I remember attending Interlochen Arts Academy for my Freshman year of high school in the late 90’s. At this point in my life I had been playing harp for nearly a decade. My instructor, Joan Raeburn Holland, wanted to approach some issues with my technique. She had me playing nothing but exercises and etudes to work on fixing these issues. It was some of the best education I have had in my musical life, and a magical place indeed. One exercise she gave me has trickled down to my students as an all-around great exercise in general, the seventh chord exercise.
I can’t claim ownership for the creation of the seventh chord exercise, but I can claim the good it did my technique, and my relaxation in my playing. I can’t recommend this exercise enough to anyone who wants to focus on the key elements of a solid technique:
– Arms off the soundboard
– Wrists slightly bent inwards
– High thumbs
– Space between thumb and second finger
– Rounded, curved knuckles
– Closing completely into the palm
– Relaxing after each pluck
– Focus on equal, good tone quality among the fingers
These bullet points should be your main focus as you slowly work through the seventh chord exercise.
What follows is a picture. Download the PDF HEREto print and follow along.