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bob f
Sep 20, 2009 2:59 PM GMT

Over the years I have seen various recommendations as to what an aspiring harp player should do to gain ability with the instrument. What I think would be helpful would be some advice about priorities (a simple outline would be great), given the fact that most of us don't have unlimited time to listen, take lessons, practice licks, play scales,etc. It can be time consuming and sometimes confusing just to decide what it is that you should be doing to make the most of yourpractice time. Along with what a person should place on the priority list, it would be helpful for example to have specific directions like ,"Practice X scales first as opposed to Z scales". I find myself moving from one form of practice to another and getting the feeling that I am not making the best use of my time. It could be that there is a good outline out there and I just haven't seen it. Any suggestions?

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Sep 20, 2009 3:16 PM GMT
Ana R Replied:

Great idea Bob, I would find that very useful too....I hope that our more experience harp friends here will help us with some advises!!!

Sep 20, 2009 3:31 PM GMT
bob f Replied:

Ana, I think many of us could benefit from such an approach. Keeping focused can be so difficult when there is so much to learn - frustrating little instrument isn't it. I've been playing for about 7 years and had a built in outlet since I was already working in a band. I was fortunate enough to be asked to join a blues band a year ago and often find myself more bewilered than when I first picked thedevilish littlething up.

Sep 21, 2009 5:55 AM GMT
Jawbone K Replied:

i didn't take the more usual route a lot of people did. i blundered around for a couple of decades and finally began to actually improve some. in recent years i reached a sort of critical mass due to a few factors:

i began listening to harp guys i really wanted to emulate, and felt i could reach some level of playing that emulated them.

i spent a lot of time out live at jams and working with bands.

i spent a lot of time playing along with favored heros on cd etc. at home.

with the explosion of the internet and all the blues and harp forums, i garnered a lot of vital imformation and i have been given a lot of insight into some of the finer points of playing these dang things.

i found a book/cd set was very helpful although i admit i sort of cherry-picked my way therough it.

do i practice scales? no. should i? yes. do i practice as a matter of usual course? not so much these days, i don't find the time. but if practicing with my wife/duo partner counts, yes i guess i do. and if playing at the farmers market, opening a show here and there, and hitting open mic nights a few times a month count, i guess i do put in some time practicing.

what's a good basic plan? from my own experience i have to say, work on stuff at home, yes definitely. make use of the fine tools available in print, on cd, on youtube, and lay a solid foundation. but also, and most important imho, is to go out and apply what you're learning as you go along.

you reach a point where the living room will be too small, the experience is too limited, and what you need at that point is a stage, a mic, and a band to help teach you about actual live music; how it's arranged, what etiquette is, where your strengths and weaknesses are. after each adventure you can retire and work on what's indicated.

to me music is a living thing. we get to germinate it for a while, but then we have to expose ourselves to our peers and betters, to both challenge us and find the support we need to continue. this is how music grows in us.

many times i've seen guys and gals at open mic nights, their first times, who had a lot of technique but no savvy for when to step up, when to accent or fill in, and when to lay out. i think this sort of stuff can only be learned "out there" in public. that's part of the organic nature of music.

i hope this gives a bit of new perspective. it's not an outline but it worked for me.

Sep 22, 2009 3:20 AM GMT
Ricardo Replied:

Hey Jawbone said it.

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