July 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm #60333
I am a beginner working on learning to play arpeggios. The problem is that I have quite short thumbs. When I cross my third finger under, in order to move onto the higher octaves, my thumb just barely reaches the previous string (bad enough when it’s a third, as in root position or first inversion, and almost impossible when it’s a stretch of a fourth in second inversion). It’s all squashed up and it means there’s no room for the thumb to bend, or anywhere for it to articulate, or any power at that angle. As a result, I can make almost no sound at all on the thumb. Any suggestions? thanks.July 4, 2013 at 9:03 pm #60334
What does your teacher say?
Place the 3rd lower on the strings so you have vertical distance to play with. Place your thumb on C and 3rd on E and freeze your hand – keeping it the exact position rotate around the thumb tip to place the 3rd on the E above. You should have just as much room to play the thumb as you did when the 3rd was below. If this doesn’t work I would want to change your basic hand position.July 4, 2013 at 9:19 pm #60335
I should add that that is only the fastest way I could think of describing a rough approximation to a hand position that might work – it will need tweaking!July 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm #60336
I haven’t had a lesson in quite a long time, but she just thought I’d be able to stretch more with time. There is definitely not the same space (or shape!) when my third finger is above rather than below – well in the second inversion certainly – so I suspect it is my basic hand position that is the problem, yes. All my fingers and thumb are pretty short. I will try to stretch it so that it is lower on the string, thanks, that might help somewhat if I can get it further down, and maybe it is just a matter of developing some strength to be able to play with it at that sort of angle/stretch.
thank youJuly 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm #60337barbara-brundageParticipant
Always think of placing the thumb high and the other fingers low when you go to replace.July 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm #60338
I just had a quick play with typical bad habits and think your elbow may be too low and getting in your way too.July 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm #60339
thanks, I will try to keep my elbow higher and see if that helps.
I have just practiced a bit, and my wrist and arms are hugely aching after just a few goes through the second inversion ones. There is no way that I can keep my thumb in the same position/shape when I cross my third finger under – it only just barely reaches with my thumb totally flattened out, and my third finger stretched as much as it can go, to touch the higher string. And at that angle, my thumb can’t really do anything! To make a sound at all, I sort of have to flick it sideways, which is suspect is probably what hurts my wrist in the end (my wrist angle ends up twisting back and forth as I try to reach). Coming down is alright, but it’s going up that’s the problem. I can keep my thumb in the same position and play one string higher, sort of in the same position but a bit flattened when playing two strings up, and totally flat and barely reaching when I try to play three strings up, which sadly you need for second inversions.
I think I have too small hands for the harp really. I know they say small hands should be ok, just have to refinger stuff, but I know arpeggios with standard fingerings are needed at least for exams! And quite probably pieces will need them too, though at least a bit of leeway there.
I’ll keep the high elbow in mind though, and aim lower on the string if I can stretch further – the right hand actually seems easier at the moment, so maybe it has stretched a bit. (I’m an adult already, so hands are going to grow any further).July 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm #60340
I’ve just had a thought! I wonder if I could do them with the fourth finger instead? At least for the purposes of exams etc. If that exact pattern ever came up in pieces, I’d be able to use my fourth finger. I suppose the idea is still to get good at playing that interval crossing my third finger under, as there are probably times when I’d have to, but maybe there’s no point killing my arms trying to repeatedly do it with arpeggios, if it’s something that I would be able to finger otherwise in most pieces.July 6, 2013 at 1:15 am #60341catherine-rogersParticipant
See if you could set up a lesson either with your teacher or another one via skype to get some feedback on exactly what you’re doing and any recommended changes.July 6, 2013 at 5:42 am #60342patricia-jaegerMember
Yes, your comment about using the fourth finger might be easier for your short fingers. Also, you can certainly finger those arpeggios differently, because of your short fingers, unless you find out from the jury that will examine you, that you must not do this. Hands are so different, I would be dismayed if those fingerings were “cast in stone” for everyone. Out in the world as you will enjoy playing many arpeggios without restricting the fingering, we all can adapt and use our own special fingering. We can do part of a long arpeggio with help of the other hand, sometimes grouping two or three fingers, not always four. Those suggestions by others on this page are all good.July 7, 2013 at 10:56 am #60343
I’m going to try to arrange another lesson soon I think.
I don’t think examiners generally play the harp (unless you’re lucky – or is that unlucky!) so I doubt they would mind which fingering, as long as it sounded smooth and was up to speed, as long as it doesn’t mean missing out on a skill that would be valuable for later pieces. I did try it with the fourth finger, and it kind of worked, though felt very strange! I would probably get used to it though, especially as my fourth finger got stronger.
The current grade I think requires just first inversions, and then the next needs second inversions in C and F (though really I don’t see why they specify the key as it’s the same for all of them!) so I was thinking I’d start adding them to my practice, because it takes me a long time to get the muscle memory.July 15, 2013 at 10:47 pm #60344mia-strayerParticipant
What kind of harp do you play? Pedal or lever?
If you play a lever Harp it should be a little bit wider on the neck!
Not sure if this’ll help.
If you have a pedal harp! Which company is it from?
I’m just trying to be helpful!
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