How To Play

Index

      TETRACHORDS FOR THE RIGHT HAND. By now both you and your brain should be getting used to this routine, and this next section follows very predictably the direction already established for the first three fingers.

      1. When all four fingers are placed on their strings, you will see that they form an arrow-head angle fanning down from the angle of the crossover.

      2. Ensure that the palm is parallel to the strings, that the thumb is cocked and the three fingers dropping at a slight slant onto their strings. 

      3. Keep the palm of the hand open by extending upwards with the thumb and downwards with the fourth finger, so avoiding constriction of the hand muscles and the finger shapes.

      4. Keep the wrist strong and in alignment.

      5. Make sure the fingers do the work, moving with a brisk attack, both with placement and plucking, and traveling right through to the palm of the hand after having plucked.

      6. Make solid contact with the instrument; press into the strings, lean into the notes and feel that you are lifting them out of the instrument.

      7. Make sure the hand position and its movements look elegant.

      8. Watch out for strain on the top of the forearm.

      9. Keep the hands in a close relationship to the cusp, particularly now that the fourth finger becomes the finger closest to the cusp in the right hand, while the thumb maintains its position in the left hand. These two fingers are important because they constitute the foundation point for the rest of the fingers, somewhat in the same way that a muscle insertion secures the muscle at one end. If they are poorly placed, they compromise the workings of all the other fingers.

      10. As you travel up and down the instrument, pay special attention to the position of the elbows. They should be in a position to draw the hands up the length of the fingerboard and push the hands back down the fingerboard.

      Exercise 9 is the tetrachord in ascent and descent. Begin with all fingers preplaced, then, one by one play up the C D and E, returning those fingers to their preplaced position before sounding the F with the thumb, then play down, doing the same thing with the turn-around of the thumb, then play up the scale again.

      Do the same exercise with repeated notes, providing the opportunity to work with controlling the vibration of the string before playing it, preventing buzzing.

      Exercise 10. is the tetrachords moving by degrees up and down the register of the harp. Remember, the importance of this exercise is to link each group of notes, by ensuring that the fourth finger has moved up to, and been preplaced on, the string next up from the one it has just played, prior to the thumb sounding the last note in the sequence. Thus it is there to provide an anchor for the thumb note, and to be ready as the first note in the next sequence. As soon as the thumb sounds its string, the remaining fingers should pounce onto their preplaced positions, along with the return of the thumb to its position.

    Exercise 11. is the Bach riff with an added two notes, to give the fourth finger a special workout, as it plays two consecutive strings. Once a finger has sounded its string, it returns to roost on it while the other fingers do their work. This exercise is also beneficial for preventing a lazy thumb, so be careful to close the thumb position down like a lavatory lid  everytime it plays. If you find that the fingers are bunching in on one another, try slightly extending the thumb upwards and the fourth finger downwards and straightening the fingers, particularly if you are playing on a narrow necked instrument with a wider-angled cross-over.

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