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Home (2022) Forums Technique Questions 2021-03-28 What are you practicing this week?

  • 2021-03-28 What are you practicing this week?

    Posted by Judiann on 28 March, 2021 at 2:13 am

    It’s the start of a new week and time to make your practice plan for the next seven days. Everyone is invited to join in, including newbies. Questions:

    1. What pieces will you be practicing this week?

    2. What single technique do you want to improve?

    3. This question is completely optional. For those who posted in last week’s thread, would you like to share how you did?

    Judiann replied 1 year, 2 months ago 5 Members · 19 Replies
  • 19 Replies
  • Judiann

    28 March, 2021 at 2:25 am

    Here’s my practice list for this week.

    Warm-up: 7th chords, alternating hands.

    Exercises: Grossi pg 10 ex 19 & 21, slowly with metronome.

    Learning: The Gentle Maiden, Christy-Lyn’s Mahogany Moon.

    Play twice through random repertoire pieces.

    Some sight-reading.

    For this week’s technique, I’m following Carolyn Deal’s Harp Tutorial 157 Hovercraft. I want to be able to place all 4 fingers simultaneously for 7th chords in both hands, and I am not 100% secure in that hand shape yet.

    Last week I tried to memorize two pieces. They are only partly done, and both still have pauses. Next time I’ll try to memorize only one piece at a time. Last week’s technique goal was to play with more expression. That went really well and was totally fun to do. 😃

    Connie LoPorto @connieL has suggested that we try to smile in our videos. I’m going to practice smiling while I’m playing this week. The theory is that if I smile while learning a piece, it will feel more natural to smile while performing it. Besides, practice is more fun and relaxing when I’m smiling through it.

    How about you?

  • Nancy Beal

    28 March, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    As always, I’m reviewing previously learned pieces just in case we get called back to play in the hospital. This week, I’ve pulled several pieces for this – including Arran Boat song, Skye Boat Song, Inisheer, Kindly Woods, Southwind, etc. The goal is to move seamlessly from one to the other through chord progressions, etc. This requires re-acquainting myself with each one as it’s been a while since I’ve played through these together.

    I’m practicing Anne Crosby Gaudet’s Dragonfly and have a lesson with her on Tuesday to work on that wonderfully light and effortless-looking technique she has.

    I’m also working on sections of Primavera and using it for my warm ups. It has workouts for the LH and RH and some challenging (for me) interweaving of both hands. I don’t expect to ever play this at work, but I’m pleasantly surprised that as I practice slowly and carefully, I’m able to accomplish more than I had originally hoped.

    • Judiann

      31 March, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      @nancy.beal I looked up Kindly Woods and found it’s by Carolyn Deal. Lovely piece. You probably play double strung.

      I know what you mean about Anne’s technique looking effortless. It makes me wonder whether she has years of ballet training. Lucky you — your lesson with her was yesterday. How did that go?

      • Nancy Beal

        1 April, 2021 at 5:09 pm

        The lesson was wonderful. She’s a great teacher. She’s clear, concise and supportive.

        She gave me four ways to practice Dragonfly – ways I had not thought of before. She suggested several pieces to help me along in my quest to bring more ‘sparkle’ to my music. When I’m ready for another piece, I’m going to have a one-off lesson with her again to get practice tips before I even start. I may never ‘sparkle’ the way she does when she plays, but I can get close 🙂

        She apparently started as a pianist and also gives piano lessons. She’s been through the whole Canadian harp thing (I don’t know what you call it – when you take all those tests, etc) and has a wonderful way of teaching.

        • Judiann

          1 April, 2021 at 9:22 pm

          @nancy.beal Thanks for reporting back. That does sound wonderful. I’m going to remember *sparkle*. In fact, I’m going to try that for today’s practice. Light, airy, and joyous rather than dull, heavy, and plodding.

  • Libby Hitchcock

    30 March, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    I am reviewing my pieces from last week and have added in Gentle Rain from ACG as my “easier” piece and The Grenadier and the Lady as a stretch piece. I like the feeling of memorizing something quickly, and Gentle Rain will get me used to moving my left hand above my right. The Grenadier is my first piece where I will be using 4 fingers frequently through the piece, very exciting!

    Technique I am still trying to make sure I do not bend my wrist forward at the end of a phrase and now also focusing on 4 finger placement for the Grenadier song.

    As for progress from last week, I was on vacation so had more time to practice than usual and was happy with what I accomplished. I was better about splitting my practice time between each goal, but can work on that more this week. I made a practice journal where I can lay out all I want to work on and evaluate after but have to develop the discipline to use it consistently!

    • Judiann

      31 March, 2021 at 6:23 pm

      @libbyhitch Which arrangement of The Grenadier and the Lady are you learning? Anne Crosby Gaudet has a nice one, and I’m guessing that’s it. It’s also called An Emigrant’s Daughter. I started it several months ago, and the 4-2-1 pattern in the left hand was too advanced for me at the time. I should revisit it. I have a tendency to want to play pieces that are too far above my current level.

      About practice journals, I started out trying to track things on 3×5 cards. That didn’t go well at all 🤨. Since then, I’ve been using Google Sheets, which can be updated on my phone as I’m practicing. That’s been a better fit. There’s a screenshot in my profile timeline.

  • Melisa Kommala

    31 March, 2021 at 4:06 am

    I’ll be practicing After the Rain, Mahogany Moon, Danny Boy and learning Loch Lomond! I think the whole neighborhood will be looking forward to a new tune.

    In addition I’ll be working on the overlapping brackets lessons in Sylvia Woods Teach Yourself the Folk Harp and I’m working on not buzzing so much especially when I’m transitioning.

    • Judiann

      31 March, 2021 at 6:43 pm

      @melisa.kommala After the Rain was one of the pieces I played last week, when I was working on expression. It’s a simple piece but there’s so much potential there. I tried to make it sound like it was clouding up, then a sprinkle was starting, then the rainstorm came, then the sun came out and the last few drops fell from the leaves. Totally exaggerated and so much fun to do. It was the first time that I knew a piece well enough to have the freedom to play around with it like that.

      About strings buzzing, that was an unpleasant surprise during my first week with the harp. It was a shock the first few times it happened. My research ahead of time hadn’t prepared me for it. The bass strings buzzing is the worst, and I still have issues when I’m being too timid about placing.

      • Melisa Kommala

        1 April, 2021 at 4:09 pm

        Ooh will you be uploading a video? There’s parts I really enjoy about After the Rain, especially the continuous eighth notes! I’ve been practicing for 3 weeks now and I still forget my notes for it sometimes (I just get lost in the music and it’s almost like mediation). I would love to hear your jazzy interpretation!

        • Judiann

          1 April, 2021 at 4:51 pm

          @melisa.kommala Ha! With all the posting I’ve done on these forums, it was inevitable that someone would ask why I’ve never uploaded a video 😄. It’s just not one of my personal goals. I do record myself to analyze hand position and technique, but that’s all.

          We can have a challenge… Could anyone else upload an expressive interpretation of After the Rain? Please link your videos here, and tag Melisa. 😃

          Three weeks is actually a short amount of time with a brand new piece. It’s normal to still be forgetting notes at that stage. I started After the Rain last July and recently picked it up again. Since I’m more familiar with it now, I can play around with the tempos and dynamics. I couldn’t have managed that last summer, and I still can’t manage it with other pieces that are new to me.

  • Victoria Johnson

    1 April, 2021 at 6:00 am

    One of my fingers in the left hand has an infection. It hurts when I pluck strings with it so I couldn’t play with my left hand this week. 😢 Because of that I couldn’t work on Handel’s Chaconne from Suite in D minor (transcribed for lever harp by Josh Layne). Kim Robertson’s Glenlivet is very right hand heavy so it is getting a lot of attention from me this week.

    • Judiann

      1 April, 2021 at 3:38 pm

      @victoria.johnson Oh, no! 😲 One place you’re sure to find sympathy for a sore finger is on a harp forum. We can all relate.

      Stephanie Claussen has a YouTube video, “Injured? 12 Ways To Improve your Harp Playing (when you can’t practice like normal).” She talks about ghosting, and you might be able to ghost the left hand while you’re playing the right. Do you use MuseScore or another notation software? You could have that program play audio for the left hand while you practice the right.

      Fair warning: If you say you don’t already use music notation software, I’m going to try to talk you into getting MuseScore, lol. It’s is a free download from musescore.org. (Not the MuseScore app.) You have some extra time while your finger is healing to learn it. 😁

      • Victoria Johnson

        2 April, 2021 at 12:47 am

        @judiann.maddigan I am finally gaining my LH back after four day of rest!! Things that I take for granted. 😅 I made an arrangement for a piece a little while ago, and I was asked to notate it by my harp friends since I scribbled everything onto paper with some silly short hands lol! I was told by many to try MuseScore, and it seems really intimidating!! I am not sure if i could handle it?!

        • Judiann

          2 April, 2021 at 3:00 am

          <div>@victoria.johnson That’s great news on your left hand. Glad to hear it.

          Of course you can learn MuseScore. You are learning to play The Harp. MuseScore is waaaay easier than that 😄. When you open MuseScore for the first time, there is a Getting Started score. It’s interactive, and it walks you through all the basics. On an earlier version, I started with only that, and I didn’t do the tours or videos. I’m not a power user, but I’ll be happy to answer questions if I know the answers. There are probably many MuseScore users here who would be glad to help others learn the program, too.

          @julia.selberg started learning MuseScore about 10 days ago. If the tag works here (sometimes it doesn’t), maybe she can say how she’s doing with it.

  • Nancy Beal

    7 April, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    I needed to take a break from all the heavy duty technique and new skills practice from the past few weeks so I pulled out some music to put together. When I play in the hospital, I like to have a number of songs that sort of, mostly in my mind, ‘fit’ together. On my music stand for the next few weeks will be the following music. A few are brand new pieces (I can never resist new music), pieces I know well and can already play and pieces I used to play a lot and need to re-familiarize myself with them. In addition, I will be looking for bridges between the pieces. If and when I get back to work, I like to be able to flow smoothly between pieces and that needs practice also. They are each fairly short and I can easily play them with a 158 or variation of that in the LH, which is important in the hospital when I need to focus on so many things. I’m lucky that on the double strung I can interweave the LH with the RH, giving the music a new feel each time.

    There is always additional music I can think of to add to this, but I need to quiet that squirrel in my head for a while and focus, focus, focus. In all of this, I will be watching my technique, dynamics, new hand shapes, revision of old fingering when new ideas work better, etc.

    Arran Boat Song

    Kindly Woods (an original by Carolyn Deal)

    Skye Boat Song

    Annie Laurie

    Summer Wind Chimes

    Sweet Forget-me-not

    The Moon Represents My Harp

    Aragorn sleepsong


    My Little Welsh House

    Fair Gentle Eily

    White Coral Bells

    • Judiann

      8 April, 2021 at 10:40 pm

      @nancy.beal That’s a nice list in your program. There are a few I’m unfamiliar with, and I’ll look them up. I can somewhat understand what you’re saying about transitioning seamlessly between one piece and the next. I’ve done it with Song of the Water Kelpie leading into My Little Welsh Home, which is also on your list. Those are both in the same key with the same time signature. What I haven’t tried to do is to combine pieces that are different keys and time signatures, and you must run into that with your list of a dozen pieces. How do you handle that? Is there a book or website that explains chord progressions for modulating keys? Obviously, I haven’t researched it yet.

      • Nancy Beal

        9 April, 2021 at 12:26 pm

        Hi Judiann

        All the songs I am playing are in the same key. There is absolutely a way to modulate from one key to the next. I have a teacher who demonstrated that for me a few years ago, but since I didn’t really practice it, I don’t remember how she did it and I’d have to find my notes. It involved, I believe, moving through various chords involving the tonic and dominant chords. Maybe someone else can answer that more thoroughly than I can. There is a FB group called I believe “ask the harp expert” or something like that started recently by Laurie Riley. I’ll go out there and ask the question.

        As far as moving from one rhythm to the next, I do that gradually in my chord progression between songs. It is, I believe, not really noticeable, particularly since I am improvising as I move from one song to the next.


        • Judiann

          9 April, 2021 at 4:44 pm

          @nancy.beal You’re smart to have everything in the same key, since there’s no need to be flipping levers that way. Asking Laurie Riley is certainly going above and beyond. Thanks!

          Yesterday I started researching modulation but ran into the confusing concept of pivot chords. If I find a site that explains it better, I’ll share a link.