December 3, 2014

Close your eyes...give me your hand

Most harpers have some concept of the (likely romanticized) history of the harper – an important contributor to life in the home of the Laird, carrier of news, stories, lore, and intrigue, and provider of music for all events and perhaps for everyday living.  Likely you know that at some point harping was an excellent profession for the blind – a job that didn’t require being sighted to be excellent.  And of course, we have the Rory’s in history.  We are ever so slightly proud of that heritage.

So why then, do I so often hear, “Oh, I have to look!” or “I can’t play without seeing the strings” or some variation on these?   I’ve also hear, “I’ll make a complete mess of it if I don’t look!”

And you know what I’ll say to that – you simply need to practice to play without looking!  There are so many reasons to play without looking:
  • Candle light/poor lighting
  • Power cuts
  • Outdoor, dusk weddings
  • Poor or changing vision
But if you practice playing in low or no light situations you will see a number of improvements:
  • Your body will know where the notes are (and will learn that better than if you are always looking)
  • You’ll be more confident in a number of situations (listed above)
  • You don’t have to remember to carry a light (of course, this assumes you don’t need the music stand!)
If you need a little nudge to start playing in low light, start by practicing at dusk by natural light – and let the night come.  It will be very gradual.  You’ll learn this way that you can in fact play with little light.   

Don’t get discouraged – you had to learn to play by looking – and this is no different...and enjoy – you’ll impress your harp friends too!

1 comment:

Barbara said...

You mention the Rorys and in the Irish tradition there is O'Carolan. Harping for patrons was an honorable living for blind players. Lucky for them, every job was likely a craic!