Online learning resources, be it courses, videos, written content, one-on-one coaching, apps, et cetera, provide fantastic opportunities to learn (and teach) how to play the harp and understand music more generally. Though nothing truly beats dedicated in-person harp lessons, there are plenty of excellent alternatives online.
Note that by “resources,” I'm not only referring to video tutoring and full-length courses (though these are arguably the best options). I'm also considering masterclasses, applications, videos and articles, and other online resources for learning how to play the harp.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these resources based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Reputation of the harp learning resource
- Quality of education in technique, theory, and learning real songs
- Organization and depth of learning
- Adaptability of teaching to individual students (one-on-one lessons are best here)
- The resource must be currently available
With all that being said, let's list out the learning resources.
The top 11 best online resources to learn how to play the harp are:
- Online Academy Of Irish Music
- Harp School
- Harp Column Academy
- Harp Academy Online
- Start Harp
- Learning The Harp
- Ailie Robertson
- Music Discoveries
- Play With A Pro
- My Music Teachers Online
In this article, we'll go through each of the above-mentioned resources to get a stronger idea of what makes them great for learning the harp. Whether you're a complete beginner or a successful professional, there is always something to learn! I'll include links to check out each of the options for yourself to learn more about harps. We'll also consider a few “honourable mentions” worth considering.
Online Academy Of Irish Music
OAIM was founded by Kirsten Allstaff and Matthew Curley in 2010. Currently, the headquarters are in Doolin, Ireland.
The OAIM offers services for over 14 instruments that can help keep the long tradition of Irish music alive around the world. Indeed, the school recruited 34 renowned teachers that can not only make you a proficient player of your instrument but can also tell you all about the Irish tradition.
In the case of the harp, this instrument can be traced back to medieval times in Ireland when it was used to entertain the Nobility. Moreover, it is such an integral part of the country's culture that it is a symbol found on all Irish Euro coins, for example.
Therefore, Lisa Canny, the harp instructor, can take you on a trip straight to the very heart of the Irish culture through her “Basic” and “Advanced” courses.
If Irish music is your thing and you want a music formation that is highly devoted to that style, you have to check the OAIM.
The main idea of this school is that students have fun while learning how to master the instrument. The 2500+ video lessons available at the site can help you get started regardless of your expertise level.
Moreover, the faculty has 21 members who represent elite-level players in many different styles, from pop to jazz, Latin music, film music, and a classical repertoire, among many others. Furthermore, there is even a new video posted to learn “Bad Habits”, the new classic by Ed Sheeran that came out recently.
So, for those who love video lessons and are inspired to learn by playing the music they love with a new instrument, Harp School can prove to be the resource they were looking for. Finally, you can also access their shop tab and have access to sheet music, gift cards, and more.
Harp Column Academy
Kimberly Rowe and Hugh Brock founded the Harp Column Academy in 1993. The magazine established the website in 2013 as a way to teach the instrument to all its readers.
The Harp Column has been the go-to publication for all things harp for three decades. They have been the reference by which most of the harp world moves. They have decided to branch out into the online education niche to broaden their scope and offer avid students the best teachers to make their learning paths easier.
On the one hand, the website works as a hub for sheet music downloads. On the other, the team of handpicked professionals is one of the most revered in the world, which can work as a quality assurance for students.
Finally, the platform is divided by musical styles with top-notch teachers for each of the different genres. For example, you can study folk, jazz, improvisation, classical music, and even pop, all at the same school.
Harp Academy Online
Harp Academy Online is based on three main pillars: confidence in your playing, learning how to practice, and reading music.
These three pillars are addressed simultaneously through almost 50 videos taught by Elizabeth LeBlanc. Furthermore, according to the site, there are 60 more new videos on the way, so the offer can rise to over 100 videos to learn from.
These videos will teach you the basics, including the maintenance of your instrument, how to change a string, and how to use all your fingers, among many other skills. Finally, you move on to learning how to read music which is a skill that can unlock a whole new world of resources for you as a player.
After that, you can move on to the videos directed to learning a practice routine and maintaining it to become proficient in the instrument. Finally, the lessons are divided into beginner, intermediate, and how-to and ready to accompany you all the way from your first notes to mastering the harp and playing with other musicians.
With two weeks of free trial available, there is no reason not to check out Harp Academy Online.
Shelley Fairplay founded Start Harp in 2016. Currently, headquarters are in Wales.
Start Harp is different from many other harp-learning resources because of a very simple thing: it is a website driven by passion. Moreover, it is something that Shelley states right away and the magic thread that keeps the entire school structure going: to find and share the joy in harp music.
Yet, Start Harp is not only full of high hopes, good wishes, and thin air; on the contrary, it is a website run by a 20+ years teacher who has been a soloist player, arranger, coach, and ensemble leader. So, her passion is the drive, but her experience and academic formation are what this course is made of.
Speaking of which, you can opt for the free version of the Immersion Course or sign up for the 6 or 12 weeks courses that can take you from beginner to advanced. But that's not all; you can also join the school's free virtual ensembles and share with like-minded players on their Facebook site completely free.
With so much to do without a fee, it is a no-brainer to check Shelley's school for harp students.
Learning The Harp
Learning the Harp is a great resource for those looking for a video-lesson-based way to learn how to play the harp that can also offer interaction with the teacher.
In this vein, the site offers 3 types of courses dedicated especially to beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. They all include step-by-step videos to address the main playing skills as well as practice and posture tips needed in every step of the path, and that are accessible 24/7 from any device, from a laptop to an iOS or Android phone.
Also, for those who sign up for a membership, the site offers a members-only harp community called Harp Grove that reunites like-minded players from around the world to share their interest in the instrument as well as their passion for music.
Finally, every month Christy-Lyn, the site owner and teacher, shares a monthly Zoom session inviting the entire Harp Grove community to play, interact, and have a great time.
You can check the resources on the site with the free trial before deciding.
Based in Edinburgh, Ailie Robertson is regarded as one of Scotland's best traditional Celtic harpists. Moreover, she has won the National Mod Gold Medalist five times, has published 3 award-winning solo CDs, and published 7 volumes of harp sheet music. Plus, she gives performances, teaches private lessons to top-tier players, and offers her talent through her online teaching school.
A professional musician that has travelled the world playing her instrument on the most demanding stages can offer students much more than just academic knowledge about how to play it. For the past 15 years, she has poured years of experience mastering the harp and delivering for crowds under pressure playing with the best into a series of video classes and workshops.
Therefore, what you can expect from Aili Robertson's harp academy, regardless if you join level 1 or 2, is a plethora of valuable lessons divided into 10 lessons with bonus material and PDF harp sheets which you can access 24/7 from any device you like.
Finally, besides joining the exclusive Facebook Group that Ailie Robertson moderates, you can also access a weekly Q&A session with her. So, if you want to learn from the best, joining Ailie Robertson's academy is a great way to get started.
Anne Crosby Gaudet founded Music Discoveries in 2020. She is a Master's Degree holder in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Michigan. Although she is a piano player, according to her formation, she picked up a harp for the first time in 2011 and hasn't been able to put it down for the past decade.
Her idea is to teach the instrument through a series of original compositions carefully created for each student. Her works have been used to teach in prestigious colleges such as the London College of Music and the Royal Conservatory of Music.
So, due to her knowledge in pedagogy, she can create insightful compositions that are perfect for mastering certain aspects of harp playing and are divided into different courses you can purchase separately and that together form an uncanny learning experience.
Finally, you can start this adventure by downloading her weekly practice planner, which will help you find a consistent way to practice your instrument. As a result, this might be a boost for motivation and progress.
Play With A Pro
Adam Simonsen founded Play With a Pro to create a bridge between world-class teachers and avid students from all over the world. With over 10,000 students currently and an ever-growing roster of world-class teachers, students of any instrument can find the perfect person to teach them how to get proficient in the shortest time possible.
The site works as a huge directory in which you can enroll and pick the best teacher to suit your needs. Once you settle on a teacher for your instrument, you can pick a suitable time for both and schedule your first lesson. Furthermore, most of the teachers on the site offer a free first lesson so you can get to know each other.
After picking the right person, the platform will handle all the payments, so your money will always be safe.
So, if you prefer to learn with a teacher rather than with a self-paced set of videos and would like to connect with pro musicians around the world, Play With A Pro can be the perfect platform to become proficient with your harp.
Steven Cox founded TakeLessons in 2006 as a way to make the road to proficiency in any discipline a fun trip instead of a steep uphill ride. Therefore, he enlisted some of the best teachers in the world for each discipline and created a hub where teachers and students from around the globe can connect and fulfill their goals.
Every year, over 25 million people use TakeLessons to reach a new level in their lives as musicians, language students, or any other of the many disciplines offered at the site. Moreover, you can use all kinds of filters and have group or one-on-one lessons virtually or personally, depending on where you and your selected teacher reside. Moreover, each lesson offers a satisfaction guarantee, or TakeLessons will refund your balance.
Another great feature of this platform is that teachers are rated by their students, so you know beforehand, from reading the reviews and qualifications, if the teacher is what you need. Furthermore, you'll also find a great variety of prices for each of the disciplines as teachers go from basic to expert.
So, TakeLessons will surely offer you a safe, convenient, and practical way to learn the harp.
My Music Teachers Online
Based in Canada, My Music Teachers Online is an attempt to bring the same opportunities in the big urban centers to all of Canada and beyond. Moreover, the idea behind the website is to offer the services of the most varied array of teachers from all backgrounds to meet all sorts of musical needs.
For harps, in particular, the platform currently offers the services of four teachers with distinct backgrounds, teaching styles, and approaches to the instrument.
Once you've found the kind of teacher that suits your needs and you've settled into a schedule, you can use Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime for your lesson on any device that can support either of those apps.
Finally, according to the website, teachers guide students in renting or purchasing their first harp to practice and learn how to master the instrument.
- My Harps Delight Online Lessons
- Rave Harps
- The Harp Connection
- Anne Roos
- Hands On Harps
- Robyn Sutherland