This is part four in a four-part series of posts designed to help you solve difficulties you may come across in your everyday practice. With a repertoire of techniques at your disposal, you can learn to solve nearly any practice difficulty. If you are not already a subscriber to HarpMastery, you can email me to receive the other posts in this series by email.
This post shows you techniques to try when two-handed chords are slowing you down.
Solution #1: Play one hand and one note
Why this works: By removing some of the complexity, you can begin to master the passage, adding one note at a time.
What to do: Play the passage with either hand alone. Then add in the top note of the other hand and play again, keeping the tempo steady. Repeat the steps, this time adding the bottom note of the other hand. Add in two notes and then three as you become more proficient. See the example above.
Solution #2: Arpeggiate the chords
Why this works: You will learn every note of each chord and play it correctly when you play only one note at a time in an arpeggio. Keeping the tempo even will help you read ahead and place efficiently.
What to do: Play each chord arpeggiated from bottom to top, from left hand through right hand. Keep a steady beat and leave no extra time between chords. Also try playing the arpeggios down from the top. You can also play the arpeggios with the hands simultaneously. This makes a great technical exercise!
Solution #3: Say and play
Why this works: Verbalizing the names of notes or chords is the best way to stay focused on what you are playing. It also helps you learn the exact notes you need to play faster than any other method. And when you know what you’re playing, you will play it more easily.
What to do: This is easy to explain, but not so easy to do. Play the passage slowly but at a steady tempo. As you play, say the name of the top note of the right hand. Play again, saying the name of the bottom note of the left hand. You can pick any of the notes to say, or if you are able, you can say the name of the chords: C major, D7, etc. You will also find this technique useful for memorization.
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