lots of question

Posted In: Young Harpists

  • Participant
    unknown-user on #167258

    I have a couple of related issues, so this will probably be long and
    disjointed. 🙂 First off, I am 16 years old and going into my senior
    year in high school. I live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I’ve been
    playing the harp for a while (although I have not always had much
    time to focus on it) and currently own an 85P that’s about 6 years
    old. I gig whenever I can, but I play mostly private parties/events
    (most weddings here go to my teacher or one of the other pros).

    I am very strong academically, and quite good on the harp (although
    not exceptional). Right now I’m looking at colleges that fit my
    academic interests but have resources for a harpist (a good teacher,
    performance opportunities). Do you think that this will allow me to
    become proficient in both areas? My teacher has always talked about
    college auditions, but with this plan there aren’t any formal
    auditions, really. I am planning on sending a CD recording with my
    applications for the schools that accept them. I would also like to
    try to meet with the harp teacher and maybe the conductor of each
    school for an informal audition. I have a couple of audition-type
    pieces (such as Haydn’s Theme and Variations) as well as many more
    harpistic sounding pieces. Does this make sense to you?

    One problem is that I have very little orchestral experience. I go
    to a small, private school that doesn’t have an orchestra and there
    aren’t any other orchestras in my area that are advanced enough to
    need/want a harpist. I played in an advanced pit orchestra this
    summer for several weeks, though. Since I don’t have the experience,
    I am worried that I in college I won’t be able to play well in an
    orchestra. What do you think? Will I be seriously hindered by lack
    of experience?

    On to my major question…

    I want a semi- or concert-grand harp. I love my 85P. It has a nice
    sound and it travels easily, but it doesn’t compare with a full size
    harp. I think that it’s important when studying an instrument at a
    higher level to have a full size harp. The 85P is a 3/4 size,
    student harp. I was at the Harp Connection in Salem, MA. recently
    and I got to play a couple of the harps. The sound and the tone was
    incredible compared to my harp. My mother was with me and seemed to
    agree at the time, but now that we’re home I think she’s
    purposefully forgetting the difference. My father wasn’t there. I
    can’t get out of my head how tremendous the sound was. Every time I
    practice now I think about how much better it could sound.

    The problem is that my parents would need to buy this harp for me.
    I’m 16 and have about $7,000 in all my savings (my parents would not
    want me to spend this). My parents have enough money to buy me a
    harp. Although I am looking at a couple, the main one I’m requesting
    is a L&H Style 100, which is obviously one of their less expensive
    harps. My mother keeps saying that we should “wait and see” what
    happens with college, but I’ve asked her what she’s waiting to find
    out and she’s not very specific. She thinks that I should get a
    larger harp only if I will be playing in an orchestra. I’ve told her
    that I would like to, but I cannot know for sure until I’m at the
    school and know how much time my classes take and everything like
    that. My father doesn’t think I need a larger harp. He hasn’t heard
    the difference in sound, but says that my harp sounds just fine
    (which it does!). He doesn’t see why I would need a larger one, and
    he keeps on saying how enormous the CG harps are and how I would
    never be able to get it around. He’s always had more trouble than my
    mother or I carrying my 85P. Even though they have the money, I
    think they just don’t want to spend it on something that they don’t
    think is needed and on something that is only for me (not for my
    sister and I or for the whole family). We own a grand piano, by the
    way.

    Do any of you have any advice for convincing my parents? Should I
    just practice as much as I can (I could do a lot more) to show them
    that I’m serious? Some of the points they bring up are valid, what
    about those? Do you think a semi/CG really is something that is
    important for me to have? The money issue is tough because it’s the
    main point, but my parents don’t want me spending a large portion of
    my money. If they bought the harp, I would be more than happy to pay
    for all of the “extras” (a matching bench, more heavy-duty cart,
    etc.).

    Sorry about the long post and multiple questions. I would love any
    responses related to any part of this. If you have college
    suggestions or harp recommendations certainly feel free to throw
    them in!

    Thanks a bunch,
    Julia

    Participant
    unknown-user on #167259

    I meant Handel’s Theme + Variations, obviously. I’m a little too tired to be allowed to type…

    Participant
    unknown-user on #167260

    haha i’m going CRAZY. just ignore my last post. sorry for sounding so incredibly insane. it happens. 😉

    Participant
    Evangeline Williams on #167261

    What kind of academic interests?

    Participant
    unknown-user on #167262

    I can offer a lot of suggestions, I think, but you have asked so many questions it is difficult to cover it all in this forum. You may email me directly for more help. I think you should definitely get a 100 for a lifetime instrument. Your college may not provide one and you definitely need a harp with 47 strings to play its repertoire. You will get orchestral/ensemble experience in college. As long as you are learning how to count rests and come in, to follow a conductor, you should be fine. Start looking at schools and their audition requirements, and practice as much as you possibly can, at least two to three hours each day. I need to know more of your interests and your studies now to direct you to the best schools. You have many choices. And keep your grades straight A. Save your money for a car and extras and other emergencies. If you plan to continue to free-lance then you should keep your 85P for that. Your parents need more musical educating. You need a fair start to be a harpist. A musical instrument is never a waste of money, and your performing reflects well on the family and your parents. Not being able to continue with a full-size harp will reflect poorly on them. Does that help? Sounds like they are Yankees.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #167263

    I don’t have any specific academic focus, yet. I enjoy most subjects, from english to mathematics. In terms of schools, I’ve looked at the University of Chicago, Northwestern, U Penn, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia. JHU and Northwestern have the strongest music programs, of course. This fall I also plan to look at the University of Michigan, Emory in Georgia, and possibly a couple of other schools. I’m looking for a strong liberal arts education, so a strict Conservatory wouldn’t be right for me, but I also plan to incorporate the harp into my life, so I need to have musical resources.

    I’m very relieved that you both said that previous orchestral experience isn’t a necessary prerequisite for playing in a college orchestra. That was actually a significant worry of mine.

    I think I might be getting the tiniest bit closer to convincing my parents. At least, my father asked to see the Salvi catalog I had, which I see as a step in the right direction. I know that it would make a lot of sense to keep the 85P and get a larger harp, too. If my parents seem agreeable, I will bring it up, but I rather doubt that they will be enamored with the idea.

    Thanks for all the advice, and if you have any more I’d love to hear it. I’m sorry it took so long replying back; I’ve just been working a lot in the last days before school starts again.

    -Julia

    Participant
    unknown-user on #167264

    Good luck with everything Julia! You absolutely need a full sized pedal harp to play in orchestra. A 3/4 size will simply not be heard. If you are able to buy a L&H 100, you should for certain. If for some reason it does not work out, don’t despair. I actually did not own a pedal harp until I was 30 – I used school instruments. Hopefully you will fair better than this, though! As far as orchestra playing is concerned, there are other ways to prepare besides playing in pre-college orchestras. It is important to practice “watching the conductor” and know what the conducting patterns will look like. You could even have a buddy act it out. At least during your first year or so be sure to buy recordings of the pieces you will be playing. If you can find scores ahead of time through libraries, do that as well. I jumped into my first orchestra gig with no previous experience. So, I bought recordings and made a tape with each harp entrance recorded three times in a row. I practiced with this until I could nail every entrance. I also studied the full score and noted how my part interacted with other instruments and made extra notations in my part. It’s good to include a few measures before the harp entrance on the recording to become familiar with the sound. That way if you get off counting measures, the familiar sounds will bring you right back on track. Being so familiar with how the harp part fit into the whole helps one to nail every entrance.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #167265

    I’m going to recommend my own beloved college, Syracuse University.

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