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Left hand/right hand limitations

Home Forums Teaching the Harp Left hand/right hand limitations

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  • #86919
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    I thought of something today that I don’t remember seeing discussed here before. It started while I was listening to a recording of the Harmonious Blacksmith Variations of Handel. I’ve worked on that piece off and on many times over the years but have never performed it, for one reason. That reason is the left hand variation. I can play it and I can play it very well, and fast, after 20 minutes or so of working on it, but even then it feels awkward to me. I’m right handed but have worked so hard on my left hand over the years that i have a very good left hand, for a right handed person. But still there are limitations. So while I can play the right hand variation that preceeds the left hand one easily, I never achieve the same comfort level with the left hand variation, no matter how many times I play it. I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced the same thing. The harp is such a right handed instrument that I’m wondering how left handed people deal with this. I should hope that your right hand doesn’t feel as uncomfortable as my left hand does in a really difficult passage. Does anyone feel that they have overcome the problems of the hand that is not dominant?

    #86920
    c-k
    Participant

    Carl, I think it’s interesting that you brought this up. I am right handed and I feel that my left hand is

    #86921
    wendy-willis
    Participant

    Gee, I thought

    #86922
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    It does take a lot of work to make the weaker hand stronger, but I’m not sure there is ever a point where the left hand of a right handed person is going to feel equal to the right hand. To be honest, I can’t think right now of an other piece (other than the harmonious Blacksmith) where my left hand is so obviously limited. When I was an undergraduate I practiced scales like a madman. I can honestly say that in playing scales, my left hand can play as fast as my right, which is pretty fast(4 notes to the beat at 126 top speed). Why that left hand variation gives me such a hard time I don’t know.

    #86923

    I guess possibly being a keyboard player has a huge advantage here. I have a bachelor of music on organ and have played piano since I was 6 years of age. I never noticed my left hand feeling less dextrous than my right in my harp studies. In fact, if anything, it is stronger. I am right-handed.

    Briggs

    #86924
    mr-s
    Member

    hi Carl, i am left handed, in every thing ,but my left hand is weak, because i hurted it when i tried to play sport (body building) about 9 years ago, and its clear that my left hand is not strong enough to make a loud voice, any way as you said there is no equality in between the left and right, some one the left stronger other the right, and there are many exercises for the left hand only and etudes.

    #86925
    unknown-user
    Participant

    There’s a simple explanation for this. It is awkward.

    #86926
    sherry-lenox
    Participant

    I’ve never known any woodwind players who had a problem with relative strength or dexterity of the left/right hand. Some of the lower woodwinds require a pretty good deal of heft and torque and the left hand might be considered a little tougher because it’s a longer stretch than the right from the body.

    I know there are woodwind players here who have added harp. Maybe they could weigh in. Maybe there’s also an additional difficulty in using the left hand simultaneously with the right instead of sequentially. Interesting to think about.

    #86927
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Interesting point, Peawiggle.

    I also began as a piano student, and was somewhat ambidexterous as a child. So, I never had a problem with my left hand.

    What I have found is that some students feel very awkward in their left hand, more so due to hand position. On piano the left and right hand positions are indentical in height

    #86928
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Most craft people are pretty ambidextrous, and when I’m rebuilding harps, I can pretty much use tools in either hand. As a harpist, I worked very hard on the left hand and mine is pretty agile and strong. But even after all these years, there is still a limit to what my left hand can do, either playing the harp or using tools. Beyond that limit, using my left hand still feels very awkward.

    #86929
    tony-morosco
    Member

    “I know there are woodwind players here who have added harp. Maybe they could weigh in. “

    I started on fife and flute and I have to agree that they require equal dexterity in both hands and this may be a plus when going to harp.

    I also play guitar, and that requires developing a good deal of both dexterity and strength in the left hand. Can’t play barre chords if you have a weak left hand, and can’t play fast passages if you have a clumsy one.

    I can play virtually anything in my left hand that I can play with the right on the harp, and even though I am right handed by left had is at least as strong, if not stronger than my right because of playing the guitar.

    #86930

    I remember my harp teacher making lots of corrections in my positions on the left hand at first, and then I caught on pretty well (it’s my right hand which tried to turn out a lot for a long time — still a little sometimes). Once I got the position my left hand was really strong. Sometimes I have to consciously back off with my left hand

    #86931
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Tony- That’s an interesting post. I don’t want to give the wrong impression about my original post. My left hand is excellent, very agile, and strong, and I don’t notice any awkwardness to my left hand in anything that I play EXCEPT that &%^$* left hand variation of the Handel. If I were to take it slower I’m sure I would be able to play it fine. But I don’t like it slower. So I’m wondering Tony if at the upper limits of difficulty do you notice any difference between your left and right hands?

    #86932
    tony-morosco
    Member

    Carl,

    Maybe just slightly, but not enough to be a hindrance or to be really awkward. Just enough to not feel quite as at ease as my right hand.

    #86933
    unknown-user
    Participant

    Well, for sure you have to practice that variation at least twice as much as the right hand, twenty times a day minimum to start to get it.

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