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How Do I Choose the Best Harp Book?

R. Dhillon
R. Dhillon

Harp books are designed to help musicians of all levels improve their playing skills by teaching them the proper playing techniques and how to care for their instruments. Many books are tailored toward a certain segment of harp players, such as beginning or advanced players, while some provide information that is useful to players of all levels. To choose the right harp book for your needs, check for information that relates to your skill level, ensure that the book covers the type of harp you own, and ask your teacher for recommendations and required reading.

A beginner's harp book usually covers the basics of harp playing, such as how to sit with the harp, where to position your hands on the strings, and how to pluck them. These books also include songs for beginners, exercises to improve speed and accuracy, and information on how to read music. If you're a beginner, choose a harp book that comes with a compact disk (CD) or digital video disk (DVD), so you can listen to what the harp is supposed to sound like when you play it. The book should also include illustrations or photos that show you the resting and plucking positions. If possible, choose a harp book that discusses common bad habits that beginners develop, so you know what to avoid.

Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

A harp book covering care and maintenance of harps and stretching techniques is necessary for players of all levels. For your harp to sound its best, you need to know how to clean it, change its strings, and tune it. You should also purchase a book that details stretching exercises to perform before playing the harp. Stretching exercises prepare your hands for playing and may also help you avoid injury. Beginner's books and books labeled as "harp basics" typically cover harp care and stretching techniques.

Intermediate and advanced players require books that provide increasingly challenging songs and advanced playing techniques. If you're an intermediate or advanced player, you might want to invest in several collections of sheet music. The skill level required to play songs in sheet music collections is sometimes printed on the books' covers or included in their descriptions. If you don't know which collections to purchase, ask your teacher or tutor for advice. Advanced players might also be interested in books that cover unconventional playing techniques, including techniques that create sounds, such as guitar-like or gong-like tones, that differ from the traditional harp sound.

Before purchasing a harp book, you should find out what type of harp the book is intended for. Some books are intended for use with all kinds of harps, including pedal and lap harps, while others are written solely for a certain type of instrument. Unfortunately, the type of harp a book is meant for isn't always listed on the cover or in its printed description. You can find out more about these books by researching them online, asking a teacher for advice, or asking for assistance at an instrument retailer that specializes in harps.

If you're taking a class or have a harp tutor, you should plan on purchasing the books recommended by your teacher. It is common for instructors to refer to lessons in books during classes and for practicing at home. Purchasing required and recommended reading allows you to keep up with your assignments and follow your teacher's lessons more easily.

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