Music at home: Nonprofit's free harp lessons continue online for Philly students

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A non-profit organization took their free harp lessons online after the pandemic shut down the city.

In February, we covered a story on the Lyra Society, which offers free harp lessons at schools across the city.

The first time we covered the Lyra Society, we talked a lot about how the students' love of the harp would help them in the future. This time, it's clear that the music is really helping the them right now.

When schools were shuttered, Lyra worked to retrieve the harps from schools and institutions so many of their students could continue to play, like 17-year-old Jada Wells.

"I feel like harp is just a totally different world," Wells told 6abc.

The Philadelphia High School for Girls student is headed to Temple University next year as a harp major.

She must finish her senior year of high school at home.

Wells has immersed herself in music and is thankful for the Lyra Society, unable to imagine her life right now without this harp.

"I'm just a music-head. I love music. It's like all I'm about, so I couldn't even imagine it. I think it would be stressful," Wells added.

Around 20 students take these virtual lessons, like the Karakousis siblings who attend Masterman.

"Before, Miss Maryanne could like fix my fingers or prop my elbow up when it sags, which you know unfortunately happens a lot," laughed 13-year-old Tino Karakousis.

He continued, "But it's really taught me to listen to her directions carefully."

Fifteen-year-old Maria Karakousis explained, "It's really great to have this source of beauty and calm and happiness honestly- not just for us but for all those who hear it."

This instrument provides comfort and a creative outlet for these musicians, a connection with the strings and with their teachers.

"It's very personal right now because we are in our homes, and we are not in a teaching studio," explained Elizabeth Hainen, principal harp of the Philadelphia Orchestra and founder of the Lyra Society.

Maria Karakousis elaborated, "When I look back on my time spent during this COVID-19 pandemic, I will remember first how I had the harp here, and I was able to play it and have that source of something that makes me so happy."


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