For this last part of Questions and Answers, we will touch on which are some common physical problems that musicians and harpists experience; why we have not spoken at length about arms and hands, and a brief return to the core, or centre.
Passionate people interested in the Celtic harp met from the 9th to the 13th of July, for the 31st edition of the Rencontres Internationales de Harpe Celtique of Dinan (Brittany). Amateur-harp maker and founder of the online magazine Harpes Mag’, Didier Saimpaul gave a workshop on harp technical drawings.
CelticHarpBlog: Here is the second part with answers to the questions about instrumental technique. A question comes up quite regularly about the exercises to practice. Are there any exercices we should do before, during and after a practice session?
CelticHarpBlog: Hi Lise. At the beginning of this article series, we invited readers to send us any questions they had relevant to a physiotherapist's perspective on instrumental technique. Among the questions we got, many were very specific to certain physical aspects of the posture whereas your articles so far talk mainly of general aspects. What is the idea behind this approach?
After the article on the Hara, it seems important to present a concrete example of what can be achieved mastering this technique in the service of art. In the following video, Miyoko Shida makes an impressive live performance on Spanish television, creating a giant mobile which relies on the weight of a feather. Between meditative dance, poetry of gesture and true physical prowess, the expression of her concentration reflects a perfect mastery of the Hara.
Lise Enochsson: The shoulder joints and their function are a fascinating and complex topic, deserving much more elaboration than we can go into in this article series. For the purposes of this series, I will suggest a handful of exercises focused on stabilising of the shoulder blades. Stabilising the scapula provides the foundation for controlled movements of the arm, and also ensures better joint mechanics betwen the scapula, humerus (upper arm bone) and muscles involved.
As a synonym of intense use of the body, instrumental practice has many consequences in the musician's life. For this reason, optimising the body's capacity to the maximum is necessary; which is possible only by acquiring a right posture. Mentioned as a reference in a previous article about technique, Hara: The Vital Center Of Man, by the German psychotherapist Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, is a major help in building this posture.
Lise Enochsson: In my past three articles in this series on Instrumental Technique, we've covered breathing, posture, balance and symmetry. Starting with these three building blocks is essential before moving on to more instrument-specific exercises. And mind you, even if you choose to not do any other exercise (such as working on your back and shoulders - forthcoming), deepening your practise of free breathing and aligned posture together with being utterly familiar with your balance will benefit you greatly.
“Once in a small school in Persia, some pupils were having their first lessons in writing. Holding their breath, gritting their teeth, fingers tensing on their reed pens, they drew as best they could the first letter of the alphabet (alif bâ): the A, alif. It’s a vertical line drawn bottom-up, as simple as the number 1 (written the same way) and, for this reason also, the first letter of the divine name. The children made sure to reproduce the symbol of unity aligning rows of parallel lines on the pages of their writing books. One of them took particular care and, with extreme pleasure, kept filling pages. (more…)