Tension is not your friend.
11 May 2018
by Barbara Ann Fackler


After watching "What Does Music Mean?" (post below), I watched another of Adam Neely's posts. In it, starting here, he's commenting on video submissions to his channel. The last has some advice that applies to any musician.

"When anybody tries to do something that's outside of their ability, there's a natural tendency of the body to want to tense up, which is really unfortunate because it's the exact opposite of what should be happening. We should be relaxing into the activity and relaxing into the motion."

Most classical harpists are taught some form of relaxation. The idea that, if your muscles and tendons are going to be "at work", they also have to find an "at rest" moment in order to continue. I'd had students who failed to heed this advice and have suffered longterm damage.

Adam does on to suggest slow practice for the student, until mastery of the passage is attained. Good advice.

He ends with this caution: "That tension can cause some stumbling blocks later and you might actually hurt yourself."

The habit of playing with tension is deadly. It eventually catches up with you.

So, watch the video. Heed the good advice. Then go tune your harp and play something within your skill sets. Make it lovely and stay relaxed.

Tension is not your friend.