About Jacqueline Pollauf
HarpInsideOut.com is the project of harpist Jacqueline Pollauf. In addition to the many helpful videos and articles about the harp found on this website, her publications through Oakway Studios are also available for purchase.
Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Jacqueline performs, teaches, composes for, and writes about the harp. She holds Master and Bachelor of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory. Performances and instructional videos can be found on her YouTube channel. More information about Jacqueline is available at her website: jpharp.com
This website has been years in the making, starting out as just the ghost of an idea and gradually becoming a reality. I first saw a harp when I was five, at which point I fell in love. I started playing when I was ten. When I was twelve, I decided I wanted to become a professional harpist when I grew up, and the next thing I knew, I was both grown up and a professional harpist. This was somewhat terrifying on both fronts, but became less so as time went on, as these things do.
In teaching, I met people who reminded me of me. Moms would sit in my studio at the first lesson and explain that their child had, without them quite knowing how, gotten the idea of playing the harp stuck in their minds and had been begging to play for three years. Looking bemused, they'd pause and say something like, "She's only seven now. That's nearly half her life that she's been longing to play!" Or I'd get a call from an adult telling me that they'd spent years fascinated by the harp, had hit a mid-life crisis and finally decided to dip a toe into the water.
Making people's dreams come true is a dream job. "Yes," I would say with pride, "I can teach you how to play the harp." But as much as that is, and it's plenty, there's more to it than that. There's finding instruments for students and teaching them to tune, and late night panicked texts that "a string won't stay in tune no matter what and I'm supposed to play in my church tomorrow morning and what should I do!!!" There's trying to find a good arrangement for a kid obsessed with Star Wars, when no local stores sell harp music, and standing in your driveway after a lesson in your slippers demonstrating how you pop a harp into the car like so, and emails from orchestra teachers saying that they'd like to include your student in their middle school string orchestra class, but they have no harps available and no music in their collection that includes a harp part and have never had such a request in their 20+ years of teaching, so if you, the omniscient and ever-resourceful teacher, could just tell them how to solve all of this, in detail, with footnotes, they'd be happy to include your student.
I did my best to answer all of these questions and more, but still the questions just kept coming. Often they were the same questions, just from new students, or from people I didn't know at all, but who had stumbled across my website and thought they'd just shoot me a quick email wondering if I could explain where they could buy a new tuning key because their puppy chewed up the one they had (photo attached of both puppy and tuning key), and they tried looking online, but had gotten overwhelmed by all of the choices.
You probably got where I was going with all of this a long time ago, but I'll spell it out anyway. First I wrote down some answers to the most obvious questions and included them in a PDF that I would shoot off to new students. That wasn't enough, so then I wrote a few articles about being new to the harp and practicing, and what all those pedals are for anyway and popped them up on my website. Better, but still not there yet. After that, "Buy and learn to use a video camera" glared up at me for months every time I looked at my to-do list, until I finally did just that, created a YouTube Channel and started making videos, some live performances, some demonstrating student repertoire and some showing how to maintain and repair a harp. My website started getting a little bulky, and even though the solution was staring me in the face, I resisted, because all of these things had already taken up so much time! I'd already built more than one website from scratch, so I had a good idea exactly how much more time was about to be sucked into the abyss should I open that door even a tiny crack.
But, in the end... I caved. The pressure built up, the avalanche of questions continued, and being helpful seems to be an irresistible draw in my life. (I think I get this from my father, who is disappointed if he comes to visit and I don't have a small list of projects around the house for him.) Anyway, here you are, on harpinside.com. Answers to questions abound in articles and videos.
Here I am filming, which always takes longer than I think it should.