Other than just playing, are there any warm-ups or exercises that I can do to increase my stamina and ability to play more/longer?
I’ve been having a blast going through the course!! I’ve found the biggest challenge to be forcing myself to slow down. I’m addicted!! I can’t learn all this stuff fast enough!! As a result, at times, I also feel like I’m completely out of shape! HAHA!
I’ve noticed that on some exercises, I struggle with my breathe or what I’d call stamina. I can tell I’m breathing heavier, and my mouth, face/jaw, lungs, diaphragm, etc. are all getting a work out even though I’m technically just sitting on the couch!
As I said, I’m having a blast and would love to play longer but have to force myself to stop before I run into diminishing returns when my enthusiasm starts to override proper technique and my stamina to keep playing. Any insight or wisdom would be awesome!
If you actually are feeling out of shape, then you probably are out of shape. Some things that I can suggest for you to try out are:
Slow, deep breathing exercises like those used during meditation (youtube is a good source in case you are not sure how to do this).
Play while standing rather than sitting to permit your thorax and abdominal regions to move freely.
Play while walking.
Aerobic exercises or sports.
Beyond these, I suggest playing to a drone recording (cello drones are very good and can be found on youtube). Use the drone to sharpen your tonal playing skills, and also your bending to check that you are hitting the bent note accurately. Do these practice tones softly for a complete inhalation for the tone of the drone (for example: on a C harp, play a G drone and on your C harp play -2). Then without pause at the end of your inhalation switch to the the +3 and play that note for the entire exhalation. Continue this for as long as you desire.
Then try using other holes on your harp with that G drone – nice ones are -6 (an A) and +6 (again a G), but you will find others where you like the sound. You can do this exercise to improve respiratory capacity, stamina and tonal accuracy/control.
For bending: let’s say that -2" is giving you problems. Use an F drone and try the holes +3 (for the G note while exhaling) and then switch to -2" for the F while inhaling.
I guess you get the idea and can make up your own hole/note combinations for playing to drones with various pitches. If I have not been clear in my explanation then just ask back here since I am frequently reading the forum posts.
I found I too seem to lack enough breath to keep playing when I am sitting down but not when I am on stage or standing and/or walking (which is where I practice) Perhaps, like singing, standing is a better position to play in because it helps the diaphragm work better for getting the air you need.
We were in the car and low rider came on the radio, so I was reaching for my harp! Then later we were shopping and the store had bluesy music, perfect for a Charleston comp!! HAHA! My wife thinks I’m crazy, but I’m hooked!
yes, you are allowed to be on the hunt , but not like “Richard Kimble on the run” .
Feel like a hunter and relax before shooting the game!
Breathe in and out consciously before the game and in between, loosen your upper body and arms.
It is especially important at the beginning of learning the harp. Later you will do it automatically.
After a year on the harp, I can tell when I’m not relaxed when I’m playing. Then I play cramped and therefore wrong, I can’t do bends and I can’t find a rhythm.
In any case, it’s good if you have the desire to play along to songs from the radio. This develops your ear for the tones and the implementation on the harp. Then you can certainly write and play your own songs.