Lever harp in HS orchestra?

Posted In: Performing

  • Participant
    Christine Goodnough on #255590

    posted this in parents of young harpists but bc this seems more frequented, I’ll post here.

    My hs daughter had a random conversation with the symphonic band leader and he invited her to join symphonic orchestra bc he was looking for a harp player. She said, “I only play lever harp ” and he said “I’ll buy whatever you need.” Now her harp teacher is saying only pedal harp is appropriate, but she did say see if you can get copies of the music. Two hurdles: we don’t have a pedal harp at home to practice, and the music. so… can lever harp be used in high school symphonic orchestra, and can pedal harp music be adapted? I don’t think she has time to learn pedal harp and from what I understand even that needs to sometimes be adapted. The orchestra doesn’t currently have a harp; could lever be used in orchestra?

    Participant
    paul-knoke on #255598

    It depends on the harp part. I’ve often used a large lever harp for outdoor orchestra concerts and been able to cover, or at least fake, enough of the harp parts. I have a firm policy of not taking pedal harps outdoors in the unpredictable upstate New York weather (unless they’re covered)!

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #255600

    Lucky daughter that she gets a chance to play with symphonic band. This a great opportunity. While the harp parts may not be as good as with pedal harp, even if your daughter can play chords or modified parts that will help her learn valuable ensemble skills. It is a practice motivator, too. You may need to pay extra for the time it takes your daughter’s teacher to re-arrange harp parts. I would make the offer to do so. Personally, if your daughter commits to this, and harp in general, thinking about renting and then buying a pedal harp would be wise. It is not time consuming or difficult to move from a lever to a pedal harp. Many harpists play both.

    Participant
    Philippa mcauliffe on #255615

    Find out what repertoire he is thinking of playing. I played lever harp in a school orchestra for a little while before I changed to pedal. And many people play lever harp in mixed ability harp ensembles simply by adapting pedal harp parts. It does teach you good skills – following a conductor, listening to the other parts. But someone will have to arrange a part – simplifying the harp part and/or putting in some chords or doubling another instrument part. One issue is making sure the conductor knows what is and is not possible…most have zero concept of lever or pedal harp and can have very unrealistic expectations of beginner-intermediate harpists. If no one in the family can arrange a part for her then the teacher could almost certainly do it but may not want to. Was the band leader offering to buy a pedal harp?? Seems very unlikely. She could convert to pedal and do all her practice at school I suppose if that were the case and she wanted to do that. But be warned she will want her own pedal harp if she keeps going….

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