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#128: Etudify Your Pieces with the Technique Stacker

If you attended my “Cut to the Chase" webinar a couple of weeks ago, you’ll remember that we were talking about some harp hacks, shortcut “outside the box” solutions for common harp problems. We’re going to talk about another one today.

Imagine that you’re learning a piece and it’s going along pretty well. In fact, you may even be excited to think how much you have improved because you’re learning so quickly. You may even let your mind wander to the sorts of pieces you can tackle next with your new and improved skills. 

And then it happens. You hit the wall. You’ve found the passage you can’t play. It may be a new technique that you’ve never tried or one that you aren’t very comfortable with. It may just be a combination of two skills that you haven’t combined before. But whatever it is, you can’t do it. Your technique isn’t up to this particular challenge.

So you do what we all have to do; you take out the passage and work it separately. You turn it into an exercise and drill it. You “etudify” it, as we like to say. And you probably wish that you had learned this skill earlier.

Young students are usually taught in a systematic way. The teacher introduces new skills gradually and helps the student work on the skill first. Then they move on to using the skill in the context of an etude. Finally, the student is ready for the piece that requires that skill. It’s a thoughtful, orderly progression.

Adult students often don’t have the same methodical approach. Either they are mostly or partly teaching themselves or their teachers don’t want to slow down their progress. What this means, of course, is that a lot of their technical development happens on a “need to play” basis: I need to play this…now. It’s a kind of emergency response system and although it can be effective, it can also be frustrating. 

On today’s episode we’ll talk about how to make sure you’re developing the techniques you need, practicing the right exercises and etudes, and knowing how to “etudify” a passage effectively. I’ll also show you the “technique stacker”: the combination of exercises and etudes that can help you with the pieces you’re learning now. Wherever you start from - the exercise or the piece - the technique stacker will help your fingers learn what they need for the music you are playing.

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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