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#081: Peaceful Hands: How to Look More Graceful and Feel More Relaxed

It is a true joy to watch a fine musician play their instrument, whether it's a harp or another instrument. There is a physical flow, a sense that no motion is wasted. You can practically see the mastery they bring to their music. 

I would go even further to say that all their physical resources are being used to serve the music. There is an efficiency in their gestures, a grace and a strength that is as visually compelling as their music is. After all, we see a performance as much as we hear it. 

If you doubt the truth of that statement, just think about a performance you watched where the performer had distracting facial expressions or gestures. Maybe you were able to ignore them and continue listening, but the music’s spell was likely broken for you. What you saw became more important than what you heard. 

This is one reason that orchestras have a uniform dress code, usually formal wear for the men and long black clothing for the women. Most professional orchestras are very strict with their dress policies, down to the color of socks and hose, closed-toe shoes for women and length of sleeves and hemlines. The point of this is to reduce visual distraction so the audience can concentrate on the music. I have been in orchestras where players were spoken to about facial gestures that were deemed to be distracting.

Watching a virtuoso harpist play is almost like watching a ballet dancer. The hands seem calm and unflustered. They move around the harp without excess gesture but with motion that seems to reinforce the mood of the music. Their movements are unhurried, even when they are playing fast, and their hands seem to defy gravity as they float through a more contemplative piece. It’s as beautiful to watch as to hear.

If you’ve ever been concerned that your hands don’t look graceful when you play, then this show is for you. We are going to talk about ways you can develop and practice those beautiful hand gestures. You may have tried to make your hands look more graceful before and not been happy with the result. These tips that I will share with you today, however, are super practical and easy to do. Plus, they are techniques that you can use everyday to make your music not just look more graceful, but to sound more relaxed too. And what better time of year to work on this than right now, in the season that is focused on peace and love. 

On today’s show I’ll give you all those practice ideas, as well as sharing some of my favorite practice tips for preventing the “December dithers,” the frazzled feeling that can creep into your playing at this time of year. I’ll share a cute acronym to help you remember these tips every day and I will even play a little peaceful piece for you too!

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions and suggestions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected] 


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