Brand new to harp

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    HBrock25 on #156782

    Hello. I am just beginning with a small lap harp. I am teaching myself. I have 46 yrs. experience playing classical piano. I know music well. My question is on finger position on the harp. After completing a simple passage…..for example – right hand descending: 1 2 3 4 (any strings…
    F E D C), must I physically have my fingers placed on and squeezing the next sequence of strings in the next measure before plucking them? In other words if the next measure calls for right hand to then play: B A G F, must I have all four fingers pressing on these strings at once before plucking them individually? I’d appreciate any advice. Thanks

    Elizabeth L on #156783

    It will be much easier to learn if you get a teacher who is familiar with folk harp.

    HBrock25 on #156784

    Thank you for your response. I wish I could, but that just is not feasible for me right now. I do feel confident that with my musical background I can slowly achieve this. Naturally the watchful eye and experience of a harp teacher would be best, but for now I am hoping to rely on the good graces of anyone who would be willing to provide a few pointers for me now and then. I have patience. I just need a little guidence. Thank you again.

    diana-day on #156785

    Hi, Sheila;

    There are some

    HBrock25 on #156786

    Thank you Diana.
    Am I in the wrong place to ask questions, I wonder? I did look at Josh Layne’s videos. I found them helpful, although for some reason the sequence was off and some seemed to be missing. Just looking to be able to speak with in a forum environment rather than relying soley on video. Are you able to answer my question about finger placement?

    A. Riley on #156787

    I’ve just been discussing this with my harp teacher (second lesson last night, yay!) and the answer is in general, yes.

    I’ve heard that Pamela Brumer’s books and DVD (“Play the Harp Beautifully”) are very good for self-teaching harpers. Her website is I haven’t used them, just passing on what I’ve read here on the forum.

    Good luck!

    stan-guy on #156788

    Sheila —In harp lingo that is called “placing” and you’ll be miles ahead if you learn it from the first but start with TWO strings, going down fingers 1,2,1,2,1,2 etc…don’t play 2 until 1 is on the next string.

    HBrock25 on #156789

    Hey! Congrats on your lessons! Wish I were in a position right now to take lessons. I appreciate your input and wish you the best of “pluck”! I’ll check out the other websites you recommended.
    Thanks again.

    HBrock25 on #156790

    Thanks so much for your response. I have been drilling the “1,2” technique without any problem. I just am wondering this the “placing” is for learning purposes or is the “placement” permanent harp technique? In piano, we refer to something similar as “connecting notes”……don’t release the first note played until you are in the process of playing the second. This maintains sound from coming from the instrument and prevents “dead” spots. So am I understanding this correctly? When I need to change hand position, the required fingers for the next measure must be physically placed on the noted strings in the music? They must be in position and actually touching the respected strings before plucking?

    HBrock25 on #156791

    Dear Diana,
    Just wanted to thank you again for your response and to apologize for “miss-reading” your response. I didn’t notice that your reference to Josh Layne was actually a website that he had. I watched a few clips of his “Harp Tuesday” on YOUTUBE last evening. This is what I was referring to when I stated that the clips were inconsistent. His “Harp Tuesday” section on his website however, is very clear and sequential. I am enjoying it. He is very slow with his explanations…very clear and in depth. A great substitute for those of us who are not able to have the luxury of a teacher right now. Thanks again for your time. I’m very encouraged!


    cheryl-steckel on #156792


    “Placing” is fundamental to harp technique & is something you will be doing forever. I’ve been self-teaching with Pam Bruner’s books & DVDs as well as Youtube videos. I do plan to take Skype lessons after the holidays this winter.

    There is also a wonderful Virtual Harp Circle on Yahoo Groups you might want to check out. Just look for Virtual Harp Circle on Yahoo Groups. The VHC welcomes folk harpers of all skill levels & is especially kind to beginners. It’s a wonderful, warm, supportive group that will make you welcome. Good luck!

    Tacye on #156793

    To play a 1 octave scale:
    Place 4321 putting them on the strings at once (or 14 23 or 23 14 but NOT 1 or 4 by itself first). Play 4, 3, 2 turn 4 under keeping all fingers low and wrist mostly still and place. Play 1, place 321 at once, play 4,3,2 place 234 at once. Play 1, 2, 3. Place thumb over. Play 4. Place 234 and play to end.

    diana-day on #156794

    You’re welcome, Sheila! I’m also inspired by the videos of him performing, especially the one titled, “Josh Layne performs Grandjany’s cadenza- Handel Harp Concerto”

    HBrock25 on #156795

    What kind of harp do you play, Diana? Lever or Pedal? How long have you been playing? (If you don’t mind my asking.)
    Just a short while spent watching Josh Layne and I am going through the basic scale motion with my right hand and it makes perfect sense. It feels clumsy, but after 46 years of experience playing classical piano and teaching for 17, I know that repetition and patience will solve all.

    diana-day on #156796

    I’ve played both lever and pedal harp in my short years of study. Like you, I’m “beginning in the middle”, coming to the harp later in life following a piano background. I had a Salvi Arion pedal harp which I sold because I preferred the sound, size and weight of my Thormahlen Serenade lever harp. Now I’m thinking that I may eventually want another pedal harp — harp lust gets us all eventually. Hope you have as much fun playing and studying the harp as many on this forum do. It’s a great place to be with

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