Ultimate Guide to Being a Harpist
If you're curious about how people become harpists or you want to learn how to play the harp yourself, let this article become your go-to guide to all things harp-related!
The harp is an exceptionally beautiful and diverse musical instrument with a surprisingly long history. Harp is one of the world’s first instruments, coming from the bow and arrow, and many believe it is the ancestor of all string instruments. There are even cave paintings of rudimentary harps! We find harps represented in almost all cultures throughout time.
Throughout many cultures the harp holds special meaning, being connected to magic, communication between worlds, healing, and national identity. For example, the harp is the national instrument of countries as varied as Ireland, Paraguay, and Burma.
Together in this article, we’ll explore how playing the harp can boost your creativity. You'll learn how to create a safe place to explore your creativity and succeed as the harpist you dream of being.
You’ll start off on the right foot with tips for beginning harp players, going on to suggestions about how you can turn your hobby/passion into a profession and become a successful professional harpist. There are many ways to be a professional harpist, so if you’ve only imagined orchestral harpists up to now, you’re in for a treat!
Additionally, I’ll discuss how wonderfully effective online harp lessons are for both professional and beginning harpists. Due to my busy concertizing career (prior to this current era!) I began teaching online way back in 2010. I have a lot of experience and insights for you about the power of online lessons and how they can help you with your harp dreams.
Finally, I’ll share my journey as an award-winning harpist and how I created Diana Rowan’s Bright Way Guild, featuring the Virtual Harp Summits, the first large-scale online harp gatherings in the world that trailblazed the path for many others, Bright Way Harp Circle, and my book The Bright Way: Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within.
Harp Lessons Can Boost Your Creativity
Creative inspiration is all around us. For creative people - whether you're a harp player, a writer, a painter, or an entrepreneur - this can be overwhelming and reassuring at the same time.
Have you found yourself questioning like this:
“What does creative inspiration actually look like?"
"Can it be cultivated or should I just wait for it to strike?”
“What if I don’t recognize it and end up overlooking my creative inspiration, have I lost that spark forever?”
“How do I channel inspiration into something meaningful and real in the world?”
Every harp player wants and needs creative inspiration to flow within themselves and throughout the world around them. However, many often feel this flow is a mystery accessible only to a chosen few. Many creatives feel insecure about their inspiration and have no idea how, when, and where inspiration will strike.
Insecurity about accessing our flow of inspiration can make us question whether we have any talent, whether we’ve been chosen as “gifted." Lack of confidence over talent can become so severe that you may give up your creative path completely. This is very sad and unnecessary, as you’ll find out below!
Blocks around your creativity can manifest most dramatically in performance anxiety. Unfortunately, stage fright, fear of public speaking, and sharing your work in general is common in our culture. And many creatives suffer in silence because they may feel the fear is a sign they are not talented.
It’s a situation I know well, so allow me to share my story here:
Diana Rowan began music when she was just 8 years old. Despite her outward success, she secretly suffered from performance anxiety. It was so intense that she quit music for years, even though music was the only path she’d prepared for. She had no backup plan.
When Diana lost touch with her creative inspiration, every lesson became stressful and creative doubts haunted her constantly. She feared she was not good enough and that she did not actually have musical talent. Despite being scared, Diana knew that she had to reclaim her musical voice or risk living an unfulfilled life forever.
On her epic journey to creative recovery, Diana encountered many twists and turns. And the struggle was worth it: it resulted in her creativity system The Bright Way: Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within.
Today Diana teaches hundreds of creatives to reclaim their creative voices and share their creativity with confidence. Now that she has discovered infinite inspiration, she can tell you that all doubts and fears about your talent and creativity are actually a very good sign. It means that you truly desire to be creative.
It is your calling to become creative!
Imagine living a creative life as a harp player. Imagine being in touch with your creative inspiration every day.
Imagine feeling in flow and sharing this with a community of kind and like-minded inspiring people.
Sometimes it can be hard to find your path, but if Diana did it, you can do it too! Today Diana is a full-time musician, author, and teacher. She lives her creative life amid a creative community, and she wants to share her new path with you. Diana has a Master of Music in classical piano performance (piano being her first instrument), and a PhD in harp composition.
Over the years Diana has taught thousands of students that deep connection to the piano, harp - any instrument you love - reconnects you to your true self.
Many people admire the harp both for the way it sounds and its magnificent beauty, size, and shape. Unfortunately, many of those people assume they would never be able to play something so majestic. However, it is never too late to become a harp player! Diana’s eldest student began harp at 83 years old, and by the age of 85 she was performing out and about!
You can achieve your harp dreams by combining excellent learning and practice methods with a supportive teacher and community. Regardless of your age and background, you can discover great joy in playing the harp.
Learning to play the harp can boost your creativity throughout your whole life. Many people find that learning to play the harp - or up-leveling your skill on the harp - elevates your entire life to be more satisfying, fulfilling, and productive.
As you become more skilled at playing the harp, you tap into infinite inspiration so that playing is never a duty, guilt, or obligation. You’ll access and develop the unique creative style that lies dormant within you by becoming a harp player - and it’s one of the most satisfying ways to find your creative voice.
With the experienced guidance of Dr. Diana Rowan, you will find a safe place to explore your creativity.
Harp for Beginners: How to Get Started Playing the Harp
Many people feel intimidated about starting to play the harp. You may admire this beautiful instrument but wonder if it is too complicated to learn. You might have heard that the harp is the hardest instrument to learn.Good news: it’s not too hard to master if you start off with the right teacher and community.
First of all, if you have a desire to become a harp player, your age and background are not important. People of all ages and backgrounds can learn to play harp.
And harps are not just in orchestras! For many people, seeing this instrument from afar is their first and only exposure to the harp. In fact, there are thousands of types of harp out there; lever harps, lap harps, wire strung harps, Latin American harps, big harps, small harps of only 19 strings or less...the list goes on and on. You have many choices to enjoy!
Today harps have become more affordable and you can buy or rent a good one easily.
When looking for a harp, consider which harp best fits your needs. The most important questions are:
• what kinds of music do you like? Different harps suit different genres.
* what size of harp would work best for you?
Often, not having a huge harp means you’ll be able to bring your harp to events and navigate with it easily. Small can be beautiful!
There are various harp sources, stores, and dealers worldwide. The cost of your upfront investment can vary widely, so you’ll want to shop around. It’s best to audition as many harps as you can by visiting harp stores, harp societies, and teachers with large harp collections. Listen to different kinds of harp online. Get to know the various brands out there and join online harp groups to discuss.
Your harp search can be a super fun way to cultivate your harp community!
I recommend renting first so that you get to know various harps before committing. I rented around 4 harps before buying my first one!
For a new harpist, it is very important to understand the healthiest way to hold your harp. Here's a huge harp secret: your back is the key to harp playing, even though it looks like we play mostly from our arms. When you engage your back, your arms feel light as a feather and you minimize the chance of harp-related injuries.
Relaxation is key to a beautiful tone and avoiding injury, so stay relaxed! Since harp technique is unique - we do play against gravity, after all - it’s important to have a good teacher at least for a few beginning lessons.
Very few harpists have been successful at being completely self-taught, often developing unhelpful or even harmful habits. Free low-quality videos/internet tutorials can prolong the learning process since they provide no feedback. Worse, many of these videos demonstrate sub-par technique, actually teaching you bad habits which take a long time to reverse.
As with anything in life, we don’t know what we don’t know. If you do not know what to look for, what questions to ask, or where to look for the right answers, learning to play the harp on your own is quite difficult.
A good instructor will listen to your desires, set you up with excellent technique and practice habits, answer all your questions, and supportively correct you and make suggestions for growth as you go. With the aid of a compassionate and competent instructor, your skill and magic will grow exponentially.
From learning to tune your harp, to the names of strings, to playing whole songs on your own, having a good teacher streamlines and speeds up your learning process, and keeps you motivated and joyful.
Diana's Bright Way Courses
Bright Way Creative Reset
A mastermind for advanced practitioners of The Bright Way. Reach new heights on your creative journey with this group of deep creatives.
By invitation only.
Bright Way Harp Circle
A dynamic Community of harpists focused on creating, learning and living with joy and resilience. Mastering the Bright Way System together, we play confidently and expressively, learn better, and revel in true Community.
Virtual Harp Summit
Learn from almost 100 master harpists from all over the globe.
4 summits available (~40 hours/content per summit), each focusing on a different aspect of harping.
World Harp Techniques
Learn expressive, powerful and fun harp techniques from around the world to bring life and originality to your harping. You can use these techniques for improvising, composing, arranging, and gaining deeper insight into other compositions. Hands-on and life-changing!
Learn How Professional Harpists Become Successful
How do you go from beginning to play the harp to turning passion into profession? In this section, we'll discuss how professional harpists cultivate and become successful in their careers.
You may see professional harpists playing the harp in classical settings, such as orchestras, ensembles, symphonies, or as solo acts. Besides this route, there are many other options to make a living by playing harp.
There is consistent demand for harpists for weddings, anniversaries, church events such as christenings, holiday parties, and other special events. Each of these avenues allows you to play the music you love as a career.
Healing music is another field where you can play your harp in hospitals, hospices, and other health care settings.
Harp is often brought into recording sessions, adding instant magic and melding with almost any instrument and genre.
Recording harp music yourself, especially meditative music and other “background” music is yet another revenue stream. Since harps play well with other instruments, harpists are often welcome to join ensembles and groups, which widens your professional reach further.
Once you’ve become skilled, teaching harp is another very satisfying harp career. You can teach one-to-one, in groups, or online. The options are vast!
All of the above examples are just some of the avenues you have available to you as a professional harpist.
Dr. Diana Rowan is an example of a successful professional harpist. She is an award-winning musical artist performing worldwide and holds a Ph.D. in Music Theory (world harp techniques for composers), and a Master of Music (classic piano performance). Raised as a child of an Irish diplomat, Diana has traveled, lived, and performed on six continents. Her music interweaves global music, art, spirituality, and mythology.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Diana integrates global musical traditions with fluency and reverence. Diana’s performance career spans over 30 years. She performed at the World Harp Congress in Australia, Washington DC’s Smithsonian, the US Embassy in Vietnam, and Eastern European cathedrals.
You can hear her music on many CDs and soundtracks, including her solo albums Panta Rhei, The Bright Knowledge, and the forthcoming As Above, So Below. You can order her nine songs for harp on her website and check out her YouTube Channel for inspiration and creativity tips.
Diana is a full-time creative, composing, teaching, writing, performing, and researching creativity. She founded the online academy for creatives, Bright Way Guild, featuring Virtual Harp Summit and Bright Way Harp Circle, and her book The Bright Way: Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within.
Bright Way Guild is dedicated to bringing out the unique creative voice within each of the creatives in the bright knowledge that the more we are our true selves, the more the world benefits.
Diana is a pioneer in her industry shaping the way musical inspiration and creativity are shared through her Harp Summit Series.
Diana shares three pieces of advice with those who are just starting their career as professional harpists.
1) Know your Purpose – it will fuel you through absolutely everything.
2) Get Creative Community support - all successful creatives have a trusted inner circle who understands them.
3) Collaborate rather than compete – this will change your life. Many of the opportunities you have for learning, growing, being inspired, and living a fulfilled life result from connecting with others on many levels. Stay connected and support others!
How Online Harp Lessons Benefit Both Professional and Beginner Harpists
Online harp lessons make learning the harp accessible for anyone, anywhere.
Online harp classes are available whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced student. With some time, patience, and practice anyone can play!
If you are just starting playing the harp, online harp lessons help you to learn the basics and gain momentum.
If you are already an experienced harpist, advanced online harp lessons will take your skills to the next level.
Finding an experienced harp teacher online is the opportunity to work with the expert from the comfort of your home.
You won’t waste time and energy commuting; you get to focus 100% on creating and growing as a harpist.
Whenever you have certain questions, your private online teacher will devote their attention to the specific areas you want to focus on.
You can find a harpist who specializes in exactly what you want to learn and how you want to learn, anywhere in the world.
During your online harp lessons, you’ll receive the guidance and tools that you need to achieve your harp playing goals.
Whether you want to experiment with a new hobby or if you want to try out for your local orchestra, your private online teacher will guide and encourage you on every step of your journey so that you achieve success.
Recently more and more students prefer to learn to play harp online. Virtual classes provide students with flexibility that was not possible before. Now anyone can learn where and when works best for their schedule.
With online harp classes, you do not need to search for “harp lessons near me”. There’s no worry about commuting to a classroom to meet your teacher in person. Simply log in online using your laptop or smartphone.
Now it is easier than ever to connect. You can have online harp classes at your home office, studio, living room, or even your patio! And with connection speeds and programs improving every day, it is even more easy and enjoyable Dr. Diana Rowan is a worldwide award-winning musical artist who can become your guide into the world of harp playing.
With 30+ years of performance, Diana founded Bright Way Guild, the online academy for creatives, featuring Virtual Harp Summit and Bright Way Harp Circle.
Virtual Harp Summit by Diana Rowan
Diana Rowan is a pioneer in her industry. She shares the way of musical inspiration and creativity through her Virtual Harp Summit Series. Diana connects harpists worldwide by sharing knowledge, passion, and raising the consciousness of the harp.
Virtual Harp Summit by Diana Rowan was the first large-scale online harp gathering in the world, paving the way for our new era of online harp learning and events. Almost 100 master harpists from all over the globe teach in the four Summits currently available.
The mission of Virtual Harp Summit is to connect harpists worldwide and to lift each other up. Sharing knowledge and her passion for harp playing, Diana raises the consciousness of the instrument both for harpists and for the whole world.
Currently, four Virtual Harp Summits are available. Each of them brings 25+ outstanding presenters providing 40 hours of content per summit focusing on one theme of the summit.
Virtual Harp Summits consist of workshops and concerts. During summits, each presenter delivers a workshop, shares workshop notes, and plays a house concert. The real advantage of a Virtual Harp Summit is that you can access all the workshops on your schedule and location online.
Listening to others helps you learn the very latest teaching and developments in the harp world.
Virtual Harp Summit is a great opportunity to learn about and connect with other harpists. You can enjoy communicating with musicians all over the world. In one of the episodes of the Virtual Harp Summit, Diana Rowan shares with the participants some of the strategies she used to build community. Feeling you belong helps overcome fears that may halt your inspiration.