Hiring a Harpist – Outdoor Events

Hiring a harpist for your wedding or party will give you a rare opportunity to not only experience lovely music, but to see and hear an instrument that you may have never seen before. Most harpist are excited to tell people about their instrument and let them take a close up look at the pedals or levers on the harp.

Hiring a harpist does, however, have a few more logistical hurdles than smaller instruments. While most hurdles are easily cleared, I’m going to spend a few blog posts outlining some of the things that you should know about your venue so you and your harpist can figure out how to avoid some pitfalls on the big day.

Outdoor Events

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My harp outside on August 21st with eclipse shadows on the soundboard. Yes! The harp can go outside, but I won’t leave it in the hot sun or go out in the rain with it uncovered.  Here in North Georgia, we’re blessed with a good deal of the year that being outside (at least in the shade) isn’t too bad. If a person is comfortable, the harp is comfortable.

Outdoor events are beautiful! As a wildlife biologist, I love nothing more than being outside. There are a few considerations for the harp, though.

Most harpists will require a plan B in case of poor weather, or some sort of adequate shelter for the harp in case of rain. While a cellist can quickly pick up their instrument and run for cover, a pedal harp weighs about 90 pounds, and needs a dolly to be moved by most harpists. The dolly is not going to be sitting behind the harpist during your wedding, either, so several minutes may elapse before the harp can be protected from the rain. This is enough time to do irreparable damage to a harp, as they are wooden instruments of very narrow calibration.

Rain isn’t the only weather factor for harps. On hot days, many harpist ask for some sort of shade for the instrument. Long exposure to heat and direct sun can soften the glue in the joints of the instrument. Considering a pedal harp has thousands of pounds of tension pulling on the soundboard by the strings, those joints need to be firm and strong. The rule of thumb, is if a person in comfortable, the harp is comfortable. But treat a harp more like your grandmother than a football player, please!

The playing surface is also a consideration. Most harpists request a stable platform for their instrument. Since a pedal harp is pretty top heavy, and is played tipped back on two little feet, a tilted or unstable surface causes the harpist to attempt to keep his or her instrument from tipping while playing at the same time. A well manicured, level lawn may only need a mat to keep the grass out of the mechanism beneath a pedal harp, but surface will probably come up in discussion with your harpist.

Distance from the car is also something that the harpist will want to know. Harpists arrive early, as a general rule, but if we need to cart the harp to the back hole of a golf course, we’ll need to get there even earlier. We also may need to solicit help moving the harp or other gear to your location. Remember, a pedal harp is top heavy and on a dolly so a hiking trail may not be possible. In these cases, try to find a harpist with a smaller lever harp that can be carried!

Harps are wonderful for outdoor events, and with such beautiful outdoor venues here in north Georgia, I hope everyone gets to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. With just a little preparation, a harp will be a spectacular addition to your outdoor celebration.


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