Alys Howe teaches in Halifax/Dartmouth (Canada), and is also available for online lessons.
With over 20 years of teaching experience, Alys has developed an approach that enables students to make rapid progress at the harp. Some of her students have received RCM gold and silver medals, continued studying pedal harp at the University of British Columbia, and work as professionals themselves. Alys has also taught at the undergraduate level for the University of Limerick, and has provided workshops and group classes for many festivals such as Boxwood, Goderich, IMA International Harp School, Gaelic College in Cape Breton, Feis Slighe Nan Gaidheal, Vancouver Academy of Music, Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, and many other organizations. Alys combines the methodologies of classical technique with the style of Celtic, traditional, and folk musics of the world, encouraging harp players to discover their own creative vision.
Alys teaches both pedal and lever harp (classical and Celtic styles). She studied Traditional Scottish Music and Ethnomusicology at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, folk and pedal harp for her BFA with Sharlene Wallace at York University, and went on to get an MA in Performance of Traditional Irish Music at The University of Limerick. Through these programs, Alys studied with some truly amazing Celtic harp players (including Sileas, Wendy Stewart, Savourna Stevenson, Corrina Hewatt, Catriona McKay, Michael Rooney, Laoise Kelly, and Janet Harbison). Alys developed her foundational technique with Elizabeth Volpe, Heidi Krutzen, and especially Sharlene Wallace.
Contact Alys for Harp Lessons
"I have participated in Alys Howe’s group harp classes for several years. The classes are a stimulating and supportive learning environment, and a wonderful opportunity to explore musically creative adventures. Alys is dedicated and sensitive to different levels of ability and encourages her students to embrace new challenges “fearlessly”! Her passion for this beautiful instrument is infectious, and her skill as a teacher is evident in the progress we make"
"I have long wanted to play the harp and searched for a teacher who would be demanding and encouraging at the same time. As an adult beginner, I wanted a teacher who was skilled at showing me how to correct problems, and who had structure to her lessons coupled with an eye for individual learning styles and so could make very practical suggestions for improvement. Alys is exactly this – she zeros in on each person. I began with group Beginner lessons from Alys, and have enjoyed continuing with the Harp Practice Ensemble. "
"Enrolling in the group harp classes is a truly wonderful and unique experience. The classes focus on individuality and creativity within a group setting and allow the students to explore the dynamics in an ensemble. Alys is an inspiring teacher and I am also inspired by my classmates!"
"Having recently completed a six week beginner group harp class with Alys Howe I can say that I was extremely happy with the course. I have taken private lessons in other instruments in the past and the group format had a number of advantages:
- I learned a lot from other students. Others asked questions and encountered challenges that I didn’t (and vice versa) and the varying perspectives added depth to my learning
- Being in a group deepens the dedication to practise since you are accountable to others as well as yourself
- Being in a group creates greater confidence since you can share your progress and see that others are experiencing struggles and triumphs while they learn as well.
Alys is a really wonderful, patient, and intuitive teacher who gracefully balances group instruction and individual attention in her course. As a first time harp player I was very grateful for her excellent class and highly recommend it to others thinking of starting out on this beautiful and challenging instrument."
Students often ask me for advice about what harp to rent or purchase. If you are a beginner, I recommend that you start on a lever harp (even if your goal is to play the pedal harp when you are ready). I strongly recommend getting a harp with full levers (one for each string). This will allow you to play in a greater variety of keys. If you are purchasing a harp, keep in mind that a minimum of 34 strings will ensure that you won’t need to upgrade to a larger lever harp later on. If you are not sure which harp to commit to, consider renting for a while.