Weddings

Do you play outdoor weddings?

Absolutely! I am happy to play outdoors and play many outdoor weddings each year. There are couple of things you should know. I need to place the harp in the shade and on a hard flat surface – a square of about 4 feet. It can be a part of a dance floor or plywood. The solid floor is essential. Of course we all hope that the weather cooperates, but if not, you need to provide an alternate indoor location. I have a temperature clause in my contract as well, I do not play outdoors, if the temperature is lower than 55 degrees F. All of the above is mainly to protect the expensive instrument that I play rather than for my comfort.

How strong is the harp sound, do you need to amplify during the wedding ceremony indoors or outdoors?

The concert harp has a stronger sound than most people think. The sound carries very well in indoor locations. However sound doesn’t carry so well outdoors, so I always amplify using my own sound system.

Can we hear you play before booking?

I invite you to my watch YouTube recordings, which were recorded mainly during live concerts and listen to the music samples through my website. You can also contact me to see where you could hear me perform live each month. I also play for two wedding shows each year – in January and September at the Holiday Inn in Columbia, where I get a chance to chat with brides as well.

Do you travel with your harp? How do you transport it?

I transport my harp all the time. When I went car shopping I really humored my car salesman first with taking precise measurements and then actually bringing my harp to see if it was the best fit. I drive Toyota Sienna family van which can accommodate the harp, all the equipment and my whole family if needed!

Do you need help transporting, loading and unloading your harp?

When performing I always appreciate helping hands getting the harp, stand, bench, music etc. out of the car and into buildings especially if there are stairs involved. Never move my harp without my agreement and supervision though.

How far will you travel for my wedding?

Most of my weddings are in St. Louis/ Columbia/ Jefferson City/ Kansas City/ Lake of Ozarks /Springfield. I am happy to travel, but mileage fees and travel time fees apply.

Where should we have the harp set up?

The harp needs a clear level space of about 4 feet square. To maintain the tuning, it must be located away from heating / cooling vents, burning fireplaces and frequently opening door to the outside. From the set up location, I need to be able to see front and back of the aisle when the bridal party is standing up.

Do we need to provide anything for set up?

Not for the indoors, just a clear space. I will bring my harp, bench and a music stand. Outdoors – yes, shady spot and a flat surface in form of plywood, portion of a dance floor or folded table. If electric outlet is not available right next to my spot, please provide extension cord long enough to reach me.

What do you wear for weddings?

Usually I wear a white or off white blouse and black pants or black skirt. If you would like me to wear a color that is matching with your wedding party colors, that’s also possible too, if I own an outfit in that color. I can also wear concert black dress, if that suits you better.

Do you play in Duos or other ensembles?

Yes, I play in a duo with flute on regular basis as well as with cello. I have been asked to perform for weddings in the past in a trio combination as well – flute, cello, harp or violin, cello and harp. If you had a different combination in mind, I am willing to give it a try!

Do you attend a wedding rehearsal?

Generally I don’t. Before your wedding, we will have a consultation meeting at my house, where I will play samples of music for you to choose from. We will talk in detail about your wedding ceremony. Feel free to take a video or audio recording of the chosen samples during this meeting, if you want to share what they sound like with your family and bridesmaids. During the meeting I will gather information from you as well, such as how many grandparents and parents are being seated, how many bridesmaids etc. I double check on all of my information on your wedding day with your officiant and wedding planner, to see if there were any changes. I use this information to time the processionals properly. It is my job to make the music fit whatever happens. As needed I can lengthen or shorten any piece to accommodate the size of the bridal party or the length of the aisle. If you would still like me to attend the rehearsal, I will charge according to my hourly rate.

Do you play Catholic weddings?

Yes. If it’s a full Catholic Mass, I can certainly provide the music for Prelude, Processionals, Offertory, Sign of Peace, Communion, Rose presentation, Unity Candle, Recessional and Postlude. I advise that you have your church pianist play the responsorial psalms, if needed. There are some pieces that are not appropriate and not approved for weddings by the Catholic Church, which I will discuss with you during our consultation.

What music is the most traditional for wedding ceremony?

Some of the most traditional or most frequently requested are Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel, Bridal Chorus also known as Here comes the bride by Wagner and for Recessional Wedding March by Mendelssohn.

Do I have to have traditional or classical music?

No, you don’t. I enjoy meeting each bride and creating a specific musical soundtrack for each wedding. On the other hand I advise you to check with your officiant and venue (if it is the house of worship) to see if there are any restrictions. Some do not allow non-classical and non-sacred music. If you have a free hand, I think it’s great to have a combination of music, there are light moments before the ceremony and even during, but wedding ceremony itself is a serious occasion and commitment so perhaps the music should reflect this. There is plenty of time for the party music later that night!

There is a song I really like, can you learn it for my wedding?

Sure, you can always ask me about a specific song. I might already have it in my repertoire. If not, I will do my best to accommodate your request as long as you want to use it during your ceremony and I have enough notice to be able to find it and learn it. I will need sheet music, which I can search for online. I will charge extra for this request, anywhere between $ 30 – $ 70, depending on the length and complexity of the song.

Will you accompany my musical friends or family members as they play or sing?

As long as your family member is a trained musician who will be comfortable performing for your guests, it’s possible. I do require at least one rehearsal at my house prior to the wedding and a sheet music provided one week before that. The charge for rehearsal is $ 70.

Do you play cocktail hours and wedding receptions as well?

If I am asked to, I certainly can! I think the harp is a perfect match for the cocktail hour, I can play more of the popular repertoire as your guests visit with each other. I am available to play during dinner as well. As long as it’s non dancing reception, the harp is a good choice. For receptions with dance I would recommend hiring a live band or a DJ.

Booking

How do I book you for my Wedding / event?

Usually the first contact is done through email or phone and I will check whether I am available to play your wedding or event. Once I confirm that I am available, we can proceed with the booking. I will need some specific information from you to fill into the contract:

  • Your full name, mailing address and phone number
  • Wedding / event date
  • Starting time
  • Duration (only for background music events)
  • Venue address
  • Whether it will be indoors or outdoors
  • What instruments you would like to have play ( harp solo, flute and harp duo etc)

After I gather this information, I will mail you 2 contracts. When you receive those, sign both, return one back to me along with 50% nonrefundable deposit and keep one for your records. I will hold the date for you for 2 weeks from mailing out the contract to allow you enough time to sign and return the contract back to me along with the deposit. I will email you a confirmation that I have received your contract and the deposit. No weddings or events are booked without received signed contract and deposit. I am also able to provide you with electronic contract through WeddingWire, which speeds up the process.

How much is the deposit?

The deposit is 50% for all events.

When is the balance due?

The balance for weddings is due one week prior to the wedding ceremony. I don’t want you to have to worry about payments on your big day. Other events will have the balance due on the day of the performance.

How long will you hold my date?

You date is held for 2 weeks from mailing out the contracts to you. You will also see this date specified as Deposit Due Date in the contract. If I have not received the contract back along with the deposit by Deposit Due Date, I will email you a reminder. If I don’t hear back from you, the date will be released and available for other bookings.

How far in advance can I book you?

Bookings can be made up to two years from today’s date. Most brides book my services about 6 months in advance. Booking early ensures my availability for your event and also locks in current pricing.

Are you able to accommodate last minute request for a wedding?

You can always try me. In high wedding season, the probability is less likely, during the rest of the season, I have concerts, orchestra performances and other engagements, but you never know. Email me and if I am available, I will be happy to accommodate last minute request or at least recommend another accomplished harpist or other musicians in the area who could perform the service.

What if you have to cancel?

I never cancel, unless there are extreme circumstances and even in such case I would do my best to arrange for a substitute harpist or other qualified musician. I have strong connections in the local music scene and am absolutely positive that I could find somebody even last minute. If I am prevented from being at your event due to an accident or emergency on the way, all payments will be refunded. Rest assured that over the years, this never happened! I take my work and my commitment to your special day very seriously, to give you an example, I booked a wedding when pregnant with my 3th child and the wedding date was about 3 weeks after my due date. Since both my previous kids came a week early, I thought my newborn will be about a month old by the time of the wedding. My baby was over a week late, but never the less, I was playing the wedding ceremony. Fortunately it was on a private estate and the hostess was so gracious that she put my husband and our 2 weeks old baby in one of the guest bedrooms during the wedding ceremony.

Harp

How many strings does a harp have?

That depends on the size of the harp. Concert grand pedal harp has 47 strings, there are pedal harps starting at 40 strings, lever harps usually have 34 or 36 strings, folk harps 22.

What is the difference between lever and pedal harp?

Pedal harp has pedals to create half steps and the lever harp has levers to do the same thing. Lever harps are limited in the number of keys they can play in. Imagine that the harp strings are like white keys on the piano. If we want to create “a black key” up or down a half step, we have to do it by pushing one of the seven pedals up or down on the pedal harp or pushing the desired lever down on the lever harp.

Why are there 7 pedals on the pedal harp?

Seven pedals represent the seven tones in a scale. They are placed at the base of the harp on the left they are D C B and on the right E F G A. Pedals serve to flatten or sharpen the desirable note. There is a mechanism attached to each pedal that goes all the way through the column to each string. It ends with a set of two discs on each string. These discs tighten the string – make it a half step higher. Each pedal can be put in three positions – 1. flat ( when the string is released from the discs ), 2. natural ( one discs grips the string ) 3. sharp ( both discs grip the string) Each pedal operates on all the same note strings on the harp, meaning if you push the C pedal to the sharp position, all C stings on the pedal harp become C sharp.

What are the strings made of?

Harp strings are wire, gut and nylon. Low strings are wire to withstand the highest tension, followed by the rest of the harp strung in either gut or nylon or combination of the two.

Why are some strings red and some black?

They are colored for better orientation for the harpist. Every C is red and every F is black. It would be very hard to find the right notes on the harp without this little help.

How much does the harp costs?

Lever harps start around $ 2,500, pedal harps around $ 15,000 and go up to $ 50,000!

Are older harps better than new ones?

Not really. Because of the complicated pedal mechanism, harps age just like pianos, and unlike violins, don’t increase in value with age. Aged wood might sound better, but the mechanics become unreliable. A one hundred-year-old old instrument is more of a collectible rather than a performance instrument.

Does weather and humidity influence the harp much?

Yes, since the harp is made of wood and the strings are made of gut; both these materials react to weather and humidity. Strings contract under cold conditions (they sound higher) and expand in warm weather (lower).

Harp Lessons

Do I need to own a harp to start lessons?

You will need a harp to practice on. If you don’t want to purchase right away, I own several lever harps that I rent to new students for 6 months trial period. In case they are all out, I can navigate you to Rent to Own programs offered by different harp makers.

What is the best age for a child to start playing harp?

Since there are various sizes of harps, it is easy to start in any age. I can start children on harp as young as 5 or 6 or older. If they had any musical training prior to that, ideally on piano, they will progress faster at least at the beginning, since harp music uses the same notation in treble and bass clef as piano.

How much do I need to practice?

Depends on many factors like, how much time you have, how many other interests you pursue, how time demanding your job is etc. However it is advisable to practice daily anywhere between half hour and three hours to make progress.

How often do I need to change strings on my harp?

Depends on how much you practice and perform. Professional harpists change the entire set of strings every year and also have the harp regulated yearly.

For students doing this, once every two or three years should be enough. Of course you always have to change the odd string that breaks in between – make sure you always have a spare set on hand.

Am I too old to start lessons?

You are never too old! You may not end up playing at Carnegie Hall, but it’s never too late to begin something new. If you have a previous musical experience and read music, the process of learning to play harp is faster, but I don’t mind starting from the scratch either.

How often do I need to take a lesson?

The first 3 months are crucial to develop proper hand position and technique, so ½ hour or one hour lesson every week is ideal.

Why do I need a teacher? Could I teach myself if I already play piano?

You can teach yourself to certain point. However the hand position and certain techniques are not intuitive and do not translate to harp from piano. Without them you will be limited to what you can do and play. Also correct hand position is essential for beautiful sound production. Good position as you are sitting at the harp is also crucial to prevent injury such as back and neck pain or hand injury from the repetitive movement.