Are you looking to learn the harp?!

START HARP – Three 12 weeks courses

Level 1, 2 and 3 Courses starting in January, April and September each year.

Full details regarding the course are available >>HERE<<

Brand New Online Harp Classes for Beginners

Tutor: Harpist Shelley Fairplay

Are you looking to study harp for the very first time? Join this exciting new way to study harp technique, theory and musicianship from the comfort of your own home, on a lever, lap or pedal harp.

Full details regarding the course are available >>HERE<<

Learning the harp?

Do you play the harp? Or would you like to try the harp for the first time? Would you like to improve your harp playing skills? Would you like to host a harp workshop? If so I very much look forward to working with you!


Welcome to my “Teaching” page where you can find information on the variety of different lessons and ensembles I currently provide.

Please see below for relevant section!

  • Student Harp Ensemble: Student Dynamic Harps.
  • Adult Harp Evening Class: Adult Dynamic Harps.
  • Hands on Harps: Try the harp for the first time at a Museums/Visitor Centers.
  • Workshops for Harpists.
  • Harp Workshops for Schools.
  • One to One Harp Lessons. Due to launching START HARP in 2016 Shelley is not teaching 1 to 1 lessons again until 2017
  • General advice on obtaining a harp.

Student Harp Ensemble: Dynamic Harps!

Student Dynamic Harps : A harp ensemble with a twist which will focus on show, pop, film and jazz tunes. This is for harp students at grade three level and above any age up to 18. Meets Tuesday evenings in Radyr, 6.45pm – 8.30pm.

The ensemble runs in 10 week blocks. Each week we will work on repertoire pieces as an ensemble and also look at a specific skills/techniques that will inform general harp playing.

Do you enjoy Film, Show, Pop and Jazz tunes?

Then come and come and join us! The classes are open to all harp students who are grade 3 level or above. Music will be prepared to cater for the group to make sure everyone can participate and progress appropriately within their comfort zone.

Are you interested? Come and join us! I would be delighted to hear from you! For further information please visit the ‘Dynamic Harps!‘ page for further details! I look forward to seeing you at the next ensemble session!

 Adult Harp Evening Class: Dynamic Harps!

Adult Ensemble ‘Dynamic Harps’

Adult Dynamic Harps : This is an ensemble class for adult learners working on repertoire from traditional, classical, world and modern musical genres.

We meet on Monday evenings in Radyr, 6.45pm – 8.45pm.

Come and join a wonderful group of harp learners taking part in this harp ensemble evening class for adult harpists. The ensemble runs in 10 week blocks. Each week we practice and learn repertoire pieces from traditional, classical, world and modern genres as an ensemble and also look at specific skills/techniques to inform your general harp playing.

 Are you studying the harp?

Come and join us! The classes are open to all harp students who have a basic knowledge of music reading and harp technique. Music will be prepared to cater for a variety of abilities to make sure everyone can participate and progress appropriately within their comfort zone.

Are you interested? Come and join us! I would be delighted to hear from you! For further information please visit the ‘Dynamic Harps!‘ page for further details! I look forward to seeing you at the next ensemble session!

This ensemble is currently full but I would love to hear from you if you are interested in ensembles as I can put you on the “First to know!” list and email you if a space becomes available. I also hold open workshop days throughout the year so can put you on my mailing list to inform you of up and coming events!

Hands on Harps: Try the harp for the first time workshops!

“Hands on Harps” Workshop

Always wanted to try the harp? Come along to try our National Instrument of Wales, with harpist Shelley Fairplay. The workshop will include demonstrations on a Pedal, Celtic and Lap Harp, then along with Shelley’s guidance, you can have a go at playing one of the fifteen 17 string lap harps available on the day.

In general twice a year I hold open “hands on harp” workshops as The National Botanic Garden of Wales – on St Davids Day (1st March) and as part of their annual Harp Weekend this year taking place on 13th and 14th June 2015. Further details are available by clicking here. I have also held such events as part of “Chill in the Park” at Bedwellty house in Tredegar, Dyffryn Gardens just outside Cardiff and at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea for Santes Dwynwen Day – to celebrate the Welsh Patron Saint of Love and friendship.

Would you like to come and try the harp? If you would like to be notified of up and coming workshops please email me via info@harpwales to join my mailing list.

Would you like to host and event? If you would like to host harp workshops at your venue please contact me via or 07960 718663 to discuss the exciting possibilities. I can musically theme the workshop content to be applicable to the time of year/venue as required!

Harp Workshops for Schools

Harps for School Children to try!

Looking for exciting music opportunities for students in your school? Why not book “Hands on Harps” or “Harp Tales” session!

I would be delighted to come along and run harp based music workshops in your school. The harp really is wonderful to listen to, discover and explore so workshops with the instrument are engaging and enjoyable for students (although I am of course biased due to being slightly harp obsessed!) Sessions in and around cardiff can be booked via this website or through Emma Coulthard, Cardiff County & Vale of Glamorgan Music Service.

Hands on Harps:

Hands on Harps is a six week group/whole class program designed to develop musical skills. The Harp, our National Instrument of Wales, is the central focus. The project uses eight beautiful medieval replica lap harps, each with 17 strings, for the children to learn on. Shelley leads the workshops on a 34 string Celtic harp, the lap harps and for one session a “show and tell” on a concert pedal harp. Boomwhackers and percussion are used additional instruments for Hands on Harps sessions to assist with rhythm and note understanding for the whole class.

Harp TalesTM from Harp Wales!

Harp TalesTM are interactive, exciting and educational musical stories told with harp accompaniment and child participation through song, sound and movement. Each HarpTaleTM is carefully tailored to engage appropriately the age group being worked with. Music covered in a session will encompass a variety of styles and genres including well loved traditional welsh tunes.

The session will begin with listening to the sound of the harp, a general introduction and interesting facts about the harp. This is followed by warm up activities to develop musical skills, all with a central focus on composing sounds and actions for the story being worked towards. A song will also be learnt by the group and thenâthe Harp Tale will begin and children join in with sounds, movements and song. It may possible child to have the opportunity to the harp at the end of the story and finally the session will close with reflection and farewell!

Tales include: Three Billy Goats Gruff, Hare and Tortoise, Jack and the beanstalk, The Gruffalo, Owl Babies, Morgan and the Golden Harp, The Emerald Harp, Gabriel and the Bear, Treasure Hunt, Hairy Scary Castle, Harp O”Gold, Jack and the beanstalk.

For further information, program of study and curriculum links information please do not hesitate to contact me an I will email you over further information and fees.

Workshops for Harpists:

Workshops for harpists!

It has been wonderful to provide harp workshops over the years for various organisations and music festivals such as The Clarsach SocietyTelynau Vining/Camac Harp eventsWales Millennium Center Outreach Program in Schools and for the Cardiff Music Development Team. Many of these workshops have been specific to individual sessions or general ensemble pieces (which I always love to keep diverse in content!). I also have a set of “titled” workshops I run from time to time including:

Effective Effects Workshop! (First prepared for workshop 2012)

Harmonics, Etouffe PDLT, Xyloâ? The list for harp is endless.

Through tunes medieval to modern we will explore useful techniques to enhance beautiful and varied sounds that you and your harp can create!

 Know your shapes for sight reading! (First prepared for workshop 2013)

I would like to share with you a foundation skill that if you practice you will be able to use at any level to help you sight read well on your harp. It is this“Know your shapes”. By this I am referring to building up your pattern recognition of the shapes that notes create on the musical stave and learning the feel of shape that your hand makes as you play them.

So you’ve learnt a good tune? Make it a party piece! 

(First prepared for workshop 2011)

Using simple tunes and phrases we will explore ways of using rhythm, ostinato patterns, various harp techniques and plain old cheating to find out how best to make a tune “your own” in an individual, delightful and vibrant way! This workshop is suitable for all levels, music will be provided but notation reading not necessary. We will work as an ensemble, no pressure to play on your own unless of course you would like to! Come along, try out ideas and create beautiful music!

 I was at the workshop you held at Pentrecwrt Village Hall a few weeks ago – still improvising!

What a fantastic afternoon that was! Thank you so much, it was really inspiring – you are a great teacher Shelley and your enthusiasm and passion really awakened an urge in me to play and practise more and more!

 I look forward to the next workshop!

 With very best wishes and thanks again,


One to One Harp Lessons

One to one harp lessons for all ages and abilities.

 Due to launching START HARP, Shelley is not teaching 1 to 1 lessons at this time.

I provide one to one harp lessons to over 20 students varying from primary school age to retiredbeginner to grade 8.

 I have been teaching the harp since 1998, I really enjoy this aspect of my life and I am an enthusiastic and understanding teacher. I believe that enjoyable and varied lessons are paramount to a student’s success in becoming a harpist. As everyone has different long-term aims and expectations it is important to discuss these between tutor and student so lessons can be tailored carefully to individual needs. You may wish to perform in concerts, play with a band, accompany others, learn to improvise, compose, or simply play for your own pleasure.

I am a fully qualified teacher with a PGCE from Aberystwyth University and hold a diploma in harp instrumental teaching from the Associate Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

To learn the harp you need time, enthusiasm and discipline. It is recommended that a potential student should have studied the piano for at least a year before starting the harp. This is so that when a student starts the harp the main focus can be on enjoyment and learning a good technique – an assimilation of basic music theory will have already taken place. It is possible to learn without piano as a background, however a student must be prepared for what will initially be a slower learning process.

Lesson Costs

The length of lesson you will need will depend on your age and experience. I teach on Weekdays and evenings. If you are interested in having harp lessons please do not hesitate to contact me by telephone or email to discuss your needs and ideas.

  • 1/2 hour: £15
  • 3/4 hour: £22.50
  • 1 hour: £30

Julie: “I’m 38 years old; I started learning the harp eight months ago. Shelley made me feel immediately at ease and made the lessons thoroughly enjoyable. She managed to be both motivating and perceptive as a teacher; always stretching me but never too far; always encouraging and inspiring. I wanted to learn to improvise, as well follow scores, and she ensured that I learned both. She clearly had a wonderful relationship with the children she taught and certainly related to me (an adult) with complete ease. I suspect she could effectively teach anybody (of course, as long as they genuinely wanted to learn!). Her passion for teaching was obvious to all of us – lessons are fun as well as instructive.”

Alison: “Shelley has been an inspirational harp teacher for our daughter, Katie, who took up the instrument two years ago at the age of nine. From the outside Shelley’s lessons appear to have involved a lot of fun, which is in direct contrast to the methods of other music teachers we have experienced. This has had a very positive effect on Katie who has always looked forward to her weekly lesson. Shelley organises group sessions which has allowed Katie to meet other people interested in the harp and has enabled her to experience group, as opposed to just solo playing.”

Some general advice on obtaining a harp:

Folk and Pedal Harp Lessons
Harps are expensive and it is a big commitment to purchase one before beginning lessons. I offer one or two “taster” sessions” so that you can meet me and try the harp before you make a commitment to the instrument and lessons. Although you won”t be able to practice between sessions, it will give you an opportunity to try the instrument and gain a slight insight into the harp and techniques that are used by harpists.

Hiring harps

Hiring a harp to start with is a very sensible idea and harp hire is available from approximately £40/£50 a month. You can rent harps from various harp shops including Telyanu Vining Harps, Pilgrim Harps and Salvi, please see my recommendations page for information on these suppliers.

Harp loans from Schools/Music services

For children wishing to learn it is worth speaking to their school as some schools and/or county music services will loan harps to students.

Purchasing a harp

Once you are sure that studying the harp is going to be a long-term project, the purchase of the instrument is the next logical step. There are various companies selling harps throughout the UK, please see my recommendations page for some suggestions. A suitable harp to learn on should have at least 34 strings (this is the number required by the music examining boards) and will provide the range necessary for at least the first few years of learning. If you are thinking of buying ar harp over the internet on say on ebay, please feel free to ask my advice via email or contact a harp teacher that you know.

Second-hand Harps

Harps do not devalue greatly so second-hand harps are not always cheaper. There are a number of second-hand harp lists available (please see my recommendations page for suggestions). Do ask for advice if you are considering purchasing a second-hand harp.


There are various charities you can apply to that offer help towards the costs of musical instrument purchase.


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