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#147: How to Study a Piece: Look, Listen and Apply

My husband’s family is German, and even before we were married I discovered that one of the things I had long heard about German housewives was true, at least in my mother-in-law’s house: Germans take a clean house seriously. 

By American standards my own house isn’t filthy. I keep it fairly neat and decently clean. But my mother-in-law saw clean in a completely different way. There was no dust in her house, not even in the corners under the beds. She used paste wax to keep all the wood surfaces gleaming. And the only exceptions she made to the “keep your feet off the furniture” rule, were her grandsons. Cleaning didn’t just mean mopping the floor; it meant scrubbing it on your hands and knees. 

So why am I talking about this on the podcast? Because just like there are different levels of clean, there are different levels of knowing a piece. Sometimes we find this out the hard way, when we think we know a piece and then try to play it for someone else and discover that we lose our place or can’t make it musical or even forget how it starts. 

One of the ways we learn our music at a deeper level is by studying it away from the harp. You know the basic idea: listen to recordings, study the printed music and look beyond the playing of the notes to what the notes might actually mean. Just like deep cleaning, this approach helps you reach the places that regular practice doesn’t reach, like seeing patterns or chord progressions or repeated sections. But studying your music can do much more for you than that, as long as you know what to look and listen for. It can actually help you develop important skills that will apply beyond one particular piece to all your harp playing. Plus, it’s not nearly as taxing as scrubbing a floor. 

So on today’s show, I will show you what to look for, what to listen for and how you can speed up your learning with some specific study methods. You don’t need specialized knowledge of music theory to do this, and you don’t need to take a lot of time. But I can pretty much guarantee that you will find this both interesting to do and rewarding. And it’s fun 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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