books for beginners

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    unknown-user on #88368

    I enjoyed reading the new edition of the Harp Column in which Carl
    Swanson reviewed a number of new books for beginners including my
    “Classics at Your Fingertips” series. I thought it could be useful to
    engage in a discussion about various beginning materials, their
    intended audience, and subsequent strengths and weaknesses.

    For example my series moves slower than other harp materials available.
    This is intentional. Their purpose is to serve the needs of the adult beginner with no
    musical background. The philosophy is to open the door of music making
    to any individual regardless of their mental/physical giftedness at
    music. These are not intended for professional track harpists except as
    sight reading/supplementary material in their early stages of
    development. The recreational adult harpist learns at a different pace
    than the gifted youngster. With no background in reading music, it
    takes the adult beginning a great deal of repetition to obtain facility
    in sight reading. The use of finger two only for an extended period
    allows such a student to focus on the task of learning to read music
    without any complex focus on technique that could result in habits of
    tension. The first volume also has the capacity to serve the special
    needs student with limited neuromuscular functioning. This includes
    arthritis, cerebral palsy, and parkinson’s like illnesses.

    My background of earning a doctoral minor in piano pedagogy (prior to my MM in harp) gave me the
    opportunity to explore a wealth of materials created for the mainstream
    or “average” student. Many of the piano methods for both children and
    adult beginners follow a similar pace and are therefore marketable to
    the general population with good success.

    unknown-user on #88369

    The philosophy behind “Classics at Your Fingertips” is non-elitist. It is my passion to take any
    person with a desire to play the harp and help them find the path. The
    pieces are also designed with financial limitations in mind. The first
    book remains primarily in the key of C, since many begin
    on a Harpsicle or similar instrument. How can we assist the following
    hypothetical students in their desire to play the harp:

    A 75 year old grandmother with arthritis whose lifelong dream was to
    play the harp. Now her grandson has built her a lap harp with levers on
    F, C, and B’s.

    A seven year old girl with cerebral palsy who has loved to draw
    pictures of the harp and now finds she can take lessons. Her parents
    make 12K a year and save to buy her a Harpsicle for Christmas.

    A busy mother of four grew up in a large family who could not afford
    music lessons. She cannot read music and feels great apprehension about
    learning to play, but needs a peaceful outlet that is her own. She
    assures her teacher that she has no musical ability whatsoever. Her
    family rents to own a 29 string lever harp for her.

    The goal of this series is answer the need of such
    potential students. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people
    similar stories. Unlocking those first, often difficult steps towards
    learning opens the door for each student to discover their individual

    During my formal pedagogy
    training we were taught through example and research the usefulness of
    having a method that provides multiple opportunities to reinforce each
    new concept and technique to use as needed. Each student moves at a different pace. Some
    concepts come more easily than others. This systematic reinforcement
    provides the teacher with the flexibility to accomodate a diverse
    student population.

    Evangeline Williams on #88370

    As a music therapist, I think it’s great to see a harp book that could be used with folks with limited neuromuscular functioning.

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