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Beginner harper, very late starter!


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#31 dorfmouse

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Posted 20 April 2018 - 21:04

Gosh Zixi, thank you, and I hope you've fully recovered from your illness.
Second all sopsaxharpflure's recommendations.

As I said, I think my period of frustration came by biting off a bit more than I can chew, and expecting too quick progress. I really should know better! I've got my equilibrium back now, and it's all beginning to fall into place. The hand position and placing of the fingers felt very odd to me for quite a while. Josh Layne's hands are a joy to watch!

As you've found, it's (almost!) impossible to sound horrible on the harp and even the simplest tunes can sound really beautiful.
I like listening to this series
Jaqueline Pollauf Inspirational videos for young harpists
https://m.youtube.co...h?v=kL5EMzu9MXA
All the very best and let us know how you get on!
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#32 Zixi

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 09:12

Thanks both of you! I think I will do something about it. I'm very wrapped up with the recorder and there's no harp teacher within a reasonable distance but I think I'd like to be able to play some simple tunes even if it's just Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! Thank you for giving me a psychological nudge!!

 

It's odd isn't it. The recorder is pretty easy to play but extremely hard to make sound nice. The harp is really difficult to play but I'm pretty sure if you chucked it downstairs it would make a really nice sound on the way down! Not that I'm suggesting it of course! My little Rees harp is a beautiful thing and I'd never harm it!

 

I hope all goes well for you too! I know it's a cliché but it's the journey that's the most important sometimes you can focus so hard on the signposts you forget that! laugh.png


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#33 dorfmouse

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Posted 21 April 2018 - 11:46

A few week ago friends came round with their 7-year old daughter. She immediately made a bee-line to this gorgeous looking object and started trying out the strings. A few minutes later she started to tell a story, just making it up - mermaids, dolphins and unicorns featured strongly . As she spoke, she played gently on the strings, threw in a glissando here and there when the dolphins were swooping and jumping, and spoke spookily into the holes at the back of the harp when the mermaid was in the sea-monster's echoey cave ...... just lovely to watch!
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#34 GMc

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 04:33

I have been doing a little bit on harp recently and am currently using Bonnie Goodrich's Bouquet for Young Harpists, Betty Paret and some of the Sylvia Woods collections.  Or in my case middle-aged beginner harpist as I think when I open the Goodrich.  Suzuki book 1 gallops along rather too fast for me once  past Mary Had a Little Lamb and the two hands start going in opposite directions a lot.

 

I was lucky enough to be a pupil guinea pig earlier in the year for a 3  day  how to teach the harp three day seminar so I got a lot of insight into what I was doing and not doing and should be doing! The world renowned teacher of the teachers said that teaching the harp to beginners for her basically involves giving the same couple of lessons over and over again for months to get the basics automatic  but then keeping the interest going with different ideas, pieces and little effects like harmonics and glisses added in to make sure they think they have something new to work on!   However, for her every hand places slightly differently on the harp as she is all about keeping everything physiological with natural movements not forced.   To be frank she often gives a variation of those same early lessons to very advanced students too - posture, placement, closure, letting go and following movements.

 

Get a mirror up where you can see yourself properly as well.   Not just hands - back, legs,feet,  shoulders, elbows etc.  If I force my self to look a lot I  pick up a lot of problems I cant feel.

 

The other thing I do is the exercise Carlos Salzedo used to do whenever away from the harp.   Basically bring in each finger to the palm in quick succession swinging from the joint nearest the wrist so they end up in the palm with straight proximal interphalangeal joints (the joint nearest the end of the fingers is the PIP), starting with little and ring then middle and index then close thumb over the top and give a little inwards wrist motion.  You can sort of swoop to start the motion to as you would if playing a chord without placing first but on the move.


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#35 Zixi

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 08:40

I've ordered the Bruner book. Thanks to all of you and to Dofmouse for the inspiration and starting the thread!

 

Dofmouse I'll be watching out for news of your progress! This may seem strange but it was your 'biting off more than I can chew' and saying how hard it is that has given me the push! I think you have given me realistic expectations! smile.png 


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#36 dorfmouse

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Posted 22 April 2018 - 16:16

[quote name="GMc" post="1351291" timestamp="1524371619!

The world renowned teacher of the teachers said that teaching the harp to beginners for her basically involves giving the same couple of lessons over and over again for months to get the basics automatic  but then keeping the interest going with different ideas, pieces and little effects like harmonics and glisses added in to make sure they think they have something new to work on!   However, for her every hand places slightly differently on the harp as she is all about keeping everything physiological with natural movements not forced.   To be frank she often gives a variation of those same early lessons to very advanced students too - posture, placement, closure, letting go and following movements.
.[/quote]

This is very reassuring to hear, thank you!
Tune up that harp, ZIxi!
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#37 Zixi

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Posted 25 April 2018 - 09:50

Dorfmouse - it's tuned! The Bruner book has arrived - it takes things very slowly which I'm very pleased about! I'm planning on doing 20 minutes a day. It sounds beautiful! I'm reminding myself to remain realistic and not to worry if progress is slow - that's your doing! So thank you! The other plus is  I feel like I'm a really brilliant recorder player in comparison! laugh.png


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#38 dorfmouse

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 07:35

I was feeling rather down about my progress a while ago and felt the need to find a book with lots and lots of simple pieces to build up confidence. I came across Betty Paret's First Harp Book and cannot recommend it too highly! Lots of short pieces that progress gently in difficulty. She had a genius for arranging simple tunes beautifully. I get a lot out of each piece and don't get bored practising them. My teacher's very pleased to discover it as it's not a book known here it seems.

Here are all the pieces in the book played by Stephanie Claussen; you can clearly hear the progression from beginning to end.

https://m.youtube.co...8TqTYS_pypMAy3U

I love this book! Am about three quarters through, with many diversions and excursions to my mushrooming collection of others!
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#39 Zixi

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 11:33

dorfmouse - weirdly I'd just ordered the Paret book and came here to see if there was anything else I should get! Thanks so much for the linky! I hope you're a long way out of your 'down' by now!


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#40 dorfmouse

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 13:26

Thank you, yes, I'm over my doldrums and thoroughly enjoying it. Hastening slowly.

Silly to stress about music.

"It's all good" - Pete the Cat.
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#41 dorfmouse

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 20:46

Well, I spent time this morning dabbling around on the Tube listening to grade 1 stuff and came across "Harping On" by Fiona Clifton-Welker. Seems like a copy will be winging its way here soon .....!


Started on a couple of pieces from this last week. Nice book, characterful short pieces, grade 1/2 level. Am pleased to find as I sight-read my fingers are starting to place themselves a bit more automatically, well, sometimes!
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#42 dorfmouse

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 13:12

Carrying on with my resolution to play lots and lots of simple pieces, I found the "Sounding Harps" series from Cairde na Cruite.
These are all traditional Irish tunes. Book 1 lots of elementary - grade 1/2 Ish, Book 4 also quite a few easy pieces, going up into intermediate level of the RIAM grades. Books 2 and 3 are intermediate and more advanced. I think book four was a later addition to give more, easier pieces.
I found quite a lot of the pieces from book one on Youtube from Musique Celtique Ensemble ( although the publisher is not acknowledged, and the composer mentioned is certainly not the composer!) .

Have started a couple of carols from the Sylvia Woods Christmas collection which have now transformed into the bounds of possible!
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#43 sopsaxharpflute

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 16:05

Sounds like great progess, Dorfmouse. Congratulations!


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#44 dorfmouse

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 21:18

Choir conductor: "Dorfmouse, do you think you could accompany one of the carols in the Advent concert?"
"Ermmm...."
"Yes, just make up a simple accompaniment! And it'd be silly to have the harp there for just one song wouldn't it - the audience would love to hear a couple of short pieces! Not many harps round here."

Guess what I'm doing in a couple of weeks. Not one to be called chicken, me. Gulp!!
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#45 sopsaxharpflute

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Posted Yesterday, 08:52

Hi Dorfmouse, there are a great many easy to play arrangements for the festive season? No need to make up your own accompaniments, unless you like to do so, of course.


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