To buy music or not to buy…

Home Forums Teaching the Harp To buy music or not to buy…

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
  • #88937

    Just for curiousity….do you ask that a student purchase their own

    music to work from for lessons, or do you keep a large library of

    music to loan out to students?

    If you request that a student purchase their own music, would you like

    for them to have their own workbooks such as the Harp Olympic books,

    Grosse, or something to that order?


    Well, I have my students buy their music, because they need to have their own copies and

    their own marked spots (everyone’s trouble spots are different). The only point to “lending

    out” music would be to have students make xeroxed copies for their own use, which of

    course is illegal.

    If I have students who can’t afford Harp Olympics, then I work either with what they got

    with their harp (if they bought one), or with something like the Fun from the First books

    and the single Betty Paret pieces, which everyone can afford.


    At the beginning of a new term, I will sometimes let a student borrow several pieces to

    look through them, then decide which one(s) they would like to study. Other times, I will

    loan music so that the student can copy in my fingerings and phrasing suggestions. (But

    this can be dangerous; I have lost some music this way. Always write down who you

    loaned it to!)


    I agree with Barbara. Typically people want to “Borrow” music to make copies, and I have a real issue with that. I would bet that most arrangers and composers of harp music don’t necessarily make a lot of money off of that, and if anyone is going to benefit from their work they should pay for it.

    Also I have been told, and have always followed, the old advice about lending books, and think that it applies equally well to sheet music. Never lend a book. If you are going to give it to someone else give it free and clear as a gift.

    There is plenty of inexpensive music a student can buy. I also like the choice of using Fun From the First and agree that if you can afford a harp and lessons you should be able to afford the two volumes and they are perfectly good books to start with.

    The idea of students trading music that they no longer will use is a good one so long as it is made clear to them that it is both legally and ethically wrong to make copies to keep if they are doing so.

    What it comes down to is that the basics (method books and introductory music) are things the student really should have of their own so they can make notes and use as reference. After that they should be acquiring their own music to build their own music library.


    I agree with the above posts that students need to buy their own music with their own markings and to build their own library to play from. There is one instance where having a loaning library is helpful – that is for sightreading material for students. It is true, though, that when you loan items out a percentage of them will not come back, so be prepared. Even with good intentions on the part of students this can still happen. The cost of music is small compared to the cost of a harp, even a small harp. Having good lesson books is well worth it for the student. They should invest in the very best. As the years go by they may need to review what they were taught. It is a lifelong investment.


    All harpists, teachers, students, professionals, amateurs, have to buy music. Why? No one else will buy harp music. The reason the established major publishers have stopped publishing harp music is because not enough people are buying music. Don’t only buy what you have to. We should all aspire to having a complete library. If you don’t have music you haven’t played yet, how will you choose what to do next? How will you broaden your repertoire? Composers need to have publishers to take care of their music, and publishers have to have customers, as do stores. We must all strive to do more and encourage others as well. Even if you think of it as charity, it is so important. All the years I knew Don Henry, the largest publisher of harp music and the one who made so much available to us through Lyra, made more money selling strings and harps and accessories, just to support publishing. It is also a question of literacy. Harpists should have the scores of pieces they hear on recordings and in concert so they can look at them and learn more about them and how they were written. It is important to learning how to relate the wondrous sounds we hear to how it is written. I have always thought of getting old-fashioned library cards to keep track of who borrows music. You can use index cards, just have a copy you keep with the name of the borrower and when you want it returned, and give them one with date due, and make sure your name is on the music too. Miss Lawrence lost track of a lot of music by giving it to students to copy markings and who neglected to return it.

    Evangeline Williams

    I had a teacher in college who loaned me some of the pieces I was working on.


    But she needs her own method books, and should start buying now. It’s part of the budget, like strings. I use my method books all the time. I hope she’ll start soon.


    Saul makes some very good points. If we don’t buy the music, who will? Music scores are great as presents for birthdays, holidays, etc. I think it helps student motivation to own recordings and CDs including pieces that are above their level. It gives the student a concrete goal to work towards. I remember my student days when money was very tight, but if music is prioritized is can purchased in place of entertainment and other unnecessary accessories. If money is really tight, then buying the best books for the buck is a good idea for building repertoire. The Mildred Dilling “Old tunes for new harpists” is inexpensive and contains a lot of music. Quality material is always important. You could also encourage your students to make arrangements from hymns and classical pieces. This is a great way to teach theory. If they turn out well, the student can sell these to friends and save the money to buy more music. 🙂

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.