Harp Instruction

David Michael is available for private lessons for harp players of all levels. He enjoys helping novice players get started, including procuring an instrument, sitting comfortably, learning to tune the instrument, etc. He especially likes helping those who feel stuck musically and can benefit from fresh ideas. Free-form improvisation (for which harps are perfectly suited) is David’s specialty, along with introducing some of the lesser-utilized modes, exotic scales and unusual rhythms. 

David utilizes ear training and does not generally use sheet music or teach students “tunes.” He strives to coax their own music out of them which is often as simple as helping them let go of fears and dispense with preconceived notions. First and foremost, his lessons involve having fun and being musical, always focusing on the needs and abilities of each student, never imposing a standardized method or demanding particular techniques. 

Picture this: a toddler is uttering his first words only to be stymied by a parent who insists on silence until the kid first learns to read and write—and who must then speak only from a script! Backward, right? But this is exactly how music is too often taught. (This is not to say that being literate with sheet music is a bad thing—just that it should not be the first thing pushed on a student.) 

Alternatively, David’s beginner students are encouraged from the gate to joyfully explore the beautiful sounds a harp can make (It’s nearly impossible to make a harp sound bad!) and anchor to accessible techniques that readily sound musical without struggle. Fresh ideas are then offered to build on where each student’s hands seem able and eager to go. David strives to never overwhelm a student but to meet them at their own level and entice them to have fun and make a joyous noise. 

If you are interested in working with David, he can be called/texted at 360 301 4451. He primarily teaches at his home in Port Townsend, WA but occasionally meets students elsewhere.


A favorite teaching focus of David’s is demonstrating the use of unusual modes. Most western music is written in either major or minor keys. But using the exact same notes and without changing the positions of a single lever, several other gorgeous modes are possible that evoke flavors of Spain, Ireland, India, the Middle East and more. Aside from in-person lessons, David has posted several free YouTube tutorials on playing in various modes: