I was just browsing through some old questions and answers
The way ive been taught by my teacher is to take the best things about different techniques (grandjany, renie and salzedo, mainly) and form a cohesive technique that works wonderfully. its really more of a well rounded technique, rather than being 2-dimensionally salzedo or renie, etc.
>>French technique, or the French approach to teaching the harp, has less to do with hand position than with a curriculum or format for learning to play the harp. In its purest form, it consists of rigorous use of exercises(scales, chord patterns, arpeggios, all taught in infinite variations)and etudes, as well as pieces representing a wide variety of styles. Stated another way, technique is taught item by item, rather than simply giving the student harder and harder pieces, and expecting their technique to advance as a result. The results of classic French training are spectacular and obvious.<<
I can attest to this because I worked my way through Henriette Reni?’s Complete Method for Harp with a teacher who was the student of Grandjany student.
I think I’ve read enough biased misinformation about the Salzedo technique. It is a comprehensive approach to the harp that encompasses all kinds of music, and has a definite esthetic as well. It is an extension of traditional French approach created to encompass the artistic potential of the modern full-size pedal harp. Indeed, Salzedo was a pupil of Hasselmans, and of DeBeriot, a Chopin pupil. He embraced the possibilities of modern music and a forward-looking approach to the harp. This was taken a step further by his collaborator Lucile Lawrence by further emphasizing choice of repertoire.
To speak of competitions is to raise the subject of musical/national politics as I’ve always heard. Some prize-winners in Israel from Salzedo studios include Heidi Lehwalder, special prize at the age of 12, Alice Giles, 1st prize; Grace Wong, second prize, and others.
Salzedo and Grandjany were good friends. Salzedo was I think fifteen years his senior, and already very famous, when Grandjany arrived in the U.S. Seeing them as rivals or exact peers is something that perhaps their students began to think later on. If people are allowed to make their own artistic choices, as is their right, then there should be space for each choice. One of the problems is that competitions can be so rigid in their repertoire choices and judging, causing them to reflect one esthetic. It is certainly not due to a lack of ability. French students, as I’ve heard, have more opportunities to play, play for each other more, and have excellent sight-reading and other skills that may help them to learn music faster. That would be reflected in performance under competitive pressure. Are they greater artists? Not that I’ve ever heard.
The proof is in the music.
The differences between Grandjany and Salzedo students have to do with whether or not the arms are touching the sounding board below the first octave, whether the knuckles are rounding or “collapsed”, and tone quality. The esthetic gestures that Salzedo created with the help of Vaslav Nijinsky and other artists help to complete, project the string’s tone, and help supplify and relax the arms and hands which, in turn, increases the tone quality. It is never waving around, it is purposeful and directional. It is based in physics.
The extreme positioning described can be attributed to teachers like Alice Chalifoux, who for her own reasons, developed in another direction, and whose students are seen to play differently. They are also extremely adept.
Lucile Lawrence was always a purist, and remained true to her roots in study with Salzedo in the 1920s and earlier. Some harpists become less so with independence and the passage of time, and make their own choices in how they play, for ease or other reasons, and some want to be less specifically Salzedo-identified. That accounts for seeing less difference. But then, it also really depends which Grandjany student you might be comparing them to.
The thumbs do have some upwardness in their position; it should be naturally in between up all the way possible and so low that they have no pressure. The wrists are supposed to be just ever-so-slightly crisped, “like a piece of toast” Miss Lawrence liked to say. She really did not have them curved in except in the moment of playing to create counterbalance, and she favored turning it over or oscillating to any sharp outward movement of the hand over the wrist. That you will see taught by Alice Chalifoux.
I hope this will clear things up. We are each ultimately responsible for our own artistic choices. I found my way through Salzedo, and think that unless you are all-knowing, you should find the best teacher you can, and follow that path as far as possible. Too many cooks spoil the broth. I don’t believe in amalgamating schools, at least not when it comes to Salzedo because of the specific esthetic. A more open approach may work with other schools that are less specific, but what do you represent then? And how do you constantly choose what approach to use? One or two is a lot.
- The forum ‘Young Harpists’ is closed to new topics and replies.