Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harps: Lever or Pedal?


collage made/edited with Pixlr and Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0

I recently received an inquiry about harps for a new student. Thought I'd share a modified version of my response.

There are different types of harps, but the most common in the U.S. are pedal harps and lever harps (even harps with no levers or pedals). Both pedal and pedal-free harps are harps and the musicians who play them should be respected as such. Lever harps are not necessarily beginner harps and can be used by beginners and professionals alike. There are professional harpers (lever harp players) and professional harpists. Some people can move levers very impressively! Whether or not a student plans eventually like to add the pedal harp to his/her repertoire, a lever harp will be beneficial and a good basis. Both types can play a variety of genres. Lever harps are also more affordable and generally more portable. :)

Some websites I'd recommend perusing for harps and harp information are Virginia Harp Center, Lyon and Healy, Salvi, Camac, Sylvia Woods Harp Center, Harp Spectrum, and Harp Column. These sites should be a good start. :)

Exploring the music that is played on the various models can be useful and fun. Some harpists/harpers you might like to check out are Jakez Fran├žois, Louise Trotter, Greg Buchanan, Deborah Hensen-Conant, Park Stickney, and Susann McDonald, and, of course, Harpo Marx. :)

If you're a harpist/harper, do you prefer playing pedal or pedal-free harps?

-Barbara