Written under the supervision of Donatien Laurent for the Music Instructor National Diploma of the Cefedem of Brittany, my dissertation Pedagogy of the Celtic harp (in French: Pédagogie de la Harpe Celtique) is available for downloading at the end of this article. The teaching of the Celtic harp has significantly changed during the last twenty years. With profound musical and cultural divergences, do the pedagogical tools created by the teachers meet the challenges of a traditional music performed on the instrument?
Before presenting some teaching methods and in order to define those challenges, we will come back briefly on the instrument’s past and its revival during the 20th century. While a traditional music is clearly established on the Celtic harp, it is surprising that the teaching method used then was built on the classical harp method, that is to say essentially with music sheets. At the end of the century, the emergence of a more adapted method to the instrument, by oral, in a traditional music context, was the logical result of this contradiction.
At that time, if it was still possible to disregard the coherence of the new method, the institutions having truly tested and highlighted its good results, no one can, now, ignore and obviate the “oral” method.
Since this choice is a question for the teachers, it will evoke the essential notions they bring up in teaching the instrument. A music without ears – physical or internal ears – is not conceivable, therefore, why should we oppose an “oral” method against a “written” method? Other notions such as “memory”, “musical gesture”, “musical arrangement” for the Celtic harp will be also approached. This dissertation outlines some ways towards the creation of a pedagogy adapted to the modern instrument’s technical and didactical aspects.