Squashed Under My Harps

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    This is for women only!!!!!!!!

    I’ve been getting squashed under my harps
    The pain is in my upper back,middle back neck & shoulders
    I also have MILD CP & SEVEAR schoolhouses
    Do you think it’s because I’m not sitting properly
    or do you think my harps might be too big for me
    It hurts when I even bend over
    Do you think it could be something els
    I’ve been playing harp for around 8 years
    I started when I was around 16 years old

    Do you know of any simple exercises that could help my BAD back
    Thanks for the help

    Gretchen Cover

    Mia, your pain sounds like it is caused by not stretching enough. I take yoga lessons once or twice a week and try to stretch in-between and do some stretching after I practice a long time. If I don’t, I have the same pain you do. I have a slight curve in my spine, too. You may also want to try raising your harp bench a little higher.


    Hi Mia,
    I really doubt your harps are too big as I have seen some really small people play huge harps, but you may not be playing with the right posture for you. I was taught to have no weight from the harp on my shoulder at all. I can lean back on my seat and the harp stays where it is. This is because the long leg bones are much stronger and better to take the load than the stacked up vertabrae of the spine. Also if you hold your harp very close to the balance point where it is neither tipping forward or back there is very little weight on you. I find sitting high helps me get this position.

    As well as the problem of the harp resting on you, if you sit higher you don’t need to raise your arms so high which you may find more comfortable. So really I am just saying as Gretchen, maybe raise your bench a bit, but with a lot more words!


    Due to my BAD balance I can’t leave the building that I live in
    I’ll get my bench raised your probably right about it being too low
    But I’m still looking for some simple exercises to help strengthen my back, neck & shoulders The biggest harp I’ve got is the Style 85 Grand Petite & the smallest harp I’ve got is a Shamrock lever harp
    Both harps come from L&H
    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I don’t think I’ve found the balance point for my harps

    Gretchen Cover

    Mia, maybe your doctor can prescribe some physical therapy sessions. You may be able to have the physical therapist come to your home. Then you could properly learn some helpful stretching exercises. Any stretching will help you. Just remember to hold a stretch for at least 20 seconds. You can sit in a chair and do stretching exercises with your arms and legs. Or even sit on the floor and stretch. That is what you do in yoga classes. Check out some yoga or stretching videos on youtube.

    Maybe if you can post some photos of yourself sitting at your harp, someone on the forum can tell you whether you are sitting properly and if your bench is the right height. Definitely try a higher bench. That is the easiest thing to do now.


    Have you found the balance point for your harp? You tip the harp back until it will almost stay where it is on an angle, and that’s where it should be. Move your bench up to it so it is at that angle, and I also balance a lot of the weight on my thighs at times when I am not using the pedals. You shouldn’t be having so much pain.


    NO I haven’t found the balance point
    I did get my bench raised but… now I can’t reach that DARN A pedal on my harp
    I’m going to have PT soon
    It also hurts when I even bend over to put on & take off my shoes
    I was looking for the style 85 XP harp instead of the GP harp but L&H quit making that model & I don’t see them for sail online unless I must be blind
    Both my harps are a lot toiler than me
    Thank God I know someone who can help me with getting my musicals to relax & not be so DARN tight
    She’s an excellent masseuse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    She’s helped keep my mild CP under control
    & yes she is learning to play harp thanks to me helping her out

    Gretchen Cover

    Mia, You may have to lower your bench just a little. Have your hips just a little bit higher than your thighs. But before you do that, try sitting a little more on the edge of the bench. It is very important to find the balance point as suggested in another post. Keep moving your bench until you feel you can pull your harp back and it will stay up by itself. It will take experimenting. You could be sitting too close to the harp and not enough on the bench edge which would keep your leg from stretching to reach the A pedal. But, you are listening and making progress. Check out clips on youtube. I know there are several tutorials on how to hold a lever harp.

    PS/ Most harps are taller than the harpist. I had a petite harp instructor and she played a Salzedo with no problem.


    If I lower my bench 1 notch than it’s too low & NO it’s NOT a bench that you can raise by turning it
    I’ve got one of those long benches for my harp & it’s a pain in the harmonic curve to raise & lower
    Hmmmmmmm I can’t seem to find that youtube video on how to carry a lever harp
    Can you give me the link to that video
    Remember I’m 4ft.6in. tall & the tallest harp I’ve got is 6ft. tall & she has a big beautiful sound
    My lever harp is at least a foot taller than me & she has a CELTIC sound

    Gretchen Cover

    Mia, it would be helpful to you for playing both your harps to have an adjustable bench. But it you cannot get one, then perhaps trying different pillows or seat cushions is what you must do. I will try to find some links on youtube on how to hold a harp.


    I do have an adjustable harp bench
    Please pray for me hopefully I’ll be going under the knife by the end of July
    My back is absolutely killing me & I need surgery to help
    This will help me NOT feel so squashed under my harps
    Don’t worry I’m still going to have the PT to strengthen my BAD back,neck,shoulders & legs


    Hi Mia,

    What surgery will you be having?

    I had fusions in L5 & S1 about 15 years ago. Also 2 years ago in my cervical spine as well. All kinds of hardware in me. Just want you to RELAX and know that you will feel better soon!

    Get your sitting height correct and find you balance point for the harp. Make sure the harp is off to the side and that you are NOT trying to wrap yourself around the harp. You’ll get there!


    Gretchen Cover

    Well, I tried to insert a youtube link but it didn’t work. Mia, go to and in the search box, type “Basic Harp Techniques – sitting position.” Harpist Telynau Telfi has some excellent tutorials for lever harp. I play pedal harp and found the videos useful.


    Lets just put say I’m in need of a reduction
    That’s why I need the surgery & thats why my back is always KILLING me
    BTW I’ve looked up Telynau Telfi & had some luck
    thanks for the help & prayers
    you got the youtube link right but…
    you need to give me the rest of that link


    Another random thought- but do you wear heels? Not for walking in – for pedalling. Some people find they really help, and they might suit you with the higher bench.

    If it is useful data, my benches are 22 to 23 inches high once the foam is squashed down. This is to play an L&H85CG and I am just tall enough to claim 5’4″. This puts my eye on level with the top of the top C string which I have seen recommended as a rule of thumb, by Mildred Dilling, I think.

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