Harp Books - General Information
Kolacny, David. Trouble Shooting Your Lever Harp - What to do when the repairman is 1000 miles away. Harps Nouveau, Denver, CO. 1996, 1997.
Designed to help the average harper identify common problems, and to understand which can be fixed at home, and which need professional repair. Lots of diagrams. Includes info on buzzing, harp joints, strings, pins, levers, sound boards, etc. Extensive section on various types of levers. Especially good for anyone in a remote area, or anyone without easy access to a harp maker or repair shop. Where I live, I have several harp makers relatively close to me, but I still found the book helpful in gaining more understanding of common harp problems and learning which ones I could easily fix myself, without having to bug my harp-maker friends. - T.H.
Riley, Laurie. The Harper's Handbook. "Everything No One Ever Tells You." Mayapple Publishing Services, Illinois. 1991, '93.
Good basic advice for beginning and self-taught harpists. As a teacher, I usually spend quite a bit of time during the first few lessons explaining many of the things mentioned in this book. There are notes on types of harps, buying a harp and caring for it, tuning, lessons, practicing, "What is talent?", styles and techniques, playing by ear, posture, etc. More recent verions of this book also include Preventing and Correcting Chronic Harp-Related Injury, helpful information on how to avoid injury while playing the harp, including some explanation of the different types of repetitive strain injuries, and what you can do about them. The notes on posture and descriptions of injuries are useful for any instrument player, but the advice is harp-specific. - T.H.
Riley, Laurie. Your Hands, Your Music. - Reviewed July 2003
This newest publication by Laurie is more of a booklet than a book, but I thought it worth noting since it addresses a common issue. There seem to be two types of harp teachers - those who are convinced there is one right way for everyone to play, and those who acknowledge that since everyone's hands and bodies are different, there has to be some flexibility and adaptability to any good technique. Laurie looks at various approaches to technique, and outlines what, in her opinion, makes a good technique. I like the fact that someone has finally taken the time to address these concepts, since they are often overlooked. My only complaint would be, that I wanted more! I felt like the issues just began to be addressed, but I would have liked even more detail. Most notably, I felt that the addition of some pictures or diagrams would have helped (e.g. to show various hand positions, ways of sitting, etc.). Laurie does have some illustrations in one of her other publications, The Harper's Handbook (see above). For someone just starting out, the concepts Laurie addresses are more fully realized if you read both this booklet and the Harper's Handbook. Ideally, I think this booklet would be excellent if it were fleshed out a bit more, or perhaps added as yet another section of future editions of the Harper's Handbook (the way the section on avoiding injury was). However, for anyone who is confused or frustrated with their technique or their teacher, or for teachers looking for a new approach, this booklet is still worth getting, even if only for the refreshing, practical perspective that it gives to an old subject. There are also lots of tips that can help you determine whether the technique you are using is really "good" for you and your hands, or whether you might want to consider changing your approach. - T.H.
For more info on Laurie Riley and her books, you can visit her web site at www.laurieriley.com. Laurie's books are also available at Melody's Traditional Music & numerous other harp stores.
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