I started on lever because at first the music I wanted to play was best suited for lever, and it was more affordable.
However I quickly developed a desire to play more chromatic music and so rented a pedal harp and started learning on that after about six months.
However due to finances and a move I had to give up that pedal harp and for many, many years had just my lever harp, and there was never a shortage of music for the lever harp to challenge and interest me.
However as finances got better I started to put aside money for a pedal harp because the music I really wanted to play I just couldn’t do on lever.
I still play on my lever harp. Some music just works better on it, and you can’t beat it for portability. I always, the right tool for the right job and sometimes the right tool is a pedal harp and sometimes a lever harp.
So there is no time limit or level of proficiency you need to reach on lever harp before a pedal harp becomes a viable option. If you want to play music that requires a pedal
I intend to switch in a year or two. I don’t necessarily feel limited by solo repertoire at this point – I think there’s a lot of interesting, challenging music out there for lever harp. Sometimes it takes some digging or advice from others. Since the instrument is used so much for beginners, there are a lot of arrangements out there that don’t do much for me. Not that I’m super-advanced or anything, but I like beginner-intermediate music to still sound like thought-out compositions.
I think my main reason for wanting to switch is for easier ensemble playing. I’d like to be more able to play chamber music without having to seek out pieces that have been arranged just for the harp. And I’m also eyeing some possible large ensemble playing of the harp at the community band/orchestra level.
Oh, and I hate flipping levers. Hate hate hate hate hate flipping levers. I can barely stand flipping the levers to get my harp from E-flat to C when I warm up, and sometimes I play my Grossi exercises in E-flat just to avoid flipping (plus many of them sound pretty cool when you do that).
Norah, I think I’ll place here the usual shameless plug for the cross-strung harp – way cheaper than the pedal harp, you’re less like to injure yourself transporting it, you won’t need a new vehicle, and you can play almost any music you can get your hands on (although you’ll have the limits of the range of the harp to contend with, depending on the size of the cross-strung you own).