Life has become really interesting around here on both the hammered dulcimer and autoharp fronts. I encourage players of both instruments to embrace what I’ve found.
Hammered dulcimer: One of my students is now learning to play jigs, and the subject of accents naturally comes up so that double jigs (composed of relentless eighth notes) trade in monotony for a sound architecture that includes multi-voice resonance. In my own practice of my student’s tunes last week to learn about it, I felt how much my fingers create accents while my arms take the hammers up and down–the fingers movements are small enough that they can only be felt rather than seen. The type of hammer hold is very important here: securing the hammers under the thumb tips won’t work with this method. And no one wants any Ouch from having to modify that. (See my Ouch page for hammer-hold details).
Autoharp: I talked about a new method for teaching the pinch in my earlier post about The TANK, and now there is more. (I am so excited, I can’t stand it!) I didn’t understand for YEARS why my fingers behave the way they do when pinching, and now it’s clear! My latest B&B student, who was here a couple weeks ago, inspired it (it’s more like she was in the right place at the right time as the understanding came to the fore), and so she was the first to receive it. And last night, I taught this new pinch method during a webcam lesson–and it worked from a distance! (The presentation is just as important as the understanding.)
Everyone needs to know these how-tos, because they do wonderful things for each instrument’s sound. Wonderful, large sounds, with resonance emerge from just a little bit of effort (and, I guess, a little thought, too!). Contact me to get in on it.
Finally, there is one more theory I’ve tested over the last few Sundays: I at last found a way to light the altar candles at church in a reasonable amount of time. (The wicks are 7 feet above the floor, and I’m 5’4″, so I can’t see them. Do you know what it’s like, struggling to light eight candles in ten minutes, in front of ALL of your fellow parishioners?!) The how-to that the Altar Guild gave me doesn’t work–at least not for me. I’ve got it down pat now (three minutes!), but that’s another story.