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Teaching students to tune

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 32 total)
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  • #87742
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    I have a large fleet of rental harps that I have been renting out for more than

    30 years.

    #87743

    Carl, My rental lever harps often came back tuned diatonically in key of C, with all levers off. Those renters studied with teachers who have that philosophy of teaching, rather than mine. It took a while for those harps to have the strings in the Eb position, levers

    #87744

    Good point, Carl, and excellent suggestion! I always keep my harps in tune, to set a good

    example. (Besides, if I didn’t, the intonation would drive me mad.) The really young

    students often expect their parents to tune the harp, so I make sure all new students buy

    an electronic tuner, and I teach the parents and the students how to read it. If they’re still

    having trouble tuning, I will either make a house call if the harp is unwieldly to transport,

    or have them bring the harp to the lesson. I find that, if they tune the harp regularly, most

    people’s ears get used to hearing the harp in tune, and then they don’t need to rely on the

    elctronic gizmo so much.

    #87745
    rosalind-beck
    Participant

    Using a pick-up with an electronic tuner infinitely improves the stability of the pitches it displays and makes it so much easier to determine how flat/sharp each note/string is.

    #87746
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Rosalind- My concern I think is that students, even if they have a tuner,

    #87747
    Tacye
    Participant

    Too true… ‘Do I have to get all three lights for EVERY string?’

    The thing I am often astonished by is the number of harpists who have never been taught to move the harp.

    #87748
    unknown-user
    Participant

    One of the most important aspects of this thread is the electronic tuner.

    #87749
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I definitely agree with using a pickup with an electronic tuner. I’ve been using a microphone for years — wrapped in a sheet of foam plastic packing material (or whatever you can find at a craft store) and stuck inside the back of the harp (pedal harp); the foam keeps it wedged in place in the slot. I get the cheapest mike I can find (at Radio Shack; I never pay more than $20), unscrew and discard the ball thing that’s on the end, wrap the foam around the mike (but not the end) and put a couple strong rubber bands on it to hold it on. Works like a charm. For lever harps, you can lay the mike wherever you can, as close as possible to the sound board, if the slots aren’t big enough to hold it.

    Kathie Bracy

    #87750
    unknown-user
    Participant

    HI CAN YOU IMAGINE I COME TO CLASS TO PRACTICE EVERY TIME AND FIND HARP WITHOUT TUNNING, THE TEACHER GIVE HER

    STUDENT THE LESSON AND THE HARP NOT TUNNED, HOW CAN

    THEY PLAY

    #87751
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I have invented a game for my harp students.

    #87752
    sherry-lenox
    Participant

    As a great fan of the Kodaly Method, I have found that children use better intonation with any instrument or with singing if they use the Kodaly technique of “finding A”. For the first few lessons I use a tuning fork to acquaint even little singers (kdg. and up) to hear what A sounds like. About the 3rd or 4th week I say “Let’s see if you can sing A before I play it”.

    Without fail, a few kids will be able to sing A. I tell them that they have to agree with one another, and in time, whole classes, usually around 4th grade level, will be singing A together with good pitch.

    #87753
    tony-morosco
    Member

    When I started lessons the first thing my teachers said was, “go get an electronic tuner and use it every day.”

    She definitely showed my how she wanted me to tune. She used a tuner too, but often would just adjust notes by ear. At first I had no facility for tuning by ear but after a few years of using the tuner and hearing my harp in tune all the time I developed a better ear for figuring out was was the problem when something was off.

    She did teach me to tune without the tuner, but it was a while before I developed a good enough ear to do it.

    Today I tune every day even if I don’t play. I use a Peterson virtual strobe tuner with a clip. Best tuner I have ever used and I can’t imagine going back to anything less. I occasionally tune by ear, but despite having made improvements in that the Peterson is still much more accurate than my ears are.

    I still tune exactly how my teacher showed me. It is such habit I doubt I could tune any other way now.

    #87754

    I don’t think students should use electronic tuners. They will never make the effort to learn to tune by ear. If you can catch them before they’ve gotten one, have them get tuning forks for B and E, not too hard to find. Teach them the old fashioned way, and then when they have gotten the hang of it, they can use the tuner to fine-tune. Alternatively, have them get a tuner that plays the pitches, like a Korg, so they are still using and training their ear, and not using their eyes on a needle or strobe display. I personally can’t abide strobes. I have always used Korg tuners, and still use my tuning forks.

    #87755
    diane-michaels
    Spectator

    I think that it was my first student who explained why she didn’t tune the bass strings on her harp – she couldn’t hear them well.

    #87756
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I don’t think students should use electronic tuners. They will never
    make the effort to learn to tune by ear.

    I believe learning to tune the harp by ear is a huge benefit as a musician.

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