Live Harp Lesson 38 – Fingerings for intervals

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About today’s topic

I have received a request for some advice on fingerings and I thought that we could start this topic from talking about fingerings for various intervals.

Intervals are one of the key ingredients in music, and knowing which fingers should be used for which distance can save you a lot of time. It can also help you with reading the music – if you can start recognising what different patterns look like on the stave, you will not have to read all the notes in the chord but your fingers will be able to intuitively go to the shape that you taught them.

About intervals

The way we talk about intervals can be confusing, but there is a good way of dealing with it by looking how many strings are between your fingers to define the interval.

In the PDF for today’s lesson you will the rules for fingerings written down and explained. From this lesson you will also learn what to do about fifths, which most books recommend to play either with thumb and second finger or thumb and third.

In today’s lesson you will hear about 4 exercises for all intervals. You will also hear how thinking about your fingers as “cookie cutters” can help when playing various intervals.


Table with rolled out dough and various shapes of cookie cutters


About today’s piece

I am going to play “O Sanctissima” by Samuel MIlligan from “Fun from the first” (vol 2). You can buy it here.

In this piece you will find thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths. You can start from practising these intervals first, using the exercises from the PDF and then learning the piece. Your fingers will find the different shapes much more familiar!

Music: from 16’24”


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Live Harp Lessons: series of free tutorials for beginner and intermediate harpists

Every Friday at 11:00 (UK time).