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Free Downloadable Sheet Music and Etudes for Harp Students and Harp Teachers

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22 string lever harp musicpedal harp sheet music

These resources, for the most part are suitable for harps as small as 22 strings.

The sheet music for the etudes are posted as PDF files for free, immediate download.

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Creative Commons License
These Resources for Harp Students and Harp Teachers by Barbara Ann Fackler are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Rot und Schwarz by Barbara Ann Fackler  Rot und Schwarz is the theme for a series of skill building preludes for harp. In the same way that we often simplify map reading, by not naming every street that we'll pass on the way to our destination, note reading is simplified when new harpists can quickly identify where all the black and red strings are notated on the staff. These are useful for teachers as well as those learning on their own. Once these come easily, try my arrangement of Ode to JoyFelicitation, Spring Song, Still Waters and Meditation, all found in Short and Sweet Volume III: Accessible Solos would also be a great place to use your new skill. Look for music in the Pretty Quick Music catalog that is a Skill Building version and dig in. 

easy harp sheet music

An Introduction to Note Reading for Harpists  The title pretty much sums it up. To read notes well, you need to understand how the staff maps out your instrument. It's a beautiful system that shows you the location of each note on your instrument. Pay attention to how the notes move, up or down on the staff. Learn the watch for relationships as notes move, is it moving stepwise or skipping around, going up or down? When you read a map, do you need to know the name of every street you pass on your way to the next turn, or do you just need to know how many blocks to travel and in what direction? Note reading works in a similar fashion. This free one page music worksheet reminds you what you need to know.   

Note Reading and Rhythm Tutorial   Each note on the staff tells you two things about itself: 1) what it sounds like (the pitch of the note, and the string it is played on and 2) how long the note should last (the duration of the note). Where the note lays on the staff (which line or space) tells you what string to play and what the note will sound like. What the note looks like tells you how long the note should last. Download this free one page (PDF) tutorial that explains note values and how to interpret them.  32KB

Placing Four in a Row  One of my favorite things about the Suzuki method is that it teaches the placing of all 4 fingers very early on. Learning to do this teaches you to find a good healthy hand position. If you've worked through this and the study on root position triads, try out the lever-free version of Grieg's Morning Song or Saltarello (recorded on my CD). You might also consider Irish Love Song and Meditation from the Short and Sweet Volume III: Accessible Solos. It's a lot more interesting to fine tune your new skills with music you enjoy than an etude and when you're done, you've got music you can play for family and friends. If you're up for a more serious workout, grab the Lariviére etudes and start at page 6.

Thirds Learning to play thirds is the beginning of being able to add harmony to your music. It is important to learn to bring both the thumb and second finger off the string at exactly the same moment and to be able to recognize the interval of a third when the notes are not played as a chord but as individual notes following one another. Work through this short study until you can control your fingers reliably. Then, you're ready to work on music that incorporates thirds like Kelvingrove (used in the Gather worship book)and Sweetheart Waltz, part of  Short and Sweet Volume III: Accessible Solos. Silent Night, Hosanna, Loud Hosanna, or the Beethoven's Ode to Joy might be good choices for you if you can manage this study well.  If you are comfortable with placing three notes in a row, then you could also learn Hymn of Thanksgiving or Children of the Heavenly Father from The Sacred Lever Harp or Ron Harris' In This Very Room.

Typical fingerings for harpists   If you are consistent in your habits as a beginner you'll have an easier time as you attempt more difficult music. There aren't too many chord shapes for a harpist to know. Because our instrument works chromatically differently than other instruments, a minor third and major third are virtually the same to our hands. Once you realise this and memorize the typical fingerings for each interval, large chords and arpeggios become much easier to master.

Triads in Root Position (C Major)   Root position triads are often found in beginning music and they're very useful when learning to improvise. Small harps that don't allow for large chords will use them all the time. You need to master not just placing this chord shape but recognizing it. When you have mastered this, you can learn Westphalia, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, Ode to Joy(version A), We Three Kings, All the Pretty Little Horses or the Sweetheart Waltz. If you work with a harp ensemble, you are ready to play first harp on Arabesque if you have mastered this exercise. Once you're comfortable with the version in the key of C, try the other keys as well. Click each link for sheet music for each free harp etude. triads: D major  triads: G major  triads: a minor  56 KB

Chords may be inverted, meaning the note on the bottom is no longer the root. Once you've learned to dependably find a root position chord, it's time to learn how to find the inversions. This prepares you to learn Ode to Joy (version C), Come Thou Almighty King, Christ the Lord Has Risen Today, Fairest Lord Jesus, Jesus Loves Me Manoah and O Sacred Head.  You're also probably ready to start learning to read lead sheets. Work this in different keys to learn the chords that commonly ocurr in keys you'll use a lot on lever harp. Download the sheet music for these keys after you've learned the one in C major:  key of D  key of F  key of Eb  key of G 40 KB  

A Short Study in the Placement of Four Note Root Position Chords  The beautiful thing about harp is that we can memorize the shapes of commonly used chords which simplifies note reading. Root position chords always have the same shape to the hand on a harp, no matter the key. Finding chords of three notes is much easier than four note chords, so a little extra practice finding big chords is often necessary.

This is a short study, to be practiced over a long period of time that will help you memorize the shape of a four note root position chord. When you are ready to work on all the inversions possible with four note chords, grab the Lariviére etudes and look at page 5, which offers enough exercises that you'll be busy for a long time. The exercise on page 5 of  Lariviére can be played on lever harps, there are plenty for pedal harp only. 76 KB

Lead Sheet Tutorials: Included are two (2) free tutorials on reading lead sheets that are designed with harpists in mind. Learning to read standard lead sheets opens up limiless possibilities for repertoire, even to the novice.  Also including on this page is a list of commonly occurring chords for commonly used key signatures.  Nearly all of my Beginning-in-the-Middle students learn to read lead sheets sometime in their first two years of study.  I teach them to use standard lead sheet notation so that they can read any lead sheet they find. Once you've got the hang of this, check out the lead sheet collections in the Short Cuts collections.

Lever Tutor  You don't need to be clever to flip levers quickly, you just need to know how to think about them. Here's a couple of tutorials to get you started.

The Lariviére Exercises and Etudes is available as a free download. This is a great collections of etudes, aimed at pedal harp but some can be played on lever harp.

Learning to replace strings on your harp can be daunting until you've tied the knot enough times that you remember it. Harp Spectrum has a decent article (with pictures) that will remind you how to do this. There's also one at Vanderbilt Music Co. and a movie at  The Harp Herald.

Think Enharmonically! Sometimes thinking enharmonically makes a passage easier to play, either on pedal harp or lever harp. This webpage includes a (hopefully growing) collection of hints that will help you find ways to make enharmonic spellings simplify and expand your harp playing. Examples from harp sheet music included.

Insert for Britten's "There is No Rose", from Ceremony of Carols: Why Britten chose to put the harp notation in small notes and the piano in large is a mystery. This insert makes it easier to read this in poor light, so common in many churches. (pedal harp)

Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet  edited with Elizabeth Volpé, this edition repells some of the chords to allow for better chord shapes. It's easier to read, easier to play but sounds exactly the same. If Tchaikovsky understood harp better, he'd have done this himself.

Custom Harp Case Sewing Instructions   Thanks to Jaye, the Winged Harper, these plans are well laid out and easy to execute.

Harp Raincoat  Here's plans for a DIY raincoat for a small harp. This should be enough for most medium to small lever harps. Click the link to download the PDF with the free plans.

Stay in Shape With Little Effort: hints for how to stay in shape if your time is limited. 

don't have to be difficult. Here's a few tips to help you consistently find them.

Lighting matters: Why should you care about a stand light?

Winter Harps  Winter is hard on harps. Check humidity in your studio and maintain a healthy humidity for your harps.  Lack of humidity can cause tuning pins to slip, gut strings to dry out and more serious complications if left unchecked.  Read some reviews of humidifiers and find a solution for your space that works. Your harp will be happier and so will you. 

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