Professionals

Heidi Lehwalder is a one of a kind musician with seemingly limitless energy and talent for creating the deepest musical poetry with her harp as a performer and for creating new generations of musical poets through her dedication as a teacher. During the years she spent at the School of Music at the University of Washington in Seattle, as head of our Harp Program, Heidi galvanized audiences, students, and colleagues, not only around the great music for Harp but in her expert and enthusiastic leadership as the School’s primary chamber music coach. After reading the other comments on her web site I could not resist offering my own unequivocal praise and admiration for Heidi! She’s an inspiration to all who know her.

- Professor Richard Karpen, Director, School of Music, University of Washington


Heidi Lehwalder has been an inspiration to me throughout my professional life as a harpist. I met her when her ensemble, the Orpheus Trio, came to my college to perform. They were dazzling, but the most dazzling member was Heidi Lehwalder. Her performance of Carlos Salzedo’s Scintillation dropped my jaw to the floor. My ears have never been the same since. Her generosity extended to assisting my preparation to audition for the Manhattan School of Music, where I then pursued my Master’s degree with the esteemed Lucile Lawrence. Heidi continued as a vital presence in my life with her numerous performances in New York City’s most vaunted venues, from Lincoln Center to the Metropolitan Museum; sometimes even performing on my harp, and once, I joined her onstage to turn pages.

She was my primary example of the heights of harp playing, of peerless technique, of sumptuous tone quality, and stellar stage presence. Without her pacesetting leadership, I could not have become the harpist I am today, even if it took me some twenty years more to understood just what she was doing on the harp. I also learned just how difficult it was to do what she made to seem so effortless. She even inspired me to create my own festival, HarpMusicFest: the International Harp Festival of Philadelphia. She has been an inspiration, a friend, and a mentor, and I will be eternally grateful to her for that.  

- Saul Davis Zlatkovski, composer-harpist


I have known Heidi for almost forty years, and the longer I’ve known her, the more she has amazed me.  In our early years, I simply idolized her.  She was an absolutely  brilliant harpist with a fabulous personality.  I tried to hear her whenever I could- she was such an inspiration and I actually met my husband at a trio concert of hers in Massachusetts in 1975.

It wasn’t until two years ago in Tacoma, Washington that I got a chance to witness Heidi’s brilliance as a teacher.  She gave a talk about performing that no one there will soon forget, and later, gave a memorable master class.  Many people can perform well, but few have the heart, brains, experience and wisdom that Heidi has, and this was immediately evident when she talked.  Heidi is the ideal teacher- she knows how to teach technique and how to make a musical phrase come alive.  Any harpist would be immensely fortunate to study with Heidi.

If I were forty years younger, I’d take the next plane out West to study with Heidi. She’s got it all, and wants to pass it along all to her students.

- Harpist Susan Miron, Music critic for The Boston Musical Intelligencer and Artsfuse.org.


Heidi Lehwalder is the real deal: smart, kind, compassionate, talented, and inspiring. Her beautiful recording of the Britten “Ceremony of Carols” with the Philadelphia Singers encouraged me to learn that piece many years ago, and to finally meet her in person after her move to Los Angeles was one of my moments in life that left me star-struck! In short, Heidi is the thinking musician’s harpist, bringing to her teaching a wealth of knowledge not just about harp playing, but about music and working with other musicians. Having done everything from including being the founder and Artistic Director of the Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts in Virginia, to soloing with some of the finest orchestras, to working with other famous musicians in chamber music, she brings a wealth of experience to her studio, and leaves her students inspired to achieve and grow.

- Brian Noel, President, Orange County Chapter of the American Harp Society, 2009 – 2011


If one wants the last and the most authentic "handshake" with the man himself, CARLOS SALZEDO, then look no further. She is alive and well and thriving on planet earth, sprinkling her joy and harp magic wherever you come upon her. She is inspiring generations to come (having influenced the past four decades of harpists who were lucky enough to be in her midst). And on top of all that, she is an entrepreneur, unable to separate herself from the bounty and beauteousness of music, whilst helping countless, young artists establish themselves in this competitive markeplace. Take it from me (her musical partner for two of those decades), she is none other than the brilliant, extraordinary,high priestess of 47 strings, HEIDI LEHWALDER. There simply is no one like her and there shall never be again! 

- Carol Wincenc
International Solo Concertizing Flautist; Grammy and Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: National Flute Association, National Society of Arts and Letters; Faculties Juilliard School and Stony Brook University; Founding memeber Trio Les Amies


She is a true master of our instrument, not to be missed.  But don’t be intimidated by her expertise; she has a big, warm personality, and is a lot of fun to work with.  She gives excellent instruction not only about technique and expression, but even about posture and stage presence.  

Heidi actually taught (and rescued) me in an adjudication years ago, when I was nearly frozen from pain in my fingers and wrists.  She was the only person who noticed that I was lifting my shoulder just slightly as I played (which I had never noticed!).  The tension was greatly affecting my agility. I am so grateful for that adjudication, because her observation literally saved my playing!  Additionally, Heidi gave me new and fresh perspectives on several familiar pieces.  She has a way of making an “old standard” a new treat.”

- Margaret Shelton, Professional Harpist

Students

Heidi's unstoppable passion for chamber music was very memorable but what I remember best was her passion for the students she coached and her desire to connect with and bolster up their enthusiasm. This gift, along with her ability to help us collaborate effectively and perform with more musical impact, made her a fabulous coach. For the past couple years, I've been organizing chamber music concerts for retired folks, and can say for myself that it started in Heidi's class at the University of Washington. As I continue to work and perform with other musicians, I'll always be inspired by her knack at getting others excited to play great chamber music!"

- Joseph Dougherty, Seattle, WA


Heidi Lehwalder has been one of the greatest inspirations and influences in my musical career. She is an amazing and passionate artist and pedagogue, as well as a caring and compassionate mentor. It was through Heidi that I discovered and developed my love for chamber music. I first met Heidi in chamber lab during my undergraduate studies at the University of Washington and found her energy, enthusiasm, and love for Brahms extremely contagious. Not only did I find another wonderful outlet of music-making under her guidance, I also soon found myself working with world-class chamber groups through her recommendation and encouragement. Heidi’s chamber lab became my favorite course at the UW and I will always treasure the time I spent working with her.

- Brooks Tran, pianist, Seattle, WA


I began working with Heidi in 2008, a few months before my thirteenth birthday. At the time, I was in the midst of an ill-advised punk phase – but Heidi didn’t even flinch when I brought in my favorite death metal songs and asked to learn to play them on the harp. She never pushes me towards pieces I dislike, but listens when I mention a composer whose works I enjoy or a genre I’d like to experiment with. My whole family loves Heidi – dog included – and my parents in particular constantly mention the dramatic difference in my playing when I’m working with Heidi regularly. When Heidi and I started working together, my technique needed a lot of work, and my sound has improved quite a bit in the years since. When she critiques my playing, it doesn’t sting, but makes me want to do better.

She takes an interest in my growth not only as a harpist, but as a person. She remembers my birthday and the names of my friends, the storylines currently unfolding on my favorite TV shows, and the tests and papers I’m concerned about from one lesson to the next, and she encourages me in pursuits outside the harp as well. As the years passed, Heidi has become not only my teacher, but my friend and confidante. Several times, I’ve become extremely harried after a busy week, and she’s allowed me to rant to her for twenty minutes at the beginning of the lesson about a group project gone awry – only to stay twenty minutes after the end of our lesson time to help me with the pieces I’d been working on that week. After years of working together, our lessons are filled with inside jokes and anecdotes that only we understand. Her personality and warmth fills up every room she enters, and her kindness has allowed music to become a calming force in my life rather than a source of stress.

- Emily, student in Seattle, Washington


As an adult student returning to the harp after 35 years and 6 subsequent years of playing, I have been extremely fortunate to have had Heidi as my harp teacher for the past 4 years. She has been an incredibly positive force and motivator for me. I feel (and, hopefully, sound) as though I can make music on the harp.

Heidi carefully and positively makes verbal suggestions supported by visual modeling and auditory examples. She caters her teaching to the student’s primary learning modality (i.e. visual, verbal, or auditory) and brings in other data to enlarge the student’s world. As a former special ed teacher I appreciate the value of this approach.

But it is more that Heidi enjoys teaching and improving her students’ skills in addition to her professional stature in the harp world. There’s not a hint of pretension or condescension in her words or attitude, although I’m sure that my harp-playing is often cringe-worthy. She always finds something of worth in my playing.

Even though I have been a long-distance student, first Portland-Seattle, and now Portland-LA, I’ve gained much more than from local weekly lessons. Heidi and I have had several lessons via Skype which have been very effective in enhancing skills that I’ve learned from several years of in-person lessons.

- Rochelle Savit, student in Portland, Oregon


Professor Heidi Lehwalder is the best teacher I have ever had. It is difficult to write about her within a few sentences because I like and admire her as a wonderful teacher and woman.

She is very warm and helpful. However, the first impression I had was scared because she is special, has the wonderful ears and the natural musical sense. In a lesson she points out specifically and has no room for compromise on this. From the beginning I knew I could study from her profoundly; on the other hand, I was scared because the goal she had in her mind seemed to be too high. If you are a regular person like me, you might think that a genius cannot understand us. Prof. Lehwalder is a genius but tries to know why I have trouble in a passage. She has an analytical mind.

She closely watches me, finds why sounds I produce were tight and thin, and finds a way for good and rich sound. She does not limit herself to just one method. Because she is natural, she can introduce several ideas for a passage until I can obtain. Although I already had a degree in performance and had experiences to perform concerti with orchestras, I did not like to play the harp in front of people because I did not have confidence. I practiced for several hours a day and was simply exhausted but could not have confidence. Prof. Lehwalder has a long career as a concert harpist, so she taught me what I needed to do from her experience. Now I know how I prepare. I appreciate her a lot.

As a person, Heidi is very warm. I had many music teachers in my life, but I can talk a personal story to only few teachers. She is one of them. She is more than a harp teacher. She understood and comforted me when I was in hard times. She jumped for joy with me when I finished a project. I feel I can share feeling with her.

I am the luckiest one because I met her and have been studying with her.

- Tomoko Numa, student in Japan


Let me begin by saying that Heidi Lehwalder is not only a fantastic harp teacher but also an incredible and kind human being. Although I have not studied with her long, I find my lessons to always be fun and informative. After a week of not practicing, I sometimes worry about my lessons but my fears are calmed with Heidi’s understanding character.

As far as studying with Heidi, I noticed that she has heightened my awareness and ability in two main areas — technique and the character of the piece. My technique before I studied with Heidi was good but it was lacking comfort and noticeable tone. Heidi has contributed both of these qualities to my current skills. Now, it is not only easy and enjoyable to sit down and play for long periods of time but the sound I produce gives me a new found sense of freedom. I like to think I knew, for the most part, how to give life and flow to my pieces. However, Heidi has shown me that every note, phrase and little movement has a life and distinction all its own.

Thank you, Heidi, for helping me give a new spirit and style to my pieces!

- Lisa Mothersbaugh, student in Seattle, WA


Heidi Lehwalder is a superb teacher, in every way. With her vibrant energy and formidable teaching skills, Heidi transformed my quiet, reluctant teenage daughter into a confident harpist. Under Heidi’s guidance, my daughter grew to love playing harp—so much that she would sometimes practice as long as 4-5 hours a day…without any parental encouragement!! Heidi listened to my daughter, supported her interests (and varied obsessions like Chemical Romance and Glee). Heidi’s positive attitude and enthusiasm drew my daughter out of her shell helped her to blossom amazingly. As a parent, I am truly grateful for all Heidi gave my daughter—both as a harpist and as a person. I cannot recommend her highly enough to anyone searching for a music teacher.

- Wendy Ruppel, student in Seattle, WA


Heidi Lehwalder is one of the most brilliant teachers and women I have ever met. She possesses an amazing talent not only for the harp, but teaching as well. It is rare that an artist with this much ability is also able to teach a beginner. Heidi loves people and loves the harp and whether it is a concert hall in New York, or judging an international competition in Tel Aviv or teaching someone who is just beginning, she is focused, can relate, loves the art and genuinely loves all those with whom she comes in contact. Her patience makes her a fabulous teacher along with her internationally renowned ability, which is a very unusual combination.

Heidi is a true prodigy, along with being a mentor to all her students. She carefully selects music and encourages her students to stretch their potential, but never pushes. She is a pleasure to study with and I believe that having this opportunity for my daughters, as well as myself, was a once in a lifetime chance to study from someone at this level. After studying with Heidi, my oldest daughter went off to Georgetown and has played with the orchestra at the university She also has taught harp lessons and plays weddings as well as other events. My youngest daughter, now in high school, has competed in state music competitions and has performed for various events. They both adore Heidi and look up to her and she has played a key role as a mentor in both their lives.

As an adult learning the harp, Heidi was very patient, focused and clearly taught technique as well as articulated expectations. She is very pleasant as a teacher, but at the same time extremely focused and is able to motivate the adult student. How lucky I consider myself to have been to have the opportunity to study with Heidi. Heidi Lehwalder is an international treasure and she has a tremendous amount to contribute to the harp world and the upcoming generation on a global level.

- Nancy B. Burgoyne, PhD., student in Seattle, WA