March 17, 2010

Do I really need a teacher?

People often ask me if they really need a teacher when they begin playing the harp.  Actually they usually say something more like, "Do I REALLY need a teacher ?"
And I know that they would prefer that I say no. I don't know why that is.

I can understand if money is tight and paying for lessons is just not in the cards right now. This suggests that there are too many pressures to take on a new hobby at this time. Learning to play the harp should be shelved until a more propitious time in one’s life if that’s the case.

Or perhaps they are swayed by the "teach yourself to play" books that are available. These books are all quite good and well put together. In fact, when I was learning to play the harp, one of these stalwart books was selected by my teacher to help me along. Not for the poor graphics on hand placement but perhaps more for the well thought out exercises and tunes arranged in a slowing increasing difficulty.
And it could be those potential harpers don't realize that those “teach yourself to play” books were written at a time when there were very few harp players to be found to teach, especially in the traditional music arena, making it challenging to find someone with whom to study.

I know there are those who are self taught. I know this because they have told me so. And where have I met these people? At workshops, lead by some of the most brilliant teachers available today. So while they may be initially self taught, they have reached the end of their self teaching and reached out to be brought a little further by spending a small wee while with a luminary.

Learning from a teacher provides so many benefits that I almost don’t know where to start! A teacher will help you establish, lay-down, and reinforce a strong foundation from which you can do many things. A teacher will assure you start by knowing how to hold your harp and how to place your fingers – and why!

A teacher will facilitate your growth:

• mastering technique
• engraining musicality
• learning a broad repertoire
• having the skills to perform whichever repertoire you select – with ease and confidence
A teacher will help you grow strong as a musician. A strong foundation means that you have the strength (mental, emotional, musical) and endurance to explore, do, make whatever you seek.
It is that growth we all seek - that strength. The best musicians still learn, grow, study – to improve on the strong foundation they established with their teachers when they began.

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