Rocking Harp

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    Jessica Frost

    Advice needed….any suggestions on how to keep a student (10 year old) from constantly rocking back and forth with the harp?


    I wonder if this problem arose because she needed to lean forward to reach the lower strings when she was very small. This would cause the harp to rock. It does take a long time to correct ingrained habits, but don’t give up! Sometimes it can seem like the bad habit will never go away, and then, finally, it vanishes. Another habit I have seen is head-bobbing, which some students do when they’re counting beats. If she could practise in front of a mirror, that would make it easier for her to catch herself doing it at home. Could you videotape her and watch it with her? Sometimes it is helpful to get the student to participate in a master class or workshop so that they hear the same message from a different teacher.


    I’ve seen quite a few professionals or conservatory students who do this, and think it looks expressive, but I also find it makes me feel kind of sick. I’m not sure how to stop it except to spend a lesson holding the harp still. She can move all she wants if the harp stays still. She ought to realize how it feels then. Does she have it resting on her knees? That may be the problem. If it is on the knees and not primarily on the shoulder, then you can move your body without moving the harp.


    Some children have problems dissociating one movement from another, although she’s a little old to be in that stage. How did she react when you tried to hold the harp? I second Saul’s suggestion- I think she needs to experience how it feels to use hands and arms alone so that she has the physical experience that she is using motion that is extraneous to playing.


    “If it is on the knees and not primarily on the shoulder, then you can move your body without moving the harp. “

    That is what I was thinking. If the harp is resting correctly on the knees then the harp should only rock at all when you reach for the lower strings (depending on how long


    The mirror idea is a good one…as it takes a while to gain a physical awareness of what you are doing, so having her watch herself and gain that awareness first will surely help.

    And as much as I agree that strapping her to the chair may give her a physical sense of what she is doing, some societies may frown on strapping a 10 year old to a


    Hey, Ro, wasn’t it you that had a harp duct-taped to the floor once? That would certainly solve the problem…


    Yeeesss…..good thinking Smart….but! how to tape it tilted back in an actual playable position..that’s the rub.

    luv ya!


    How about once it’s in it’s correct position, wedge something under it so it can’t be moved unless the wedge is taken away.



    You could always get her to sit with a book or something balanced on her head.


    +++ how to tape it tilted back in an actual playable position..that’s the rub. +++


    Kay, you reminded me of something that happened to me in a very crowded orchestra pit a long time ago. While I was performing my cadenza, the violinist in front of me shifted his chair back a few inches. He effectively wedged me into playing position, and it was impossible for me to put the harp back on the floor! I couldn’t yell, I couldn’t move out of my chair to tap him on the shoulder; I was just stuck. I finally caught the eye of another musician who rescued me.


    Elizabeth – Thats great!


    I would probably have gnawed my leg off to get out of there before I’d go a week without food!:-) Or maybe I would have chewed my way through the back of the harp to get out. Mmm…maple!



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