Is the Harp For Me?

Playing the harp is an amazing gift that you can give to yourself and to others. The instrument calls to people from all ages and walks of life. Not everyone aspires to be a professional harpist; many of the students at Harps Etc. play for their own pleasure, and to enrich their lives. Other students may choose to work toward performing as an avocation or vocation.  Our goal is to help all students, regardless of level or goals, love to play the harp!

We have students of all ages, ranging from 4 to 85 years old.  We like to ask students why they want to learn the harp. Here are some of their answers:

"The sound of the harp takes me to a place that nothing else does"
Angela, age 9

"I am at a time in my life where I can finally do something special just for me. Playing the harp has been my lifetime dream"
Nancy, age 63

"I want to play music for those who are sick and need uplifting. It is the music of the angels"
Thomas, age 45

"I just like the sound of it!"
Karen, age 4

What is the difference between a pedal and a lever harp?
Lever harps are also known as folk or Celtic harps. These harps can come with no levers, a few select levers or with a full set of levers. The levers are moved up to raise the pitch of each string by a half step, and moved back down again to lower the string by a half step. This allows the harp to be played in many keys, but does limit the number of keys in which it can be used, as any string only has two pitch options.  Lever harps range in size, some with as few as 12 strings or as many as 40 strings.  The traditional body is box shaped, but many of our instruments have a staved body (rounded back) which can be more comfortable to play.  Most lever harps have a light tension (the strings feel easy to pluck, with a bright sound) and smaller spacing between the strings than pedal harps.

Lyon & Healy Harps offers a lever harp with the same tension and spacing of a pedal harp. This makes the transition from a lever harp to the pedal harp a bit easier since the student is used to the "feel" of the concert tension that is used for pedal harps. Starting on a lever harp is perfectly acceptable, and what most harpists begin on.  After starting on a lever harp, students often progress to a pedal harp to be able to play more advanced and diverse music.

Pedal harps have "concert tension," or a firmer touch and wider spacing between the strings. They have a larger body which allows for a deep, more resonant tone. The pedals are used to get sharps, flats and naturals making it possible to play in all 12 keys, as well as change quickly between them. The smallest pedal harp has 40 strings. A concert grand harp has all 47 strings and a range of six and a half octaves. You can play any kind of music on a pedal harp.

How do I decide which harp is right for me?
When you come to Harps Etc. you will be able to see and play many different harps. Our staff of professional harpists and teachers can answer all of your questions. We will work with you until you have enough information to make an educated decision.

Can't come to Harps Etc.? We are happy to assist you by phone, fax and email. To help the decision making process, think about your musical goals, the types of music you like and your budget. Often topics such as the age of the student, physical challenges and previous musical experience will help to guide your decision.

Our two rental programs are designed to give you enough time to get started with lessons while you decide the best instrument for your needs.