I am often approached by people who want to take harp lessons but are not ready to start quite yet. It could be temporary life circumstances that engulf your time, health troubles, or lack of financial resources. The good news is there are things you can do to get a head start before you begin your harp lessons.
1. Learn About the Harp
With the many video lessons available on harpli.com with our forever free membership level, you can start learning about the different types of harps and genres of music that can be played on the harp and what all you will need to have and do. This will help you hone in on your harp goals so when you get started you will have a clearer trajectory. The fact that you are reading this blog means you have already started learning and preparing!
2. Listen to Harp Music / Watch Harp Videos
What can be more inspirational than watching someone else masterfully elicit the type of music from a harp that you dream of one day playing? But this one comes with a caveat. There are many amazing harp audio and video recordings readily available on the internet, but there are also many bad examples. Make sure the videos you watch in order to emulate are going to be good examples. For a list of YouTube harpists with great videos to watch to be inspired by, check out my post on YouTube Harp Masters. You can also check out my own YouTube performance channel Highway Harpist.
3. Practice Note Reading
If you do not already know how to read music, you can get a head start using free phone/tablet apps. Here are some of my current favorite apps and tips on how to start using them.
Music Tutor is available for both IOS and Android devices for free. You should start by setting the app to only show you a few notes, then practice those until you are ready to add more. Start with the treble clef only. Set it to C4 through F4, which is middle C up to middle F (4 notes). Once you feel confident with these, increase to C4 to C5, which is 1 octave (8 notes). Make sure the sharps and flats are off. If you have mastered those, set your notes to A4 to A5, which will give you 2 octaves, including some ledger lines (notes that hang off the staff above or below on their own small lines). Now start learning the bass clef. If you have a free or paid Learn The Harp membership you can check out my video lesson explaining more how to use use this great app.
Music Theory Helper is a great Android app for explaining, giving visuals, and allowing you to hear notes. This is crucial for developing a good understanding of how music works, which is the foundation for sight reading, musical improv, and even playing by ear. Explore the different sections, including note values (how long a note lasts), intervals (the relationship between notes), chords, etc.
4. Rent or Rent to Own Your First Harp
If the harp is something you dream of one day doing, you can get started with less money upfront than you may think. While there is a huge range of options and prices for different harps, and no one type or size is right for everyone, the most important thing is that you take that first step and get started. If you are really unsure, just start with renting a harp such as The Starter Harp. If you think you do want to own a harp but can’t afford to buy, get a rent to own. If you later decide you want a different or larger harp, you can always sell or trade in your first harp towards the new harp of your dreams. Check out my post Should I Rent Or Buy My First Harp? to find out the pros and cons as well as what things to look for.
And just like buying a car, there are other expenses to consider. For a car, you need to account for license, registration, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and of course your fuel. Harps too come with other costs. Here is a breakdown of the budget you may want when you start. Keep in mind, this is just a guide, and costs will vary greatly depending on many factors.
- $50-$120/month lever harp rental, or $200-$300/month pedal harp rental
- $100 to $500 security deposit
- $200-$300/month harp lessons
- $100 music stand and adjustable height bench
- $20/month harp music and accessory purchases
- $200/year harp insurance
In a tradition in-person lesson scenario, I recommend being prepared to spend $500 the first month and $400/month after that. If this is for a child taking 30-minute lessons on a small harp, it may be closer to $200/month total, while someone taking 60-minute lessons on a pedal harp may pay $500/month or more. With on-demand lessons with harpli.com you can pay LESS than $50/week, which includes the harp rent, video lessons, feedback from a real harp instructor, pdf downloads of all the music you need, coverage if anything happens to your harp, and a host of resources and tools make learning the harp achievable and fun!
If you are going to invest in learning to play the harp, do it well. Do not try to save money by just watching YouTube videos and trying to figure it out yourself on a substandard instrument that won’t hold tune. Instead, save up for several months if needed until you can pay the deposit for a quality harp rental and manage the weekly payments for at least 3 months. After that, you should know more if you want to continue. It is essential that you have frequent feedback and correction from a harp instructor on your hand position and technique in the first few months so you do not develop bad habits that will cause issues down the road.
Do you have questions about taking harp lessons? Helping people fulfill their dreams of playing the harp is my passion. Message me on this site or through Harpli’s Facebook page and I’ll be happy to help answer your questions as best I can.