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Teaching First Lesson

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  • #86844
    vince-pierce
    Participant

    I have a new harp student, and I will be teaching her first lesson on Sunday. I don’t know that she will stay my student, but I’m hoping she does. Anyhow, I’m wondering how I should set up the first lesson? She doesn’t have previous musical experience, and the lesson is really to introduce her to the harp and for her to decide if she really likes it. I am planning to play a couple pieces for her, to show her a variety of sounds, and then to show her the harp and explain the basics of how it works (pedal harp). I’m also going to let her play for a while. But I’m wondering how much I should go into music theory (I know she will be joining band next year in 6th grade) and how much I should go into technique. I know what literature to use, for the most part, so it’s more a matter of pacing. Any advice would be great. It is only an hour lesson, and may be the only one, but I would still like to have a good gameplan ready before the lesson. Thanks!
    Vince

    #86845

    Perhaps first look at her hands. This week if I had not done this, with a new student, who is missing the long middle finger of her right hand, I would have erred in encouraging her to study harp. As it was, right away I suggested violin, because that is the hand that holds the bow, and with perseverance she should have much joy from music, even with using only four fingers to hold the bow. Of course the next step is to explain all the parts of your harp, play for her, and teach her middle C as “DO”. By ear, copying you, she could play a short piece of 6 notes or less,

    #86846
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Patricia’s advice is good. At a first lesson with someone who has never played an instrument and can’t read music you’re not going to be ‘teaching’ as much as ‘introducing’ the harp. Ask her why she wants to play the harp and what she wants to accomplish. Those goals will certainly change if she decides to study, but it’s a good place to start.

    Examine her hands and fingers to see if they are double-jointed. That’s a HUGE problem if they are. Have her play a few little melodies with one finger by ear. Joy to the World(C major descending scale) is a good one.

    If she decides to continue, you have two big tasks. 1) How to play the harp.

    2) How to read music. You have to have a plan for each one. Start with some beginner books that are very VERY simple and spend the first few weeks learning to read lines and spaces without too much emphasis on advancing technique. Once she is reading fairly well, you can focus more on using all fingers, using both hands together, etc. Good luck Vince.

    #86847
    diane-michaels
    Spectator

    I like to send them off from their first lesson with a sense of having felt like a harpist.

    #86848
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I would suggest to have something for her to take home, even just one page, because some people think they didn’t get anything if they don’t come home with something. I show them what the hand position looks like, how it works, in the simplest possible terms. I open and close the hand, then show them how to sit at the harp, and put their hands on in good position, give them an idea how it should feel and sound. Show them where middle c is and the other strings, and give very simple things to play, using ABC of Harp Playing for pedal harp, and Paret for lever harp. Let her ask questions, too.

    #86849
    vince-pierce
    Participant

    Thanks to everyone for your responses! The ‘Harp 101’ session went well. I’m not sure if she’ll want to continue, but she may come back to it in the future. I tried to emphasize the fact that the harp is a versatile instrument and can be used for different purposes, whether it’s in the orchestra or just for personal enjoyment in the living room. I played the Chanson dans la Nuit for her and her mom, and they enjoyed it. It’s a good piece to use for demonstration because it has so many effects and sounds in it, and it’s a catchy piece. I definitely brought up many of the points you all suggested, although I wish I could have had something physical to give her to take home. I’m going to try to get her a cd of harp music, which would be nice for her to have anyway. I hope I get to see her again and really help her learn the harp! I’ll keep you guys posted 🙂
    Thanks!
    Vince

    #86850
    diane-michaels
    Spectator

    My first lesson take-home sheet is a resource list – individuals with harps to rent in the area, harp, music +

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