Tips for Beginning Harpists

Are you new to the harp? Perhaps you are looking for some tips as you begin to play.

Make Sure Your Harp is Well-Tuned

The last thing you want is to have a harp that is out of tune. A well tuned harp goes a long way in improving your sound quality as well as your own enjoyment of whatever piece you are playing. So, make sure your harp is tuned before you play.

Your Hand Positions

Having the correct hand position is vital for playing the harp. The first thing you should know is that you do not use your pinky at all to play the harp. You will only be using fingers 1, 2, 3, and 4. And your thumb should be much higher relative to your other fingers.

Make a fist with your index to pinky fingers flat against your palm and your thumb resting on top (like you’re about to knock on a door). This is your hand’s resting position. This is the position your hand should form after you pluck each note.


You will want to have good posture while you are playing the harp. Try not to sit too slouched or too far forward. You will want to sit up straight with your harp leaning on your right shoulder and your knees on either side of the soundboard.

Make sure your harp is fairly close to you.

Also, your elbows should be out (not tucked in) to a point where the outside of your wrist can bend and allow your thumbs to pluck higher on the strings than your other fingers.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Yes, that’s right. This is true of any instrument you are learning how to play, you want to keep practicing! You may initially find yourself getting frustrated or confused when you are first learning. All the different fingerings, notes, rhythms, and hand positions can initially be difficult to get used to. But, keep at it. Eventually everything will become more natural.

If you do find yourself getting frustrated when trying to learn a new concept or piece, just relax and take a break or play a tune you are already familiar with. Or maybe try to break it down and play it slower. Just be patient with yourself.

This post first appeared on

Published by dianarowan

Diana Rowan is a Creative Alchemist and founder of the Bright Way Guild, an academy dedicated to activating the creative within each of us.

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