minstrel: Harp beginner's book

Karen Setze brunosharpy at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 30 13:15:08 PST 2001

Tibicen wrote (in part):
> I have now had a chance to observe a beginning
> harper trying to "Teach
> Himself to Harp" from Sylvia Woods' book.  I am
> severely not
> impressed.  Indeed, I am finding myself writing
> exercises for two
> local beginning harpers, to try to back-fill over
> the stuff Sylvia
> Woods skips.  I Am Not A Harper[*]: this is absurd. 
> Can someone
> recommend a better beginner's book?

I can recommend Mildred Dilling's book "Old Tunes for
New Harpists". The book has good photos and diagrams
illustrating the techniques and the fingering given is
sound as well, which is more than can be said for Ms.
Wood's music. (My teacher redid the fingering on
almost any song of Sylvia's I asked to learn.)

I know you can buy the Dilling book from Melody's
Traditional Music. The physical store is located in
Houston, Texas, but they're old pros at online stuff
too. In fact, call or email Mary Radspinner and she
can give you more recommendations. She's a
professional harpist who spent many years giving

I now understand why my former (if I still lived in
the same time zone, I'd still be taking
lessons)teacher insisted that live lessons are best.
If people check with the American Harp Society, you
might be surprised at how many harpists you have
living around you, many of whom teach.

> [* But 9 years of piano[**].  Many of the basic
> issues are the same.
> Finger-independence, hand-independence, reading two
> staves, home
> positions, finger strength, accuracy and
> steadiness....]

My many years of piano lessons as a child stood me in
good stead when I decided as an adult take up harp. 
> [** The only reason I am not a harper is lack of
> harp (and adequate
> technique).  From time to time I borrow one.]

But the technique, hand position, etc. are very
different. It's hard to replace that live teacher ...

Yseulte Trevelyn

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