Divided Interests, Divided Heart?

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    What do you tell students with divided or multiple interests that you think should concentrate on harp?

    Sid Humphreys

    As a teacher you can only ecourage. You may tell the student of their potential but in the end the student alone makes the decission to concentrate on the harp, or baseball, or chemistry. Sometimes you, the teacher, will be dissapointed with a students decisssion so it’s important to celebrate the ones that choose to concentrate on the harp; even though they may not have the musical ability that will take them to win first place in a national competition.


    Well, every teacher seems to think their subject is the most important. But ultimately the student needs to determine for themselves where they want to go with their various endeavors.

    Perhaps they have the skill to become great at sports and that provides them an opportunity to make millions. Or perhaps they have a keen interest in biology and will some day cure some form of cancer.

    Who is to tell them what they should do? What the teacher should do is make it clear what opportunities their subject realistically has for them.

    If the student has the ability to go on to become a professional harpist and has the kind of talent to make a name for themselves in the world of music then let them know that in no uncertain terms. If they really don’t let them know that as well.

    Each teacher should give the student a realistic evaluation of their skill and their opportunities. After that it is the students right and responsibility to determine which path is the one they want to go down and where they need to focus the majority of their effort. Not everyone who takes music lessons even has a desire to make music their life. Many just want to include music in their life. I think their priorities need to be respected.


    > If they really don’t let them know that as well.

    Who can say this, Tony? I sure wouldn’t presume. I might tell a student that s/he would need to work much, much harder if they want to do this or that, but nobody can know for sure about students. I’ve seen too many amazing young harpists burn out early while others just keep plodding along and eventually get there.


    I see your point, but I do think that there are cases where it is clear that someone’s chances are limited in a certain area. If someone comes for lessons starting


    Fair enough. 🙂


    Yes, a student in her upper 20s auditioned for me once and asked if she could be considered professional, and considering that her tempo and rhythm fluctuated willy-nilly, I had to say no.


    I lean toward emphasizing music, if only because so much of it is taught and has to be learned in sequence, and much by a certain age, and if one ever wants to compete for anything, it is all age restricted, sadly.

    Mel Sandberg

    Saul, I like how you put: things have to be learned in squence, and much by a certain age, and the issue of the age restrictions.

    harp guy

    I think that we have gotten away from the original subject.

    I would be very careful about how this subject is approached. Even though the student may be a gifted harpist, it doesn’t always mean that their heart will belong to the harp.

    Karen Johns

    Well put, harp guy. I too started out on flute, played all through my high school years and still do to this day. In fact, I still have my flute from high school (Yamaha 385, if that tells you how long ago this was!). I still consider myself a Jill of All Trades, and somewhat of a “Folk Music Major”(LOL). As far as divided interests, I think it is healthy for any person to explore different pathways. The only thing certain in life is change, after all, and many people need to explore to find their true path. Right now I am on the path of the harp. In ten years, who knows?

    While you have that student’s interest, help them to be the best they can be. Age should not be a factor, as I believe a passion for music transcends this.

    Seoid OC

    I agree with harp guy!

    If you try to discourage a gifted student from focussing on any other interest besides the harp it might end up backfiring, especially if they are young – i.e. they might get fed up and give it up.

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