If I Were Starting Over

advice experience knowledge Oct 05, 2020

First, you need to know I’ve been playing the harp a long time. A very long time, as in over half a century. So it’s been a very long time since I started the harp, and when I started I was very young.

Naturally, starting young had numerous advantages, among them a relationship with my harp that seems to be at a cellular level. But I do not believe that you must begin young to play the harp well. I believe that every student can learn to play music they love to play in a way that fulfills and satisfies them. 

I am often asked for advice from adult students about what they should learn first or next or what sort of curriculum they should set for themselves. They want to know the best things to learn in order to shorten their learning curve and their time frame. Every person’s track is slightly different, of course, so my answers vary.

Recently, however, I adjusted my perspective slightly. Suppose I were starting over. With the understanding and knowledge that I have now, what would I advise my “beginner” self to do? What would be the keys to finding “harp happiness,” to finding the joy in learning and playing the harp? 

I thought about how I felt as a student long ago, and the struggles I have since seen my students encounter and surmount. I considered the big picture of music study as a lifetime adventure, rather than focusing on quick fixes. I looked for the habits and thought patterns necessary for musical growth and personal satisfaction. 

I offer the results of my ruminations with the hope that you may find encouragement, ideas or even inspiration for your own harp journey. Whatever your thoughts, I would appreciate it if you would share them in the comments below.

If I were starting over...


  • I would spend less time being a critic of myself and of others, and more time being a sponge. Learn, listen, try, and most importantly, take it all in.
  • I would spend less time worrying about how well I was playing and more time actually playing. The more I play, the better I play.
  • I would put much more time into practicing technique from the start. Musicality requires the technical skill to support it.
  • I would always have something ready to play. Having one piece that you love that you can share on the spot feels good.
  • I would play everything anywhere for anyone. No hiding that music under a bushel! Playing is a chance to grow and learn. It is an opportunity to give a gift that only you can give.
  • I would remember that enjoying the journey is the point, not being the “best” harpist or playing perfectly or making someone else proud. Being a harpist, being a musician is not something you achieve; it’s a process of becoming, one day at a time.



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