suggestions for middle school orchestra

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    I have a good friend and colleague who teaches middle school strings and is very willing to program music that includes the young harpists at her school. She’s asked me for repertoire suggestions appropriate for lever harp and


    I don’t know how difficult the music is for the various parts, but Laura Zaerr has several arrangements for lever harp and music ensembles of various sizes.


    Check into Sandra Dackow’s arrangements. She does absolutely top notch arrangements of orchestral standards, and you will not believe how good her work sounds.

    I’m not sure if she writes for harp, but I bet if she were aware that people are looking for harp parts, she’d write them, and darn good ones too.

    Her things are absolutely great for teaching music history and music appreciation as well as orchestral techniques.


    I just googled “Sandra Dackow harp” and she does write optional harp parts for her orchestral arrangements. Give them a look!


    I don’t know the first two, but the last two are full-fledged concertos, requiring about the same skill level as something like the first movement of the Handel (although a different skill set–you have to be *very* good with celtic ornaments to play the celtic concerto, for example).

    So while they’re excellent audience pleasing pieces, they’re not for gently breaking in the novice orchestral harpist, if that’s what you’re looking for.

    If you’re looking for pieces that feature the harp rather than just works that have harp parts, about the easiest concerto type pieces I can think of are the two vivaldi concerti arranged by Kathy Bundock Moore. I think that some of the McDonald Wood pieces have also been orchestrated (Processional?) but I have no idea of what the ensemble parts are like.

    Can you explain a little more about what you want: concertos or just ensemble opportunities, lever or pedal harp? What skill level for the harpist?


    Oops, not clear that I was replying to Rachel’s suggestion about Laura Zaerr’s works.

    Lynne Abbey-Lee

    Gymnopedie No. 1 by Erik Satie, arranged by Robert Klotman

    The Olive Tree by Arlene C. Stein, arranged by Doris Gazda

    Both published by Neil A. Kjos Music Company. One of my students did these two pieces on lever harp with her middle school string orchestra. Both included lever changes throughout. She also did a piece called Once Upon a December from “Anastasia,” but I don’t have any other information on it.


    Melissa, the very good arrangers Klotman, Gazda, and Dachow are not harp players or teachers of the harp. Years ago I conducted school orchestras and now with my private studio over the last 40 years I have written many harp parts, largely intermediate level, so that my students could play with their orchestras. These parts are in print notation but not published commercially,

    I writing to you because I have 2 sons that play harp in their school
    string orchestras.


    Please let your orchestra director know of the 74-page book: A Harp in the School:A Guide for School Ensemble Directors and Harpists.” Published by American String Teachers Association in 2006, it is spiral-bound and has just what he/she needs, and also what a middle school harpist needs! It is available from the Bookstore section of, and after 6 very helpful chapters by contributing excellent harp teachers, the Appendix in the back is like a gold mine of information. Consider then, getting two copies and you will never regret it; it smooths the way for player and director. The harpist will gain much more than the private weekly hour-long lesson can hope to give, in the way of source information and helpful hints!

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