Hello! Newbie harper here!

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Participant
    cheryl-steckel on #157461

    I’ve been lurking on this forum for a while now & finally felt confident enough to join in. Last February I realized a long-held dream & started teaching myself to play the lever harp. I’ve got a blue Sharpsicle named Alice Blue & I love her. I live in a small rural town in Ohio with no harp store or harp teacher anywhere near me. I may venture to take lessons via Skype at some point.

    Anyway, I’ve been working from the book that came with the Sharpsicle & Sylvia Woods’ self-teaching book & DVD as well. I have no musical background to speak of & never have had any musical aptitude, nor has anyone in my family. I’ve been working on teaching myself music theory as well with downloaded tutorials. I actually started that before my harp even arrived. I don’t like the sappy little songs in the instruction books much so I practice on songs I want to play. Right now I’m working on Simon & Garfunkel’s “59th Street Bridge Song”, & the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts”.

    I think I’m coming along pretty well, considering. I can sight read music rather well now. I am fanatical about hand position & fingering & study closely the hand positions in the videos to make sure I am right.

    I just wanted to share a little triumph I had this evening. A while back I downloaded sheet music for Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” & I tried it for the first time tonight. I was able to play it at sight! Granted, I was a bit slow & had to work out the fingerings as I went, but I did it!

    Now I need to train my ear better. I have no natural “ear” & can’t even tell if I am in tune at all without my Korg tuner. I can’t imagine playing a song by ear alone.

    I will say the Harpsicle line are a gateway drug. I am hooked now & am plotting how to get a L & H Ogden. I have very strong hands & fingers & with the lightly strung Sharpsicle, I do tend to overplay. I really think a more tightly strung harp would suit me better in the long run. I will always keep & love Alice Blue, though.

    I am 63 years old, so you’re never too old to start!

    Participant
    Sherj DeSantis on #157462

    Welcome Cheryl. My mom started at 76, so you’re just a kid! Enjoy the ride. I ‘ve had a lot of fun over the past few years, and I hope you will too.

    Participant
    jessica-wolff on #157463

    Cheryl, can you sing in tune? If you can, you can use familiar songs to check your tuning. Congratulations on the Duke Ellington. If you can sight-read that, perhaps you have more musical aptitude than you think you have.

    Participant
    sherry-lenox on #157464

    Also be sure to realize that many people who can learn to sing just fine don’t always know if they can sing on pitch or not.

    Singing is a rather subjective process and often people are self conscious about what they perceive to be the quality of their voices. Matching pitch and singing pitch accurately is a different process than making pleasant sounds.

    If you know of a really fine high school vocal music program, ask that teacher to suggest a voice teacher to give you an exploratory lesson or two. My teacher has often said that Pierre Jamet, a very well-known harp instructor, would tell her to sing a part while learning to play it.

    Don’t give up your search for a teacher, even if you can only take lessons on a semi regular basis. Nothing beats having a teacher grab your hand and push it into shape. (gently of course)! 🙂

    Participant
    Karen Johns on #157465

    Welcome to the gang, Cheryl! I happen to be a self-taught harper as well, in a similar situation as yours (no harp teacher for miles and miles). Started out on a small 22 string lap harp, and moved up to a 33 string floor harp about 3 years ago. It’s been and continues to be

    Participant
    karen-agabin on #157466

    I started self teaching for 6 months and eventually obtained a teacher via skype to guide me properly. It is definitely worth it to ensure my progression is on the right track. Congratulations to you for being determined!

    Participant
    cheryl-steckel on #157467

    Thanks for the welcome, everyone!

    No, I cannot sing in tune. I bray like a donkey when I try to sing. I can’t carry a tune well enough to drag it out to the back yard & bury it. No, we have no good music programs in any of the schools here. In fact, in this low-income rural Ohio area, most of the local schools are lucky to have any music program at all left with the reluctance of the citizens to pass school funding levies.

    Participant
    cheryl-steckel on #157468

    When I tried to explain to my MIL in TN that I was teaching myself to play the harp, she didn’t know what I meant. Turned out after a couple more phone conversations, she thought all along I meant “that thing that lays flat on your lap” – she meant an autoharp but didn’t know what to call it. Then she thought I meant “one of those big gold things”. She had no idea lap harps or lever harps existed & it took a lot of explaining before she got what I meant. She is a highly intelligent woman & a college graduate, but typical of both my family & my DH’s. No clue about music or instruments at all.

    In regard to the lack of school voice programs, around here the only voice programs are school show choirs which are usually taught by an English or drama teacher pressed into service who doesn’t have much of a music background either.

    Such is living in the boonies!

    Participant
    jessica-wolff on #157469

    Since you say you are 63, have you had your hearing tested? I’m 66 and have to do it regularly.

    Participant
    cheryl-steckel on #157470

    I’ve never been tested but I have no reason to think there is anything wrong with my hearing. I can hear sounds my 51-year-old husband & 23-year-old son can’t. :-)

    Participant
    Asha the Nagini on #157471

    Welcome, and congratulations on pursuing that dream!

    Participant
    penny-amundsen on #157472

    Welcome Cheryl.

    Participant
    deb-l on #157473

    welcome and nice choice for harp plotting.

    Participant
    shelby-m on #157474

    I live in rural New England and have dreamed of playing the harp for almost 5 years.

    Keymaster
    HBrock25 on #157475

    Hello Cheryl, I just registered today on here and am so excited about this site. What a great way to learn things. I, like you, am fairly new to the harp world. I just got my Blevins Sonata 36 string a few weeks ago. I signed up for a local 8 week class, which I just finished

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