How to stop rushing your pieces on the harp? [ep 51]

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If you’re learning a song you heard many times before you took it to the harp, chances are you may end up trying to play it faster than you can, RUSHING, and making mistakes. In this episode you’ll learn how to slow down the melody you hear in your head… so your fingers get the time to catch up!

It’s more common than you think

We’ve all got this natural tendency to make our music sound as close as possible to what we can already hear in our head. Just as we do when we hum or whistle a well-known song!

Unfortunately, this is not the best way when you’ve got an instrument like harp. When we need to coordinate 8 fingers on 2 hands, we have to take it slow SLOW.

Be aware

Don’t beat yourself up when you notice you’re rushing. Just notice when you’re doing it, take a deep breath… then try again. (Or take a break!)

Watch out for the recordings

If you listen again and again to somebody else playing the piece you work on, their tempo will get stuck in your head.

When you learn a piece, you need to “forget” everything you know about it – and definitely stop listening to recordings! Pretend it’s something you’ve never heard before. This way you can take time to discover it for yourself and make it truly yours.

And if you need to listen to a recording this “one final time”… watch this episode to learn how you can slow your pieces down!

Understand the rhythm

The one thing that will give you the freedom to play your pieces at any speed you want, is making sure you understand the rhythm.

Then you can take advantage of practising while counting out loud (counting in your head is not the same!) and with a metronome. Even professional musicians with years of experience keep using doing this. If you haven’t tried it yet, make sure you give it a go!

Start from the end

Working from the end works so well because it will most likely take you a while before you arrive at any bits of the melody that you can recognise. A good idea is starting at the end and going back one bar at a time.

If you still notice the temptation to go faster, check out this final tip…

Use levers or pedals

If you play a lever or a pedal harp, you can use this to your advantage. (And your harp doesn’t even have to be fully-levered for this to work). Watch the video to the end to find out how your levers or pedals can help you!

And if you want to hear how this kind of practice sounds like, do check out my tutorial for “Happy Birthday” where I show you how it works.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Reading rhythm on the harp – episode 35
Get started with the metronome on the harp – episode 40
How to find the right metronome speed – episode 39
Happy Birthday harp arrangement
The Ash Grove harp arrangement

Watch the video
Time stamps

0:48 It’s natural!
1:20 Be aware
1:44 Recordings
2:14 YT tip
2:53 Rhythm
3:49 Counting
5:15 Forget you know it
5:40 Backwards practice
6:18 Levers/pedals