You MUST have Maria Grossi’s “Metodo Per Arpa.” Every fingering combination ever invented is in here. Lever or pedal harp – you want your students to meditate upon relaxed, tension-free movement, and to contemplate comfort, freedom of motion and flexibility. Like miniature gymnasts, harpers & harpists must turn the complex movements of their fingers into automatic motor (muscle) memory through relentless repetition, but it has to be intelligent relentless repetition with a view to paying attention to tension and getting rid of it. (paraphrase on Rick Gore’s 9/02 National Geographic Magazine comments on Russian gymnasts in his article “How Fast Can I Go?”)
The toughest thing to convince students to do, is that, like professional, multi-million dollar pitchers, they must go through their fingering combinations and patterns in super slow motion to “feel the pace of those movements and develop a muscle memory of what feels right and what doesn’t.” Like the Zen master for the pitchers, I have my students memorize the exercises, and try some with their eyes closed to gain deeper understanding of their body movements.
I tell them that they must value themselves as if they were worth a million bucks, and they are worthy to take the time to do these things thoroughly with utmost attention to learn comfort into every measure; that injury to the hand, fingers & wrist is not caused by a single trauma, but by the slow wear and tear of repeating a slightly inefficient motion. By maximizing efficiency, harpers & harpists can prevent injury with solid bio-mechanics. (paraphrase of Tom McNichol’s comments in his 6/04 Wired magazine article on motion-capture analysis, “The Ultimate Pitching Machine.”)
Think of it as harp yoga.