Students play harps to raise money

HIGH POINT, N.C. — When guitar teacher Mike Connors started playing the harp as a new hobby, he had no idea so many of his students at Penn-Griffin School for the Arts would be interested too.

“It seems surprising because the harp isn’t really part of our everyday culture. We don’t see it that much,” Connors said. “But when you see the way people are attracted to the harp. They’re just drawn into it.”

That’s exactly how Connor’s student Sydney Gibhardt described her attraction to the unusual instrument. “When I saw it I was like, ‘That’s going to be my harp one day. I’m going to play that harp.'”

Gibhardt has been playing for about a year now as part of the harp club that Connors started at the school. There are about ten students who get together an hour before school starts to play the harp every school day, however demand may increase ten-fold.

“We had an interest meeting for clubs for middle school-ers to see who would be interested. We had over 100 kids want to play,” Connors said.

The school needs several more Celtic harps, a smaller, 30 pound stringed instrument. They also need one six-foot tall pedal harp – the kind professionals use in the orchestra.

Connors has high hopes. “If we can get a concert harp they can hopefully get scholarships and study harp in college.”

The pedal harp costs $10,000. The students have already saved $2,200 from donations they’ve gotten for playing concerts at community events. The sooner they can raise all the money, the sooner it could help students with music scholarships and programs.

Gibhardt already knows what it feels like to get left out. “Certain programs like Governor’s School has orchestra and I tried to get in for harp but I would’ve had to play a pedal harp and I’ve never played a pedal harp before so I didn’t get in.”

Gibhardt hopes she and other students can raise enough money in time for her younger brother – a rising sixth grader – to benefit from having a concert harp.

If you would like to donate to the Penn Griffin harp program, or book the harp students for an event, ask for Mike Connors at 336-819-2870 or send mail to:

Penn-Griffin School for the Arts, 825 East Washington Street, High Point, NC 27260.

Please write “harp donation” on the memo line and make checks payable to Penn-Griffin School for the Arts. Donations are tax deductible.

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