An amusing moment in harp lessons:
I was playing Kathy B. Moore’s “Elegy” at my last lesson.
Posted In: Amateur Harpists
Heide–I’m horribly afraid of page turns. I can’t even watch people turn pages for pianists. I always close my eyes when the page turner stands up to turn the page, and I’ve always refused to turn pages for anyone. And now I have to learn to do it myself. These tips will be very helpful.
Your teacher was right to teach you about page-turning. It can ruin a performance if the pages are arranged haphazardly and fall off the stand or distract the performer. In orchestra jobs, there is no time to memorize, and some of the page turns are impossible. Sometimes I make a “short-hand” version of the part to eliminate the page turns. This can be accomplished with the use of repeat signs instead of the entire bar being re-printed, for example. Another technique is to notice if an entire section is just like a previous one, so you can write a memo such as “reh. #101 exactly same as #89”. Sometimes you only need to copy a bar or two at the end of a page to get a good page turn. I have often made my own user-friendly excerpts and attached them inside the part for the next harpist.
You are the only one who replied with my exact advice – photocopy the whole thing, and rewrite whatever can be reduced (summarised – i.e. repeated arpeggio-figures of semiquavers – I reduce them to chords, etc.), and copy and paste accordingly.
There are certainly many different approaches. I personally look at page turns the exact same way I look at lever changes or pedal changes.
They need to be planned out. You need to know where in the music is the best opportunity to turn the page just like you need to know where in the piece is the best place to flip a lever. Just as it is sometimes best to flip a lever immediately before playing a note and others it can be measures before the note is played, so too with turning a page.
You need to practice page turns in the music just like practicing lever flips or pedal changes so that doing them is as much a part of playing the music as plucking the strings.
What this means is that sometimes it is necessary to memorize the last measure on a page, or the first measure on the next page so that you can turn the page without missing a beat.
As for the physical problem I find that I don’t need aids like paper clips or tabs. So long as the music is “well worn” I can just grab the page and turn. I don’t have particularly dry hands and I could imagine that would make it hard to grip the paper right off, but I only have problems with new music where I haven’t had time to wear in the book or sheet music yet. So my advice is literally to sit down and just turn pages for a bit until the book gets used to being turned.
Of course you can always just find someone to sit there and turn your pages for you. Wouldn’t that be nice (and while we are at it we can teach the page turner to tune for us as well so we can just sit and play)
Hey all just wanted all the harp enthusiasts to know that
Goderich Celtic College will be going on from Monday August 4th to
Thursday August 7th, come and participate in are fantastic harp
workshops taught by some of the greatest harp players of this generation
including Grainne Hambly (Ireland), Sile Denvir (Ireland), and June Naylor