Don’t fall into this TRAP as Self-Taught Harpists!

It’s SO tempting, but can be really damaging to your progress. Today I’m going to talk to about a trap many self-taught harpists fall into! Let’s begin.

Imagine you hear a piece…. and you think to yourself, ah! That’s so beautiful, I want to play like this! – maybe it’s a hymn, or a Celtic piece, or a song played in your church, and you get excited and tell yourself you’re going to practice really hard and play this on the harp. Let’s say you start working very hard on your piece – like a few a weeks – but you begin to get frustrated. No matter how much effort you put in, this piece is not progressing or sounding fluid like you’ve expected.


So what is it? Some of us think we’re not practicing hard enough, often enough, or even cleverly enough. But actually, the trap is starting with a piece that’s too difficult / beyond the skill level that you’re still at. This can be really damaging! Going a few steps too far, it’s easy to miss out on some foundational skills that would have prepared you to cope with the piece that you’re so excited about.  This leads to solidifying poor habits, which can be really discouraging because you’re just working so hard without knowing what you’re doing wrong.

Sometimes this is the reason people lose the passion for playing the harp. Yes, it’s normal to have one or two difficult sections in a piece, and it’s good to have solid practice strategies. But unless you’re at an advanced level, or an advanced harpists involved in working on a long hard piece, the piece you choose to play shouldn’t take you months to accomplish.


What I would do to figure this out, is first look at what’s difficult in your chosen piece. Are you struggling to read the sheet music fast enough? Could you be having trouble placing your fingers in advance (I talk about finger placement in another video), or are your fingers not feeling strong enough for a specific part in the music?  

If there are one or two of these things in your piece, usually that’s considered normal, but if there are too many difficult things in the music to accomplish, that’s a sign the piece is beyond your ability. If that’s the case, go back to something a bit simpler – something that’s mostly easy for you to play, but helps you to isolate a specific skill that needs improvement (I recommend focusing on one skill at a time).

You can find pieces for different skills, and go over them again and again until you feel prepared and more capable to attempt that dream-piece you were trying to do in the first place! And this time hopefully it won’t feel so frustrating or take you too long.

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Whether you are a brand new harp student or wanting to get back into playing after many years, Christy-Lyn’s encouraging approach will help you lay the right foundations! 

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  1. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!