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Hello! Newbie harper here!

  • Cheryl
    Cheryl Steckel

    I've been lurking on this forum for a while now & finally felt confident enough to join in. Last February I realized a long-held dream & started teaching myself to play the lever harp. I've got a blue Sharpsicle named Alice Blue & I love her. I live in a small rural town in Ohio with no harp store or harp teacher anywhere near me. I may venture to take lessons via Skype at some point.


    Anyway, I've been working from the book that came with the Sharpsicle & Sylvia Woods' self-teaching book & DVD as well. I have no musical background to speak of & never have had any musical aptitude, nor has anyone in my family. I've been working on teaching myself music theory as well with downloaded tutorials. I actually started that before my harp even arrived. I don't like the sappy little songs in the instruction books much so I practice on songs I want to play. Right now I'm working on Simon & Garfunkel's "59th Street Bridge Song", & the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts".


    I think I'm coming along pretty well, considering. I can sight read music rather well now. I am fanatical about hand position & fingering & study closely the hand positions in the videos to make sure I am right.


    I just wanted to share a little triumph I had this evening. A while back I downloaded sheet music for Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" & I tried it for the first time tonight. I was able to play it at sight! Granted, I was a bit slow & had to work out the fingerings as I went, but I did it!


    Now I need to train my ear better. I have no natural "ear" & can't even tell if I am in tune at all without my Korg tuner. I can't imagine playing a song by ear alone.


    I will say the Harpsicle line are a gateway drug. I am hooked now & am plotting how to get a L & H Ogden. I have very strong hands & fingers & with the lightly strung Sharpsicle, I do tend to overplay. I really think a more tightly strung harp would suit me better in the long run. I will always keep & love Alice Blue, though.


    I am 63 years old, so you're never too old to start!

    replies to "Hello! Newbie harper here!"
    • Sherj
      Sherj DeSantis

      Welcome Cheryl. My mom started at 76, so you're just a kid! Enjoy the ride. I 've had a lot of fun over the past few years, and I hope you will too.  Warmest Regards, Sherj 

    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Cheryl, can you sing in tune? If you can, you can use familiar songs to check your tuning. Congratulations on the Duke Ellington. If you can sight-read that, perhaps you have more musical aptitude than you think you have.

    • Sherry
      Sherry Lenox

      Also be sure to realize that many people who can learn to sing just fine don't always know if they can sing on pitch or not.


      Singing is a rather subjective process and often people are self conscious about what they perceive to be the quality of their voices. Matching pitch and singing pitch accurately is a different process than making pleasant sounds.


      If you know of a really fine high school vocal music program, ask that teacher to suggest a voice teacher to give you an exploratory lesson or two. My teacher has often said that Pierre Jamet, a very well-known harp instructor, would tell her to sing a part while learning to play it.


      Don't give up your search for a teacher, even if you can only take lessons on a semi regular basis. Nothing beats having a teacher grab your hand and push it into shape. (gently of course)! :)

    • Karen
      Karen Johns

      Welcome to the gang, Cheryl! I happen to be a self-taught harper as well, in a similar situation as yours (no harp teacher for miles and miles). Started out on a small 22 string lap harp, and moved up to a 33 string floor harp about 3 years ago. It's been and continues to be an enchanting adventure!

       And it's true, you're never to old to start :-)

       

      Karen

    • Karen
      Karen Agabin

      I started self teaching for 6 months and eventually obtained a teacher via skype to guide me properly. It is definitely worth it to ensure my progression is on the right track. Congratulations to you for being determined!

    • Cheryl
      Cheryl Steckel

      Thanks for the welcome, everyone!


      No, I cannot sing in tune. I bray like a donkey when I try to sing. I can't carry a tune well enough to drag it out to the back yard & bury it. No, we have no good music programs in any of the schools here. In fact, in this low-income rural Ohio area, most of the local schools are lucky to have any music program at all left with the reluctance of the citizens to pass school funding levies.

    • Cheryl
      Cheryl Steckel

      When I tried to explain to my MIL in TN that I was teaching myself to play the harp, she didn't know what I meant. Turned out after a couple more phone conversations, she thought all along I meant "that thing that lays flat on your lap" - she meant an autoharp but didn't know what to call it. Then she thought I meant "one of those big gold things". She had no idea lap harps or lever harps existed & it took a lot of explaining before she got what I meant. She is a highly intelligent woman & a college graduate, but typical of both my family & my DH's. No clue about music or instruments at all.


      In regard to the lack of school voice programs, around here the only voice programs are school show choirs which are usually taught by an English or drama teacher pressed into service who doesn't have much of a music background either.


      Such is living in the boonies!

    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Since you say you are 63, have you had your hearing tested? I'm 66 and have to do it regularly.

    • Cheryl
      Cheryl Steckel

      I've never been tested but I have no reason to think there is anything wrong with my hearing. I can hear sounds my 51-year-old husband & 23-year-old son can't. :-)

    • Asha the
      Asha the Nagini

      Welcome, and congratulations on pursuing that dream!  I just started last month. :)

    • Penny
      Penny Amundsen

      Welcome Cheryl.  I too am a lurker most of the time, but your experience sounds so similar to my own that I wanted to share a bit of my story with you so you won't give up hope that you may yet uncover a harp world in your area you never knew about.

      I started with a Sharpcicle and Sylvia Woods 2 years ago.  I worked very hard at it for 9-10 mos and was pleased with my progress.  Then I tried some bigger Celtic harps and realized that in order to play them properly I needed more muscle.  I answered an ad for a used 34-36 string harp.  The seller turned out to be a professional harpist and teacher in my area.  I bought the harp and signed up for lessons.  Since that time, an "underground" harp world has emerged.  I do not play any other instruments, so I had never been exposed to a large musical community, including harpists, that had been right under my nose all along.

      Good luck to you and I hope a new world emerges for you, as well.

    • Deb
      Deb L

      welcome and nice choice for harp plotting.  I've just rented an Ogden and the tone is so full for the size!  I've played harp on and off for 5 years and am very happy to have one in my arms again, very addicting.  Enjoy!

    • Shelby
      Shelby M

      I live in rural New England and have dreamed of playing the harp for almost 5 years.  All that time I thought that nobody played harp around here, then as I started doing some serious study, trying to learn more about my favorite instrument, I discovered about 5 harpists in my state alone!  (3 of whom are teachers about 1 1/2 hours from my house.)

      If you do a search on Google for "harp teacher directory" or something similar, I think you will find somebody you can at least have Skype lessons with.

    • Peggy
      Peggy Stull

      Hello Cheryl, I just registered today on here and am so excited about this site. What a great way to learn things. I, like you, am fairly new to the harp world. I just got my Blevins Sonata 36 string a few weeks ago. I signed up for a local 8 week class, which I just finished  up, but intend to keep taking this class many times until I can play well. I started out not knowing how to read music also, so it's all a little intimidating, but so exciting! I love my harp and the beautiful sound it makes. I am 57 years old, and this dream was a long time coming. it is certainly an instrument that requires patience! LOL I'm going to do all I can and work at it very hard. Good for you for being able to play you do from sight. I wish you the best with the new harp you are planning on getting. Let me know how that goes for you.

                                                                 

    • M
      M Qadeer
      Hi; how are you dear
       
      thanks for messaging.
      the detail of harp is under as;
      price of 36 string with leaver ross wood is (190)US
      And give your detail about that;
      After we also send  freight etc:
       
      with best wishes 
      from M.Qadeer
       
                                THE GREATMUSIC&CO       
    • Tonie
      Tonie Ogimachi

      Hi Cheryl,

      Very nice to see you here! I tend to mostly lurk here, too.  But every now and then, I chime in!

      Congratulations on the wonderful progress you're making!
      Tonie

    • Alice
      Alice Avery

      Hi, Cheryl,

      I have been playing (learning) the harp for 6 years now and started at the age of 69.  It keeps my mind sharp in addition to being so much fun to play.  I have an excellent teacher who lives two doors down the street from me.  I feel sooo fortunate.  She's a great instructor and friend.. 

       I started with a Mideast harp, and now have a Blevens Lyra, 22 string for traveling, a Musicmakers Voyageur, and my favorite  - a Lyon  & Healy Prelude 40.  I think I'll stop there (perhaps).  Since I never learned to read music, it's been a challenge for me but I'm working on that too.

      Have fun and good luck.

    • Alice
      Alice Avery

      Correction on my reply.  A big typo...I started playing the harp at 64 and am soon to be 70.  Sorry about that..

       

       

    • Jim
      Jim Jasutis

      Glad to hear that I am not the only one starting "later." I'll be 65 in August, and my first harp arrives next Tuesday ----- JimJ

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth W

      Hi Jim,

      Welcome to the wonderful, frustrating, rewarding world of harps from another adult beginner. Here is a friendly warning for you, start thinking about clearing out some space now because these harps multiply.

      Elizabeth