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5 things to know about learning how to play the harp

Published on 25/01/22

5 things to know about learning how to play the harp, by Georgina.

1. Reading music. Harp music is written with bass and treble clef. There are sometimes numbers over notes, which go from 1 to 4. 1 is the thumb and 4 is the ring finger. Pinkies are not used. 

2. Seat height. You have to have your seat at the right height or you will end up in an uncomfortable position. Your seat must be at the height that makes your thigh to knee part level, so that you could balance a cup and saucer on it. Same goes for feet. My music teacher said that with some students of hers, she put chocolate coins on their feet and if they kept them on, then they could have it. 

3. NO TESTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Testing is playing the notes quietly before you are actually meant to play them. This can also be known as noodling and fiddling but the main gist is to resist doing it. 

4. There are different types of harp, so be careful which one you choose. The photo below shows inside the Pilgrim harps workshop. There are many types. I use a lever harp. The levers on it give sharps and flats. Something that will help is knowing that red strings are Cs and blue or black strings are Bs. There are also pedal harps, which are exactly what they sound like. Harps with pedals! There are pedals at your feet to change the key of your harp so the second part of thing 2 doesn’t apply. The big, tall harps you see in orchestras are pedal harps, but if you see a smaller harp with lots of metal levers on it, it’s a lever harp. 

5. Customise! At first, you have a temporary harp, which you aren’t allowed to really do anything except play, but after a while you get to take a trip to the harp making company and decide whether you want it dyed, carved, painted, maybe more stuff, but my advice, make sure it reflects you. Maybe make a tribute to someone who helped along the way. Make sure aunts don’t spray paint over it. A photo of my harp below.

Thanks for reading!