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#122: Finger Fumbles: Is the Problem with Your Technique or Your Reading?

How can you correct a problem – any problem from a water leak to paper jam in the printer – if you don’t know where the problem really is?

Harp playing is no different. Our practice is supposed to help us fix mistakes and even prevent them from recurring, at least to a degree. But if we don’t know where the underlying issue is, it’s nearly impossible to find a fix for it.

The obvious solution to this dilemma is to ask your teacher. Unfortunately, though, even if you have access to a teacher or other harp expert, the things we want to fix usually reveal themselves in a practice session when we are working by ourselves. So we rely on our own experience to find the fix for whatever challenge we are facing, whether or not we have the experience we need to do it.

Of course, teachers don’t always have an instant solution either. Often we arrive at the solution through a process of trial and error: the student tries our suggestion and we discover we were in error. So we go on to Plan B.

In the spirit of trying to help you become a more expert instructor in your own practice, I have chosen a few common scenarios that require a “fix” and the most frequently successful fixes for each. What jumped out at me as I started putting this information together for you, was that the fixes sorted themselves neatly into two categories for each of the problems. The fixes could either be technique related or reading related. In other words, the underlying problem could be with your fingers, your technical skills, or it could be with your music reading skills. The surprise with that second one is that even if you are an experienced and fluent music reader, the issue still could be a reading one. 

What I want you to be able to take away from today’s show is an arsenal of ideas that can help you keep moving forward and making progress on the pieces you are learning. You’ll find, however, that these potential solutions may help you address some challenges that are more broad-based in your playing. Or they might just be things you haven’t even considered before, in which case, you’re in for a big growth spurt. 

So grab the music you’ve been practicing lately, identify some issues you’ve been trying to find a fix for, and see if one of the solutions we discuss today might be exactly what you need.

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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