by Barbara Ann Fackler

Helpful Harp Hint Tuesday: Harmonics - Mar 8, 2016

Many students struggle with harmonics and understandably so. There's more to successfully executing harmonics on harp than you might realize.

1) Specific: The point at which the harmonic will speak is very specific, too high or too low and all you'll get is an unpleasant thud.

2) Technique: Learning the proper technique for playing harmonics takes some time. At first it usually feels a bit awkward but with time, it becomes second nature.

3) Resonance: For harmonics to speak readily and loudly, you need to have good strings. If your strings are old, no matter how good your technique or how well you can find that specific spot, they're not going to speak as well on old strings as new.

4) Strength: It takes more strength to make a harmonic speak than it does an open string.

5) Callous: Part of being able to play a harmonic loudly is being able to pull and push against the string strongly enough. Your callous will affect this and it's important to note that the place the string hits your finger when playing a harmonic is different than the place used for open strings. You'll need to develop a good callous on the spot that touches the string, so go gently at first to avoid blisters.

If you're struggling with harmonics, take some time to go through this checklist and see if one of these issues is your problem. It's a technique work mastery with plenty of music available that features this lovely, gentle sound.

The sheet music for Little Sketches can be purchased from http://hornandharp.com/sketch.html.
harp harmonics - intermediate sheet music

Download a free copy of the Little Sketch Nr. 1 from this page.