If you want to play without mistakes, finding the right speed is the key. And that’s true both when you’re learning something new, putting sections of a piece together and also when you’re getting ready playing to perform.
Time to look ahead
On the harp you often need to look further ahead than on other instruments, which can make it more challenging to play. Even though you may be playing one note at a time, on the harp they are often connected by brackets, and that means you need to place more fingers on the strings.
You need to find the tempo that will make it possible for you to spot any challenges lying ahead.
One important step to finding the comfortable step is understanding the rhythm. If you’re relying on how you remember the piece sounded when you listened to somebody else playing, you may find it hard to slow down.
When you understand the rhythm, you have the freedom to play at any speed you want. And counting out loud is one of the best practice strategies for achieving that. Even professional musicians with year of experience use it in their practice. If you haven’t tried it yet, make sure you give it a go! You’ll hear me talking more about this in sign no 1.
To learn how to get started with counting out loud, check out the tutorial on How to read rhythm on the harp and make your score easier to understand
Mistakes happen to everyone. An occasional slip of a finger can happen even to an experienced harpist.
However, mistakes that keep coming back again and again are a warning sign. When this happens, slow down. Maybe even stop and look carefully into where the mistakes happened.
Playing at a slower tempo gives you the time you need to “teach” your fingers what to do and fix the problem. I’m giving you some tips on that when talking about signs no 2 and 3.
Part of the reason why slow practice is so challenging is that playing slowly means our pieces take longer. This means keeping the focus for longer… which can be hard!
This can be especially challenging when you’re new to reading music – but is even more of a reason to go slowly!
If you want to be able to play your pieces fluently, slow practice can help you build the mental stamina, so that you can stay focused for as long as is needed.
Playing with a metronome can help you keep a steady tempo. It is always an incredibly useful tool when it comes to picking up any sections that may not be quite secure yet.
You’ll here me talking more about this in tips no 5 and 6. If you haven’t tried playing with the metronome yet, make sure you check out the episode on How to get started with the metronome on the harp