The people who raise-and you know who you are-often explain it as a way of “relaxing.” Years ago I was at a harp conference and there was a workshop by a doctor who specialized in sports and musicians injuries. In the question and answer session towards the end of the lecture, one young woman explained how her teacher had taught her to raise as a way of relaxing the hands and arms. The doctor listened politely and then calmly explained that if the hands and arms were relaxing, they would drop to the player’s sides, not raise up.
The circumstances should dictate what kind of motion you make. If you are playing something dreamy with a long pause after the chord, then a beautiful movement which gradually takes you to the next placing will help keep you in the mood and will also look good to the audience. However, if you are playing repeated notes or chords very quickly, then it makes no sense to raise in between.
They did it with tennis pros and discovered that some things tennis pros often teach, such as turning the wrist during a serve, they don’t actually do when they play. It would be quite informative for this to be done with harpists, for many aspects of playing including raises, wrist position, finger closing, posture, and leg and foot movement.
Elizabeth- I agree with everything you say. The point to me is, gestures and body language/movement on any instrument are very personal and vary from one player to another. For some players(again, on any type of instrument) it is part of their “getting into the music” and helps them find the core of the music. For that reason alone, I don’t see how gestures can be taught, or insisted upon as being a part of a school of technique.
“It is supposed to be done gracefully, appropriate to the music”
Yes and I love it, it`s like a sort of dance with the arms, if not exaggerated it looks so graceful!
I also like when people move a bit with the harp, like they are dancing with it, but I don`t see it so often, does this particular movement/technique has a name?
Yes Sylvia, I get that you are fine with people doing what they want. I am just pointing out that your characterization of raising isn’t accurate.
Someone not familiar with the technique who read your comments would get a completely inaccurate idea of what raising is. That there really are people out there who “throw their arms” up only adds to the problem and give people a negatively skewed and incorrect idea of what the correct technique actually is.
I am simply pointing out that what you described as raising isn’t a correct description and anyone reading your comments shouldn’t take your characterization of “throwing the arms up” as an accurate account of what the correct technique looks like.
Tony, would you consider what pianists do to be a similar concept? Maybe that’s where the idea came from. However, they do have gravity in their favor…and nowhere to go but up. Once I saw a flute player who circled her flute a lot…I thought it was distracting from the music. Anyway, what I heard at lessons was AWAY…AWAY…meaning to get away from the strings, and tho I do find it’s a great practice method, I don’t want it to carry over into playing.
It might also depend on what type of playing you do. The closest I get to recitaling is wedding preludes and receptions, but what I concentrate is on getting a beautiful sound. They can look at the beautiful harp and hear beautiful sound, but they don’t need to see anything distracting from me. I’m just at the back end, running the machine… and playing orchestra, opera, and band is different from playing solo…get it in the right place at the right tempo and make it sound good.
Everyone is unique and has his/her own ways of doing things. Never fear, there’s no danger that anyone will change their mind about anything just because of my opinions!
Generally yes. Pianists, like harpists, run the gamut from graceful gestures to wild gyrations with their hands.
However from what I know, raising and gestures is fairly unique on the harp world to the Salzedo method. That Salzedo was an equally accomplished pianists probably has something to do with his incorporating it into his harp technique.
As a Salzedo player myself, who’s teacher was a student of Salzedo and Lawrence, I was never taught AWAY. On the contrary, I was taught to keep relatively close to the strings when doing a raise (just far away enough not to risk buzzing). Raises and gestures were controlled, graceful, and specially placed based on the phrasing of the music (written into the sheet music).
Regardless of how necessary or what the physics of it is, even if it is just mental, it is part of a particular technique and many of us feel we sound and perform better when we do it. Most likely simply because it was so ingrained in our playing that to not do it feels awkward.
But in the Salzedo method it shouldn’t be wild, distracting, or detrimental the tone or musicality of what you are playing. In fact more often than not people tell me I look as good as I sound when I play.
I’m not suggesting that you should or need to use raising or gestures. But I do think that you weren’t taught them properly from your description.
I’m only going to state the facts that I know here, and not offer any opinion at all. I know at least 4 people who are still alive and who studied with Salzedo or knew him very well. What they have all told me is that: 1) Salzedo played with classic French technique(elbows low, palms more or less facing the floor, thumb horizontal), and never played with his elbows or thumbs up. One of these people told me,”He played the way he was taught.” 2) Salzedo’s own explanation of raising was simply that it drew attention to the player, either in an orchestra or on stage.
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