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#144: Beyond the Basics: How to Keep Your Technique Growing

Let’s take this as a given: our technique is at the heart of everything we do at the harp. Intellectually, we know this to be true, but that doesn’t prevent us from being surprised when we run into a passage in a piece we’re learning that our fingers just can’t manage. What the heck? We’ve been doing our daily exercises and most of the time our technique is up to the challenges in any new piece. So what happened this time?

If you’ve had that experience, rest assured, my friend, that you are not alone. We’ve all been there. Sometimes a moment like that is just a wake up call, reminding us that we’ve slacked off a bit and we’ve been taking our technique work a little too casually. Technique practice done correctly requires our attention and focus. It also requires a plan for growth.

The basic drills or exercises we rely on are scales, arpeggios and chords. In theory, keeping those skills fresh should enable us to play about three quarters of anything we encounter. But I don’t have to tell you that’s not the way it seems to work out. Keeping those skills sharp is just the beginning. We need to keep them growing too.

It makes sense when you take a moment to consider. As we become more experienced harpists, we become more skilled too, which means that we are likely playing more music and more complex music too. If our technical proficiency isn’t growing with the rest of our skill set, we will find ourselves blocked by passages or entire pieces that are beyond the limits of our fingers. You’re with me so far, right? Good, because there’s only one conclusion to draw from this, and it’s one you may not be thrilled to hear. We have to keep challenging our technique so that it keeps up with the music we want it to serve. We have to keep looking for the next level of technical improvement in order to feel confident in the next level of music that we want to play. 

Simply put, our technique is our great enabler; it makes playing our music possible. This also means it can be our biggest roadblock, one that will prevent us from playing our music or at least from playing it with the artistry we want. So what do we do? We reach beyond the everyday technique work that doesn’t challenge us and look for some ways to level up our technique to keep pace with our music. So on today’s show, I’ll teach you the three areas to consider leveling up and how to go about it. Just remember, finger freedom is musical freedom!

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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