FAQ: Harp Lessons

COVID-19 Precautions
During the pandemic, most lessons have been taking place online. However, now that COVID restrictions are beginning to lift and Santa Barbara area cases are dropping, students are mostly returning to in-person lessons in the studio. We will continue to adhere to precautionary measures to maintain your safety as long as necessary. I and most students have been vaccinated. Unvaccinated visitors in the studio will be required to wear a mask.

What can I expect at my first lesson?
If you have never played the harp before, we will start at the beginning: how to sit at the harp, the names of the notes, basic hand position and how to most effectively pluck the strings. You'll learn a couple of simple tunes and some harp sound effects. We will discuss your musical goals and the types of music you most want to play.

What's the difference between a folk harp/lever harp and a concert harp/pedal harp?
The lever harp is smaller, ranging from about 23 strings to 36. It has levers on each string in order to change keys. The most well-known type of lever harp is the Irish or Celtic harp. The lever harp is suitable for traditional folk music of all kinds but can also play some classical and popular music. The pedal harp is much larger, with 40 strings on a small pedal harp and up to 47 on a concert grand. The pedals change the pitch of the strings and make it possible to play chromatic music like classical and jazz.

Do you teach both folk harp and pedal harp?
Yes. Most of my students begin on a lever harp since it is more affordable and portable but it is also an instrument in its own right with a world of music to explore. Some students decide to also play the pedal harp when they wish to expand their repertoire to more chromatic music. The pedal harp is required to play in a symphony orchestra.

Where can I rent a harp?
I usually have rental harps available. Renting a harp for a while is an ideal way to start if you aren't ready to invest in purchasing an instrument or if you're not yet sure which make or model of harp to buy.

Where do you teach?
I teach at my studio, Harps by the Sea, in downtown Santa Barbara at 22 W. Mission St.

Will I need to bring a harp to my lessons?
No. I have several lever harps and a pedal harp for you to play in my studio.

Do I need to know how to read music?
No, not initially. You will spend the first several lessons learning to form a relationship with your harp and it would only distract from this if you looked at music. Then we'll take a step by step approach to learning to read notes so you'll have the skills to read any type of tune.

How much do I need to practice?
That is up to you but with regular daily practice sessions you will observe progress and have a lot more fun playing music! If you taking lessons, the expectation is that you will spend 30-60 minutes a day practicing specific skills. Attending weekly lessons isn't enough to make you a harpist - learning a musical instrument requires time and dedication.

© Laurie Rasmussen 2019