new to lever harp

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    sheila reiss on #158048

    Hi everyone. Just bought a l9 string lever harp. (with l9 levers) It’s range is 2 l/2 octaves. (F to C above middle C).
    Can anyone recommend sheet music to fit this instrument. Also
    can you tell my how to apply accidentals. I’m brand-new to the harp and very excited.

    S. Reiss

    Karen Johns on #158049

    I’d say most music for a 22-string lap harp would fit the bill. As far as accidentals go, if you are new to the harp you probably won’t need to worry about applying these for a while yet. Basically,the lever raises the note a half step, so if the note is an F natural flipping the lever up will give you an F sharp. Do you have a basic background in music theory? Have you lined up a teacher or are you planning on using a self-teaching book? This is where I would begin. Congratulations and welcome to the harping world! :-)


    sheila reiss on #158050

    Hi Karen. Thanks for your response. Yes I have vast musical
    experience. I have studied and played classical piano for 44 yrs. and have been teaching it for 17. Speaking musically,
    I understand key signature. I understand how to afix the levers to achieve a particular key. I’m more curious about “how” to apply lever changes technically within a piece of music while keeping your place and not losing timing. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks again. Sheila

    Karen Johns on #158051

    Well, from my experience with lever changes, this is usually accomplished with the left hand, a few beats before the accidental occurs. Sometimes you may have to “damp” or stop the string from vibrating before you do this. Most lever

    kay-lister on #158052

    Hi Sheila,

    I thought you said you were getting a 12 string harp.

    tony-morosco on #158053

    The trick to using levers to play accidentals is to arrange the music so that you have a place where the left hand is free to flip the lever up or down.

    The trick is finding the right place, where leaving your left hand free isn’t going to negatively impact the music, and where you have enough time to flip the lever before the accidental is needed, but also in a place where the string itself won’t already be ringing (or where you will have time to dampen a ringing string AND flip the lever).

    Most arrangements with accidentals in them are already arranged this way, but if you do your own you need to examine the music to find the best place to put the lever flip, and arrange it so that you have the time.

    With experience you will probably find that you will learn to be able to do lever flips faster and more accurately, and so you can put the lever changes closer to when the note is actually played with less time needed in the arrangement to have the left hand free.

    As for actually playing them, lever changes in the music should be practiced just like every other aspect of the music. A lever change is as much a part of the music as plucking the string, or hitting a key on the piano while pressing a pedal. Don’t think of the action as separate from playing the notes. The movements and actions involved should be incorporated as part of the whole piece of the music. Your motion to move in and flip the lever should be in rhythm with the music as much as possible and flow with all your other movements in playing. It then becomes part of your muscle memory just as plucking the strings and placing your fingers ahead become part of it.

    sheila reiss on #158054

    Hi Kay-
    Yes, in fact I did purchase and receive the 12 string. But
    my wonderful husband, to my surprise, told me to return it and purchase something more suiting to my musical experience. To another sweet surprise…my 20 year old daughter loved the 12 string and is keeping it. (she has very little musical experience). I have been playing the new harp (by ear) for a few days. Two and half octaves vs. one and a half makes a huge difference. There’s room for left hand accompaniment.
    Applying levers to set up key is not a problem for me. I have vast knowledge of key signatures. But upon looking a piano sheet music with accidentals, that is where I need help. It seems with what I have found online that there is sheet music written specifically for lever harp. I am guessing these types of scores allow for lever changes for the accidentals without compromising the flow of the music. Yes? So glad you popped up with a response again. Also thankful for my piano experience as it has allowed me to pick up this beautiful instrument and immediately play (poorly, of course…but play just the same.) Thanks again Kay for any further advice. Sheila

    kay-lister on #158055


    So wonderful for you!!

    kay-lister on #158056


    Also, your harp music will (most times) give you fingering, and when to connect/bracket and such.

    Tacye on #158057

    Lever harp music has relatively few chromatic changes during a piece, but may have interesting lever settings for the whole piece (Bb, Eb, Csharp and Fsharp for instance, or even different settings in different octaves).

    sheila reiss on #158058

    Thanks. I’d like to get my eyes on some of the lever music.
    I havn’t had a chance yet to look at the Sylvia Woods site.
    Are you familiar with anything in particular lever-wise that
    my 19 strings could accomodate?

    deb-l on #158059

    Melody’s has a whole section of lap harp music.

    sheila reiss on #158060

    Thank you. I’ll check it out.

    sheila reiss on #158061

    Well, all I have on hand at the moment is piano music.
    Of course trying to manipulate music for 88 keys to fit
    l9 strings is the first challenge, and of course plenty
    of accidentals. Hoping to find music specifically for
    lever lap harps. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks again.

    sheila reiss on #158062

    Thank you Tacye. Perhaps a pedal harp may be in my very distant future. One step at a time. I ordered and received
    my first harp…the 12 string lap, but my wonderful husband
    (who has no musical….anything… quickly prompted me to order something (still limited) but more practical. I now
    have a l9 string fully levered pixie harp. I’ve been playing by ear and enjoying the ability to have left hand accompaniment.
    So far, just playing in F or C (I flat my B’s manually) but have avoided accidentals since the only music I have on hand
    is advanced piano music and I have no lever-changing experience yet. Brand new to all of this but so thrilled. I’m grateful for all the years of piano study as it has allowed my
    to pick up an instrument that I have never put a finger on before and be able to (roughly) play a melody. I can only imagine the satisfaction you must have in your playing.
    Thanks for taking time to respond.

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