Your tips to a newcomer

Posted In: How To Play

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    zgreyestjedi on #209260


    I am relatively new to playing the harp, and unfortunately, I am having an issue finding an instructor near me. I was curious as to what you guys would recommend for a beginner, whether it is a book, youtube videos, or just lessons you’ve learned from an instructor you’d like to share!

    I would love to hear anything you have to recommend to a newcomer.

    I personally have a small 19 string lap harp that I bought a couple of months ago. I already have been exposed to music and can already read music, however, I am still slowly progressing through Sylvia Woods’ Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp (Because that was the book that came with the small 19 string harp I bought).

    Thank you all in advance for any advice/resources you can offer!!!!

    charles-nix on #209268

    Especially at the beginning, you need an instructor. Hand and finger position is everything when making sound on a harp. Small differences make a major difference in sound. I don’t think most people will learn the right habits from a book alone. It is critical to learn hand, finger, (and thumb!) position correctly right now from the first, or you will be fighting over and over to unlearn and relearn when you start using three-finger placements, and then again with four-finger placements, and then again with scales. Much easier to drive a couple of hours and learn it right from the start. You will spend much less time overall and will enjoy it more. You can progress quickly if you already read music. (Source-personal experience, watching many other beginners start without a teacher. My community has gone for years at a time without anyone in the area in the past.)

    For first books, I like Kathy Bundock Moore’s book. There are other great choices, including what your teacher is used to working with.

    If you don’t mind sharing your area, perhaps someone will have teacher suggestions for you.

    Charles Nix

    wil-weten on #209274

    If you can’t afford a qualified teacher, you may like to have a look at:
    The video’s on harp basics at:
    Ray explains things in a great way. In your case I would start with looking at these video’s.
    * at: A great many video’s; very instructive. There’s another harp series of his ‘Slow Motion Monday’

    As to books: I have Play the Harp Beautifully vol. II and III of Pamela Bruner. (I think you may like to start with book I even though you can already read music). You can buy them with or without DVD (I don’t have the DVD’s). I really like the way things are discussed in these books.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #209280

    Where are you located? Sometimes you have to travel to get lessons. The harp requires some dedication and sacrifice for its beauty.

    Allison Stevick on #209286

    Many instructors give lessons over skype, so you wouldn’t have to travel if you found someone who would do that. 🙂
    I taught myself early on with some of those beginners books, YouTube videos, and Laurie Riley’s teaching dvds. wil-weten has some great suggestions above.
    Welcome to harping! Have fun!

    Gretchen Cover on #209291

    Personally, I would take harpist Alice Gilles’ beginner harp courses. You can find them on her website She is an incredible Australian harpist and instructor. You will learn the correct hand position and basics. She has a demo video you can watch before signing up.

    She is also providing advanced classes to learn Song in the Night and the Hindemith Sonata.

    PS/ Best bet, as said above, is to take lessons and learn correctly from the start. Even with lessons, I would still take Alice Gilles’ courses.

    Biagio on #209292

    As others have written, an instructor is very important initially – as I learned the hard way. That said, it is also important to understand a few things at the outset (I may repeat a few previous points):

    – Hand positions and posture are critical to playing and enjoying what you play
    – A lever harp and a concert harp are fundamentally different. However…..
    – Books and videos for the latter are helpful for either kind: one of the best for a beginner is

      On Playing the Harp

    by Yolanda Kondonassis
    – For the former I recommend

      Play the Harp Beautifully Levels 1 &2

    by Pamela Bruner. Be sure to get the DVDs as well.

    Have fun!

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