One of the last posts over at my old blog site (Practice Your Lasagnos) compared & contrasted lever & pedal harps. Thought I'd brush it off (figuratively, of course) & update/edit it a little to post over in this space. So, here it is!
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 follow the same basic idea. 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 of harps can be used to play a variety of genres. Lever harps tend to be 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 François, 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? Let me know in the comments! Or do you have any questions? Just leave 'em below!
P.S. The www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/FischarperHalloween printable music activity packet is available in the Fischarper Teachers Pay Teachers store!
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Super exciting news over here! Today is the public launch of my first ecourse, "Breezing Through Bass Clef"!!!!!
It's designed to help you look at bass clef in a new way. Bass clef seems to be more difficult for students to grasp than treble clef, and I want to help you breeze through it! If you're a teacher, this course might give you some ideas on a different way to approach bass clef. Or, you can send your students a link to sign up (or both!). If you're a student, this course can help you grasp bass clef. Either way, right now, it's free!
"Breezing Through Bass Clef" includes text-based lessons, worksheets, and quizzes, as well as comments sections in each module to encourage discussion and questions. It's a short course, so should be quite do-able without committing to a long-term project.
Please let me know what you think of the course in the comments and on social media. I'd love for you to share "Breezing Through Bass Clef" with your friends too!
Thanks a million!
Barbara Fischer runs Fischarper, LLC and loves her job as a harpist and private music educator. She enjoys blogging about various aspects of the music field on fischarper.com/blog. For more music resources, check out the Fischarper Teachers Pay Teachers Store and Making Harp Lessons Exciting For Young Children, written by Bambi Fischer (Barbara’s mom!) and revised and edited by Barbara. You can connect with Barbara all over the interwebs on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. And you can sign up to receive Fischarper updates by joining the email list.
Christmas is just a little bit over a week away. If you're looking for a last-minute gift for your music teacher, student(s), child, or someone else who this might work for, here's an easy and inexpensive gift that you can put together with just a few things. I think it was inspired by this project.
this free printable available in the Fischarper Teachers Pay Teachers store
picture frame with glass or some kind of clear covering (check the thrift store!)
dry erase markers
Are you ready? Print the page linked above, and pop it in the frame. Wrap it and gift it with some dry erase markers, and bam! (almost) instant gift. If the paper shifts around, just try taping it to the back or to the frame.
How to use this:
However you want! In the examples I've given, the student writes the letter on the lined section, writes in the note in treble and bass clefs, traces the string on the harp, and writes the letter name on the corresponding piano key(s). I like the idea of using blue (or purple) for F and red for C. Even for piano students.....then they have that in their brains if they pursue the harp one day. :)
As a teacher, you can assign a note a week or month in your newsletter, and encourage parents to hang this in a prominent place and review everyday. It could be hung by the table and discussed during breakfast or dinner (or lunch if the student isn't in school), or by the door, where the students must say the name of the note, trace it, point to the key, same the color of the string, etc. as a "password" to enter or exit. You can also have one hanging in your studio and use it similarly.
fine motor skills
non-electronic (electronics are fun and all, but there's sooooo much screen time! I really believe it's important for children to have balanced lives apart from electronics. Of course, I'm typing this on a computer and posting it on the internet....)
Relationship between notes on page, harp, piano, alphabet.
What to do with leftover macaroni from the DIY Macaroni Harp String Necklace project? Well, one thing is download this free printable and send your students home with some fun homework! Or if you're a student, surprise your teacher by bringing this worksheet completed to your lesson.
In the example above, the student also added levers and legs with clay and labeled the parts of the harp.
This would be a great activity for beginning harp students to practice observing the order of the strings. It can also be a helpful aid for memorizing the descending order of the strings. Another option is to make it a family project...maybe a young (or not-so-young!) student could even use the worksheet to teach his/her family about the strings and/or the parts of the harp. Crafts can be fun (and beneficial) for students of many ages and levels, so don't feel that you can only use this with kids or beginners. You might have some adult students who enjoy this more than you would expect!
This is more of an inspiration post than instructions. Feel free to alter this how you see fit. This project be beneficial for any student. The student must observe the pattern of the strings and macaroni, and it helps fine motor skills! Both positive effects! If you use large noodles, this would also be great for young students.
If you're student or parent, you could even surprise your harp teacher with this!
I used some outdated macaroni. You could also buy colored macaroni, or dye another type of macaroni, but I like to use things that would otherwise get tossed. :) The small macaroni can be tough to string, so if you're purchasing macaroni, I'd suggest some noodles that have larger holes.
First, dye the macaroni. For this project, I used red and blue, and left some undyed for the white. I used this as a guide for dying the macaroni, but just guessed on amounts. :) I also let the macaroni stay in the bag for awhile (I think I saw that here).
After the macaroni has soaked, allow it to dry.
Finally, bag some up and give it to your student with instructions. You can be as detailed or as vague with your instructions as you want. Feel free to use the printable above, but sometimes students will pleasantly surprise you if you leave a lot of it up to them! One student make the project mimic how the strings go from long to short. Nifty idea, eh?
I had students supply their own threading material. One used fishing line and one used a type of yarn/thread.
Be sure to talk about the project and ask how/why they did things the way that they did and show interest! If it's not perfect, don't worry. You certainly don't want to squish your student's enthusiasm! The main thing is that the student made a real effort and did the project. Look for specific things that you can truthfully compliment.
As school is about to get back in swing, here's a list of recommended materials for your/your students' lesson and practice bag. I include practice, because these supplies are very helpful for practice as well! The word essentials isn't entirely accurate, because of course you can have an effective lesson even if a student forgets some of the materials. But "essentials" sounds better than "recommendations" in the title. :) The top of the list applies to music students in general, and the second part includes additional materials for harp students.
What do you recommend students bring to lessons? Do you require it or recommend it?
Anddd.....the lovely folks of Virginia Harp Center have offered a discount code to readers! Just enter the coupon code FIRST10 at checkout to receive 10% off any item in their online store. You can also get free shipping on any order over $150 without a code. So, go stock up on some rad tuning keys (is there such a thing as too many?) or whatever else your little harp-heart might need.
Do you have a student thinking of quitting music? Many of us go through those phases where we want to quit. I know I have!
Below are some ideas to think about when working through this time with your student. Some I've used, some I haven't.
What do you do when students want to quit? I'd love to hear what's worked and what hasn't in the comments, on Facebook, on Instagram, or on Twitter!
P.S. Have you been to my YouTube channel lately? Check below for my harp cover of Little Big Town's "Girl Crush."
Hello all! This week, I'm trying posting on a Thursday instead of Friday.....which day of the week would you prefer new posts?
This post is specifically tailored to music parents, but I think these suggestions could apply to most any parent. Chances are, if you're a parent, you want your child to succeed in music lessons, and if you're a teacher, you also want the student to succeed! Well, below find 5 ways that parents can help their children (with an infographic for your pinning pleasure).
Kids can't remember everything (and neither can adults!). Help your student to be prepared at his/her lesson by making sure that all necessary lesson materials come to each lesson. Having a designated lesson bag where all of these materials live can help.
Help your student remember to practice. This doesn't have to be a nagging reminder (and remember, this is more important than practice). Figure out what works best for you and your student and go with that.
Reminding your student of upcoming recitals might also help to encourage practice. You can verbally remind the student, or even have it marked on the calendar in a special way (think stickers, fancy pens, you can even go crazy with glitter glue....who am I to say?).
Encouragement is sooooo important. Would you really want to do something that you felt you could never do well enough? That gets old after awhile. Give your student positive, specific praise. Here are just a few examples:
Encourage your student by being part of the experience. If you have even a little musical background, you might consider jamming together. I used to enjoy practicing trombone more when my mom would jam on piano with me than when I just practiced regular practice pieces. Have fun and show your student that music isn't a drag! If your student would like you to, listen to him/her practice. That being said, sometimes practice is a private experience, and be sure to respect that as well if possible.
Sometimes teachers are wrong. But as a general rule, please work with and support your child's teacher. You've chosen this teacher for a reason; if you don't think that this teacher is adequately qualified, it is probably time to find a different teacher.
One area you might support the teacher include his/her choice of repertoire. Maybe Johnny can play that difficult piece, but there is likely a reason that the teacher has him playing easier pieces. Maybe his hand position needs work, maybe the teacher is working with him on musicality, etc. If you are concerned, speak with the teacher during lesson time or contact him/her via phone, text, or email.
The balance between involved and helicopter-parent might be a little tricky, but just try your best! Your effort will likely show.
Be in contact with the teacher. Respond to emails and texts in a timely manner. Bring up any concerns you have during the student's lesson time, or even via email. Different people have different communication preferences. See what's best for the teacher and for you and stay in touch.
Attend your student's events! Don't just attend, but be present. Show your student how you value his/her work by paying attention and making a big deal over the experience. Consider bringing flowers for your student (it also doesn't hurt to bring them for the teacher as well ;) ).
Above all, make sure you love your student. This goes a long way. If you truly desire to do what you believe is best for your student, it will show! The other things will very likely follow.
As a teacher, I value parents and families that love and want what's best for their child. Supportive parents are so great!
Parents, what are your best tips to pass along to work as a team with your students' music teachers? Teachers, what are some of your best experiences with families involved in their students' music education? I'd love to hear your ideas!
P.S. Feel free to share the infographic in your newsletters or on social media, just please credit me and/or fischarper.com!
Did you know that Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach has music? Yep! While it's not filled with music, if you have a student who is reading the book, here are a few sections you might want to discuss!
I posted a teaser about this on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (are you following me?). A music family in my studio recently received some River Stones and we got to play some fun games with them! The idea to use them for musical games came from the mother....isn't it so wonderful to have music parents who are involved (in a non-overbearing way!)? We decided to call the game "NoteSteps." I think it's a cute name!
Here are some of the ideas we came up with:
You could use stickers or tape shapes on the floor, pieces of paper taped to the floor, chalk outside, etc. in place of the stones. This would be a fun activity for families to do together as homework or supplemental music practice.
What kind of active music games do you enjoy?
Welcome to the blog! I'm Barbara, and I work as a freelance harpist and private music educator. You can read my bio here. On the blog, you can find posts about various aspects of this career path, especially teaching and crafty stuff. Thank you for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or on social media. And don't forget to subscribe to the email list for updates!
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