Bench placement for the..ahem… larger chested harpist…..

Posted In: How To Play

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    tanyanoel on #221055

    I have just begun playing a pedal harp (after playing a large 38 string lever harp) and due to my build – looooong torso, short legs and large chest I need to have my bench a fair bit farther back than most or the harp balances only on my chest and never touches my shoulder and feels like it will fall forward if I take a breath. I have found a comfortable spot that allows me easy use of the pedals and the harp feels nicely balanced. This does leave my knees a touch away from the harp.

    I would like any added advice from any larger chested players or those with a long torso on things you do to accommodate your proportions and the balance of the harp as you play.

    Tacye on #221107

    You talk about bench placement, have you also looked at bench height?

    tanyanoel on #221116

    Yes, I have tried various heights and bench distances and settled on a height and distance that is comfortable. The bend is higher than I initially tried, so my legs are angled down a little bit but overall it feels better. It just looks to be farther away than other harpists I see play, but I suppose if I am comfortable and can use the pedals easily that it is not really an issue. Just curious if any other people with either a large chest or a long torso/short leg combo might have additional advice.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by tanyanoel.
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #223987

    It sounds like you need a larger instrument, like a Prelude, or a pedal harp.

    tanyanoel on #223992

    I have a pedal harp as well as a 38 string large lever harp (Excalibur), and the issue is the same when I have it comfortably placed on my shoulder I am always too far from the harp to rest it partially on my knees. I do play comfortably and reach the pedals fine, so it is not a big issue. I was just thinking that I would not be the only harpist with this issue.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by tanyanoel.
    catherine-rogers on #224001

    This is only a suggestion, but when playing pedal harp, probably best to have it rest only on the shoulder and not the knees. Otherwise you may not have room to comfortably move the pedals, especially both feet at the same time. You don’t want your knees bumping into the back of the harp when moving pedals. This is not an issue when playing lever harp.

    Tacye on #224012

    I would say exactly the opposite to Catherine – I rest the pedal harp on my knees primarily and only occasionally take it on the shoulder/chest when pedaling requires. I would rather take what weight there is on the nice straight bones of my legs than lopsided on my spine. I ensure my harp is near the balance point so there isn’t much weight, but it did add up over long practice sessions.

    But there are lots of playing positions that work for different people – you need to ensure you have one that works for you, and that you have really paid attention to your body and it does work for you. Little niggles you hardly notice can grow and be harder to sort later.

    catherine-rogers on #224190

    I defer to Tacye, as I believe she teaches, which I do not, and she would have more experience with a greater variety of harpists and their needs. I have the greatest respect for her!

    goatberryfarm2010 on #224419

    I was just thinking about the large busts among us. I’m looking into finding a good minimizer brassiere, to see if that helps ease my back & shoulders.
    Have you tried one?
    I’m also trying to adapt to a body that is getting shorter & skewed.
    I wish you all the best.

    tanyanoel on #224424

    That is a good idea, I’ll try some out and see if that helps!

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