Why Do You Play the Harp?

Posted on

Musical Why

Why do you play the harp (or whatever instrument it is that you play) ?

How long has it been since you thought about that, since you really reconnected with your musical “why?” We tend to be so involved with the “what” of practice and performing that we lose track of our “why” and without that, it is easy to lose our way.

I really don’t remember not having the harp in my life. I didn’t start harp lessons until I was eight years old, but my mother always told me that I was two years old when I first heard the harp and said that was what I wanted to play. And from the time I was four, I was studying piano with a teacher who also played the harp, so each week when I went for my piano lessons, her beautiful harp was there beckoning to me, or at least it seemed that way.

But there came a time when I was studying at the Curtis Institute when I needed to find my “why.” I had been playing for more than 10 years and, although I was no less driven to play the harp, I wasn’t sure just how I had started down this path or even what it was that kept me going. It was only by asking myself some hard questions and owning the answers that I was able to continue my harp studies.

I believe that we all experience moments when we feel lost or confused or just disconnected from our music. Most of the time we can shake off the feelings and go on, but it can be very valuable to take a few moments every now and then to examine our musical root system. Somewhere, our musical life is rooted in the conviction that we need music in our lives and that we derive pleasure from it that is necessary to our wellbeing.

Even if you don’t feel the need to do any soul-searching, it is helpful to reconnect, to refresh our outlook. Keep reading this post for a quick and easy (no hard questions here!) three-question exercise that will help you do exactly that.  And at the end of the exercise, you will find a link to the Take Time to Reconnect PDF that includes not only the questions but some action steps to help you use your answers to keep you connected to your “why.” Now let’s get started on those questions… These questions should take you only 15 or 20 minutes to answer. Sit in a quiet place where you can be relaxed, and choose a time when you will not be rushed. Write (or draw) your answers to these three questions on a piece of paper, or use the printout. Do not attempt to cut corners by keeping your answers in your head. There is power in committing your thoughts to paper. Write as much as you want, using the back of the page if you need to. The questions are the ones I call the Three F’s: a First, a Feeling, and the Future.

Describe in words or pictures just one of these “first” experiences with your instrument. What exactly happened on that occasion? How did it make you feel?

  • When you got your first harp
  • When you learned your first piece
  • The first time you played a glissando


Complete the sentence below, but don’t limit yourself to just one word. List 5-10 different words or phrases that describe your feeling.

When I play a piece that I love just for my own pleasure (i.e., not a performance), I feel …


Without stopping to consider what seems possible or likely – no censoring yourself! – list 5 things you would like to be able to do on the harp “some day.” These could include pieces you want to play, a particular level of technical achievement, a group or ensemble that you would like to play with, or another harpist that you want to meet, hear or study with.

What do your answers to these questions reveal to you?

And don’t forget to click the image below for the 3 page Take Time to Reconnect PDF  that includes the questions and the ultra-simple action steps to take advantage of your new insights!

Tags: , , , ,

  • Reginas

    list 5 things you would like to be able to do on the harp “some day.”

    play for others
    have a healing harp ministry


  • BJ

    I have just found your site and answered your questions. I got my first harp (19 string) for my 50th birthday just over a year ago. I had wanted to play one as a child but my parents only got me a guitar – I never played anything as a result.
    I was just amazed unpacking my internet purchase on my 50th. I progressed to a lever harp which I bought this January and I love it to bits. It is pretty hard going at my age, especially learning to read music but I am learning every day. My first piece with “TWO” hands was “Ode to Joy” which says it all about my harp and its sound and effect on me.
    When I play a piece I love just for my own pleasure, I feel achievement, peace, joy, excitement, relaxed, accomplished, engrossed and alive.
    For the future I’d like to be able to play like my teacher and make my harp sing with abandon. To play at church, meet other harpers and have the courage to take grade 1.
    Thanks for asking.
    Billy-Jane Gregory


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *