P2 - B4

Tone quality, sound production and damping

  • Create a warm and clear sound:
    • Play with raised thumb (except for larger intervals) and extending hands backwards after playing a note or chord to project sound
    • Allow notes to resound for their full value before replacing fingers on the same notes, avoiding buzzing
    • Damp at cadential points when appropriate, either with both hands, or left hand only
    • Play with some dynamic contrast and control changes in dynamics with more ease
    • Shape and define phrases and control tone quality when playing arpeggiated figures passing between hands

Demonstrate examples of a well-rounded tone and contrast this with examples of poorly produced tone, using the same passage. Invite learners to comment on the differences.

Provide some simple explanations of the physical origins of a well-rounded tone.

Remind learners of the importance of maintaining the rounded gap in order for the thumb to have space to move and project.

Demonstrate a passage played with buzzing and poor clarity, inviting learners to discuss methods of resolving the issues. Play again with clarity and a legato sound, discussing the changes.

Demonstrate examples of good and poor balance between melody and accompaniment, inviting learners to comment.

Ensure learners listen for tonal control when melodies are divided between the hands.

Help learners to make audio recordings of their playing as a tool for evaluating their tone, using an audio recording app.

Ensure learners practise dynamics in both hands independently before playing hands together.

Play a simple piece to learners and discuss how it might be phrased. Ask them to sing or hum the melody to see where breathing naturally occurs. Demonstrate how the musical interest is enhanced by clear phrasing.

Harpists should be encouraged to link the idea of phrasing with singing and breathing at all times.

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