The largest public school harp program in the country.

Image of Dr. Charles Lynch

Dr. Charles Lynch

District Harp Specialist

Historic Irving Office (480) 308-7373
16 years teaching experience
Dr. Charles Lynch

Dr. Charles Lynch is the MPS Harp Specialist. He teaches private lessons to students at all MPS junior and senior high schools, as well as coaching the MPS Harp Ensemble every Monday afternoon at Historic Irving. He holds a Bachelors of Music Degree in Harp Performance and a Bachelor's Degree in Instrumental Music Education (emphasis on piano) from Arizona State University. He also holds a Master's Degree in Harp Performance, and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Harp Performance and Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana=Champaign. MPS has the largest public school harp program in the country, led by Dr. Lynch. [More...]


 (480) 308-7386, Historic Irving Office

Harp Program Description

2017-18 Harp Program Highlights

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The harp is an ancient instrument first appearing as early as 2500 B.C. and evolving by 1810 A. D. to a form similar to the instrument now known as the concert harp. The harp has taken its' place in orchestral and band literature since the end of the last century. The ethereal sound of the harp adds a special and unique color to many orchestra and band pieces.

In most high schools in America students have not heard the harp in its orchestral context. Even less have had the opportunity to actually study and learn to perform on it. There are few opportunities for students to study harp because of the enormous expense of the instrument and the comparatively few numbers of teachers and programs of study.

Mesa Public Schools is one of the leaders in making harp available to qualified music students and adding this magnificent instrument to its high school bands and orchestras.

In 1974, with the visionary leadership of the Music Department and the support of the Superintendent, the harp program was developed. The program was established and designed to provide the high school orchestras and bands with harpists of sufficient technical and musical skills to play the harp parts that are required in full orchestral and band works.

All of our junior and senior high schools have district harps placed at them for students to participate in the harp program. The complexity of this instrument and the added sophistication to the senses that the harp provides creates a higher level of aesthetics to the music.


The Harp Specialist evaluates students to make sure they possess the coordination required; ensuring a positive and successful experience with the instrument.

Students are required to continue to play their other instrument in addition to the harp. All students agree to participate in the harp program for a full year at a time. Students are pulled once per week during band or orchestra class for harp instruction. This is one reason students must be enrolled in band or orchestra.

Reliability, dedication and self-motivation are personal traits expected and exhibited by successful harp students, because individual practice on one's own time is the only sure path to achieve performance excellence. Practicing is the responsibility of the student.

Participants in the program must meet the following criteria:

  • Be members of the band or orchestra program at their school.
  • Have the recommendation of their music teacher.
  • Have signed permission from their parents or guardians giving full support to the student participating.


  • Harp is an enrichment to band and orchestra.
  • Students must participate for the full academic year.
  • Parent permission is required.
  • Band or orchestra teacher permission is required.
  • There is a $75.00 per semester maintenance fee for every student.
  • All payments are payable to Mesa Public Schools – Harp.             
    Payments may be sent to Music Ed. – Harp, 155 North Center Street, Mesa 85201.
  • Semester fees are due in October and February.
  • Students are responsible for their practice.
  • Beginning harp is taught only in seventh grade.
  • Continuing students are guaranteed placement for the next year.
  • Harps may not be used for activities or events outside of school.
  • The emphasis on harp instruction in the Mesa Public Schools’ Harp program is to develop harp students who can/will play successfully with their high school band or orchestra on concert literature, which includes harp parts.
  • Many diligent harp students earn scholarships to assist with their college/university expenses.


Each year selected students are asked to participate in the Mesa Public Schools Harp Ensemble. This group of outstanding harpists rehearses outside of the regular school day to prepare harp ensemble music. Additional musical growth is made possible with this extra rehearsal time.

A sidelight to this is the opportunity for the students to present community concerts of a very special kind. Past ensembles have performed for receptions and dinners at the State Capitol, The Phoenix Art Museum, First Interstate Bank, Arizona School Boards Association Dinner, The Arizona Music Educator's Conferences, The National Conference of the American Harp Society, the Harp Fusion of the University of Arizona and many other groups throughout the state. The uniqueness of this group has made for impressive Mesa Public School's public relations.