P1 - B1

Posture, hand position, and recognition of strings and levers

Posture and hand position:

  • Sit at an appropriate height that facilitates playing in the centre of the strings with ease, with relaxed shoulders and feet flat on the floor
    • For pedal harp, change pedals with the heel on the floor

Recognition of strings and levers:

  • Recognise notes based around theĀ string colours and their repetition
  • Recognise levers and change lever positions for closely related keys
    • For pedal harp, recognise the pedals and the direction in which to move to a flat/sharp. Set pedals for simple keys at beginning of passage

Posture and hand position:

Demonstrate to learners how the harp is pulled back and positioned between the legs while sitting up straight. Explain how the harp is moved slightly to the right to balance lightly on the right shoulder and partly held between the knees.

Demonstrate the point of balance when the harp is tilted backwards in order to avoid relying on the shoulder to fully support the weight of the harp. This is especially important with the pedal harp.

Reinforce the importance of always taking a moment to ensure that posture is correct before starting to play, whether in the lesson or in individual practice.

Creating effective exercises and drills to enable learners to adopt appropriate posture is invaluable in large-group and whole-class teaching. It promotes independence, giving learners the necessary skills to recreate the desired posture in their individual practice.

Ask learners to sit at a variety of heights to ascertain the most natural body position, and to play with arms relaxed at chest height.

Be aware of learnersā€™ individual physical characteristics and make adaptations as appropriate.

Show learners how to raise their elbows to a relaxed position where the wrists naturally depress slightly when hands are placed on the strings.

Demonstrate the ideal placing of the hand on the strings.

Show learners how to place the second finger on strings pointing downwards in a curved position, with all other fingers flat in the centre of the hand and thumb raised.

Demonstrate how the shoulders should be down and relaxed and the feet flat on the floor.

Encourage self-evaluation by use of a mirror. Video-recording could also be used for this purpose, but it is vital to check the policy of the school or other organisation you are working in with regards to any form of recording. Children must never be videoed without parental consent and all policies regarding use and storage of recordings must be adhered to.

Show learners how to play with a relaxed hand shape, curving the fingers downwards with lowered wrists and point thumbs upwards. Ensure that they elevate the elbows, lightly resting only on the right-hand side of the soundboard.

If learners have photographic permission, encourage them to take photos of themselves and annotate them to identify elements of good posture. This can be done with a photo editing app or presentation programs such as PowerPoint or Google Slides.

Recognition of strings and levers:

Begin by demonstrating the coloured strings (C and F).

Explain the letter names of the other strings, relating them to C and F.

Demonstrate the high pitches at the top of the harp and the low pitches at the bottom.

Ask learners to comment on the aural similarity between notes of the same letter name and explain to them the repetitive pattern of the harp strings.

Play games where learners locate the note and touch the appropriate string, as specified by the teacher.

Ask learners to identify notes played randomly by the teacher, using a large range of the harp.

Show how the levers raise and lower the pitches by pressing and depressing the strings.

Demonstrate the layout of the pedals according to the note names, and how moving the pedals raises and lowers the pitches.

Demonstrate how the discs press on the strings as pedals raise the pitch, and vice versa. Explain the rod connections within the column.

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