I am just starting out with a borrowed harp, will take lessons at some point when life slows down a bit,
Is there some compelling reason you are not going to study with a teacher? Studying any instrument without a teacher is asking for trouble. No amount of verbal description or pictures can convey good basic technique. And you will need that no matter what type of music you plan on playing. A good teacher will pick teaching materials, exercises, repertoire, etc. that meets your particular needs. I think that working on your own without guidance will leave you frustrated and discouraged.
Nate- I would not encourage you to buy anything until you have been studying for about a year. By that time, you will have some specific ideas about what you are looking for and what kind of sound you like. If you can, rent for 6 months to a year. A good teacher can help you make informed choices when it comes time to buy. Where are you located if I may ask?
As both a teacher and a music student, I think the worst thing anyone can do is study an instrument without a teacher — especially the harp. There are all sorts of bad habits one can get into. I don’t care what method one is using, or how musically educated one is. A new instrument has it’s own idiosyncracies when it comes to technique and must be approached as it’s own entity with it’s own special neuromuscular approach by the player. A good teacher needs to be there to listen and watch and correct constantly. Sure, you can do it from a book, but it would be a very very rare instance when a book and a video could take the place of a good teacher. A good harp technique takes time and study and the eyes and ears of a well-trained harpist in real time. I will never be convinced otherwise, and my opinion is always backed up when I am listening and watching. For someone who just wants to play and is satisfied with less than their best efforts and doesn’t want to move forward quickly or teach others eventually…..fine. Otherwise, get a good teacher!
I recommend Pamela Bruner’s Play the Harp Beautifully Series. That is what I used and it worked well for me. Have yet to hear anyone fault my technique or sound, and I have performed at weddings, music festivals, wine tastings, churches, etc. I also teach harp. Perhaps I am the exception rather than the rule. I do feel it would have been easier to have had a teacher from the onset though, but at the time I started learning harp there were none available within less than an hour’s drive from me. So glad to see lessons offered now via Skype- what a nice option for the geographically isolated harp lovers like myself….
Also I must note that I play strictly lever harp. I would never dream of taking on a pedal harp without a teacher.
Hope this helps.
Nat, if you go to http://www.harpspectrum.org, a free, educational site that won a “best website about the harp” award, click on Long Distance Lessons, Live. Skype and other ways of studying the harp via a good webcam, are discussed here by several teachers who use this for distant harp students.
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