Playing after a long break

Posted In: How To Play

  • Participant
    margo on #211312

    Hello lovely fellow harpists!
    I need your advice regarding gaining back my technique. I had terrible hand pains which caused me to stop playing the harp for several years. I have played sporadically in the past years, yet very simple things. It turns out that my hands pain is not pathological, so I can return to my harp playing without danger to hurt my hands.
    I would love to hear, how to start playing again, what exercises to do, in order to remind my tendons all the techniques I still have in my head -if that makes sense? I was at Grade 8 when I stopped.
    Many thanks!:-)

    wil-weten on #211318

    What about starting with very simple tunes you used to love? These may help you to refresh your memory regarding the technique of playing. This may be a rather quick way to get back to your old level of playing.

    As to painful hands, I would start playing just for short periods at a time, say five or ten minutes, maybe a few times a day. Maybe find a professional teacher that can help you to play the harp without hurting your hands.

    margo on #211349

    Thanks so much wil-weten, I don’t have a harp teacher close to where I live so I have to try by myself. Thank you for your advice, simple tunes sounds like a good start 🙂 I just need to have patience, I guess.

    wil-weten on #211365

    When you can’t visit a teacher close to where you live, you may think of taking some online harp lessons with a harp teacher who gives special attention to using your body in a way that prevents it from pain and harm.
    This may help you both to find your way back to the harp at the level you once played as well as to prevent that the pain in your hands comes back,

    Gretchen Cover on #211369

    When I decide to re-pursue my harp playing seriously, I traded in my harp for a new one and set about on a five year plan. So, at least make sure you have new strings on your harp and that it is regulated.

    Secondly, the three most effective methods I found to get my hands in shape were: Music with downward arpeggios (The Little Fountain is great. So is Ambiance by Frank Voltz), Salzedo conditioning exercises, and doing Finger Fitness exercises on YouTube.

    Thirdly, yoga will help immensely with overall conditioning.

    Fourth, make sure your bench is high. Hips should be slightly above your knees.

    Lastly, and most important to me in your situation is that technique seems to be the root of your hand problem. I would check out Anne Sullivan’s Harp Mastery courses and perhaps have some online coaching with her. If your hands are the main issue, l would first start with some private Skype lessons with Alice Giles about sitting and hand position. Both of these harpists are superb instructors.

    I am willing to bet your hand pain is caused by tension. Do you raise your arms and relax after you pluck a string? Do you play with your elbows up and relaxed in your shoulders? l would not try to self-teach until you know the same problem that stopped your playing will not reoccur – which means get some coaching first.

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