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#149: Stick It! Your Guide to Secure Finger Placing

We harpists take our finger placement seriously. Getting the right fingers on the right strings at the right time is paramount. One misplaced finger and a whole passage can go wobbly.

One of the quotes of Johann Sebastian Bach that comes to my mind at this moment is this one: “It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.”

Bach was known for his sense of humor and so, without knowing the context for the quote,  I like to think that this was not intended to downplay the difficulty of playing an instrument but was more tongue in cheek. But it’s still a little depressing.

Our physical connection to the harp strings is key, not just for playing the right notes, but for our speed, our tone, our range of expression, our relaxation, even our confidence. When our fingers are too loosely placed on the strings, they can slide up or down or even off the string. This makes for uneven rhythms, a weak sound and inconsistency. Of course, if we grip too hard, we end up with too much tension to play well.

I’ve often wished for magical mini-magnets that would stick my fingers to the right strings at the right time so I could play without concern, almost carefree. But I had wonderful teachers who taught me that I didn’t need magic magnets; I just needed to make my placing stick.

That’s our topic for today’s show, sticky placing. If you’ve never thought about your placing as being sticky or otherwise, you’re going to find this discussion interesting and probably very enlightening. I’ll talk about what sticky placing is (other than a term I think I made up), what it can help you with and how to practice it. The practice techniques may even be ones you’ve heard of and not used because you didn’t see the point. I hope to change all that for you today, so stay tuned.

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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