Get up offa that thing! Adventures in harp playing

Pedal harp players like me play sitting down, right? Always have done. It’s how we’re taught, and it’s how everyone does it. I don’t know why I’ve never questioned it until now, but I recently saw a blog post from Deborah Henson-Conant (described as the “Jimi Hendrix of the harp”) which showed several pedal harpists plaing standing up. It looked fucking cool.

For technical reasons it’s tricky to play complicated music standing up – pedal harps use pedals on both sides of the instrument to create sharps and flats, so if you need to make a lot of changes, you’d probably fall over. Then I realised that the Shadow Orchestra’s songs didn’t have much pedalling in at all, so after a quick practice at a rehearsal, I thought I’d try and play a whole gig standing up.

Kat standing up playing harp

First gig standing up - I can dance! (Pic by Ginny)

I found it incredibly liberating – I could dance and throw myself about, I got a lot more oopmh into the bass notes, and it felt like a real energy lift on stage.  Frankly, I felt like a rock guitarist! It also helps that I’m quite short, so I don’t have to bend over too much – the less said about the state of my back, the better…

I can’t wait for our next gig (14th November at the BarFly in Camden with Matthew Halsall and Yult), to have another go.

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