In Doubt of Ability

Posted In: Performing

  • Participant
    Kim Vangsgard on #230413

    Hi: I am an adult harpist and have a pedal and lever harp. I have a musical background but as we know, the harp has it’s own learning curve. I have performed in various places, but always have a problem with thinking what people want to hear a harp play. They usually only have heard a lot of gliss
    and arpeggios. I love to play simple songs with meaning, but always feel like the people expect more. I also start to get frustrated with any string noise. Of course, I then become more tense, etc……

    If anyone has any thoughts or tips, I would really appreciate it.

    Veronika on #230420

    In my experience people are so entranced by the sound of a harp that it doesn’t really matter what you play!

    Also, I don’t think most people would “expect” anything, they are just curious what you’re going to play.

    charles-nix on #230421

    You don’t say where you have performed, or what the expectations were that you feel you didn’t live up to. I am guessing (and assuming) these were free performances.

    Regardless, I think you need to play what feeds your soul, and then find a market for that. Also, be cautious assuming what people expect. They are there to hear you, and hear what you interpret with the music you play. Maybe some do expect more. But no one who plays the harp, (or any other instrument) should expect you to do other than your musical expression.

    String noise is frustrating, isn’t it! A good teacher, exercises and etudes, and proper practice working specifically on technique and tone production will help. But don’t beat yourself up too much over an occasional buzz. It happens, go on. All harpists, even at the highest levels, still occasionally buzz and fumble pedals. If it were easy, everyone would be playing the harp.

    Now, if you want to add some glisses and arpeggios to your repertoire, and those techniques are common in harp music, look at McDonald/Wood Graded Recital Pieces for starters. Another (more advanced) choice is Gustavson’s Sparklers. A gentle gliss, used sparingly and occasionally, and done well, can really bring an emotional point to places in your simple songs. Good examples of this can be found in Joy Slavens’ One Tiny Light (Harp Column Music) and many of Ray Pool’s arrangements.

    Kim Vangsgard on #230424

    Hi: Yes, I have played for payment. Currently, this is for two weddings that are in the family. I’m a vocal soloist and pianist as well. I have to say that after rehearsing with the harp, I do enjoy going to the piano and just playing. I appreciate your suggestions and the music suggestion. I also have the problem because of the over-thinking, of changing my music too close to the event. I started playing as an adult over the last ten years. I had harp lessons for about two years. I am definitely over-critical of myself.

    charles-nix on #230425

    I have studied with a teacher who said she was always able to go back to the piano and just play–but with the harp, if she wasn’t on it every day, it took a week to get the tone color and projection back in form. She is retired from principal harp at a prominent US orchestra, and has held principal harp at one symphony or another since soon after college. You are not alone.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.