When it comes to bad habits and the harp, I think that this is one of the hardest to eliminate!
It can be really hard to notice that you’re doing it, especially if you learn to play the harp on your own. And even if you know you need to watch out for it, it can sneak back unnoticed when your attention is elsewhere.
If you don’t spot it and prevent from happening early on, there can be quite a few negative consequences, like for example:
- not being able to play up to speed
- bad hand position
- altered sound
- extra effort needed to play
Why is it so hard to notice?
One of the reasons why this habit can be so damaging to your playing is that it is really difficult to notice.
The first reason is that it usually happens before you even play anything. Most of the time you’re already thinking about so many different things in that moment that your attention is elsewhere, and only look at your hands more closely once you start playing.
The reason number 2 is that when this habit sneaks in, it usually affects every move your fingers perform, and that means… that you’ve likely never seen your fingers doing anything different! And because you are so used to seeing them behave in a certain way, you might not be able to tell if anything is wrong.
How to tell you’re doing it?
Spotting this unhelpful habit early can save you a lot of time and frustration. Because it can be so hard to notice (for the reasons listed above) it’s really worth investing in lessons with a harp teacher.
If you’ve been doing it for a while, you likely may be so used to seeing your hands doing it that you won’t be able to notice when it’s happening. A good teacher can help you train your eyes so you can spot it later in your own practice, and then in turn train your fingers.
Recording yourself while playing can also help you in the process of unlearning this habit. If you do, try playing the video in slow motion.
If you don’t work with a teacher at the moment, you can use this video to share with other harpists and ask for feedback. Check out our friendly online space for harp learners.
Resources mentioned in this episode
✦ How to get started with raising (and what to watch out for)? – episode 46