3 Questions to help you be a better harp teacher

Around the world, you can almost hear the collective sighs of exhausted relief as teachers stumble towards holidays. In the northern hemisphere, it’s the long summer break, while in the south we shiver towards the winter recess. But it matters not if the weather out there is frightful or delightful, there is no time like the present to take stock of your time and teaching.

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Planning a programme Part 2

The recital is a comfortable 10 weeks off. You’ve taken stock of your commitments between now and then, and have a clear idea of the length and expectations connected with the performance. So let’s choose some music!

At this point, there are two considerations that pretty much go hand in hand- what’s in your repertoire, and what the requirements of the performance are. In certain circumstances, one of those considerations will take precedence, and sometimes the other.

For demonstration purposes, let’s say the main focus of your performance is the ubiquitous balanced programme. If this is indeed the case then you might want to start by looking at what is already under the fingers, or at least not far off. Think about your music history, and then head for your music collection.

Shop your shelf

Whether you have your own extensive music library, or are just starting out with collecting some titles, now is the time to have a browse. If you have any favourites that immediately spring to mind, then reach for them first. Next, have a think about something you might have played in the past, but haven’t had under the fingers for a while. Warming up a piece that is half familiar is often a good way to go. You know it, but it feels fresh.

Keep an eye out for any new pieces you might have as well that would still fit the bill. Have a quick flick through. If it looks playable, add it to the pile for now.

Don’t forget to browse through any bigger books you might have. Many a treasure can lurk in a book of collected pieces.

Window shop

If you are feeling like nothing is quite right in your current collection of music, or you’re looking to get some new music (and to be honest I’m always in the market for new music!), you might want to indulge in a bit of window shopping.

There are loads of great sites out there to browse through, or alternatively you could try a general search for the style of music you are after. Don’t forget to search in places like YouTube as well, where lots of composers and arrangers post videos of their work, with a link to the sheet music. You can also make use of online forums and Facebook groups to get some feedback on pieces, composers or arrangers.

If you can, print or download a sample of any pieces you fancy for the programme. And then add them to the possible candidates you have already gathered together.

And the winner is…


Next, lay out all of the pieces you have gathered on the floor in historical order, and then stand back and take a look. Are there any works that look good on the programme, but you know you will have to drag yourself kicking and screaming to the harp to practice? I can tell you here and now- ditch those ones! Do some of the pieces make you immediately want to start playing? They’re the winners!

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