Harp Lesson!

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    unknown-user on #157211

    Well, it’s official. I’m no longer just a wannabee! I am a real harper now (even if I can only play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”). ;-)

    I had my first lesson today, and now that I’ve gotten over the shock and let it sink in, I think it couldn’t have been better! My teacher is WONDERFUL. Extremely sweet and patient with me fumbling over the strings, and even gave me a hug to finish off the lesson.

    I’ve realized it’s going to be more of a challenge than I expected, but I am up for it. I just can’t wait to finally get a harp of my own! I think it’ll be easier once I have some time alone to play one for a little while without the pressure of being watched. I have also realized, though, that I am definitely going to need lessons! Hand positions are MUCH trickier than I imagined, but I feel like I improved after just a few tries, so there is hope yet!

    Thanks to all of you who have helped and encouraged me. I’m so glad I’ve finally reached my dream! I can hardly believe it is a reality.

    I will keep you all posted on my harp adventure as it continues! :-D


    Michael Wilson on #157212

    You’re about 3 weeks ahead of me.

    unknown-user on #157213

    Congratulations, Becky! It sounds like you’ve gotten a great teacher–a blend of professionalism and sympathy.

    Michael; I felt the same way as you, being a ‘do-it-myself’ type of person. However, When I was doing myself I played very badly; my technique (nonexistent) stood in the way of progressing. Once I started taking lessons I began progressing extremely quickly. Now I only go every once in a while for a checkup.

    I’d really encourage you to take lessons, at least until you’ve established a firm technical foundation.

    Good luck both!

    unknown-user on #157214


    How exciting that you’re getting a harp!! My lesson was pretty much just a taste test to hold me over until I can get a harp and take regular lessons (at least at the beginning). I am the SAME way–I was determined to learn on my own, but I’m realizing that I am going to need help, at least at first. It is more difficult than I expected, but also more beautiful! I’d say go ahead and set up your first lesson now just so you know what to expect, and you can always practice hand positions in the air until you get a harp. Three weeks is no time at all!

    I’m hoping I will be able to take a college class here that starts in September, and then I can at least continue learning until I get my own harp. I guess I’m just going to have a few harpless periods in between the lesson I just had and the college class, and then the college class and getting my own harp! Hopefully they will go by quickly and I won’t forget what I learn!

    Anyway, I will definitely keep you and everyone else posted. Please do the same, and good luck to you!


    unknown-user on #157215

    Thanks so much, Emily! I really do have a very good teacher. One thing I’m curious about is whether you are always supposed to close all fingers into your hand after playing a note, or if that is just for chords and slow pieces? I was also only using my index finger this time but maybe it’s just a matter of introducing one finger at a time. As far as closing, I’m guessing you just close as much as you have time to before the next note? I was looking on you tube to see how different people play, and I didn’t find anyone who closed all their fingers every time. It doesn’t seem possible, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I had a lot of trouble at first getting my thumbs up and then down like they are supposed to go, but after doing some practicing away from the strings I feel like I’ve finally trained my fingers to do it. I’m sure it’s just going to take more practice. I still can’t get over how beautiful the harp sounded in person. :-) Recordings really don’t do it justice!


    Michael Wilson on #157216

    Yeah, that’s what I’ve got in mind: Work hard to get to the point where I can progress on my own.

    unknown-user on #157217

    Hi Becky, Congratulations!!!!!!You’re on your way!!!! I would give your teacher a call and see what she would like you do as far as closing goes. You’re right, there is nothing like hearing and playing a harp in person. Harps are so beautiful. Peace and much joy to you!

    Cei Cei

    unknown-user on #157218

    Hi Becky. Sounds like you’re a thinker, which is good. The Thinking Harpist. :-)

    It would probably be better for someone with more credentials to answer your question but here’s my perspective. I’ve asked my teacher the same question. In faster pieces the movements are quicker, and often abbreviated. It is sometimes impossible to close completely. One thought, from Yolanda Kondonassis, that helped me was the idea that closing against the base of the palm releases the energy of the performance and helps with fatigue.

    Learning the hand position and movements

    unknown-user on #157219

    Hi Mike. In answer to your question, I got my harp less than a year and a half ago. Keep in mind that I’m a professional pianist with more time to practice than most adults, also very firmly grounded in theory.

    unknown-user on #157220


    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I found it very helpful. That first lesson, unfortunately, is the only one I’ll have for a while unless I get to take the college class that starts next month. In that case, I think the teacher will let me rent a harp. I still don’t know what the rental fee is so I’m a little apprehensive about that, but I think I can work something out one way or another. Once I am able to get a harp, though, I think I am going to start with the Blevins Cameo 24, and then save up for the MeadoWind 36. I am trying to plan ahead, and that will give me just the collection I need–a small travel harp, and a full-range harp. Since I can’t afford the larger harp first, I will have to start with the smaller. I really like the look and sound of it and think I will be very happy with it. I remember reading on a thread somewhere that it’s hard to give up your first harp, so I’m trying to avoid having to do that by starting with something I want to keep. I’ve heard so many good things about Blevins that I don’t think I will be disappointed.

    Anyway, I will keep you posted if I end up taking that class! I should have some stories to tell. Thanks again for the info.


    unknown-user on #157221

    Hi Becky.

    I think you’ll be very satisfied with your Blevins harps. Mine has pleased me in many ways. And having a travel harp and a floor harp is a very good idea. I’m shopping around for a lap harp with the same idea.

    I just coordinated a rental and it was $55.00 a month for a Triplett 30-string harp, plus a $55.00

    unknown-user on #157222


    I’m glad you are happy with your Blevins harp. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say they don’t like a Blevins harp. As far as rental fees, that’s more or less what I’m expecting/hoping for–about 50 or so. The Troubadour is actually what I had my lesson on. It had a beautiful tone but I’m wanting to try a harp with a little less tension to compare. I guess I’ll see what this teacher has available. It should be interesting to have lessons from a second teacher. I’m curious to see what this one does differently. Because of cost, I will probably go back to the first one regardless because she had very reasonable lesson prices but was still very skilled and nice to work with. I think this class will still be a wonderful opportunity.


    vince-pierce on #157223

    From what I have learned, different players do it differently. I know some close their fingers in all the way after every note, regardless of speed or dynamic. Some close their fingers in by bringing the finger tip toward the finger, rather than into the palm. It depends on how you are taught, but the basic idea is that you want to counterbalance the action of plucking a string, kind of like a follow-through in golf or tennis. And like someone else mentioned, it keeps the hand relaxed, especially in a longer piece with a lot of notes. It also gives you more leverage so you can get a fuller sound.

    I’m glad you have been introduced to the harp. It’s a wonderful instrument, and I think those of us that play it are a special breed of people : )

    unknown-user on #157224

    Hey Becky!

    Just back from a quick holiday and here’s a news! I’m glad you enjoyed your lesson, lessons are precious (spelling? Sorry, not mothertoungue english…). I’m another one who started on her own, coudn’t progress much and decided I needed a teacher. Lessons proved great and I made a lot of progress, I think I would have quit without them. Anyway, welcome to the world of harp-students!


    unknown-user on #157225

    Micky, thanks for the sweet note! It is very exciting to finally be living this dream.

    Well, I got my rental harp today (a gold Sharpsicle) and I love it! It has a lovely tone, and the gold paint is really very pretty. I tried holding it with just a strap and found it to be comfortable, but next time I will try it with the lap stick/knee bone thing. I was surprised at how comfortable it was to hold just with the strap though. I may not even need the knee bone after all but I guess I’ll see once I get better. Strangely enough, I found this harp more comfortable than the big Troubadour (which had an amazing sound), I guess
    since it’s not so huge and the tension isn’t as high. The Sharpsicle really does
    have a nice sound and I think holding it isn’t going to be as big of a problem as I worried it would!

    Anyway, still taking baby steps but enjoying the process! I just love hearing the sound of a harp, even with simple melodies and exercises.

    Thanks for listening to me babble! Hopefully there will be more to tell soon.


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