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Beginner harper, very late starter!


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#1 dorfmouse

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 06:37

I've popped over here from my usual haunts to say hello. It seems very quiet! I read lots of posts in the weeks before taking the plunge and found them very useful to know what I should think about as a rank beginner.

So this rather lovely object with strings is giving the living room a touch of class, and I had my first lesson yesterday after noodling round with the book over the week since I got (hired) the harp. It's a Camac lever harp, nylon strung. I slightly preferred the sound of the gut strung Korrigan, and also the Isolde with FK strings, however the Melusine was the only one immediately available and I'm very happy. The teacher was very impressed with it's sound.

Had been thinking about taking up harp for a while, not quite sure how the seed got planted. Thought I'd do it when I retire in a couple of years but then impatience set in! Might as well go for it and somehow fit in with flute and piano .... !

Challenges so far :
getting used to the idea of actually placing the fingers on the strings before playing. That feels very strange
some difficulty focussing when playing an octave apart. The top strings are so near my eyes that I see doubled and want to pluck at the air. Is this common? Apart from experimenting with different strengths of reading glasses, is this something that I shall just have to adapt to and maybe learn to play by feel up in the top register?

Hope to hear how you're all getting along. Pling!
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#2 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 09:07

The very, very best on your wonderful journey!


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#3 dorfmouse

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 14:26

Thank you!

I don't usually go in for naming inanimate objects, but this beauty is definitely a "she" and wants to be called Lulu!

Alongside my grown up book, my teacher has lent me a couple of kiddies' tutors with lots of cuddly kittens, fluffy bunnies and friendly mice all telling me what to do! Actually I prefer them - the print is nice and big with good contrast, and there are lots more little tunes to practice with just 2 fingers before more get added. Nice baby steps!
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#4 chris13

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 12:24

Well done for taking the plunge ! Do people need special lessons to be able to tune them ?


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#5 dorfmouse

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 13:49

No, they tuned it in the shop while I watched. Totally straightforward. Haven't had any problem tuning it, though there are 38 strings to tune! After the car journey home it had gone way out but since then has stayed reasonably in tune with itself over 2-3 day periods. You have a tuning key and can tune by ear, but I think most people use a little electronic tuner, which I already have because of flute.


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#6 dorfmouse

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Posted 11 April 2017 - 09:24

"Thumbs up, fingers down, placement."

Five little words that sound so simple, but .......... !

(Ten days into wandering round this strange new land.)
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#7 Banjogirl

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 14:12

My friend (my age - old) started the harp a few years ago and I think she's really good. To my ear she's playing quite difficult pieces, though she says they're about grade 4, but the sound is lovely and she doesn't make mistakes. I'm amazed at how far she's come in a short time. I wish I had your courage to give it a go myself.


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#8 dorfmouse

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 20:18

Goodness, a visitor to these echoing empty halls! Welcome Banjogirl!
(I've been watching harpy videos from Lisa Canny; great voice and she also plays banjo!)

Good to hear about your friend, at my stage G4 seems like Olympus.

Battling with the first frustrating stages, (I know, it's only 4 weeks in - patience!!) Right hand is working well but have been really surprised with difficulties finding a good playing position for the left hand, and coordination, I play the piano for goodness sake!!

LH Peter Pointer has really been misbehaving. He keeps springing up into a trigger position, which is definitely not allowed and even had my lovely teacher giggling. Was beginning to despair over the last few days but stumbled on a tactic to hopefully defeat the little beastie this evening so am feeling a bit more optimistic!
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#9 chris13

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 08:38

I have often wondered if playing piano would help playing harp and have concluded it probably doesn't, although I  have absolutely no experience to make this judgement. I do know however that I can experience lots of difficulty just by changing fingering or by adjusting hand position to produce an articulation that my teachers is looking for.

 

In any case I have no real desire to learn another instrument apart from brass and I have been advised by higher authority that I will be confined to the garden shed if I do acquire trumpet, cornet or trombone.


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#10 sopsaxharpflute

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 17:19

Hi Dorfmouse, may I ask which book(s) you use? From Pamela Bruner (my favourite series), Sylvia Woods? Mildred Dilling? Someone else?


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#11 dorfmouse

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 21:32

Hi sopsaxharpflute (I guess you play all three?!) I live in Germany and my teacher asked me to get Meine Harfe by Egbertine Korfmacher de Vente. It's quite an old book and not particularly wonderful in my opinion, however it's designed for adults and doesn't waste space on exercises filling in note names or practising drawing treble clefs or whatever. My teacher points out the most useful bits for me at the moment, and I'm beginning to understand what I need to do for myself.

I've also bought the first two of the Harpa Mundi books by Christoph Pampuch. These are a whole series of repertoire books in a broad range of Celtic and folk music, not tutors per se, but gradually increasing in difficulty. Each piece is annotated with very clear technical explanations (in German) and how to place the fingers. Really nice selection of tunes and satisfying even at a very beginnery level of technique. I'm very happily struggling with Eriskay Love Lilt and Brian Boru's March!

Which have you found good? I was wondering about getting the Sylvia Woods but don't want to end up with a lot of duplicated information. I'll look up Pamela Buner, I dont think I've come across that.

@chris13 - Higher Authorites should always be challenged!
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#12 sopsaxharpflute

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 08:09

Hi Dorfmouse, eh... these were my favourite instruments when I became a member here. Last year I added the clarinet to my instrument family. 

I have several of Pampuch's books. I love them. But I discovered them not before I was at early intermediate level.

 

After several beginner's books that went in less than no time from beginner to early intermediate, I discovered Pamela Bruner's 'Play the Harp Beautifully'. I bought the volumes II and III. I did not buy the acompanying dvd's.  At that time I did not have a harp teacher and did not know how to proceed. Pamela Bruner's series did help me, as they are intended as Harp Teaching Books. I love the books, they are designed for adults, at least the volumes II and III are. 

 

I ordered them in the Netherlands (where I live) from harpshop De Zingende Snaar. Here: https://www.zingende...q=pamela bruner you can find some fragments of the books. Perhaps you can buy them in Germany too. Otherwise, it may be helpful to know that the owner of this Dutch harpshop  has a lot of experience in sending harps and books all over Europe.

 

I also have Sylvia Woods' book on self-teaching the harp, but though I like it, I much prefer the books of Pamela Bruner.


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#13 dorfmouse

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 10:38

Thanks for the recommendation sopsaxharpflute (please don't add any more instruments to your name:) !)

I just checked out Pam Bruner and found many positive references to her books and I shall definitely order the second level. The bug has bitten and I know I'll want to keep going.

That looks like a nice shop! I live not far from Berlin, where there's a super Camac harp shop. There's also another shop with a wider range of harps not far out which I'll investigate when I feel better able to judge before buying my own.
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#14 sopsaxharpflute

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:08

Yes, Berlin has a great Camac harp shop. And  Markus Schönfelder, someone working there, who really knows a lot about harps is active on the German Harfenforum.de ( I am a mainly a lurker on that forum).

 

By the way, did you already discovered the Yahoo group Virtual Harpcircle? It's a great group and very well moderated.

And you may like the forum of Harpcolumn as well.


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#15 dorfmouse

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:21

Thanks, yes, I've discovered them both and joined the Yahoo group to say hello. I find it not quite so easy to navigate my way on that yet.

Marcus and the other staff were very helpful and informative at Camac.

Noone else seems to have my problematic index finger syndrome though!
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