A Guide to Including Young Harpists in Student Chamber Music Settings

Citation of Original Publication
Pollauf, J. (2020). A Guide to Including Young Harpists in Student Chamber Music Settings. American String Teacher, 70(2), 43–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003131320909393
© 2020, American String Teachers Association. Use is restricted to non-commercial and no derivatives.
Chamber music experience is an important aspect of development for all young musicians. For student harpists, chamber music is especially valuable as many young harpists lack ensemble experience and skills (Van Hoesen 2016). It is important for student harpists to take advantage of opportunities in chamber music and develop into well-rounded musicians. While many chamber music coaches see the value of chamber music for young harpists and are open to including them in their programs, they frequently are not experienced enough in working with student harpists to feel confident in their coaching (Bowles 1998). When this is added to the challenge of working with a harpist with little previous chamber music experience, coaching can be daunting. Whether coaches are working with students in a middle school, high school, or a university-level program, many questions arise. What sort of instrumentations work well? What would be appropriate repertoire? What are the differences between the two types of harps? What feedback is most helpful? This article begins with an explanation of how the harp works, as an understanding of the instrument is crucial for working with young harpists. This is followed by information about chamber music instrumentations, repertoire choices, rehearsal expectations, ways to offer feedback, and some special considerations for the harp. With information and strategies for coaching chamber music with harp, the experience can be worthwhile and enjoyable for all involved.