Overview & Philosophy
The Harp program at School for Creative and Performing Arts offers a hands-on experience for students. The students receive a well-rounded musical education through the use of the harp.
Included in the goals of the program are:
- Skills related to the harp, such as: technique, repertoire, care for the instrument, history of the instrument, history of important harpists;
- Music skills, such as reading music and playing music alone and with others;
- Citizenship skills, including preparation for all aspects of presenting the craft of music to the public.
Along with becoming harpists, musicians, and good citizens, the students build self-confidence, acquire problem-solving skills, and gain respect for themselves and the world around them.
Each year, the students prepare music for school ensembles, a harp concert in collaboration with other departments in the school, and a recital for all the harp students in the Greater Cincinnati area. We also go into the recording studio to capture and save the best of the music we have created each academic year. The community also offers many playing opportunities for the more accomplished students.
- Harp One is an introductory class for students who are not familiar with music and/or have no harp experience. We start from the beginning and acquire familiarity with music notation, harp technique, care for the instrument, important harpists, and most of all -- we play music on the harp. Students in Harp One get to perform in the harp concerts and on the recording.
- Harp Two class offers students who have some harp technique and familiarity with music notation the opportunity to continue growing musically as a harpist. Harp Two music skills advance beyond basic knowledge of notes and rhythms and on to understanding chord structure and accidentals.To gain entry into the Harp Two class, the students must know all the notes in the grand staff and rhythms down to an eighth note. Students must also be able to create music independently from a written page and capable of producing melody and accompaniment simultaneously.Harp Two students get to participate in the harp concerts, recording session, and have some opportunities to perform in the community.
- Harp Three class is the most advanced in the harp program at SCPA. These students perform with the school ensembles and are hired to play throughout the community. They practice outside of classroom time and many also take private lessons. These students gain skills on the instrument that will prepare them for futures as musicians. Some of the Harp Three projects include: making a harp arrangement of music not originally written for the instrument; organizing an ensemble of fellow musicians; rehearsing, and performing that ensemble music; engaging in professional interaction with members of the community requesting their music; preparing material appropriate to gain entrance into a music conservatory -- should that be the direction they choose.
Arts Assessment and Testing
The students in the harp classes have to be able to play the lesson for the class in order to move on to the next lesson. This process encourages good listening skills as well as building mutual respect. The written lessons are assessed in the traditional fashion with accompanying work sheets. However, the final exam in the spring requires the student to analyze and play music at the appropriate level, thereby putting skills learned from doing the worksheets into use. The school requires a board examination twice an academic year, giving the students the opportunity to perform for other members of the instrumental music staff.
Harp class offers a performance-based atmosphere. The student needs to be in the classroom to benefit from the class. Therefore, participation comprises an integral portion of the student’s grade. Points are earned for being on time and prepared for class as well as staying focused during class. Grades of students who are absent, tardy, continually leave the classroom for personal reasons, persistently break rules are affected commensurately.
The rules of the classroom are posted in the room and can be found on the CPS harp department website. The rules focus on respect of the student for self, each other, the staff, and the equipment.
Further grading is earned from successful performances. The students get charts showing the categories in which they are being assessed. These include accuracy of notes and rhythm, steady tempo, and dynamic contrast for all levels of playing. The advanced students are also required to play with knowledge of phrasing.