Member2 March, 2021 at 9:55 pm
Hi! My name is Pam and I live in Hershey, PA. I am 62 years old and have played piano for 50 years before I started learning the harp 4 years ago. I would like to discuss some of my observations/struggles with Pianists who are learning the harp too!
To start off, I am so grateful that I can read music in the treble and bass cleft easily, can read key signatures, and understand counting and rhythm. These are big pluses for pianists just starting on the harp.
Some of the difficulties I have encountered are: having to tune the harp regularly, learning the new plucking and placing technique and wanting to advance too quickly in difficulty. It has been difficult to stay playing simple pieces in order to learn good technique. I am finally at the point that I realize it is better to play a simple piece better with good technique than struggle with a more difficult one the “I should be able to play by now!” When I get frustrated with this, I watch a Youtube video of Anne Crosby Gaudet. She plays very simple pieces beautifully using good technique. If you get frustrated too, go watch one of Anne’s videos.
I look forward to the discussion!
- This discussion was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by Kevin Smuts.
Member3 March, 2021 at 3:21 am
Hi Pam! I am from Vancouver, Canada. I played the piano for 7 or so years when I was young, quitted piano at the earliest available opportunity for a bundle of reasons, and then started playing the harp 2 and some years ago casually. I agree with your observations on the advantage of knowing how to read music and understanding key signatures and counting rhythm; I think those really gave me a head start when came to harp playing. I did find myself wanting to run before I could walk through because of that! I took two lessons with a teacher soon after I got the harp to work on my postures and some simple techniques (so I could properly help daughter who was the first in the family to learn the harp with her harp practice). I was able to move onto more difficult pieces on my own after the two lessons, but I plateaued after a year or so. I have been taking lessons since April 2020 and that really helped me progress with harp playing. My big gap between learning the piano and learning the harp probably worked in my advantage because I forgot so much about the physicality of playing the piano that I did not carry a piano baggage with me into harp playing. I was quite reluctant to learn classical music on the harp because I did not have a good experience with my classical piano training, although my teacher had successfully convinced me that playing classical music on the harp could be a lot of fun so I am playing classic pieces as well as other music on the harp. I have a more diverse repertoire of harp music than piano music which is very exciting!
Member3 March, 2021 at 4:55 am
This is great to see the pros and cons of switching from Piano to Harp. I took Piano in High School and it was never a passion of mine. However, I am thankful I had those lessons since it did give me a foundation in music theory which translates well to learning the harp. I agree on the endless tuning! Some days I just want to sit at the harp without having to go through all those strings and make sure they are in tune! It does seem to get better the older the harp is, though. I have an eight year old Harpsicle that has stayed pretty much in tune for several months now, miraculously.
Victoria, I agree on the time between taking piano and learning the harp helping. I think I would have a lot more aggrevation if I hadn’t had some time between when I quite Piano and took up harp. It is true to some extent that a harp is a naked piano turned on its side, but there seems to be so much more to think about when first starting in the harp. The piano has many challenges all its own, but at least you don’t have to pluck anything just the right way and you do have gravity on your side. My biggest challenge with the piano was figuring out the best hand positions for a piece. While, with the harp, bracketing feels a bit more natural to me for some reason.
Member4 March, 2021 at 2:24 am
Same as you, I have a easier time with my hands playing the harp than the piano. A large part of that, I suspected, is because of my hands are relatively small. They fit on the harp much better than on the piano. Tuning the harp definitely regularly definitely took some getting used to since tuning a piano is such a rare occurrence!
Member3 March, 2021 at 5:18 am
I live in southern California and I have played piano for over 50 years; I also majored in piano performance in college and was a teacher until recently retiring. Plucking was a huge issue for me, and I still struggle with keeping the fingers down and thumbs up. Over the years I played around with a harp that my husband built while I was in college, but it was not really playable for me – the string spacing was too narrow. A few years ago when rheumatoid arthritis ruined my joints, piano was not going to be my main instrument anymore, so I thought, why not harp? I got a harp with wider spacing and started watching Christy-Lyn’s videos. I don’t mind playing very simple songs, because they sound so good just because they’re being played on a harp. Not like when my kids were learning cello and violin – ouch! I am also having fun playing some simple classical piano pieces on the harp, taken from my teaching materials. It’s a good challenge to figure out the fingering and bracketing, and it’s nice to hear classical music on the harp.
Member10 March, 2021 at 11:38 pm
Hi Pam, I totally agree that getting myself to slow down and learn good technique was really difficult. Although I had a similar problem in piano because I had a quick ear and hated to bother getting proper fingering. It took me a while to get used to my right hand playing the high notes and I have caught myself trying to use a pinky now and then. But given there is so much technique to the harp I’m glad I’m not learning note reading and music theory on top of it. My hands also feel instantly comfortable with chord spacing from piano. I definitely think there are a lot of pros to being a pianist first. It
Member11 March, 2021 at 5:20 pm
Yes! Piano lessons do pay of! I had lessons as a child for about one year. I was 6 or 7 back then and I had to quit because my family was moving to another country. I am 40 now, I started playing the harp one year ago and progressed quickly. It was like suddenly remembering EVERYTHING (even the things I never got a chance to learn!) about playing music. Every harp teacher I’ve met was like “You must have had piano lessons!” Which is amazing and puzzling to me, because it was just this one year as a child. I think that learning to coordinate both hands is kinda like learning how to ride a bicycle or swim. It’s really hard do un-learn it. Even after years, your body remembers. It’s absolutely amazing! I had trouble getting back into reading music, though.
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