So it’s christmas time and I have a been asked to help out the local orchestra with a couple of christmas gigs. We will mostly play christmas carols arranged by people who, unfortunately, think harps are only good for glisses. Thus lots of glissandos on 10+ pieces (for each of the 3 gigs), and after 3 consecutive days of rehearsal my fingers are hurting. I fear that by christmas time I wont have any fingers left. Any tips on how to handle this? Do those felt harp picks work? Thank you for the advice.
I like the rubber picks that Sylvia Woods sells. They are about the closest sound to a finger that I thing picks get. I find the felt ones too percussive and they get floppy quickly. When you get them, drill or poke a hold in them and thread through and tie off some elastic string so you can drape them around your neck and not worry about dropping them. The last thing you want to do in December is get giant callouses on your fingers, or worse, get a blister. I’m sure the Woods Harp Center can overnight them to you, or you might find them in a music store.
I too use the Petite Pigs (bought from Salvi). Often I prefer the sound because as Kreig says you can cut through and be heard. While it is of course best to make the exact sound in rehearsal you will in concert I do sometimes use the picks in rehearsal even if I am going to use fingers in the concert if I feel my fingers will suffer to the extent I won’t play my best in concert if I don’t.
Because there always seem to be too many of them, I never do glisses at this time of year with bare fingers. Sylvia Woods’ rubber picks are good but I also use felt picks at times. Definitely drill a hole and put them on a cord to hang around your neck. You’ll either never grab them off your stand in time or you will knock them on the floor.
I’d like to try the rubber picks, but couldn’t find them on Sylvia Woods’ website. I did find some Wedgie rubber picks online, though. Are they the same thing? I see they come Soft, Medium and Hard. I’m guessing Medium would be about right. Does anybody know for sure? Thanks.
I wouldn’t use any substitutes in performance. Do you use every finger or keep using the same ones over and over? You can gliss up with 2, 3 or even 4, though you pretty much need your thumb to come down. Play as lightly as you can until performance. You can toughen your skin, but that will also harden your tone.
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