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New harpist= 14 year old !

  • Unknown
    Unknown User

    Im 14 and thinking about playing the harp... for school.

    Its just that Im a boy, and Harp isnt the most ??boy?? instrument. Although I do play organ and accordion, and most people dont know that...

    ??Any other teenage boy harp players out there??

    replies to "New harpist= 14 year old !"
    • Carl
      Carl Swanson

      Brandon- Welcome to the harp community. There was another thread on here about this a few years ago. If you poke around in the archives you can probably find it.

      There are more and more guys, both kids and adults, who are taking up the harp. There's a Catholic boys school in Brooklyn New York that started a harp department last year and they've got 8 boys playing the harp. Robin Cartier in new Jersey has a huge harp department in a public high school, with many boys playing the harp. There are some spectacular men playing the harp now. In the last 20 years several have won international harp competitions(Emmanuel Ceysson of France as well as Xavier de Maistre), both of whom are now in major orchestras. Emmanuel is principal harpist of the Paris Opera, and Xavier is harpist in the Vienna Philharmonic. Emmanuel is 25 or so and Xavier maybe 30. So you've got plenty of company. Let us know from time to time how you are doing and what you are working on. Good luck.

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Thanks! I will look more into lessons now!

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      If it's any help, Brandon, the great bards were, for the most part, men.


    • Bonnie
      Bonnie Shaljean

      Go for it!  Among my students are two teen-aged boys, one 14 and the other 17, and they play at school all the time.  Their experience has been that it's rewarding and fun - and they are certainly enriching the programmes they take part in, as well as gaining valuable performing experience.

      Just for curiosity, where are you based?  Best of luck to you - let us know how you get on.

      Bonnie in Ireland

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Im in Omaha Nebraska..... If anyone has heard of Nicole wilkins, she is the harp player here at Westside High School, and is the only one who knows Im thinking about playing the harp.... Well actually some other kids heard me talking about it, and thought it was kind of cool!

    • harp
      harp guy

      Having just been finished with my teen years not too long ago, I myself would say: Go for it!

      I too was nervous for a while, but then I realized that being a male harpist only gave me favorable attention. There wasn't ever a shortage of young women around who weren't fascinated. ;)   lol.

    • Karen
      Karen Johns

      I don't think musical instruments should be considered either more for a girl or more for a boy. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, they got an unspoken label put on them. Brandon, I advise you to follow your musical path, and forget all the labels. If you are drawn to the harp, then play it. Flutes are also considered more for girls, but one of the greatest flute players in the world is James Galway, who started playing flute as a teenager.The most famous Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan also started at a young age. You may become one of the next great male harpers if you allow yourself to see beyond the limitations of the labels others have placed on the harp. Best of luck to you!



    • harp
      harp guy

      Not meaning to steal the thread for another temporary subject, but....

      This whole gender oriented instrument is actually fairly new. It only started in about the 1940s. Until that time, almost every orchestra only employed male musicians. However, in the late 1940s [I believe] the Boston Symphony hired the first female Principal player in one of the "Top 5" Symphony Orchestras. This woman was Doriot Anthony Dwyer [I'm a flute major actually, and my teacher studied with this woman]. Other than Mrs. Dwyer, the only other woman to ever play with this orchestra was the occasional 2nd harpist. Now that the figurative "glass cieling" was broken, that is when gender-typing instruments started.

      Before that time, almost all of the greatest musicians in history have been men due to gender oppression [all of the great flutists definitely].

      Anyway. Don't let it bother you. This is still a fairly new phenomina

    • Kimberly
      Kimberly Rowe


      I totally agree with everyone else here---go for it! We need more young men playing the harp. I've seen more and more in the past few years, and I'm happy that it seems to be a growing trend. I have two young men (age 13 and 17)  in the harp ensemble I conduct here in Philadelphia and it is so nice to have a balance in a group like this. The principal harpist with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra is also a male high-school senior. The previous poster was correct that these genders stereotypes seem to be a fairly recent phenomenon. I really think we could get rid of them very quickly if people like you weren't bothered by them and chose whichever instrument you want. Go for it!


    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      If I recall I was 19 when I started many years ago. I did feel a little apprehensive about letting people know at first, but what I found was that as soon as someone found out I played the harp their immediate reaction was, "cool!"

      I have never received any negative attention because I was a male playing the harp. So definitely go for it and don't let such things get in the way. I have had the privilege and honor to meet so many incredible male harpists over the years, and honestly I would have to say that among my favorite  harpists out there at least half, if not more, are male.

      There is a long history of men playing the harp and many of the great names of the harp world from past right up to present are men's names.

      And while I agree that assigning gender to instruments is silly and pointless if we were wouldn't the harp really be more suited to being a men's instrument? It's big and heavy and often hard to move and manage. Of course most women manage fine, but if we were going to go that rout the harp would make much more sense being a men's instrument.

      Luckily we are in a more enlightened age where anyone can play anything. I love going to the symphony where I live and seeing Doug Rioth playing principle harp and Lee Ann Crocker playing Bass. When Lee Ann decided to major in Bass her teachers told her no symphony would hire a female bass player. She certainly proved him wrong on that as well.

      Anyone should play any instrument that attracts them. Don't let the possibility that some small minded people might think it odd stop you.

    • Tacye
      Tacye Phillipson

      While gender stereotypes have changed they seem to go back a long way, especially among amateurs: flute for gentlemen as ladies could not be seen to pucker up their lips, harp for the girls because Marie Antoinette played it- sensible reasons!  For entertainment related to this topic see http://www.diabolus.org/guide/cittern.htm

    • harp
      harp guy

      Oh yeah! I remember that stuff. I had forgotten all about the whole "That isn't lady-like" comment that Dwyer's father told her when she wanted to learn flute. I guess it is just the whole stigma that goes with it now-a-days [i.e. sexuality stereotypes etc. etc.]. I do remember learning about what is and is not proper for different genders to play and why.

    • Audrey
      Audrey Nickel

      I don't know if it's the folk harp or the pedal harp that interests you, but if you want to learn a bit about some of the guys who play various forms of folk harps (where would we be without them!), you might want to Google on some of the following names:

      Chris Caswell

      Steve Coulter

      Derek Bell

      Patrick Ball

      Just for fun, here's a great clip of Steve Coulter playing "Morgan Magan" with uillean piper Eoin Duignan (the sequence with the harp comes about half way through).




    • Liam
      Liam M


      Welcome to the forum.

      Brandon... Let me tell you a bit about being a boy and later a man, been there done that.

      When I was a teen, I loved sculpture. And I loved to spend hours in an art museum drinking in the beauty of the art. I also loved cars and I had a rather extensively modified and customized car that I had worked on for over three years. Actually in it's way, it was sculpture, I had reformed various parts of the body and created a work of art.

      Of course everyone knew my car. One day at school, I was asked what my car was doing parked outside the art museum the previous Saturday.  I lied, I said it had broken down.

      Brandon I have since fought in combat, fathered three children, have a World Class HOTTIE WIFE! and now have a flock of red headed grandchildren.

      And I still love sculpture and now I am playing a harp.... Yet Brandon, I know I am a MAN.

      You know Brandon, do a google on Brian Boru. The famous High King, Ard Ri, of Ireland. Ireland, Brandon, a WARRIOR nation. Brian Boru never got to be Ard Ri by being a sissy!

      Brandon, the national symbol of Ireland is the Brian Boru Harp... That is what the Ard Ri played.... And Brandon, no one would dare question his "Manhood".  LOL!!!!! I think he started playing as a teen!

      There is so much more to being a man, then what instrument you play.

      Now I want to hear you play, post a YouTube link for us!

    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Hi, Brandon! I definitely think you should go for it! I've heard some excellent male harpists and have never thought they were "out of place".

      I'm really interested in the comment you made about playing the accordion. My sister plays it very well-she's primarily a classical accordionist. In case you have never tried it, accordion and harp are fantastic together. Seems like a strange idea at first, but try it- it's a lot of fun!


    • Saul
      Saul Davis Zlatkovski

      As far as who was the first woman to play in a symphony orchestra, Florence Wightman was the first to be principal harp, in the Cleveland Orchestra, but Edna Phillips was the first to be principal harp in a major orchestra, as Cleveland was not considered major then, and I guess Edna and Alice Chalifoux must have started the same year. There were harpists who subbed, played second, free-lanced before that, including in the Sousa Band. It was perhaps in the 40s that women began to win more seats, particularly when Salzedo began to graduate a lot of them into orchestral seats. He had fewer male students, but Reinhardt Elster at the Met, and Ed Druzinsky in Chicago count for something.

      What does matter is being able to play with strength and command that blends with and matches all the other players. As my teacher, Lucile Lawrence, put it: you have to be able to play the harp like a Man to make it; and that would apply to everyone. (Orchestrally speaking)

    • Geri
      Geri McQuillen

      Let us not forget Harpo Marx!  Brandon, my daughter played baritone saxophone and nobody questioned her choice of instruments.  It's all about the music.  I've raised three musicians: my daughter, one son who can play any instrument but loves the tuba and has played with symphony orchestras, and one son who plays guitar.  The guitar playing son has a 12-year old daughter who has been playing guitar since she was 4 or 5 years old.  She is now composing her own music.  Two more web-sites you might want to check  are Denwar Harps in Australia (he is a lever harper and and luthier and has a video on his site playing all of the instruments that he makes).  Also, Clive Morley in England has a great web-site with You-Tube videos demonstrating several makes of pedal and lever harps.

      Best wishes to you and keep on playing!  Music is, after all, a universal language and everyone loves to hear a harp.

    • Patricia
      Patricia Jaeger

      Brandon, go to www.youtube.com and put the name of Benjamin Creighton Griffiths into the search box.. You will see videos of him at 6 years of age playing New Blues, a jazz piece, or Cantina Band, from Star Wars, and La Source, an advanced classical piece, at 12 years old. Don't wait any longer to find a teacher and learn harp; Benjamin is such an inspiration..