First lesson

And she’s very sweet and experienced, so I like her a great deal. She’s also willing to do biweekly lessons, which helps a great deal. She did say that she prefers weekly ones for kids, but that she recognizes that adults have jobs and things, so that biweekly lessons are really the only way to manage it with us. With me, since I have to lose every other weekend by going down to see my mom or bringing her up to my apartment, weekly lessons would be a giant waste of money and a worse waste of time.

Her harp is however about twice the size of my little Daphne, and I despair of ever actually showing her what I can do since transitioning between the two will always leave me fumbling and flat-footed. The thing is a monster.

She gave me a few exercises to do, some of which are okay in my left hand and absolutely unmanageable in my right without breaking strings or tendons. I am realizing that I cannot put 3 and 4 on strings in my right hand (further than on adjacent strings), and play 3. It can’t be done; the only solution is to bracket in different ways since [4 3] won’t happen for me. Using one of the pseudo-Salzedo conditioning exercises she assigned me in the Kondonassis book, I’m going to have to bracket over the next note to be played by placing the thumb one note ahead of when I should, so that I can still be anchored on the harp with it and not have to place [4 3] and play 3. I can’t express how demoralizing and actually painful it is to attempt to do that.*

However, she did talk about some students she had — and herself as well — who had to modify things to fit their hands, whose fourth finger tendons were very short, whose hands were very small, or who had extremely long third fingers (as I do), and who had to just change things up, so I feel justified in doing so even if it means that Salzedo’s brackets are out the window.

She also talked to me about the number of harpists who have had nerve damage and surgery on their hands, a membership which I hope never to join. If not bracketing [4 3] and playing 3 will keep me out of that club, so much the better.

I remember watching a tiny bit of “Gattaca” that was playing when I was over someone’s house/apartment/something, and seeing a scene that was supposed to illustrate how deeply into the society the idea of genetic optimization had soaked, featuring a twelve-fingered pianist.

You know what? You ask any musician what they want, and it’s not more fingers. Just give me a g/d independent tendon on my fourth finger, and I’ll give you a kidney.

* Did that, and it worked. From now on, I break all [4 3] brackets with the greatest cheerfulness.


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