I’m based in Glasgow but I travel all over the UK with my harp.
Areas I cover regularly include Scotland, North West England, and East Anglia.
How on earth do you transport a harp?! Do you have to have a van?
My harp fits in my estate car and has a trolley to move it around. It has padded covers to protect it from bumps and knocks while it is travelling.
It will go up and down most staircases. Spiral staircases are a little more tricky but not impossible. It is tall with a strange centre of gravity, so is awkward rather than heavy to move.
Is it hard to play?
Like anything, to get really good you have to practice lots, but otherwise the main complication is that as well as moving both hands, you have to move both feet as well.
I thought harps only played in orchestras?
Harps are everywhere now! Harpist Tom Monger is currently touring with New Model Army and performs regularly with Florence and the Machine. A few harps have appeared on The Voice and The X Factor. Recently, Usher performed with harpist Melody Tai at the Grammys. Harps play jazz, trad, blues, everything.
I’ve played in pubs, bars, churches, castles, concert halls, you name it! I’ve even taken my harp busking outside Shakespeare’s birthplace. I play a variety of styles of music, from very classical to jazz to rock and pop.
Will I hear you playing?
In most venues, no amplification is required. A harp’s soundbox and soundboard are made of wood and they are beautifully resonant, even across large areas.
For bigger events with a high level of background noise (e.g. during a large wedding breakfast), it can be harder to hear. I have a microphone which fits inside the harp and plugs into a PA system or amplifier – please contact me to discuss your requirements.
Can you play my favourite song?
I’ll certainly have a go! With a bit of notice, I’m happy to arrange most music for the harp. For one or two songs or pieces, I don’t charge extra for this.
Some things work less well than others, but please get in touch and we can discuss what you have in mind.
I’m not sure what kind of music I want for my wedding. Can you help?
Of course! Wedding bookings include a free consultation (at my house) where I can play you a few things, or I can send you a couple of recordings to listen to. I’m happy to suggest music that will sound great on the harp, and will work with you to understand your musical tastes. This is one of my favourite parts of my job, I love hearing about other people’s favourite music. It’s worth bearing in mind that your guests will have a variety of different musical preferences so I try to cater for these when playing background music.
It’s also a good idea to let me know if there is anything you hate.
Can you play outside?
Being absolutely honest, I prefer not to.
But IF you can PROMISE that a) I will be in the shade and b) there is cover nearby in case of sudden liquid sunshine, then it’s a possibility.
Harps are made largely of wood, the strings are mostly gut and this makes it very susceptible to temperature and humidity changes. Direct sunlight is terrible for the harp and can make them crack.
If it starts raining or the wind gets up, it’s not an easy thing to move a harp, stool, gig bag and music stand in a hurry.
I’m also of traditional pale complexion and I burn quickly. On windy days, the wind will blow through the strings creating an interesting humming noise which can be very distracting for both me and the audience. I once played a bridal entrance with a wasp sat on the end of my nose. I was under a dovecote at the time, the doves were in residence and I was desperately worried one was going to leave a present on my harp.
I’d like to learn to play the harp. Can you teach me?
I’d love to! Please contact me and we can arrange a consultation lesson. If you are thinking of buying or renting a harp, I can help you choose one if you need some advice. Age is not a boundary, and don’t worry if you can’t or don’t want to read music.
Do you get sore fingers?
Generally, no, as long as I play regularly. Over the years, harpists, like guitarists and other string players, build up thicker skin on their fingertips.
After a while, I can get a stiff neck/back/shoulders so I take a few minutes break approximately every 45-60 minutes, to stretch things out a bit.
Don’t you wish you played the flute/violin/piccolo/any other small instrument?
Can you play Stairway to Heaven?