Q and A with Catrin Finch


Catrin Finch is sharing advice on how to achieve technical prowess in her latest book, Harp Academy. After years of forging a career in performing, touring, composing, and collaborating with other musicians, Finch has decided it’s time to share her wisdom with the next generation of harpists. “I see now that it’s my duty to pass on what I’ve learned,” she says. “A good technique is the foundation of all great harp playing.” Harp Academy focuses on the development of healthy technique and emphasizes that “the foundations of technique are the same for us all, and once mastered, we can find our own unique ways of playing.” The book consists of seven chapters and is chock-full of exercises for harpists of all ages. We caught up with Finch to learn more about the project and the inspiration behind it.

Tell us about your new book. What inspired its creation?

This is a collection of exercises with four pieces/studies, and it is inspired by a forced halt to performing and some spare time on my hands! For me, a good technique is really the foundation of all great harp playing, and I was lucky enough to have had this foundation and teaching from my teachers as a young harpist, and so my hope through this book and collection is to pass that on to other young harpists. I had always thought of writing out my daily exercises and technical ideas, but never found the time to do it, and so when COVID-19 struck, I no longer had any excuses not to do it.

What types of techniques are discussed in the book?

There are seven main chapters in the book: General, Scales, Arpeggios, Chords, Trills and Bisbigliando, Scales in 3rds, 5ths, and 6ths, and Extended Techniques.  Each chapter contains an explanation and a series of exercises to play in both hands to help with that particular technique. 

Is it geared towards beginner students or students of all ages?

Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced player, the contents of this book will be relevant to you. After all, exercising is important at every level of harp playing.

Do you have any other publications being released in the near future?

Yes, I have some other books coming out soon.

Pictures: Five contemporary pieces for harp

Rags, Jazz, and a Boogie: A selection of pieces in popular style by David Hellewell, and arranged by myself.

Celtic Concerto: In three movements for harp and string orchestra (as featured on my Blessing album for Deutsche Grammophon).

Where can readers obtain a copy of Harp Academy?

Through my website, through the publisher’s website, or through other harp shop outlets.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the book?

I hope this collection of exercises and studies helps young and older harpists alike and that I send good luck wishes to you all for your harp playing. Keep those thumbs up!

To learn more about Finch and purchase her book, visit her website. Read our feature with Finch in the March–April 2020 issue of Harp Column magazine.


About Author

Hannah Palmquist is a freelance harpist and teacher based in Saint Paul, Minn. She is the associate editor at Harp Column. Hannah earned her doctorate from the University of Minnesota and is passionate about chamber music.

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