Why the harp?

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    Jerusha Amado

    Harp is such an unusual instrument.

    Victor Ortega

    Great question.

    Kelly R

    It’s just something I always have loved even since I was a little girl (but never dreamed I’d actually do!) I guess the sound especially, and the looks.


    I started the harp because i was influenced by my father’s nickname.


    For me it all started with U2, in a very round about way.

    I have been playing some kind of instrument since I was about 6. Piano lessons, then in a marching band playing glockenspiel and later fife. Fife led to flute. Friends in to rock got me started on guitar.

    I was a big fan of U2 and one day I was in the record store and I saw a live record of a fundraiser benefit concert in Ireland featuring all sorts of Irish musicians, including U2. I bought the album because it had U2 doing some covers of Dylan songs.

    However also on the record were two groups I had never heard of. Clannad and The Chieftains. I ran out the next day and found a full album of each of them and fell in love with Irish music instantly.

    Listening to the Chieftains album I couldn’t get past the one instrument that stood out and made me want to play it. The Irish Fiddle. I wanted to play the fiddle so bad.

    But the funny thing was that as I listed to both the Clannad and Chieftains albums I realized that the instrumental pieces featuring the harp were my favorites. Eventually I realized I was paying much more attention to the sound of the harp than the fiddle. I even started to have dreams I was playing the harp.

    So I saved up and bought a harp. The guy I bought it from said he knew a good harp teacher and gave me her name and number. It turned out she was primarily a Classical harpist, but I figured it was a better place to start than trying to learn on my own.

    She in turn not only indulged my desire to play Irish music, but turned me on to both Classical and Jazz music for the harp.

    The rest is history.

    Victor Ortega

    Hey Shannon: I am also a mathematician of sorts (I have a degree in Math/Computer Science and do computational programming), so I completely understand working out such things!


    As a child, on my way to an open field to fly my kite or just play, I would always pass by a home and pause a minute to stare at a huge gold pedal harp that was kept in the window.

    Jerusha Amado

    Thank you, everyone, for responding.


    I fell in love with the harp when I was about 4 years old, and sat. on the Lap of the harpest at Williamsberg Inn (1967-68?) anyway she was so sweet to me and allowed me to touch this amzing instrument.


    +++So there is also soemthign to be said for taking this up later in life.+++

    From observing several people who have taken the harp up later in life it has become my opinion that it is one of the best instruments for older people to take up. The range of music that can be played is great, and the fact that the harp sounds wonderful even when played simply means that you don’t have to practice for years just to produce something that sounds pleasant to most people.

    I am constantly astounded by the number of people who don’t begin until their 50’s, 60’s and even in their 70’s with the occasional 80’s. It is fairly rare to hear of someone just taking up the violin at 60, but not the harp so clearly there is something about the harp that both appeals to older people, and makes learning for an older person more practical.

    Personally I think it is great. Every one should make some kind of music and to see so many people who never did start no matter what the age is a wonderful thing.


    How cool is that! No wonder we thought alike on this thread!

    Leigh Griffith

    +++Every one should make some kind of music and to see so many people who
    never did start no matter what the age is a wonderful thing.+++

    It has been my experience that the older people in our group (harp
    ensemble – currently 13 members) who started harping later in life (I
    got my harp at 40) have either been in choirs or choruses, or have
    played another instrument. We have only two members who have never
    played another instrument. Most have played piano and some have also
    played organ. I have played flute, piccolo and guitar as well as having
    sung in two different community choruses.

    For me, I wanted to learn the harp after attending a Boston Symphony
    concert at age 6, but my parents wouldn’t let me. They also wouldn’t
    let me take piano lessons even though we had a good piano and my older
    sister took lessons. I ended up with the flute and in high school added
    the piccolo, even though they weren’t my first choice. I was also not
    allowed to take violin lessons – that was also reserved for my sister
    since she was older and “destined” to inherit both my mother’s piano
    and my father’s violin. To appease me somewhat, since I gravitated to
    stringed instruments, my parent bought a cheap guitar at Sears for my
    sister and I to share – but it was just to self teach, no lessons

    Fast forward to my late twenties when a friend came to visit with his
    29 string Stoney End. I fell in love! One of my parents reasons for not
    letting me take harp lessons was that I was too small. Here was a harp
    that I could reach all the strings on and even carry with no
    difficulty. It was still only a dream, though, until I bought my little
    22 string Eve in 1995. I am hoping to purchase a larger harp next
    summer if I can save up enough money.

    Jerusha Amado


    I would bet that there are

    Leigh Griffith


    Thank-you for sharing your experience!

    I’m sure there are quite a few people whose parents felt (feel) that
    learning a musical instrument is not as important as other things. In
    my case, music was encouraged and nurtured to a point – trips to the
    Symphony at least once a year, etc., but the “heirloom” instruments and
    formal instruction was for the eldest child only. Our school system
    provided two years of free ‘band instrument’ instruction in elementary
    school, which is all the flute instruction I had, even though I
    continued with it through high school.

    Because of this, I wanted my child to learn as many instruments as he
    wished, only to have him be totally uninterested! Go figure!

    I’m not sure what larger harp I want yet, I would like to be able to
    try different ones. So far the only ones I have had access to are my
    friend’s Stoney End, a Dusty strings FH36S (too big), and a 31 string
    Jay Witcher student harp (not too awful big, but heavy).

    I know I’m not really ‘built’ to play the harp (I’m short, round, have
    short arms and fingers and an “ample” bosom!) I do love the sound,
    though, and enjoy our group very much.


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