Harp in the Public School Curriculum

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    Moving this puppy to its own thread…


    you bring up a very interesting point, and one that I’ve thought a lot about, especially since I am a music education major (though harp is not my major instrument). I come from a place where there are no harpists, no harp teachers, no harps. I had to wait until I got to college to learn, and I’ve had to ‘catch up’ in a sense. I wish I could have had more exposure to the harp earlier on. I know of a teacher (I can’t recall her name), who has a very large harp program in the Odessa, TX schools. She starts younger students on lever harp, and the older students move up to pedal harp. She works for the school district, I believe. They own several harps, and I have heard their high school harp ensemble play. There are many school districts who will hire private teachers like her, especially in Texas.

    When it comes to music education students learning harp and learning to teach it, I think it is a completely different situation. I took up harp because I wanted to, and I love it and would change my major if I could! But, as instrumental music education


    Holy Cow Vince!


    Great topic Diane.

    It’s a dilemma. Sometimes I wonder if the frilly image of the harp is held against it. I was asked to play a concerto not so long ago with a local orchestra and in choosing repertoire the conductor was quite restrictive and would not accept any modern repertoire. As “people do not want to hear ugly music on the harp” they want “feminine and beautiful” music. So, romantics only. He also stipulated that I had to leave my harp on stage before and after I played, uncovered, so people could oggle it, as mostly


    Good luck Vince. I’m still working on getting elementary series books (we have the teacher’s kits — but no books for the kids), some Orff instruments at one of the schools and some other basic equipment I need. The thought of getting harps is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out there somewhere.

    I am going to get a lightweight, easy to carry harp to take around with me though.

    Briggsie (Woof)


    The lightweight harp that you take around with you to teach is such an excellent idea! I do think that experiencing harps in every day settings will really help, make it less of a rarity and more of a possibility for kids too.

    Good on ya Briggs!


    Thanks, Sixie. Mostly I just can’t stand to be sans harp all day….so there is a method to my madness…..but the kids will get to learn about the harp a little, and who knows….maybe I’ll pick up a few students here and there. It could happen. I don’t particularly want a slew of private harp


    Diane, in 2006 the American String Teachers Association published “A Harp in the School: A Guide for School Ensemble Directors and Harpists.” It’s a 75 page spiral-bound book edited by Chelcy Bowles, PhD.,with chapters contributed by


    Does it include lists of literature that’s age appropriate?


    My friend Karen Conoan who teaches in the Omaha Public Schools wanted to post this but was having trouble posting.

    Here’s a site, partially ‘under construction’ being compiled to give
    information and invite dialog about teaching harp in public schools:

    “Budget” is one challenge. The harps owned by the Omaha Public Schools
    (four LH style 15 pedal harps and four lever harps)are in good
    condition. All the pedal harps could use new strings and regulation and
    the three of the lever harps would benefit from reconditioning. The
    cost of this is beyond the budget. I do as much maintenance as possible
    and a few simple repairs, and change strings, especially the third
    octave (because we use middle C and surrounding strings the most with
    the beginners).

    My original certification was K-12 vocal and instrumental and I have
    taught marching band, Often I arrange parts for the harp to
    play with various ensembles. The most advanced harp ensemble I have at
    present is four sixth graders. They are able to play at the advanced
    beginner level.


    Sara Cutler once taught a course at Teacher’s College of Columbia University for music teachers to learn harp basics with lever harps. It is more possible now than ever before, perhaps. It certainly must be done, just as we must liberate the harp from parochial, ignorant preconceptions of its imaginary limitations.

    I think we need to have a national conference for planning and discussion of this broad topic of harp in the schools. So many people are trying to do the same work without information from each other. It is also likely that public schools


    Thanks Jennifer for your comments and also those by Karen. It has given me much food for thought, being a performer that is only now beginning to help out in the school system.

    I am very grateful for the links listed on this thread.

    Ta muchly!


    Thank you.


    Hi Jennifer,

    There are so many challenges, but I’m trying to get harp out there more! I just think that there is so much untapped talent out there. Kids that will not encounter a harp any other way, but probably have oodles of talent and passion. I’m still formulating what I think of it all, and how I can best help out, and what approach to use to get them to buy harps!

    So advice from gurls like you all, is much appreciated. Say thanks to Karen for me,



    oopss…when I say getting “them” to buy harps, the them I mean is the school…so few kids and their parents can afford them these days.

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