Live 20: How to avoid sliding on the strings?

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Why today’s topic?

It’s a habit that can affect both beginners and advanced harpists, and it can be quite hard to spot if you have been doing it for many years and are used to seeing your fingers doing it. It has a lot to do with how our bodies work, as the position of our hands and fingers is as intuitive as we wished to.

Practise every time (before) you start a piece

I’m showing step by step what to do so you can keep your fingers in check at every stage. Sliding is something that happens before you pluck a string – so it’s really important that you’re very mindful about what you do before even starting to play.

What planes have to do with playing the harp?

My students always look at me a bit strangely when I ask them that. However it’s a very good metaphor that will help you remember about the correct placing! See in the video how my fingers imitate wheels of a plane.

What pieces or exercises will be best to practise placing?

There’s not one particularly good exercise or etude and any piece that you play will be an occasion to practise this. All pieces require placing fingers on the harp, and unlearning this habit will require a lot of attention for you whenever you arrive on the strings, BUT: good warm-up routine that you stick to every day can really help!

I’m demonstrating some ideas today, but you’ll find more in:

How to spot that habit?

It’s not easy, especially if you’ve been doing this for quite a few years and are used to seeing your fingers behaving in a certain way. But you can:

  • record yourself – try to film at least 10-15 minutes of your practice
  • ask your teacher (if they haven’t told you about it already!)

Signs that you’re fingers may be doing that include:

  • buzzes
  • difficulties in bring your pieces up to desired speed (although there may be many other reasons behind this one, so be careful here)

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