background and determination to work hard at it should ensure rapid progress! I would definitely look for a teacher, though. Even if you can’t take weekly lessons. There is just no substitute for being mentored by another human being—software doesn’t do it, workbooks don’t do it. As far as choosing between pedal and lever goes, if you want to play the classical repertoire, a pedal harp offers the most possibilities. Give some thought to whether you want to play lever harp as an end in itself, or as a stepping-stone to playing a pedal harp. If the latter, then you might do well to get the pedal harp right away. Best to you!!
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