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Progressing on the harp for a beginner

Home Forums Teaching the Harp Progressing on the harp for a beginner

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  • #85132
    jean-mac
    Participant

    I recently participated in a harp camp and found that the young performers were outplaying me all the time, and I found myself just playing thirds, one base note, etc. and would like some advice on advancing at the harp, but

    #85133
    sherry-lenox
    Participant

    Hi jean- I’ve been playing for 3 years, and to me, playing the harp is more unlike playing any other instrument than I can think of.

    I’m originally a woodwind person, then a singer, and one of my claims to fame was that i could pick up most any instrument and play it respectably. Well, of course, I was stopped cold with picking up the harp (sorry bad joke) but in all seriousness I doubt that I would have made as much progress as I have without the lessons I take with an excellent teacher.

    To me, there’s just so much to be doing at once while playing a harp- all body parts in correct places and positions, having to look 2 or 3 places at once, and so on.

    It really has taken me the three years to just know how and when I have to drill a certain group of measures before I can incorporate them into the piece, and I still depend on slow steady practice in order to get a piece up to tempo.

    I definitely work on specifics such as rolled chords and trills in isolation because for me, that time is never wasted- I know I’ll always be finding those “harpistic” things in everything i play as I advance.

    I love my Grossi- I still use it to warm up because of the steady, organized approach to basic techniques. I’ve always loved to use a method book as a framework. Just now I’m working on Pozolli #43 in the Grossi-Pozzoli book. It’s a nice sounding etude on its own, but in addition, it has a couple infuriating technical points that I love-hate but I know that we’ll keep working on it until I get it right. Then, the next time I see the annoying thing in other music, I’ll think back to my previous learning, haul out the technique, and it will be easier for me to use than if it were brand new.

    I think harp is more frustrating than other instruments because you can sound so good when you’re still a rank amateur. Then you begin to realize all the really hard stuff that you still have to do, and that can be discouraging.

    You are definitely in luck though that you obviously love playing. To me when I get discouraged, that’s the part that keeps me going.

    #85134
    Jerusha Amado
    Participant

    Jean,

    Exercises, etudes, breaking the material down into very small sections and bringing each up to tempo gradually using the metronome should help.

    What advice does your teacher offer?

    #85135
    Haley B
    Member

    Sherry~

    Can you share the exact title of “your Grossi”? I’d love to look into getting a copy of that.

    Thanks!

    #85136
    jean-mac
    Participant

    Most recently she has said that I am progressing well, and she is not as concerned with appropriate tempo right now, but that it is important that I become exposed to more and more music to get both my hands on the harp.

    #85137
    sherry-lenox
    Participant

    Hi Everyone! “Grossi” Is “Metodo per Arpa”. The second part of the book is “65 Piccol Studi Facili E Progressivi” by Pozzoli.

    Almost everything in this book is marked for fingerings and IMO they are great for practicing all kinds of technique. I also like some of them enough to enjoy going over them a couple times/week just to keep them fresh in my mind.

    I’m doing R.N Ch. Bochsa- “50 Lecons progressives pour la Harpe” 1er Cahier

    (rev. Denise Megevand) and they are also wonderful for technique, again IMO.

    The 50 exercises are divided into two books of 25 each, and I understand that there was some error in publishing them. I haven’t been able to get Bk 2 (arr. Catherine Michel after trying at least 3 times and being sent 2 copies of the wrong Bochsa. Your teacher will probably know the right one though. The WRONG ones require eleven functioning fingers (just kidding).

    There is something else about playing the harp that is very different from playing an orchestral instrument and it is this. The foundation of finger technique necessary to play at a certain level on an orchestral instrument is much less than what is necessary to play at a comparable level, based on years of instruction on the harp.

    What I mean is that after playing for two years on a clarinet, the pieces played during the first 6 months seem relatively easy. In my experience, the same is not true for the harp. There are things that I’ve played in my second year of instruction on the harp that even after 3 years are still difficult. They are better, but even after a third year of really good instruction, they are not as fluent as I’d like them to be. This doesn’t make one instrument better or worse than another, but it does frustrate someone who had achieved a certain level of expertise on the previous instrument.

    #85138
    Haley B
    Member

    Sherry~

    Is this book only for pedal harp or would it work for lever harp too?

    Thanks!

    #85139
    sherry-lenox
    Participant

    Hi Haley- The Grossi is almost completely accessible for lever harp with 34-36 strings, and I think the first 25 of the Bochsa are all in Eb. The second 25 of the Bochsa begin with comfortable pedal changes and I don’t look more than two or three ahead of my lesson, lest I be horrified.

    I love the Bochsa- they are small pieces and always contain some nasty but important little technical surprise that I always think I’ll never be able to do.

    It’s an exultant feeling when I practice long and hard and conquer them! The one I just did is 3 beats in the left hand against 2 in the right- something I am fully familiar with in the brain but was afraid brain could not connect with dopey fingers. I left the book open on the stand, and every once in a while, I’d just go in there and drill a little of the hard measures, and darned if I didn’t get the thing zapped- still working on it but a great sense of progress. Gradual gradual gradual gradual……..:)

    #85140
    janelle-lake
    Participant

    Remember that a lot of these children have unlimited/undisturbed practice time at their disposal.

    #85141
    jean-mac
    Participant

    Thank you all for your kind recommendations and encouragement.

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