“Even though there was not a harp teacher anywhere close to our rural, small town, my mother made it happen! At one point, the closest teacher was about two and a half hours away. Despite the distance, my mother drove me several hours to and from lessons every week for the next NINE years! I don’t know how she fit it in with the busyness of having four children, but I am extremely thankful that she did!
“Once I reached high school, we realized I needed more training if I hoped to pursue music in college. Therefore, I attended Interlochen Arts Academy, a performing arts boarding school, for my last two years of high school. It was an amazing, transformative experience. I was surrounded by other students from all over this country and the world who were dedicated, hard working and serious about their aspirations. After graduating from Interlochen, I attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, a music conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio,” Merrie Beth said.
Merrie Beth spent time as the principal harpist for the Albany Symphony and Valdosta Symphony. In addition, she served as the second harpist for the Mobile Symphony. With her immense talent, she regularly performs for all types of events such as weddings, charity fundraisers, holiday parties, and in fine dining restaurants and church services.
Merrie Beth and her husband, Eric, have four children, ages 4 to 16. Last year, her oldest son attended Baylor as a boarding student. After visiting him several times throughout the year, the whole family fell in love with Chattanooga, and especially Lookout Mountain. They moved here in April and are so thrilled to be able to live here! What a gift to have their family with us on the mountain!
With a big smile, she said, “One of my favorite things about being a musician is getting to teach students. In over 20 years of teaching, I have enjoyed teaching students of all ages - children as young as 5, adults in their 70s, and all ages in between! I teach both private and group lessons. My adult students particularly enjoy playing together in an ensemble,” Merrie Beth said.
When asked how students acquire a harp, Merrie Beth replied, “It is much easier than you think. There is a harp store in Atlanta that has a wonderful selection and even rents harps in case someone wants to try it before making a purchase.”
Richard Llewellyn said, “Glorious is the Voice of Man, and sweet is the music of the harp.” Lookout Mountain is fortunate to have such an accomplished harpist and her wonderful family living right here in our midst!
Those interested in harp lessons can visit Merrie Beth’s website at www.merriebetheubanks.com.
by Ann Henley Perry