The Debussy Dances as a harp duo performed by Alexander Andrushchenko (13 years old) and Alisa Sadikova (9 years old) - May 2012, Düsseldorf, Germany
Regular YouTube harp viewers will have seen videos of Alexander performing since a very young age. A quick internet search shows that Alisa is a cousin of Alexander.
Alisa has extensions on the pedals of her harp as she is too small to reach the pedals. Most of the early videos of Alexander show him playing a concert harp with the same pedal extensions.
I can't imagine how hard it must be to play the pedals using those extensions, she does an excellent job considering how chromatic this piece is.
It is truly extraordinary to watch, a difficult and demanding piece for any professional to play.
But then my feelings as a mother kick in and I've got be honest, I don't know want to think.
My golden rule with teaching children has always been that they should start with a small lever harp and only move up to a concert harp when their feet can comfortably reach the pedals.
I remember when my son was very young he wanted to copy me and when I was out of the room he sat on my harp stool and pulled my concert harp back towards him to play. Luckily the harp (knee block) hit the window ledge which stopped it falling completely on top of him. He landed in a mess on the floor, but at least he wasn't squashed and injured by the harp falling on top of him. A full size concert harp is a damn heavy piece of kit.
But I digress.
The playing by the duo is truly amazing.
But I also find it difficult when I know the sheer physicality needed to play such a large instrument. If you need pedal extensions to play should you be playing a full size harp? A lot of comments on their YouTube site seem to find their size in relation to their harps as cute, but I then come back to how physically tired I can sometimes get when I play for long periods, and my harp is in proportion for my size.
But if a child has a passion to play, then .......
Bravo to Morley Harps for making available free downloads of music from their historic Clive Morley harp collection. link here
Lots of interesting music free to download, and for those wanting to practice those valuable sight-reading skills there is now no excuse not to!
Obviously if you can sightread Parish-Alvars you don't need to practice sight-reading, but certainly lots of early classical music that can be used, even if only it is hands separately.
They also have PDFs of historical documents from their collection..... gems include a hand written list of concert programmes 1822-1829, a letter from Wilhelm Posse to JG Morley on the purchase of a harp, and instructions on how to play the Harp Guitar and Apollo-Lyre.
Happy historical harp browsing!
The Morley workshop in the 1890s.
Lauren Scott is a harpist & composer and has been blogging on Harpyness for over 10 years.
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