FAQs about Private Lessons
An overview about private lessons with Baltimore harp teacher Jacqueline Pollauf is available here,
and is an excellent starting place for information about private harp lessons.
Below you will find answers to many common questions. For more details about harps in general,
please visit Jacqueline's informational harp website, HarpInsideOut.com
Where are you located?
My home studio is located in the Homeland area of Baltimore, easily accessible from I-83. I also teach at a few local schools and colleges, but lessons at these schools are only for students enrolled at the school.
What days and times do you offer lessons?
I offer lessons Monday through Thursday at a variety of times. Many students come for after-school lessons in the afternoon or evening. Students who are homeschooled or have a more flexible schedule might come earlier in the day.
What lengths of lessons do you offer? Which one is right for me?
I offer 30-, 45-, or 60-minute weekly lessons. Most beginning students, especially young children, start out with a 30- minute lesson. If you are a more experienced harpist, or if you want to focus seriously on the harp, you might consider taking a longer lesson. You can also try one length and switch to a different length if it’s not working well.
How do I find out more?
Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out more information, including current availability and rates. I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.
Questions about Harps
Do I need to own a harp? How do I go about finding a harp to rent or purchase?
You will need a harp to practice on at home, but there are lots of ways to go about this. I have a few rental harps that are an option based on availability. This can be a great way to try the harp without making a long-term commitment. You can also rent through a harp center, rent through a private individual, or purchase a new or used harp. There’s no need to rush out and find something immediately. Feel free to come for a trial lesson and try my harps as a starting point. I’ll answer your questions and provide some suggestions and resources before you start looking around. I'd also suggest reading my article New to the Harp which is in the Resource section of this website.
What sizes do harps come in?
Harps come in a surprisingly wide range of sizes. The smallest harps are only three feet tall with just a few octaves of strings, and the biggest are around six feet tall and have six and a half octaves of strings. Most students begin with a small- to medium-size instrument.
What do I need to bring to my lesson each week? Do I need to bring my harp?
No, you don’t need to bring your harp. I have three harps available for lessons: a full-size pedal harp, a medium-size lever harp, and a small lever harp. However, if you have a question about your harp or want help with something specific, such as tuning, feel free to bring your harp to your lesson.
You will need to bring your music and some sort of notebook so that I can write down your assignment each week.
What supplies do I need other than a harp?
You’ll need a music stand, a tuner, a metronome, and some sort of a bench or wooden chair to sit on. You might already have a music stand, tuner, and metronome from another instrument and they’ll probably all work fine for the harp. If not, you can pick up these items at any local music store. There are also lots of free apps for tuners and metronomes that you can simply download to your phone or other device. Deciding what's best to sit on depends on your height and the height of your harp. Many people sit on a piano bench, a dining room chair, or a stool. Some people buy an adjustable-height keyboard bench or harp stool.
Can strings break? What do I do if that happens?
Yes, strings can and do break on all harps. Sometimes you might go months without a string breaking, or at other times three might break in a week. There is a lot of tension on the strings and they give out every now and then. If you break a string, all you have to do is let me know and we’ll order a new string. Then, if you’d like to, you can bring your harp to your next lesson, and we’ll put your string on together. Sometimes I also demonstrate how to change a string for a student and then they go home and try it by themselves.
Questions for Parents with Young Children
My child is only 5 and can’t read music. Can they start with the harp or should they play the piano first?
Personally, I really enjoy working with young children and I accept students as young as five on a regular basis. I also am happy to teach students of any age to read music, so students do not need to have learned another instrument previously.
Do I need to be present at my child’s lesson each week?
No, you do not need to be in the room with your child while they have their lesson. You’re welcome to wait in the adjoining room, wait in your car, or drop off your child and come back to pick them up at the end of their lesson.
I’ve never played an instrument, but my child keeps begging to take lessons. I’m worried that I won’t be able to help or support them properly.
Many parents have this worry, so you are not alone. It can be intimidating to find yourself in a world full of terms you’re unfamiliar with, and to be surrounded by other families that seem to come straight out of The Sound of Music, with the whole family involved in music. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, explain things in non-musical terms, or discuss different paths of musical study.
How involved do I need to be in my child’s practice?
Generally all I ask parents to do is to encourage their child to practice most days. This might take the form of a gentle reminder, or maybe hanging a practice chart on the wall. My goal with any child is that they will be self-sufficient in their practicing. I am constantly assessing them during lessons to make sure that they understand both the skills we’re working on together, and how they will then apply this in their practicing at home. I also provide a few written notes. With a very young child, you might need to go through a few flashcards with them, or double-check to make sure they’re practicing everything that’s been assigned equally and not just their favorite piece.
Questions about Performing and Auditions
I’m interested in performing, but also nervous about the idea. What performance opportunities do you offer?
Throughout the year I have several recitals for interested students. All recitals provide the opportunity to perform solo music, and some also offer the opportunity to perform as part of a harp ensemble. All recitals are optional, and no one needs to perform unless they want to. Some students take the plunge right off. Others ease into performing, maybe by attending a recital just to observe first, then playing in a recital with the harp ensemble, and eventually venturing onstage alone. Some students also arrange their own performance opportunities, perhaps playing at their church, in a school talent show, or at a local retirement home. I’m always happy to help students prepare for these sorts of opportunities.
I want to play in my school orchestra, but the conductor says they’ve never had a harp before, and she doesn’t know what we would do about music. Do you think it would still be possible for me to play in the orchestra?
Many conductors don’t know as much about the harp as they do other instruments. They might be open to the idea of including you, but are not sure exactly how to go about it. I’m always happy to help with this. Usually I start by getting in touch with the conductor directly, answering their questions, and finding out some more details about the orchestra. When it comes to music, I might help edit a harp part, perhaps making something written for pedal harp suit a lever harp. Sometimes we work from a piano part, or sometimes I simply write a harp part to go along with the rest of the orchestra.
I might want to major in music in college. Do you prepare students for college auditions?
Certainly. Many high school students are interested in majoring in music and we would work together to pick appropriate pieces, learn them, polish them, and discuss all of the logistical and performance aspects surrounding an audition. I'm also happy to discuss various college options and paths of study with students.
I’m looking for a harp teacher and am interested in taking a trial lesson with you. How should I prepare for the lesson?
First, send me an email (email@example.com) to set up a time for a free trial lesson. If you’re a student who is brand new to the study of music, all you have to do is show up with any questions you (or your parents) might have. I’ll show you the harp, explain how it works, and then we’ll go over some simple exercises and pieces together to give you a taste of playing the instrument.
If you already play the harp, please come prepared to play a piece for me. You might have taken some time off and be a little rusty, which is just fine. All I need is to get a sense of what you can do. It would be great if you could also bring a list of music you’ve already played, or a couple of your old books so that I can see what sort of music you’ve worked on. After you play for me, we might work on a few details in the piece you prepared, or maybe look at something brand new so that I can see how you approach a new piece of music.