Many people of all ages are drawn to the harp. Some love Celtic music and are struck by the harp’s place in the Celtic cultures. Others are mystified and lured by its spiritual significance across many traditions and religions. Still others have seen its healing benefits at work in therapeutic settings and wish those benefits for themselves, or want to share the harp in this capacity. And some just love the sound of the ringing strings and resonance.
There are as many reasons people love the harp as there are harpers and harpists. But one thing they all need is a way to learn. The harp is growing in popularity from symphony orchestras to folk music groups, but harp teachers can be few and far between. Harp lessons are also more expensive than, say, piano, voice, guitar, or other more widely available instrumental lessons.
But do not despair! You can learn to play the harp! Whether you’ve had music lessons before or have no musical experience at all, Laurie Riley has put together some learning resources you can not only start with, but come back to time and time again.
Laurie Riley’s first DVD is called Play the Harp Today. There is an accompanying book, but it is not strictly necessary to learn the harp. This makes the DVD ideal for visually impaired and blind students, and others with disabilities that make reading printed words and notes difficult. This DVD does not teach how to read notes, but teaches a method of playing by ear that offers nearly instant results. Basic right hand melody and left hand chords are included, as well as arranging techniques. All-important is the verbal and visual description of playing posture, harp height, and hand position that will keep you comfortable while you play the harp. You can begin with this DVD and be playing beautiful melodies right away.
The second DVD, Harp: Beyond the Basics, teaches more chords, harmonics, alternate hand positions, and how to play in several musical styles to make your harp music sparkling and interesting. Improvisation is also demonstrated, making this DVD a valuable resource.
Secrets of Celtic Style teaches what makes Celtic music sound “right” – and it isn’t notes on the page! It includes an explanation of drones and rhythm, Celtic intervals, ornamentation, and more.
The last is Harp and Voice, available from Lark in the Morning. This DVD explains beautiful accompaniment techniques for singing with the harp.
Laurie also produced a DVD on the double strung harp. While not usually a harp for beginners, it is a beautiful instrument and one you may want to explore later. Its resonance from the two rows of strings is huge for such a small harp.
At Laurie’s website you can find other resources. There are recordings, music books, valuable books on harp technique and therapeutic music, and much more.
You can learn to play the harp. You can even teach yourself. Laurie Riley has created wonderful learning DVD’s and books, and beginners to intermediate harpers will greatly enjoy the learning process she presents.