Sylvia Woods book for lap harp and Harpsicles

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    HBrock25 on #157262

    I am new to the harp and harp column so a quick intro. About a month ago I went along to a birthday party with some friends I was staying with, and someone else at the party had brought along a wire strung lap harp. I showed some interest and she let me have a go at playing it. That was the beginning of something special. Since then I have spent all my spare time web surfing to find out more about the celtic/folk/lever harp. I have been a flute player and teacher for many years, but am ashamed to say that I was totally unaware of the lever harp, even though I love celtic/Irish/folk music. I think I’ve learnt a lot from my internet research and am glad to have found this forum so that I can make contact with real people. I am just about ready to order a Harpsicle harp, I still need to decide which one (how many levers), and which colour (I’m leaning towards a green or natural coloured Fullsicle). I think this is a good place to start and down the track I may look at getting something bigger when I know better what I want to do with my harp. I also like the idea of a harp small enough to be portable. For now I mostly want to enjoy playing and learning for myself, without the pressure of doing it professionally as I do with flute. But I suspect I will be happy to play for anyone willing to listen because I think the harp sounds so great, even when you’re a beginning player.

    So my first question is: What note range is required in Sylvia Woods’ Teach yourself book and DVD? The Harpsicles have one octave below middle C, is this low enough, or can the pieces be easily adjusted for a smaller harp?

    I am also interested to hear opinions on whether Sylvia Woods’ or Pamela Bruner’s beginner books/DVDs are better at teaching technique. I think I will be mostly teaching myself. I don’t have the opportunity to look at the books but from what I’ve found out, I think I’ll prefer the repertoire in the Woods, but maybe it is very similar, I’m not really sure. I’ve thought about maybe getting the books and DVD from Bruner and also the book from Woods, if people think the Bruner method is better for showing technique. Any help from people who have seen/used these methods is very welcome.

    My last question is about the Harpsicles. My impression is that they are reasonable instruments, well made with a reasonable sound, though perhaps quieter than other harps. I would appreciate hearing from people who have owned or played a Harpsicle, about their positive or negative experiences.

    Many thanks in advance for any help and advice. I’ve looked at some of the threads in this forum and it seems to be a really friendly and fun place.

    barbara-brundage on #157263

    But do you want wire, Liesl? The wire strung harp has very different kind of sound than a nylon strung harp like a harpsicle, and it calls for a different technique, if that’s what you’re after. Are you aware of the differences? Just making sure.

    Liesl Filippi on #157264

    Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for asking. Yes, I am aware that the wire strung harps are played differently. And it is possible that I will discover that it is the sound of wire strings that I want. But to begin with I’m happy to go with nylon strings. The person with the harp that I tried was playing it as if it was nylon strings (she has other nylon strung harps and the wire one was new). I’ve listened to sound files and youtube of various harps and I think I will enjoy the nylon strings. Down the track who knows? There are so many possibilities, it’s very exciting.

    barbara-brundage on #157265

    Ah, good, then. As for Sylvia’s books, yes, you can just move things up an octave if you need to do that, or leave out the lower notes. I haven’t seen Pamela’s DVD but I would imagine it’s the same for that.

    The only real problem with starting out with fewer strings is that you have to learn to play with your hands close together much earlier than you would on a larger harp. It’s easier for most beginners if there’s a little space between their hands and they aren’t having to overlap, just at first, but you can certainly do it.

    poppy-rose on #157266

    Hi, I own a black Flatsicle ( I think all things look higher end in black!). I really find that this gives enough range for a lap harp. I also have a Salvi Juno, which is also a travel harp, and it is fully levered, but I really have yet to need anything other than the C.F, and B levers. I have alot of the sylvia woods books, and have found that the “easy “versions can be played on the harpsicle. sometimes you might have to play a “G” an octave up, or an “A” but you don’t really need to move the whole piece up. Her “Beauty and the Beast” sound beautiful on the small harp. Also, Cindy Blevins has a lap harp compedium book that is written for the small harp, and it is easy to play for beginners, and is comprised of what my friends call “spa music”. My Advice is save your money, and buy the Flatsicle, not the Fullsicle. Or go big, and get a fully levered 34 string harp.

    Paul and Brenda on #157267

    The Grand Harpsicle is very nice too, with 33 strings so you have the lower octave.

    HBrock25 on #157268

    Hi, Liesl,

    I began with the Sylvia Woods book, and then moved over to the Pamela Bruner books.

    Rachel on #157269

    I second Kristy’s recommendation.

    Liesl Filippi on #157270

    Thanks to everyone who has replied. Your advice has been very helpful!

    I think I will get the Bruner books and DVD, along with the Woods book.

    I have done a lot more looking and thinking about which harp to buy, and now think that the Sharpsicle will suit my needs for a reasonable price. I believe I will be wanting a larger instrument before long, but to start with I think the Sharpsicle will be okay.

    Thanks again,

    Liesl Filippi on #157271

    Just letting everyone know how things are going in case someone in the future finds this discussion.

    I have had my Sharpsicle for nearly a month now and I am loving it. I am so glad I am having the opportunity to play the harp, it is bringing me much joy.

    The Sharpsicle is meeting my needs really well, I wanted: a lap harp, 1 octave below middle C, good sounding but not too expensive, something to get me started which may do me forever or help me to discover what my needs may be for another instrument later on, and a fun instrument that my nieces and nephew can also enjoy.

    As for the teach yourself books: I am really impressed with the Pamela Bruner books and DVD. I feel that I am learning well and easily because she takes everything in small steps and is very clear. I thought I may not like the pieces but I am actually enjoying them. I think I will be ready for the Sylvia Woods book when I have completed Book 1 of Bruner. I am looking forward to playing those pieces, and I think I will find them easier after the clear, steady steps in the Bruner book. I think this combination of resources works well.

    Thanks again for all the advice and I’m glad if this discussion is helpful to others.


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