Pointer Finger Player

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    unknown-user on #161791


    liath-hollins on #161792

    Hi there,

    Glad that you’re enjoying learning and playing your harp 🙂

    1. Yes, you are cheating.

    2. Probably…

    3. It depends what you want to do with your harp playing and how far you wish to take it. If you are happy picking out simple tunes, then there’s no reason at all why you can’t carry on as you are. However, if you want to progress on the harp, then you really need to sort out your technique. The sooner you do this, the easier it will be to adapt – if you leave it for years, it will be far harder to break bad habits.

    If you are quick on the uptake, as you seem to be, it shouldn’t take you too long to learn proper technique. You’ll then have a whole world of music to choose from, and will feel far more secure when playing for an audience. (The idea of correct harp technique is that it gives you that security – you place the hands in patterns which eventually makes playing far easier, though it is tricky to get the hang of at first.)

    If you are happy to carry on plinking as you are, then carry on! But it sounds from your description, that you do have some natural talent for the harp, and it would be a shame to limit yourself by not learning correct technique.

    By the way, many of the ancient harpers would have been using wire-strung harps – and the technique for those is absolutely fiendish (well beyond me, as a gut-strung player!). If anything, they would have been far more skilled than the average harper these days 😉

    unknown-user on #161793

    Wow, thanks for responding so quickly, I didn’t expect that!

    Interesting what you said about the old timers, I thought it was the other way around … but then again, I do remember reading about the pinkie amputations, so

    tony-morosco on #161794

    Well, on the one hand so long as you are not playing in a way that causes physical problems then you can play anyway you want.


    If you ever want to play anything more complicated your current method won’t work. If the way you play now satisfies you then keep using it, but if you want to play more complicated music, using chords in your right hand, or playing fast passages in either hand, you will be limited by what you are doing now.

    At that point you will have to relearn, and honestly I think it is better and ultimately easier to learn the right way from the start.

    Yes, it is slow and cumbersome and difficult at first. Playing the harp is NOT easy. But eventually you get used to it and you wonder how you ever had a problem with it.

    Basically the way you play now is fine for the music you play now, but if you want to progress at all then your current playing method will be a hindrance and limit you. To get the most you can get out of your instrument you need to start practicing with correct placement and fingering. Yes, it will be hard and slow going. It was for ALL of us. But just as the rest of us managed to get through that difficult stage so can you and I believe in the long run you will be much more pleased with the results, and glad to have a lot of other works opened up for you to be able to play.

    There is plenty of diatonic music that is still challenging to play and will work on your harp but not with your current playing technique. If you want to be able to play any of it you will need to address that at some point. Sooner is better than later.

    unknown-user on #161795

    Thank you Tony.

    The thing is there is a big payoff with being able to play things quickly via this cheating, and I have been unable to move on from it.

    andy-b on #161796

    Hi there, and welcome to the forum and to harping!

    I actually started out exactly the same way, with the exception that I had read once that harpers placed the harp on their left shoulder, so I did that, too! I had a difficult time when I found an intructor re-learning everything, but I actually made much faster progress than I had been making with my non-tradtional method.

    I’m not, nor do I want to be, a concert harpist, but I can and do play for weddings, receptions, and other events, and also compose and arrange my own music. I believe I would have ultimately hit a wall with what I was able to do if I hadn’t found a harp teacher and re-learned how to play. When I think back to how limited (but yes, nice-sounding!) the tunes I played teaching myself are compared to what I can play now, it really makes me aware of the progress I’ve made. I thoroughly love playing the harp, and as long as you love what you do, and are satisfied with what you’re doing, enjoy the ride! If you reach a point where you feel you need some help, then seek a teacher at that point. We’re all here as well to help you!

    Hope this helps,


    Tacye on #161797

    Learning proper harp technique is hard- and you may find it ‘no fun’ but one of the reasons we harp on about it is because it does give better results and the better you play the more fun harp playing is.

    Rachel on #161798

    If you’re not able to take lessons right now, you might want to try a teach yourself book with a video.

    unknown-user on #161799

    Yes, I am always looking at that right hand.

    unknown-user on #161800

    andy, how long did it take you after learning proper fingering to feel that you were in your comfort zone with it?

    andy-b on #161801

    I wish I could answer that question, but it’s been so long ago now I don’t really remember! It seems like it wasn’t terribly long. At first I was going back and forth between working on what my teacher had me doing, and my old style, and reached a point where I just made the decision to only play one way and devote my time and energy to it. I think that’s what made the difference for me. Sorry I couldn’t be more specific!


    unknown-user on #161802

    Oh, don’t be sorry, you have been immensely helpful, as have all the other people responding.

    HBrock25 on #161803

    I’m so happy that you love playing the harp!

    Audrey Nickel on #161804

    Just to echo what others have said here, it really is important to learn to place properly, if you ever want to do anything more complex (and that applies to the left hand as well as the right.

    Audrey Nickel on #161805

    By the way, not having levers isn’t THAT limiting.

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