Beginning Gigs?

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    Suzie Q on #159963

    I’m a new harpist…I’ve been playing for about 2 years, (1 on my Salvi semi-grand), but I’d had 4 years of piano background when I started, so I didn’t have to spend time learning how to read music, and learning the notes.

    So, people are usually impressed when I say I’ve only played harp for 2 years. I can get up to some moderately difficult pieces, if I put in enough time. I got accepted into a high school orchestra recently, so I’ve managed playing those pieces, and I’m able to sight read pretty well. Keeping up with the orchestra repertoire isn’t too hard for me.

    Well, I’ve played my harp at church twice, I also played for some events at the library, where I was paid about $10 or $20 each time. So, not big gigs. But what are other things a beginning, young harpist can/should do for public gigs? My teacher says that if I’m playing out, I should receive full pay…and I should be ready to play professionally. I don’t think I’m really that good, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t play out at small things, does it?

    tony-morosco on #159964

    Well, I understand what your teacher is saying. If you are good enough to play for pay then you should be good enough to get paid the going rate. If you aren’t good enough to play for full pay then you need a bit more practice and perhaps some experience playing for people.

    You could try doing some volunteer work playing are retirement homes and the like.Also performing recitals.

    To play out you need a decent repertoire and you need what I think of as stage presence. Playing at home in practice and playing in front of strangers is, I am sure you have learned, very different animals. And the environments you play at all have their requirements.

    For instance, if you want to play for wedding ceremonies you need to learn all the standard, expected music for weddings plus you should understand the ceremonies of the different major religions and denominations. They all vary and you need to know when you are supposed to be playing what.

    If you are playing for receptions and cocktail parties you need to be able to deal with distractions like people talking to you while you play and asking questions, as well as the buzz of activity around you.

    To play for a library program you should have some between song banter about the music and the instrument, and be able to talk to the audience in a confident and knowledgeable manner.

    Being a well rounded harpist who can deal with all kinds of situations take a lot of work and experience. However, you can focus on one or two kinds of playing situations and stick to them for awhile until you gain that experience and the confidence to expand.

    But I do agree with your teacher. If you are good enough to play for the public then you should get paid what any other harpist in your area would be paid for it.

    Suzie Q on #159965


    I also agree with my teacher about receiving full pay. Otherwise, it isn’t really fair to other harpists in the area. You’re right. That’s why I was looking for ways I can gain that experience, as I expand my repertoir.

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