A colleague of mine from the South Bend Area Music Teachers association invited me to be the guest artist at two of the Monday Musical Club’s student recitals in November. It’s always such a pleasure to be able to introduce young musicians to the harp!
The recital and class were held in the Whitcomb Parlor in St. Joseph, Michigan. I loved being able to listen to the student performances ~ everything from beginning violinists to accomplished pianists. After they played their pieces, I talked a bit about the early history of the harp, and its origins in the hunter’s bow. I described how, as the range of the harp expanded, the construction changed to include a front pillar to support the added tension of additional strings. As some of the earliest examples of harps with columns are from the British Isles, I played the folk songs “The Water is Wide” and “O Danny Boy” on my Laurel Leaf lever harp.
Since the audience was primarily musicians and their parents, they were very responsive when I asked the group questions! We talked about how to get chromatic notes on the harp and the development of levers and pedals. There was a collective gasp when I unveiled my beautiful Venus Classic pedal harp! With the invention of the pedal harp, a wider range of music was playable on the harp, and more composers began to write specifically for the instrument.
I demonstrated with Bach’s “Prelude in C,” Godefroid’s “Romance Without Words,” and “All These Woes” by the modern Canadian composer John Weinzweig. The special effects that can be created on the harp are always a big hit! I showed them glissandos, percussion effects, vibrato, pedal slides, and special ways of muffling the strings. I always allow time for questions after the presentation, and there were many!
When I’d answered their questions, the audience was able to come up and give the harps a try for themselves. This wasn’t just limited to the kids! It’s amazing how the students, once they have been introduced to the instrument, don’t find it intimidating at all. Some were even able to pluck out familiar melodies and create their own effects!
If you are interested in having a program about the harp for your studio, club, class, church, or other organization, please contact me. Visit my website, Harp Teacher & Performer, or call 1-574-344-9401 to get on my schedule!