I have been learning lever harp for 7 years.
Do you look at the lever changes as being part of the music (i.e., having to happen in EXACTLY the same spot each time, just like a note)? When you practice hands separately, do you still do the levers regardless of which hand you’re working on? Can you see your levers–I mean easily find the lever that you want? It helps a lot to mark the F and C levers. Dusty Strings makes little colored rubber rings to put over the handles of the Fs and Cs so that you can see where you are more easily. Almost all harp stores carry them.
>I have seen the rings though. Do they help alot?
Yes! You can also use Goody Ouchless Mini-hairbands if you can find suitable colors these days. But those dots are useless when you need to find a lever in in a hurry, partly because they are on the side of the lever where it’s hard to see.
You should take out measures with tricky changes and work those by themselves till you don’t realize that you’ve moved the lever. You want to get to the point where you say, “Did I move that?” and look up and see that you did. If you don’t practice them enough, they won’t stick, and for some people it takes a lot of practice.
There’s no obvious harp reason for your trouble–levers on a thorm should be easily reachable for most people, while some harps are so tall that it can be really a long way to go for bass levers. Lovelands aren’t the most desirable levers, but they’re okay, so you should be able to do this if you set your mind to it.
I would say the fact that you have so much trouble doing just right hand means you need to do just left hand till you are certain of where you want the changes, then move to doing just right hand, if you’re a hands-separately practicer. (I’m a big believer in this, but not everyone is.)
I have a lot of trouble with lever flipping too, I think part of my problem is that I don’t see the lever colors clearly enough to locate them quickly and smoothly. I have seen lever covers in pictures that cover the entire lever, but I don’t know if they’re currently available or not.
I think they were for Camac levers, or possibly Performance levers. The rings are not too helpful for me on my newish Camac levers with the bands of color at the top of the little handles.
The fully colored levers were plastic.
You know, you don’t have to use the rings–you can use the dayglo Goody bands if that helps (nothing is more vividly colored than those!), or paint your lever handles with nail polish, which I’ve seen done before. Ray Pool used to use some kind of bookbinding tape, but I think you need to live in a place like NYC to find that, and I’ve also seen people use the bright plastic tape that’s like electrical tape, but that gets nasty pretty quickly.
One of the first drills I do with my little students is finding a specific string without looking, then we work up to finding the lever with eyes closed. They can all do it, sooner or later. You can, too. Try it! The thing to remember is that for any piece, especially for stuff at the level that you’ve mentioned, you don’t need to know where *every* lever is, just the one you need for that piece.
Just thought: there are also those new levers, the ones that have the colored metal ring for a handle, but those are just a nightmare to try to grab and move, in my limited experience trying them. It’s a good concept if the handle were a different shape.
There actually are several good books for flipping levers:
I heard that someone on this site was looking for advanced music for lever harp, and was wondering about Watching the Wheat by John Thomas. I play this on lever harp and have recorded it on the CD The Jig’s Up. I haven’t published the sheet music because the low B and A strings don’t seem to be standard yet, and that version really depends on as wide a range as possible. I try to publish works that will still sound well on a harp that goes down to C. The advanced pieces for lever harp I’ve written include various sets of chorale variations and
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