Fundamentals

I need to get back to doing arpeggios in the morning, which I haven’t been doing since getting back. I either go right into something I’m arranging or working on, or I don’t play. I’ve been doing this for a little over two months, for pete’s sake! I am nowhere near at a level where I can do that or should expect to be able to do that.

In all honestly, one is never at that level. When you lose sight of maintenance of the fundamentals, things start unraveling very quickly. Nevertheless, at the piano, I do feel more solid in terms of where I am since I’ve done it for so long and started as a kid. At the harp, when I’m still at the “how do I hold my right thumb again?” stage, I have no business flying right into whatever shiny thing has attracted me just yet. I really do have to just do arpeggios in the mornings come hell or high water.

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Tilting my head when I play

I do this to see the strings more clearly, tilt my head over to my left. It ends up hurting my back. It’s really hard not to do it, though — and hard to remember not to. Hopefully it will get better as my fingers become more predictive and knowledgeable about the landscape of the strings. On the piano, I don’t even have to look at my right hand, but here … well, I need to get there. I was young when I learned the piano, and I don’t have any clear memories of how I learned it, so … wow. I’m constantly surprised by how much there is to absorb in learning how to manipulate an instrument, and how much I must have absorbed as a child. I have no idea why I kept up with it for so long. I tend to be sticky, so I think it just never occurred to me to stop. That bodes well for this little experiment.

Honestly, I don’t know where this harp business came from. Some psychological rigmarole transpired, I suppose. But here it is.

My fingertips aren’t even sore this morning, though — which is lovely. I only had ten minutes or so to noodle on the harp instead of the far better twenty or fifteen minutes, so I did some arpeggios in G Major, and then went into “The Angels and the Shepherds.” I’m beginning to think that, just as 90% of a pianist’s life is consumed by even chords, 90% of a harpist’s life is consumed with the avoidance of surface noise. It’s a strange relationship to have with an instrument, for so much of your awareness to be occupied with avoiding certain sounds rather than making certain others. Even on the viola, it was more a matter of mistakenly making an otherwise acceptable sound in the wrong way (tone, intonation) rather than mistakenly making a sound like a bug zapper.

And even with the zapping, it’s still such a nice, pleasant way to start the day.