10 Rules of Harp Fingering [with FREE cheat-sheet!]

10 Rules of Harp Fingering (with FREE cheat-sheet!)

 

How do you choose good fingering for harp? Are you allowed to change the fingering that’s written in? In today’s video, I’ll take you through the 10 Rules of Fingering, and how to apply them in the context of a piece.

 

Get the FREE fingering cheat-sheet here

 

 

Maybe there’s fingering already written in your piece, but it doesn’t feel quite right. Are you even allowed to change it? The answer is YES, but you need to consider these 10 rules:

 

Disclaimer: I say rules of fingering, but please use your own discretion, and think of them as a guide because there may be some situations where the rules I mention clash with each other, or don’t make any sense – so when there’s a specific situation like that, weigh the rules up as guides.



1) If there’s one note, use your SECOND FINGER

The 2nd finger is easiest to pluck on its own, unless it’s a really low note – in which case it’s easier to use your 4th finger.



2) If there are two notes, use INTERVAL PATTERNS

We’re always going to be using the thumb, and another finger depending on how far apart the notes are. The thumb gives leverage, and the other finger plucks in the opposite direction.

This rule applies when you’re plucking two notes at the same time or playing two notes right after each other.


If there’s a 2nd, 3rd or a 4th interval, use your second finger. If there’s a 5th or 6th interval use your third finger.  If there’s a 7th interval or wider, use your fourth finger.

Reasons why you shouldn’t use different fingers (even if they feel more comfortable to you:

 

a) We need to train muscle memory for certain intervals when there are 2 notes on their own, but it also sets us up to play correctly using other fingers if there’s a chord or series of notes

 

b) We also want to be consistent for certain intervals so we get quicker with our finger placing and become more automatic.

 



3) Four notes or less (in one direction), use the THUMB FOR HIGHEST NOTE

The other fingers should fall into place depending on how many notes are needed to complete that series.



4) For more than four notes, think about WHERE TO CROSS

You need to balance the number of cross-overs and unders you do, with whichever finger feels comfortable to cross over and under with.



5) Consider the rule of brackets

This means we have to place everything in the brackets before we play the first note. We also only bracket things that are going in one direction. Whenever the direction changes, we start a new bracket.



6) When there’s a turnaround, INCLUDE THE THUMB

A turnaround is when you go up then down and vice versa. When going up and down, the thumb is usually the highest note. When you going down then up, you usually start and end on the thumb, even if that means skipping out a finger.



7) When there’s a LONG NOTE, come off

Your long note is going to depend on the piece and how fast you play it. When you have many overlapping brackets, that’s good because it means you don’t have to look at your hands as much. Whenever you come off though, you have to place again so you have to look at your hand.  

 

Pros of coming off a long note is that it releases tension, you can pluck harder giving a stronger tone (it’s balanced by the tension release) and it also makes it less likely to buzz. You’ll come off and then place confidently, which is easier than trying to join the notes.



8) Avoid crossing when there’s a SKIP IN THE NOTES

Try to make sure you’re crossing when you’re playing adjacent strings!



9) Consider what the LEFT HAND IS DOING

Sometimes when choosing the fingering for the right hand (RH), you may want longer series of overlapping brackets because the left hand is jumping around often. But you need to be able to see what your LH is doing, not everywhere at once! So once you’ve placed one hand, you can play those notes without looking – giving attention to look elsewhere.



10) Consider REPETITIONS later on in the piece

You may find there’s a particular passage that appears more than once in your piece. It may have subtle variations, and there are a few options for fingering that look good. Those differences will actually indicate which way of fingering works better than the others, so we want to make sure we use that same fingering for the repetitions. This helps develop muscle memory, and memorisation!

I give an example of applying the rules in context of a piece, using Sally Gardens, and you can get your free copy of that here to go through it with me at the end of this video! 

 

Responses

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *