minstrel: Beginning harp books

Pat Yarrow yarrowp at mscd.edu
Fri Nov 30 14:31:01 PST 2001

Tibicen wrote:
<<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?>>

Absolutely.  In fact, anything *but* Sylvia Woods. I would specifically
recommend a combination of Alison Kinnaird's _Small Harp Tutor_ and Ann
Heymann's _A Gaelic Harper's First Tunes_, which is essentially the first
half of her _Secrets of the Gaelic Harp_.  Note that Alison's theory is a
little weak (she refers to a B diminished chord as a B minor chord, for
example).  Ann and Alison both teach traditional ornamentation as opposed to
Ms. Woods' tertian tonal harmony.  They also teach very strong placement
techniques.  Both have teaching tapes or CDs available with the exercises.
The two complement each other, as Ann's book moves a bit fast and Alison's
doesn't bring in the whole hand soon enough.  You can get Alison's book from
the Sylvia Woods harp center -
and Ann's directly from Ann at
Clairseach, P.O. Box 637
Winthrop, MN, 1998

Alternatively, Laurie Riley has a beginner's book out that is published by
Mel Bay, and it's pretty good.  Her placement is strong, and she includes
some early music.


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