Learn a New Skill!

Put your at-home time to good use this spring by learning a new harp skill! Check out these books and guides for all levels.

We have all found ourselves spending a lot more time at home these days. More time at home means more time with our harps, though…and there’s no time no time like now to learn a new harp skill! That’s why I’ve put together a list of books that help develop new skills so we can continue to learn during this time. On this list, you will find books on a range of topics from arranging and composing for harp, to learning to play in pop and jazz styles, to learning the basics of therapy harp, and even more. There’s something for everyone here, so dive in and learn something new today!

(Titles marked with an * are playable on lever harp.)

Learn A New Style

The Creative Harpist*

by Louise Trotter

Louise Trotter says her mission with this book is to help “bridge the gap from classical music to pop music.” In this book, she includes repertoire and resource suggestions, as well as go-to accompaniment bass patterns and chord progressions for pop standards. My favorite part of the book is the styles section, which shows how to take a simple line of music and arrange it in different styles like latin, ragtime, swing, waltz, etc.

An Introduction to Jazz*

by Amanda Whiting

This book is an awesome introduction to playing jazz, learning about jazz harmonies and how to play with a swing rhythm. It’s chock-full of short, simple teaching tunes that make learning jazz so much more fun! Amanda Whiting also has Easy and Intermediate level jazz method books available to continue in your learning.

Play The Therapy Harp* 

by Laurie Riley

As we all know, the harp is quite the therapeutic and comforting instrument. This beginner book has many charming little tunes in an array of tempos, styles, and feelings so that you have a good base for therapy playing, allowing you to match the mood of your audience to your pieces.

Learn How To Write

The Pocket Guide to Harp Composing*

by Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher

There is so much information in this book, you would be astonished! Harpists and non-harpists alike will find this book helpful—this is for anyone who wishes to write for the harp. Darhon discusses the range of different sized harps, the best keys to compose in, how to voice and harmonize for harp, and even how to compose to limit the possibility of string buzzing. More than that, she also shows how to notate extended technique and gives an in-depth history and evolution of the harp.

Music Theory & Arranging Techniques*

by Sylvia Woods

This book is for anyone who has a piece they want to learn but can’t find the music for it, or it was in the wrong key, or written for the wrong instrument. In this book, Woods gets into the basics of reading a chord chart, practicing with chord inversions, how to experiment with accompaniment patterns, and how to figure out what chords to use with a melody line. You will be on your way to arranging the pieces you want to learn in no time! 

Other Skills

Tuning Your Lever Harp in E-Flat Major*

by Ray Pool

This book is perfect for adult students or parents of young students who are beginning to tune their harps in E Flat. Topics in the book include chord spelling, how to read your tuner, and tuning via the circle of fifths to lessen the amount of tension on the harp. Another wonderful thing included are charts for different keys and what levers you need for each key.

Sight Reading for Harp Book 1*

by Anna Dunwoodie

Sight reading is a great skill to have as a musician. This book has 50 pages of short, one line sight reading exercises in a variety of time signatures and musical keys. There are four levels of exercises—each building in difficulty to push you further with your skills. If you master this book, Anna Dunwoodie has two more levels available.

Blazing Pedals – Volume 1

by Ray Pool

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play from a lead sheet, this is for you. This book will teach you all about harmonic structure including chord patterns, harmonizing, different scales and voicings, and so much more. Sample exercises and lead sheets are included to try out your new skill. Ray Pool also has a Volume 2 available.

Rhythm and Hand Separation Exercises and Etudes Book 1*

by Maeve Gilchrist

Technique, rhythmic stability/understanding of time, and hand independence are three elements that Maeve Gilchrist believes are key to better musicianship. This book seeks to strengthen skills in the latter two categories. Ostinato, arpeggio, and finger-separation exercises, as well as rhythmic etudes are included in this book.

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