I just posted this on the Teachers forum discussion about whether examiners should have a copy of the music, but I thought that the harpists on here would probably have some interesting opinions on generalist examiners examining the minority subject that is the harp.
So here goes, here is the post:
"I have followed this thread with interest, and it is certainly something I shall discuss with my harp teacher casually sometime. I am hoping to take lever harp exams soon, starting with Grade 4 in 2012. Now the pedal harp has been an abrsm subject for some time but it is my understanding that the lever harp syllabus taking it all the way up to grade 8, instead of just up to, say Grade 3 or 4, at which point most exam/classical students usually swap to a pedal harp, is new with the current syllabus.
Now given that the current harp syllabus for lever harp did, I think, begin in 2005, and that lever harp entries are only a fraction of harp entries, which are themselves a very small proportion of the overall total entries, what is the chances of any one examiner knowing much about lever harp repertoire? The technique is similar but not identical to the pedal harp, and the repertoire has overlap but, especially as the grades progress, both technique and repertoire I believe start to diverge more and more.
I would love to think that examiners would have had the chance to spend a few hours each at a lever harp workshop introducing them to the instrument and its repertoire, technique, etc, but I fear this is very unlikely.
I listened to the podcast the other day about examiner selection and training and whereas some examiners do many weeks a year and are therefore examining many and varied candidates (if they went to Wales, they would no doubt see more lever harpists than in other parts of the country!) there are others who might only do a very few weeks a year - these are highly unlikely to see one!
In this case the examiner would surely be merely judging the overall musical interpretation of the pieces etc and would quite definitely not have seen any of the repertoire before!!!!
Any input please? I'm not sure if this is a positive or a negative as a player of a distinctly minority instrument. At least they shouldn't be bored at hearing a piece for the nth time (as long as its ok!)"
I look forward to hearing your thoughts, as I have never taken a harp exam...