What is intermediate level? What is advanced?

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    >”Moorish Garden” from “Magic Road” is good, although the rest of the book is much simpler.

    Perhaps, but many years ago I was playing one of those endless New Year’s Eve dinner jobs and decided I’d better play through the Minuet from that book, since I had to teach it the next day. Nelson Riddle was at the table next to the harp and he got up and came over to ask what that piece was.


    Is it at the Paris Conservatory where a student works on only one piece for the duration of a year?

    Teachers elsewhere may be overly sensative to spending too much time on a piece once it is “learned,” as in, well, the student got through it without any big mistakes, so on to the next.


    The Paris Conservatory is NOT a place where a student works on one piece the whole year. I don’t know if such a place exists.

    I don’t know how the Paris Conservatory works now, but at least up until the 1960’s, the students met twice a week in a class with the teacher, and the whole class worked on the same piece or pieces at the same time. The teacher would give them a specified amount of time to learn the piece, say, one month, and then the whole class moved on to the next piece. I spent a day observing Marie-Claire Jamet teach her students there about 15 years ago. She gave a private lesson to each one and they each were working on something different. But she insisted that all of the students attend another student’s lesson, and she got real angry at one guy who never attended anyone else’s lesson. If I had a bunch of students, I would insist that they attend each othere’s lessons too.


    One of my reasons for starting this thread in the first place is to try to help teachers teach better. And the teachers I’m talking about are not necessarily the good players/good teachers with lots of harp education and experience, as well as a conscience. We all know that there are many, many, MANY teachers out there who can barely play the harp themselves. We can’t prevent them from hanging out their shingle and teaching, so we may as well help them to teach better. I’m hoping that this thread ultimately turns into an article in which the early stages of harp development are clearly identified and there are lists of suggested repertoire to go along with each stage. I’m much less concerned with the student who is playing competently at the intermediate level than I am with the beginner trying to get to that level. If skills are correctly and adequately learned at the earliest levels, then I think the student is better off later on.

    Just curious. Playing different dynamic levels, and variying tempo(ritard and accelerando) are as much a part of technique as using the fingers correctly. At what point do you introduce those things, and how do you teach them?


    My daughter is currently taking beginning piano lessons.


    Jerry Serviente, of the Somerset Harp festival, has organized a “Lever Harp Teacher’s Symposium” to teach the teachers mentioned in your post.


    Playing different dynamic levels, and variying tempo(ritard and accelerando) are as much a part of technique as using the fingers correctly. At what point do you introduce those things, and how do you teach them?

    I think it depends on the student. For example I have a 9 year old who has been playing less than two years who is extremely concerned that her piece be accurate to the instructions on the page in every regard! If I happen to ignore a tempo marking or dynamic, she is quick to point them out to me. She has good rhythm and a mature concept of phrasing so there was no reason for us not to focus on these things from the very beginning. For her it’s just part of the package.

    Of course on the other hand I have older students who are still struggling with rhythm and technique issues–dynamics are certainly at the bottom of what we have time to deal with in a weekly lesson. I wish this weren’t the case, but sometimes you have to focus on the most important thing….

    So my answer is to introduce them as soon as the student is ready. As soon as a student is mature enough, they should know that music is about expression as much as the notes on the page.


    I think I’ve cracked a little of the code that makes low intermediate pieces suddenly so difficult for someone who has confidently finished a beginning harp book: it is a combination of reading skills and fingerings.


    Dewey Owens also has a collection of original pieces called Six Piece for the Harp, pedal or non, which are very well-written, enchanting pieces (at least the first two are), and are right in that pocket, Carl. The second one in particular is good because the left hand plays a lot of repeated figures, so the student can master one figure, 4-2-1, 4-2-1 cgc; and learn to keep everything round, and learn a bit of oscillation, while concentrating on playing melodiously with the right hand.


    Diane- I also think that we teachers tend to forget that a beginner has no muscle memory for the various patterns that come up over and over again in music: 3 and 4 note chords in all their inversions, 3 and 4 finger arpeggios, octaves, etc. This is the main reason that I like etudes so much for teaching technique. An etude focuses on one pattern, one thin slice of technique, and works it to death. And playing a series of etudes, like the Bochsa Op. 318, 40 easy etudes, teaches the student many of the basic patterns that he or she is going to encounter. So the teacher that starts a student(correctly) on a beginner book and then (incorrectly) skips 3 levels of difficulty with the next step up is giving the student a piece for which he/she has no muscle memory patterns. Most pieces of music don’t repeat any one pattern enough for the student to enter that into their muscle memory arsenal.

    I gave a lecture at the National Conference in St. Paul about 8 years ago on the use of etudes to build technique. I got an enormous amount of positive feedback from that lecture. One adult came to me after the lecture and said that she had been studying the harp for 4 years and had been struggling the whole time. “I couldn’t understand why I was struggling,” she told me. “Now I know why.” I think that teachers could spend more time building technique in a very systematic and focused way(using exercises and etudes) and that in turn would help the student with the transition from beginner into the intermediate level.



    It looks like you went through all your music, but did you ever compile a graded list? I would love to see it, I am currently at this advanced beginner/low intermediate stage.

    By the way I love reading


    I promised to do WHAT?

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