lap harps and Heartland Harps question

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    unknown-user on #68718

    Hello! I’m not a harp player, but I hope to be one. I’m currently looking at harps, and am probably going to visit the House of Musical Traditions in MD this weekend to look at their stock, and I’m hoping to see Heartland Harps next week.

    I have a spinning wheel that at 15 pounds is a pain to lug around because of its shape, especially to put in the back seat of my 2 door car. I would also like to be able to take it with me in my car when I travel without too much of a pain in the neck.

    What is the smallest harp that’s reasonable to learn on? I like the look, size wise of the Heartland Serenity at 25 strings – it does go down to the C below middle C. It also looks like a size that I can manage and use, even if later I decide that I need a larger harp that I won’t be able to take out and about.

    Does anyone have the Serenity or another Heartland Harp that they can comment on, or any advise in general?



    jennifer-buehler on #68719

    I just bought a Heartland Dreamweaver this summer and absolutely adore it.

    cynthy-johnson on #68720

    I once owned all the Heartland Harps. They are very nice instruments because:

    1. They are light-weight

    2. Have Concert String Spacing

    3. Can be ordered in any combination of wood and designs

    4. Have a 10-year warranty

    5. Pamela and Dave are the greatest people to work with!

    The Serenity is a lovely, light-weight harp. What is really interesting about that harp is the curve. If you wear it with the strap, the curve fits your body in such a way that the weight is so evenly distributed that I, personally, did not feel any heavy weight on any particular joint at all!

    Gillian Bradford on #68721

    Jennifer is right you can learn on a smaller harp there are just some additional limitations to it. Most teachers recommend a harp of 30 strings or more for a first harp to learn on. It has a range that covers all the learners material out there and allows you to develop posture and playing technique without having to worry about balancing a harp. It’s also nice to have the larger range when practising arpeggios (you’ll do a LOT of them) and rolled chords (you’ll do a LOT of those too).

    On a smaller harp you may have to simplify the left hand a bit because of your range and play music an octave higher than it is written. If you are already a practised musician then you’ll do this easily. If you are not it may just add enough frustration for you to pack in the harp completely. There is some music out there written specifically for small harps although not a lot of learners books are for those harps.

    Having a portable harp seems like a lovely idea, you can easily imagine yourself driving to a nice park and practicing under a tree etc..And it seems lovely to also have an instrument that you can pack away in a cupboard if you want to. But honestly I have a harp that I rarely take out because of it’s size and weight and I don’t miss the portability at all. While its still an attractive idea for me to practice in a park I also know that the few times I’ve played outside I haven’t got much practice done because of the onlookers and constant questions. A nicer idea than it is in reality. Think carefully about how often you will actually travel with a harp. I think I take mine out less than twice a year.

    Most floor harps, 32 strings and above fit easily into compact cars, across the back seat or in the hatch with the seats folded down. Because harps are mostly flat they fit quite easily into smaller spaces. For me personally the choice to make my learning experience easier or having portability, I would choose the easier learning experience every time.

    The dreamweaver is a very compact floor harp and the same price as the serenity anyway. To my mind it is much better value for money because of the additional range and therefore larger repertoire it will give you access to. Having levers isn’t necessary in the very beginning stages most learner books are written in C and you can tune your harp to that manually. I had my first harp for a year before it became necessary to go to the expense of levers. C & F levers only will give you access to a great deal of the folk music out there.

    katerina on #68722

    Dear Gretchen,

    The Serenity is THE BEST lap harp I ever had to try out.

    Being a harpmaker myself, I have generally no questions to construction, finishing and the sound. She is light and amasingly loud for her size. Very sweet harp, ant the best choice while you want generally a lap harp.

    Even when you thereafter decide to turn to the

    Karen Johns on #68723


    First let me say that if I could have afforded a Heartland Harp, I would have bought one in a “Heartbeat”! :-) As it is, I wound up getting a Voyageur kit from Musicmaker’s and building a harp myself. I’m very satisfied with this harp as well as the wire-string Limerick I just finished building this past summer.

    However, I must suggest this: If you plan on moving up to a larger harp in the future, it is easier to transition from a large harp to a small than vice-versa. I speak from personal experience. I had a 22 string Irish lap harp that I started out on and then transitioned to my Voyageur. It was like going from a tricycle to a bicycle. Very awkward. It was like having to learn all over again.


    unknown-user on #68724

    I appreciate everyone’s input – let me explain some of my reasons, since I was kind of tired last night!

    * I have a loving but very destructive cat.

    Gillian Bradford on #68725

    I have two cats who all but rip apart my furniture. They have never touched my harp. The smaller one jumped on top of it once, but not once have they ever been inclined to put a claw near it. My harp lives in the same room with them uncovered permanently. I don’t think harps are particularly attractive scratching posts.

    The 32 string model is quite small and undoubtedly easy enough to move around the household. Certainly from room to room you will have no trouble moving this harp out of harms way or just for your own peace of mind.

    I hear you about being able to get on a plane with a harp. I work as crew on planes. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to find a harp that would comfortably sit in the overhead locker AND allow me to be comfortable leaving it there. Since passengers do tend to just push and shove their stuff into those lockers, even crushing other passengers luggage at the same time. There is no way I would ever trust my ($1500) harp in an overhead locker, and I doubt the serenity will fit under the seat. It’s not just a matter of getting it there. It has to stow completely under it, away from your feet. Otherwise the crew will never let you leave it there. The dimensions of the serenity suggest to me it’s just too long to fit under a seat. Now if you could get a hard case made for it that would allow you to stow it in the hold, you’d be onto a winner there.

    I think seeing a teacher first would be an excellent idea.

    jennifer-buehler on #68726

    I think taking a few lessons is a good idea.

    Gillian Bradford on #68727

    I think I can answer you about guitars Jennifer. In general guitars and cellos are allowed onboard even though they are over the size of carry-on baggage mainly because they are so delicate. The airlines won’t take the responsibility of baggage handling them to avoid costly claims. They generally have to be strapped to the seat next to the passenger and the passenger usually has to buy that seat for their instrument. I think this option is only not available for harps simply because no-one has ever asked before. Obviously a full concert grand pedal harp will not easily fit into an aircraft cabin but the smaller harps would.

    Items under the seat have to fit well under there and not be near your feet. This is so in the event of an evacuation everyone in that row can exit the row quickly without anything hindering their progress. It will be a very small harp indeed that would fit, but as you say the Stoney End one might.

    The big problem with getting harps onboard is their height. As even small harps are still quite tall (they have to be for the harmonic curve). Unfortunately we have to be very strict on cabin baggage as once those lockers are full there’s nowhere else for luggage to go. All the aisles, rows and exits have to be completely clear at all times to satisfy airline regulations. There’s not really a lot of room for 200 or more passengers and all the stuff they want to bring onboard, especially in the age of laptops.

    cynthy-johnson on #68728

    Travelling on an airplane with a therapy harp can be tricky; the ultimate decision is up to the ground crew. If they say it has to be checked, it has to be checked.

    I have owned several therapy harps of different sizes.

    Alan Zenreich on #68729

    Although Lauren and I were introduced to harps while visiting in a hospital, we took everyone’s advice and got a floor harp for Lauren to learn on.

    Lauren has started with a Heartland Dreamweaver, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the harp-for-the-dollar.

    jean-mac on #68730

    Jean, here from Somerset.

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