Pedal Harp String Tension: TIGHT!

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

  • Member
    Aria on #156717

    Hi,

    I just bought my first Pedal Harp.

    Member
    tony-morosco on #156718

    Yes, it is normal. Even compared to lever harps that are said to be strung like a pedal harp, they still don’t have as much tension.

    Yes, callouses and endurance will both develop over time. It’s just like running a marathon. You have to work up to it.

    Participant
    sherry-lenox on #156719

    What does your teacher think? Will you be taking lessons on a pedal harp with similar tension? I practice on two pedal harps, one with relatively light pedal harp tension and the other with quite a bit firmer tension.

    I take lessons on my teacher’s Salvi, and the tension is the most firm of any harps that I play. It can be difficult to switch among the three, but after ten or fifteen minutes, the Salvi feels OK.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #156720

    I went from a 22 string lap harp with the lightest tension of any harp I’ve played to a Lyon and Healy petite pedal, and they’re known for having for tight tension. So I totally understand your pain!

    I’ve been playing for a year, and the best thing that has helped is practice, practice, rest, practice! The resting is important once in awhile, especially after I play for 2 hours… That’s about my limit. Tonight I played at a restaurant for 2 hours, so tomorrow I will only play for pleasure if I feel like it. Otherwise I try to practice at least an hour a day! Not that I manage to DO that every day… But it’s my goal! I have light calluses now, but if I stop playing for over 3 days they disappear and I have to start ALL OVER AGAIN. Of course a few weeks ago I had some kind of throat infection and couldn’t get out of bed for 5 days or so, and my fingers are still sore. =_=

    My finger sensitivity has VASTLY improved. I used to play everything at the same volume, my dynamics were terrible. Now I can play “Across the Universe” by the Beatles and play the fade out part at the end, I play softer and softer until it’s like a whisper. A year ago I couldn’t do that! My finger endurance improved too, now I can last 2 hours. A year ago the longest I’d played was 1 hour because I was forced to.

    As far as pedal harp string tension goes, I think most harps are similar. I’ve only played a Lyon and Healy and Salvi though, so I’d be curious to compare! I’ve heard L&H and Salvi called “sisters” before, the companies are very similar in quality. I prefer L&H but that’s because my harp is one and I can blame my teacher for making me biased. 😉

    And like I said above, practicing diligently but resting when your fingers get sore is the quickest and best way to build up endurance. I try and play arpeggios and scales and such for a few minutes to warm up and then work on what my teacher has for me. Everyone has a practice routine so I would suggest finding what works for you, what you enjoy playing, what is HARDEST to play, what is easiest to play, etc, and combine it into a daily pattern. I try and sit down for an hour but often times I just randomly walk into my room and play for 15 minutes multiple times during the day!

    I’m a chatter box, so I hope you enjoyed reading this whole thing! Thanks for the interesting conversation, God bless!

    — Natalie

    Member
    Aria on #156721

    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #156722

    It matters what kind of strings are on the harp.

    Participant
    jessica-wolff on #156723

    Seems to me the only pedal harps with fairly light tension are the antiques. Your switching back to the Merlin off and on is probably a good idea.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #156724

    That’s perfect! The lighter tension will give your fingers a nice break. 🙂

    Another tip that really helped me while I was building up calluses, ice your fingers if they get super sore or get blisters. I usually will get blisters on my thumbs or right index finger, so I take an ice cube (and a paper towel so I don’t drip everywhere!) and hold it between my fingers for a long time. Before I go to bed I’ll ice them for awhile. It’s also great if you play at a restaurant or something, it’s easy to ask a waiter for a cup of ice during a break and soothe the stinging fingers.

    — Natalie

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #156725

    I did not start playing the harp until I went to college.

    Member
    Aria on #156726

    I do have a good teacher who has shown me the optimal way to work the pedals.

    Participant
    Tacye on #156727

    Have you worked on your posture with your teacher and your own harp/stool?

    Participant
    Tacye on #156728

    PS You are sitting on the very front of your stool?

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