I’ve decided how to handle this particular scenario. It is clear that
my student intends to continue teaching. I felt encouraged this week
with her hand position, but it will take more time for her to be
consistent. At least she has a desire to play correctly, so she can
pass that on to her student. Since we are in a city, I will direct both
her and her student to workshops and other presentations with expert
It is important to say for anyone reading, that it does require
experience to teach beginners. Even though you do not deal with
musically complex issues regarding formal structure and stylistic
analysis, teaching beginners requires expert knowlege of the structure
and movement of the hand and learning styles. You are faced with many problems when a student struggles to
learn a concept. When communicating any information about technique it
is important to be able to explain why it is healthy to maintain a
certain hand position, thumb position, play relaxed,
which muscles are used, which ones are not, etc. Every hand is
different, so a deep understanding of the principles of healthy playing
are necessary to apply it to each student’s specific hand structure.
I have had many transfer students from inexperienced/self taught
teachers, come to me with tangled, tense, little fingers, which takes
much effort to help them untangle. Informed
guidance is important on all instruments, but especially harp
it requires the development and strenghtening of certain muscles. I
have a doctoral minor in piano pedagogy and a masters in harp. On piano
there are certainly
important, efficient ways of playing, but as long as you stay relaxed
and let gravity do much of the work, you aren’t going to get injured.
This is not the case with harp. It requires more tension to initially
pluck a string, it requires a learned hand position, and much care in
establishing correct posture while balancing the instrument correctly.
tension is a much bigger deal on harp, and the potential for physical
damage is greater. Anyone considering teaching harp please understand
that even though the concepts of half notes, quarter notes, and middle
C seem simplistic, the learning process is not.