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Developing and Teaching an Effortless Approach to Playing the Harp

Harpists/teachers are invited to join a small group of their peers for Heidi Lehwalder’s harp seminar "Developing and Teaching an Effortless Approach to Playing the Harp", August 13-16, 2015 at Hidden Valley Music Seminars.  This seminar offers an opportunity for harpists to inform their playing and teaching with new tools.  Set on a bucolic campus in the foothills of the Santa Lucia mountains, the four-day seminar will consist of five sessions.  In these interactive sessions, we will  examine, discuss, share, and explore effective teaching methods and harp techniques. A wide range of repertoire will be demonstrated. Come with questions and a willingness to share harp repertoire which you find presents difficulty for your students.

"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."

-Harpist Susan Miron,
Music critic for The Boston Musical Intelligencer

Schedule & Cost

The Harp Seminar opens with dinner at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 13th and closes with brunch at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 16th.

The fee for this class, which includes all meals, room, and tuition, is $550.  For more information, please contact us at 831-659-3115 or

Class Outline

Introduction: Ms. Lehwalder will outline her main ideas about harp playing including both technical and musical approach. Main differences from others. Relationship with Carlos Salzedo and other influential teachers.

Discussion-Outline: Playing the harp is complex and involves paradoxes. How position evolves as student advances. Distinction between a standard and technical approach and the individual. Isolating the many different technical elements.

Visual and Aesthetics: "A harpists' hands are like a dancers' toes". Articulation, alignment, dynamic control, ("The full beauty of the harp grows out of many varying tonal effects of which it is capable"), breathing, body language. Gestures must have meaning. Effortless approach to playing the instrument.

Session Four: Repertoire Discussion: Bring repertoire to demonstrate. Discuss ways of learning. Memorization and developing a photographic memory. Discuss repertoire which presents more challenges to teach: Excerpts/examples from solo, chamber, orchestral, ballet, opera, etc.

Session Five: Wrap Up: Revisiting subjects with questions and suggestions from our previous sessions.

Teacher Biography

Heidi Lehwalder’s career encompasses orchestral and chamber music performance around the world.  She has performed as guest artist with more than 65 orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Montreal Symphony, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Lehwalder was Professor of Harp at the College of William and Mary, the University of Virginia, and The School of Music at the University of Washington. While teaching at the University of Washington, she created an enormously popular chamber music course which culminated in three public performances each year. She has given numerous master classes throughout the world including at The Juilliard School of Music, The Curtis Institute of Music, The Manhattan School of Music, The Eastman School of Music, Boston University, and at the 12th World Harp Congress in Sydney, Australia. 

Ms. Lehwalder was the Artistic Director of the Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts and the Belle Arte Concerts in Seattle, and served as Artistic Administrator of the Seattle International Music Festival. In 2013 she founded a new concert series, Chamber On The Mountain, in Ojai, California.

Ms. Lehwalder is the recipient of a Ford Foundation Grant, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, and has the distinction of being the first recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize (later to become the Avery Fisher Career Grant).

Ms. Lehwalder was the last student of master harpist, Carlos Salzedo, whose harp she now plays.