Lesson planning ideas about the Harp

Here’s just a few ideas for writing a music lesson plan about the Harp.

Discuss the effect of string length on pitch. Have the students guess if longer or shorter strings will produce higher or lower sounds. Here is an interesting question to discuss with your students: Why do we use the word “high” to describe pitches of a higher frequency, when it has nothing to do with the height away from the ground?

Why do you think harp makers placed the shorter strings closer to the player and not the other way around?

Have a look at this idea you can use to demonstrate the workings of the harps pedals.

Background information: The double-action pedal harp has seven pedals. What happens is each pedal changes all the strings of one note name. Each pedal has three positions: top (flattens pitches by a semitone), middle (no change), and bottom (raises pitches by a semitone).There are three positions for each pedal: In the top position it lowers the pitch by a semitone, in the middle there is no change, and in the bottom it raises the pitch be a semitone. If all the pedals are in their centre position, the harp plays a C major scale

Procedure: On the whiteboard, draw seven pedals laid out from left to right (simple ovals or rectangles will do), and label them with the note names from C to B. You can then have the students follow along the whiteboard while you play the C major scale on a keyboard instrument. Play the scale again with one of the notes chromatically altered, and ask students which pedal should be moved and in what direction. Get a volunteer to erase the pedal in question and redraw it in the correct position. You could repeat this as many times as you wanted for a fun game. For a greater challenge, alter two or more notes.

If you have access to an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar, you can easily demonstrate the need for a resonator, both on the guitar on the harp. The electric guitar only uses electrical amplification instead of a resonator, so it produces only a faint sound if it is not plugged in. However an acoustic guitar is easy to hear because the body of the guitar is its resonator, amplifying the sound. The harp also would be far to quiet to hear without a resonator, so you can point it out to the students and demonstrate its function.

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