Pedal Harp for college?

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    lauren.crochet on #191907

    Hello all!

    I wanted to ask a question. Is it essential to have and play a pedal harp if you want to go to college? I currently play the lever harp and I am going back to school. I am thinking of minoring in music(they have a harp program there) in about 2 years.

    I’m not too sure of the protocol. For the audition segment for the college, it just says to play 2 contrasting pieces from the standard harp repertoire. Pedal harp repertoire, and lever harp repertoire, don’t go hand in hand.

    Any information about this?

    Sylvia on #191916

    Why don’t you contact the harp dept. at that college and ask?
    I studied harp in college (not as a major), and I practiced on the school harps. I never owned a harp till I was out of college. My teacher was happy to have a beginner, but other teachers may not be.

    patricia-jaeger on #191918

    Lauren, Sylvia gave you the perfect response, above. Then, when you have the answer from the harp teacher at the college, who would also let you know whether there are pedal harps available for students to use, you need to prepare those two contrasting pieces,for your audition. Send for “Technical Development for Harpists,” a free 49-page volume written by Danielle Perrett for the International Examinations Board, Trinity College, London. Offer to pay the postage. She has examined students around the world and is very knowledgable about what level all harp students have achieved, so this book shows in the first 18 pages, exercises to explain the skills needed to achieve up to level 4, for either pedal or lever harp. Page 19 through 23, exercises and skills for Grade 5, Pedal Harp. Pages 24 through 27: Exercises and skills for Grade 5 Non-pedal harp.
    Page 28 through 30: Grade 6, Pedal Harp. Page 31 through 33, Grade 6 Non Pedal Harp. And so on, until the last 4 pages tell the skills needed to achieve Grade 8 for Non Pedal Harp.If you practice on whatever type of harp the teacher recommends, then you need a graded repertoire list for pieces, so that you can select with help of your present teacher, or by yourself if you are self taught, the same grade level of pieces you found you have learned through the exercises. These are in syllabuses, often online, from several English-speaking countries: USA, Australia, England. You can e-mail me privately for those contact addresses or e-mails; I should close now as others may wish to chime in to help you.

    Biagio on #191921

    Hi Lauren,

    That is great that you intend to minor in music and to select the harp as your instrument. If I may, I would posit a few thoughts for you to consider in addition to what Sylvia and Patricia have written…..

    What is your intention as regards the harp? If it is to eventually look toward playing in an orchestral setting than you will probably want an instrument with the characteristics of a pedal harp – guts strings, high tension, heavy and robust as compared to some lever harps. But not all by any means.

    How about expense and space? Obviously even a modestly sized pedal harp will set you back in both (grin). An excellent lever harp will too, but not nearly as much.

    I am somewhat puzzled by this: “pedal harp repertoire and lever harp repertoire do not go hand in hand.” Certainly there are pedal harp pieces that would be difficult on a lever harp, but the opposite is also true. Going a bit further, some lever harps such as the L&H Troubadour and Prelude are specifically designed and used in schools as “pre-pedal” instruments.

    Will it be necessary to buy your own harp at this point? Many colleges have rental or loaner instruments in their music departments. Some well cared for and some not so much, to be sure, but that is also something to look into.

    Hope that is helpful and best wishes,

    Elizabeth Webb on #191946

    Hi Lauren,
    I agree with the great advice given above. I came from a pretty poor family and had to save up for years to get my first lever harp, a used L&H Prelude. I auditioned for college on that harp, playing some very advanced lever harp music. What I was told after my audition was that I played very well with good technique, expression, and passion for the harp, but that I would have to have a pedal harp in order to play in the orchestra, which was a required part of the music program. (The school I went to for my bachelor’s was small and did not have a school owned harp). I ended up buying a used pedal harp that had damage and was on its last leg, for $6,800. It got me through my first couple years of college until I was able to get a better harp.

    Some college programs might not require you to play a pedal harp, but while some orchestra pieces can be played on a lever harp, you are going to be pretty limited. But don’t be discouraged! Talk to the harp instructor and find out what you can do. If your playing is good, you have options (such as renting a pedal or using a school harp). Best of luck to you!

    lauren.crochet on #192017

    Sorry for the late reply!

    Thank you for the responses! I do intend on asking the department exactly what they want in regards to the audition and such. I just don’t want to ask just yet as I haven’t had my first class yet and this is something I’m going to do in the next 2-3 years.

    Biagio, my intention is to one day freelance, and possibly other things. Already I’ve been getting some performances in with people who are very happy to have me as a volunteer(my mother’s church was nice enough to let me do a prelude to their Christmas Eve mass when all I wanted was to play 2 or 3 carols!). I also know that a lot of the songs I keep coming across with my teacher, or that I would like to play, all have key changes that would require a pedal harp, or an enormous amount of lever changes that just would not happen. That and I am more inclined to want to play classical music and rock/pop covers(though I’m working on one that doesn’t have any lever changes!)

    Space isn’t a problem, cost is something that worries me, but I wouldn’t want a really new one anyways, though it would be nice. I quite like the sound of older harps. As for the “hand in hand”, what I think I meant to say was that when I look at college programs, some of their requirements, are to “play two contrasting pieces from the standard harp repertoire”. I honestly don’t know what they mean by standard repertoire. Even my teacher was a bit puzzled by that.

    I was renting a Camac Mademoiselle, which is exactly like the Prelude, and while I loved that harp, it was so hard to move places. It was close to 50 pounds and I don’t have a car. Renting cars proves to be a big expense, so I downsized to the Isolde, which sounds nearly identical, has two less stings, and is only 26 pounds! Right now I’m a lot more inclined to stay with a small lever harp, as I can just about take it on trains(public transport + harp + harp dolley = adventure!)

    This is all just in theory. I’m the kind of person who likes to make plans ahead of time, and think out the details so I know what to do in a situation(like if and when I get a pedal harp, I’ll need to get a car, again).

    Andelin on #192133

    Aside from what the college requires, think also about what you want for the future. College lasts for a few years only. I probably would buy a harp based on what my harp goals are, not what the school requirements are. Obviously cost is a big factor, when you take into account the expense of a car you would need along with the harp. It sound like you are already feeling somewhat confined by levers (and oh, how I know this feeling!) but is having pedals worth the extra cost? Or in other words, if you can’t (or choose not to) afford the cost of the harp plus the car, then you have your answer. Likewise if moving it will be too hard.

    There is a lot of music for lever harp, so sticking with lever harp won’t keep you from being able to freelance. And with a good knowledge of music theory you can write your own pieces or arrangements/covers, too. I enjoy creating my own arrangements from time to time. :). Lever changes get easier with practice.

    But if you can afford it, and decide it is worth it to you, you could go either of two routes, buy or rent a lever harp for now (or use the school instruments, if they are available to you) until the time when you can buy a pedal harp (and a car). It would be really great if the college had pedal harps you can use while in the program, so you can be saving money to buy your own later on (whether it be pedal or lever). ;). If you ultimately think lever harp suits you best, you could look into renting a pedal harp, if the school requires one but doesn’t have them for students to use.

    Ok, I’m done rambling. I doubt my thoughts are even that helpful. Let us know how it goes. 🙂

    To Elizabeth: I would be interested to know what lever harp music you played before you got a pedal harp. 😉

    Deette Bunn on #192181

    I teach at a couple of universities in Upstate NY – one school provides pedal harps, one school does not, so the students share the rental costs of a pedal harp. One school offers only a degree in pedal harp and the other offers a degree and/or a minor in either pedal harp or lever harp performance with different ensemble and repertoire requirements. I think you need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with it, what type of music you want to play, and who you want your audience to be. If you find that you are always wanting to play music that’s more “doable” on a pedal harp, try to go to a school that is going to supply the instrument, although that can make it harder to gig. Otherwise, go for the more affordable option – a lever harp – and learn to edit and play pieces in keys that enable you to take advantage of enharmonic options (A flat instead of G sharp, for example).

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