Tag Archives: octaves

Harp Hand Position: Easier Octaves

Do you struggle with octaves, especially when they come in fast succession? For the left hand, we have open-handed technique to make octaves easier, but what about the right hand?

Instead of using standard harp hand position, with a high thumb and low fourth finger, drop the thumb a little. Now round the space between finger and thumb into a C shape (the same shape you would use to make an OK sign, just with a different finger). If you keep this shape as you play, you can much more easily play octaves up and down the harp ~ try it and see!

I also learned from my workshops with Alfred Rolando Ortiz that Latin American harpists use an open-handed technique for the right hand as well as the left. Not only are the fingers up and the hand open, but there is that same curve to the fingers that allows them to close fingers 4 and 1 (or 3 and 1) like crab pincers.

I’ve been experimenting with this technique on octaves and large chords, and I have to say it’s a far easier way to play them fast. This isn’t to say you need to abandon your traditional technique (as Ortiz would be the first to point out), but it’s a great tool for your technique toolbox. The bottom line for me with hand positions is effectiveness and lack of tension, and this one is a winner on both counts.

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This post is adapted from material that I originally published in the ezine, Notes from the Harp.