taking it to the next level

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    I’m 15 and I’ve been playing the harp since I was 6 or 7. I can play

    pretty well, but I haven’t been improving much at all for years. My

    teacher isn’t that good and doesn’t challenge me. I’m her best

    student but she tries to give me the same music as the 8 year olds.

    We spend lessons going over pieces that I’ve known for five years or

    more (and can play perfectly). I’ve talked with my parents about

    taking my playing up to the next level before college, but there are

    a couple problems. First of all, I don’t have time to practice. I

    get home anywhere from 5 to 8 and then I have a lot of homework to

    do (I go to a very good school with high expectations; the homework

    takes a while). By the time I’m done, I’m ready to go to sleep. The

    other problem is that to find a better teacher I would need to drive

    a long way; the nearest city is about 1.5 hours away. I would like

    to become very good and play advanced pieces, but I can’t give it

    the time it deserves. What do you think? Should I try to take it up

    even if I can’t practice much? Or should I stay about where I am?

    Thanks a lot!


    I am really looking forward to the answers to this one.


    I have to hand it to you, young Smith.


    Dear Anon (is that your real name, or are you worried your teacher might stumble

    across your message?????):

    You’ve gotten some great advice already! The biggest thing I will echo is to talk to

    your teacher. Maybe she would like to give you more difficult pieces, but feels you

    can’t spend enough time practicing them. Have you had a conversation with her about

    this yet? At age 15, it’s time for you to start interacting with your teacher on a more

    adult level, and making sure you discuss your goals out in the open is the best way to

    start. That way perhaps she will not view you as a kid and start giving you more

    challenging pieces. If your teacher is not receptive to having a discussion about your

    goals, or if her goals for you are not in line with your own, then you and your parents

    might decide it’s time to move on. But I agree with Jane that you must discuss your

    situation with your present teacher first. One other thing to add is that you need to be

    honest with yourself about the answers you get from your teacher. For example, if she

    says that she gives you simple pieces because you still need to work on your

    technique, you need to really think about how you can do that effectively and show

    your teacher you are willing to work hard. If you are being honest with yourself and

    truly don’t agree with what she’s telling you, try to get another assessment of your

    playing from another harpist you trust and respect.

    Now, for a really blantant plug about my own summer program, the Young Artist’s

    Harp Seminar. If you think you might want to try a summer camp, please consider

    applying to this one. It is two weeks of intensive lessons, practicing, harp ensemble,

    and classes. There are more details at, or you can email me in


    Good luck, and keep us posted!

    Kim Rowe


    Anon, Get yourself a harp catalog that has detailed descriptions of the music (like Melody’s in Texas), choose something that sounds intriguing to you and is at an intermediate or advanced level (be sure it’s for lever or pedal, whichever you play), and order it.

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