Sophomore PT major is also a professional harpist

Years of practice have paid off for Krueger

By Jacob King

Some students pick up a part-time job working fast food, bussing tables, or serving. But Elise Krueger, sophomore physical therapy major, earns her money by playing the harp.

Krueger started learning to play the harp at the age of six and has dedicated 13 years to consistent practice. For her, choosing an instrument like the trombone or clarinet wasn’t appealing. She saw the harp on TV and immediately knew that’s what she wanted to play.

“When I was young… I saw the harp on the news… that’s such a pretty instrument and my mom said ‘maybe someday’,” said Krueger. “I just incessantly asked literally every day to see pictures and videos of [people] playing the harp.”

At first, she made attempts at learning the piano but her inability to sit still held her back, and tested the patience of instructors.

“When I was really little I started with the piano. I couldn’t sit still, so no teacher wanted to teach me,” said Krueger. “I had three teachers tell me they wouldn’t teach me because I couldn’t sit on the bench still.”

The piano might have been incompatible with her but from the moment she started with the harp, there was an instant connection.

“I started playing the harp and I just loved it,” said Krueger. “I stuck with it, it was never like nagging me to practice, it was something I always loved.”

Thanks to family, Kruger had a helping hand in learning the instrument.

Her cousin, who was a music major, knew her first harp teacher and introduced the two. Once they met, Krueger started down her musical path.

Staying on a musical path with such a sensitive instrument requires a great deal of time and careful practice. It can be challenging to block out time, not only for school, but practice as well.

“I practice different times, it just depends,” said Krueger. “I tune my harp and then I’ll usually start with scales, or something simple, to warm up my fingers and then I’ll pick a song and play through it.”

She said she tries to carve out an hour a day for practice but can vary anywhere from 20 minutes to two and a half hours.

Although time consuming, Krueger said that the practice has paid off- literally.

She puts her skill to work by performing at concerts, events, and other gigs. Since she is only a sophomore, she has only had a few gigs with UF at this point. For Findlay, she will charge a rate of $100 for the first hour and then an additional $50 every hour after that. But for larger cities or venues she will charge $175 the first hour and $75 every hour after.

Krueger explained that the reasoning behind the first hour for harp playing being so expensive is due to maintenance and set up of the instrument.

“We have to get there early, because it’s [the harp] is wood, the harp has to warm up before you get there for you can tune it, so it has to be at room temperature.” Said Krueger. “So the first hour costs more.”

The first hour of performance isn’t the only thing that costs more. Harps do not come at a cheap price.

“There’s different sizes and different types of harps, so there’s a huge range you can spend on them.”

She said that beginner harps, or lever harps, can start anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. The orchestra harps range from $10,000 to $45,000.

“Typically the average the harp you would see in an orchestra is probably around $30,000,” said Krueger.

Despite large costs and tedious practice, Krueger said that she will play the harp “as long as her fingers allow [her]”.

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