Playing Harp

Teaching my little sister to play the harp.

Harp Question and Answer Time

by Darlene Hostetler

Is it hard to learn to play the harp?

To tell you the truth, I believe it's easier learning harp than it is piano. You set the harp to whatever key you want it, and you're ready to go! The harp is like a piano set upright. The low notes at the bottom, the high notes at the top.

Did you take lessons?

We got four concentrated lessons from a harp teacher. She taught us the hand technique and chords and a few other basic things. We were so happy to find the book, Learning to Praise the Lord With the Harp, and continued with that.

How long did it take you to learn?

Well, it depends what we're talking about. We were playing simple chords in 2 weeks, songs in 4 months, and as we kept on going, by God's grace, became more advanced. Every time we sat down to play, we would ask the Lord to "help us to learn fast"!

Did you play any other instrument before you learned to play the harp?

Basically not. We had a keyboard and an organ, but I never got really good at it. Daisy, Joshua, and Joel didn't either.

Is it best for my child to learn piano before harp?

We children didn't, and we made out fine. Actually, we think the harp is the best instrument for learning to read music and for understanding scales, chords, and key changes-easier to understand than piano or guitar.

Do I need to start out with a Lap Harp?

No. Actually starting out with a larger harp seems to be easier because you have more strings to play on. We started out with the Shepherd Lap Harp, and we were able to learn some, but when we graduated to the Gothic Harp... Wow! What a difference!

I have a 10-year-old daughter that has been asking for a harp. Which one would you recommend?

We would recommend a 31-string Gothic or Lap Harp. The general rule is: 5-7 years, Lap Harps; 8-11 years, 31-string Gothic Harp; 12 years and up, Majesty Harp or Large Gothic Harp. Of course, even an adult can play a Lap Harp!

Why are some of the strings colored?

It helps you know where you are going. The red strings are C, and the blue or black ones are F.

What are the strings made out of?

The lower strings are copper core and nylon wound, and the upper strings are nylon.

Does the type of wood used make a difference in sound?

Yes, it does. The cherry has a brighter sound, walnut has a more mellow sound, and maple is sort of in the middle. Our personal preference is the walnut, but the others sound very beautiful also.

What are the sharping levers for?

They are for playing the accidentals in your music, and also for changing keys. Each lever raises the note a half step. Note: It is possible to change keys during a song.

What is the difference between the Loveland and Truitt Levers?

The Truitt Levers are said to produce a truer harp sound than the Loveland Levers when sharping notes. Although Loveland Levers work well, Truitt Levers are more precise and easier to flip.

Where can I find a harp teacher?

You can try calling around to universities, colleges, or high schools, and ask for the music department. Music stores can also be helpful.

If the Majesty Harp has better sound than the Large Gothic Harp, why is the Large Gothic Harp more expensive?

The Large Gothic Harp takes longer and is harder to build.

Is the harp played in relative pitch or perfect pitch?

You can play in both relative and perfect pitch.

How young should you start?

It depends a lot on the interest of the child. We've heard of a 5-year-old starting lessons. We also had a 4-year-old foster girl who loved "playing" the Shepherd Lap Harp.

Do you ever give lessons?

Sometimes I do. It just depends. Give me a call, and I'll see how I can accomodate you.

Do you have sheet music for your arrangements?

Sorry to say, we don't. I still have hopes to put some of our music on paper, but at this point it looks a little overwhelming. Nevertheless, if you have a song (sacred) that you'd like to have a harp arrangement for, let me know and I can write some music for you. I would write it according to the style that we play. You can check out our style by listening to our movie clips.

I'd love to learn to play the harp, but I'm afraid I'm too old.

We have great news for you! You're never too old, not until you die. I've heard of a 90-year-old lady who still plays harp for their church service every Sunday morning! Not only that, we have built a harp for a couple in their 70's; also a 50-year-old gentleman; plus a wife and mother. So there's lots of hope for you. Just get your harp, and have a mind to learn!

How will I know if my child is interested in the harp?

You as parents can make the decision for your child as my parents did for me. And if your children enjoy sacred music and singing, they're almost sure to enjoy harp music, and learning to play the harp.

If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to contact us!

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