My Personal Golden Rules of Harp Teaching

harp teacher teaching Feb 01, 2021

I discovered years ago how much I learned by teaching. 

When you have to explain something - a concept, a method, a fingering - you are forced to understand it at a deeper level. The practical application of the concept or the reasoning behind the method becomes important in a new way. And then you have to articulate it in a way that makes sense to a student.

I believe no other method of learning a subject is as powerful as teaching it. Or potentially as dangerous. As Mark Twain once quipped, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”  

What could possibly be dangerous about teaching the harp? For me, it is simply that in teaching the concepts, I must be certain that I am living by them myself, or risk making my teaching irrelevant.

In the process of trying to serve my students well, I discovered how easy it was to fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” habit. I urged my students to practice daily, but was I? Or sometimes I would find myself complaining about a performance that I “had” to play, when I should have been communicating my excitement about my work. Being the kind of teacher I wanted to be meant being the kind of harpist I wanted my students to be.

This is why I created my golden rules for my teaching. Actually they are my “laws” that I use to guide every aspect of Harp Mastery, from my blogs to my teaching to our courses to my email. I can’t say that I always follow through on them exactly the way I would like, but I try. I use them to guide my decisions whether I’m organizing our coaching program or working through a sticky passage with a student.

My golden rules have three important purposes. First, they remind me to put my energy into the things that I value most, rather than those that perhaps seem more urgent. Second, they allow me to feel that I am being consistent, asking of my students and colleagues no more than I demand of myself. Lastly, they nudge me toward being the harpist and the person that I want to be.

I’d like to share my laws with you, with the hope that they may inspire you to write down your own golden rules. What do you value most? What sort of harpist do you want to be or do you want your students to be? What is important to you about your music, your harp playing, your harp teaching?  Discerning your personal golden rules may not be easy, but I can promise you it will be time well spent.

My Golden Rules

  1. Teach people, then teach harp. It’s all about the people. Make it personal.
  2. Model excellence. They’re watching.
  3. Live harp happiness and spread it profligately. When you love what you do, it shows.

They are simple sounding, I admit, but these ideas are very important to me. What ideas are important to you in your harp playing?


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