CATRIN FINCH ACADEMY

Welcome to my online academy.

I hope you find the resources below useful and that they prove to be encouraging as you continue to learn and progress. 

These videos are designed to be used in conjunction with my new exercise book 'Catrin Finch Harp Academy Book 1' which is now available to pre-order online from 80 Days Publishing, click here for more details. 

CHAPTER 1. The Basics

Keep all fingers on strings throughout all exercises in this Chapter. Repeat as you wish, or until each finger has complete control and good, solid sound with no buzzing. Remember to keep your thumbs up and create as much space as possible between the thumb and fingers. *SQUEEZE!*

CHAPTER 2. Scales

Finger work in groups and preparation. Think of the fingers and thumb as working in two groups – 3 2 1 together and 4 3 2 together. So, for example, in Exercise 1, when the thumb plays, place 2 3 4 on the strings together, and when the 4th plays, place 3 2 1 on the strings together. Follow the brackets and try to continue this thought as much as possible, throughout the five exercises. Keep the crotchet pulse the same throughout the five exercises and aim to play continuously without stopping between exercises. Repeat until each finger has complete control and good sound with no buzzing.

CHAPTER 3. Arpeggios

Each finger works separately when playing arpeggio type patterns. Keep your thumbs high throughout, allowing as much space as possible for the fingers to pass underneath. The thumbs act as a sort of anchor for the fingers, and create stability when playing. Bring the fingers into the palm of your hand (imagining you are trying to keep hold of an object), and bring the thumb over the top of them. Play hands separately and together. Try also playing different inversions when playing together. Repeat until each finger has complete control and good sound with no buzzing.

CHAPTER 4. Chords

When playing chords, the finger and arm position is the same as in passage work and the previous chapters. Place all three fingers and thumb on the strings and notes indicated in the diagram below, and when playing the main notes leave the digits not needed on the other strings (as indicated by the smaller notation). There are three processes to think of when we play chords. Squeeze – Play – Relax. Repeat until each finger has complete control, working and playing exactly together, with a good sound and no buzzing. Play at whatever tempo you wish; hands separately or together and always straight and never spread.

CHAPTER 5. Trills and bisbigliando

When playing single hand trills it’s very important to try and keep your arm and wrist relaxed, as much as possible. Hold your arm high with elbow out, and rest your wrist on the side of the harp. This can be done in the LH for playing trills too, if you find it easier than holding the arm out. Keeping as loose and relaxed as possible is paramount to a fluid and long trill. Fingers and thumb work in exactly the same way as before, with the fingers coming into the palm of your hand and thumb bending over the top. Likewise, when playing double hand trills, which lead into a bisbigliando, keeping your wrists and hands as loose as possible is key, whilst keeping control of the grouped fingers. Think of a flick upwards with your wrist after playing each hand to release any tension. Essentially the trill or bisbigliando should be able to continue indefinitely if the control and correct relaxation is there. Repeat, avoiding any buzzing, and if tension is felt at any point, stop, release and try again.

CHAPTER 6. Scales in 3rds, 5ths and 6ths

When we play in groups of 3rds, 5ths or 6ths, it’s important to keep the whole arm and hand quite still and solid. Fingers 2 & 4 and 1 & 3 work together, with the fingers passing underneath the thumb and the thumb passing over the top of the fingers. Keep your hand and fingers as close as possible to the strings and try to keep the arm quite smooth with no big movements. Repeat until each group has complete control and good sound, with no buzzing.

CHAPTER 7. Extended techniques

"In this Chapter we look at some of the extended techniques that we often get asked to play on the harp. We will concentrate on P.D.L.T (Pres de la Table); Harmonics; Etouffée; Glissandos and Soundboard Knocking. Some are easier than others, so don't worry if you can't get them first time!"