February 13, 2013

Stand up for Harping

You might have seen in the news lately that the new rage is to work standing up.  Stand up desks are popping up in all sorts of places – even on treadmills. Working standing up has many benefits including:

  1. Expending more calories than sitting
  2. Better alignment of the spine
  3. Improved flexibility of the large muscles of the lower body
  4. Better posture
  5. Reduced perception of fatigue.
You might think it is impossible to bring this trend to the harp, but you would be wrong.  There are a number of good reasons to play standing up –

  1. Better visibility of the harp and of the harper for the audience
  2. Better visibility of the audience to the harper
  3. Expending more calories
  4. Better alignment of the spine
  5. Postural improvements with concomitant breathing improvements
  6. It looks cool!

You might want to try playing standing up.  It is very effective for stage presence.  It is not so appropriate for background gigs (weddings, cocktails, parties, etc.) where the point it to become “sonic wallpaper”*
But when you are meant to stand out, standing is a good way to start. It is essential that you find a platform that is the right height (standing is not license to slouch).  The platform must be stable and you must be able to keep the harp on the platform safely while playing (and preferably while not playing).  The harp should not be wobbly, nor should you have to grip the harp while playing to keep it stable and upright.  Finally – you must practice with the harp in the standing configuration.  Many of your muscle memory cues will be slightly different.  Your sight picture will also be different so rehearsing standing will help you recalibrate.

So, give standing a try, see if it works for you – take a stand!

*thanks Kris Snyder for sticking this phrase in my head!

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