top of page
  • What is a clarsach?
    Clàrsach is the Scottish Gaelic word for a small harp. There are, and have been in the past, many different types of harp in Scotland. I've learned a lot from the expert on harp history, Bill Taylor at Ardival Harps in Strathpeffer. A standard clarsach in Scotland nowadays is generally a 34-string gut-strung lever harp.
  • What's the difference between a clarsach and a harp?
    From everything I've learned so far, it seems to me that the word harp is a general name for an instrument that's usually some form of triangular shape with strings perpendicular to the soundboard - as opposed to a lyre, for example. Some people use the word harp to refer to a much bigger 47-string pedal harp that would be used in an orchestra and they use 'clarsach' to refer to a smaller lever harp. The levers/pedals are the mechanisms that help us get the sharp/natural/flat notes on the strings. For other people, and especially historically, some people used 'clarsach' for a wire-strung harp and 'harp' for a gut-strung harp. I tend to use both words interchangeably to refer to my own clarsach/harp.
  • What kind of clarsach do you play?
    I play a 34 string, gut-strung Jack Yule clarsach. Jack now lives in the USA and doesn't build clarsachs any more so I'm afraid you can't buy one like mine. I was really lucky to be able to choose the carving of the thistle on the front of my clarsach. He's such a creative and wonderfully kind gentleman.
  • How do we pay you?
    Most people choose to pay by bank transfer but if you would prefer to pay by cash/PayPal just ask.
  • Are you available to play on our wedding day/Christening/funeral/event?
    I hope so, I'd love to be part of your day. If you send me a quick message, I'll reply as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. -My contact form is here -You can email me at -You can call or text me on 07912 029291
  • How much do you charge to play at a wedding?
    Everyone's wedding is unique so I tailor the package to what you want to create on your day. The starting price for a local wedding ceremony or reception is £250. If you would like me to travel I will charge for time/fuel. You can contact me here with just a few details, and I can provide you with an individual quote.
  • When do you ask for payment for an event?
    I usually ask for a deposit to secure the date and then the balance is due any time up to 3 months before your event. If you need a different payment schedule, please feel free to ask and we can find an arrangement that works for you.
  • Is my child too young to learn the harp/clarsach? Am I too old to learn the harp/clarsach?
    I'm happy to have lessons with people of any age. I have 2 young children and am a Primary Teacher so I have seen how much being surrounded by music can benefit children and young people. My style of teaching would just adapt to whatever age and stage your child is at. For the youngest children it would be about experimenting with sound, moving, singing and exploring their interests. When they're ready, we can: learn more set tunes; eventually learning to read and/or compose music if that's what they're interested in; work towards exams and/or performances. No, you are not too old. I have taught people in their 80s and I believe there's always a benefit to playing an instrument. I understand that we all have our unique abilities and difficulties at all ages, so we work with what you CAN do instead of what you can't. I can help to make adjustments to hand/body position to accommodate wherever you are at just now.
  • Do I need a clarsach at home to take lessons with you?
    No. It's possible to take lessons without having your own clarsach. As a colleague said, when you're learning to swim you're not expected to have a swimming pool at home. However, without the ability to practise in between lessons, your progress will be far slower than if you had one.
  • Do I have to practise in between lessons?
    No, practising is your choice. If you want to have lessons just for FUN that's absolutely fine with me. However, you will progress far slower than if you practised. I was always told it had to be 30mins a day, every day, growing up and at times I came to hate it - however there's no disputing IT WORKS! I would advise 10mins a day to start with and build up from there until it's an easier habit to keep. It's all about your expectations and what you would like to achieve. If you want to go in for a performance, a competition or a grade exam, it would be hard (or very slow) to achieve these goals without practising regularly. I understand however, that for some people a music lesson is a bit of relaxation or 'me time' away from their crazy busy schedule, so I'm not going to add stress into that. Your lesson time is yours and I'm happy to work in a way that helps you get what you want from it.
  • Can children/adults with Additional Support Needs (ASN) learn the harp/clarsach? eg. autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Downs Syndrome, Hearing/visual Impairments, neuro-diversity
    Yes - absolutely! I have worked with children and adults with many different Additional Support Needs both through my work with music and also for 14 years as a Primary Teacher. I believe music can not only be suitable for children with ASN but that it can also really help. It's really helpful to know before the 1st lesson if you are aware of any ASN before we start, just so I can be aware of and sensitive to any potential barriers and make modifications to my practise that might be helpful. For a child or young person, think about what you notice at home and/or what their class teacher might have noticed in school. For an adult, I aim to create an atmosphere where you feel comfortable to just let me know if there's anything you find tricky or if there's anything you feel could make things easier for you. We work together to find the best way for you to learn using whichever senses and approaches you find best. Any personal information you give me is treated with the utmost privacy and never disclosed to anyone else.
  • Do I need to be able to read music to play the harp/clarsach?
    No. I teach mostly by ear (unless you wish to learn straight from written music) and send you away with written music for you to refer back to if you forget something between lessons. I'm happy to teach you to read music if this is an aim you have. If you'd like to do certain music exams, this may be a requirement but there are alternatives that don't require you to read music.
  • How much do harp/clarsach lessons cost?
    I charge £21 for 1/2 hour, £28 for 45mins, £36 for 1 hour.
  • Can you provide Music Therapy?
    No, because I am not a qualified Music Therapist. I am really interested in it and have attended some short-courses by Nordoff-Robbins. If you feel you need music therapy, I would advise approaching them. I used some of the skills I learned on these courses in a nursery for children with severe and complex needs where music was used more as a means of communication; to help develop social skills and create a positive sensory experience - rather than to teach musical concepts or to play an instrument. The effect of music for these children was profound and I'd love to learn more about this approach.
  • Can I have finger nails to play the harp/clarsach?
    There's evidence to suggest that historically both wire-strung and gut-strung harps were played with finger nails, so yes, you can play with nails. It just creates a different tone than using the pads of your fingers. When I was learning, I was always taught to cut my nails really short so, apart from a brief time experimenting with a wire-strung clarsach, I've always played with my fingers.
  • How can I look after my clarsach/harp?
    You should store it somewhere it won't wobble or get knocked into by pets/children etc. Eg. In a corner or between stable furniture. Try to keep it: * in a room that doesn't change temperature too much * away from direct sources of heat * somewhere without a lot of humidity or dryness This should help it stay in tune better and reduce string breakages.
  • How do you tune a clarsach/harp?
    Each peg at the top has a square bit on the end. You get a tuning key/wrench that fits on to this so you can turn the peg. By turning the peg, you can tighten or loosen the string so you can make it the correct pitch. During Lockdown in 2020, I made a video for my pupils and their parents to explain how to tune their harps. Tips for how to do it more quickly (something very important for an instrument typically with 34 strings to tune!) and how to avoid snapping strings. My pupils have access to this in my website's Members Area.


bottom of page