A shorter #introduction now I have a bit more of a hang of this!
I'm a UK-based neurodivergent, easily distracted and enthusiastic IT professional with a wonky body.
I mostly work digitally, but daily art challenges, including Inktober, have improved my traditional skills.
I'm aspiring to be a comics creator, but to be less extreme about it than I've been during challenges. More self-care and fun, less argh-deadlines.
Here's some self-portraits, scroll up this thread of replies for a selection of favourite comics, Inktober entries, wildlife art and Doctor Who fan art.
I've now made a 10 page printable PDF colouring book, featuring 16 characters including Ood, Cybermen, Daleks and K-9!
As long as you're not making money off these, they're free to download and use however you wish - just please give me credit and link back to the download page:
I'd love to see what people do with them 🙂
…Or I may resign myself to only using the thumb pick for strums moving from high to low and adapt all the strums I'm trying to learn so only fingers strum from low to high.
As long as I can produce the strum patterns, it doesn't really matter if I'm using the 'wrong' digits.
I think the way I have to hold my autoharp makes it much harder to strum with a thumb pick in two directions.
I may try sanding down the 'blade' / point on my spare thumb pick to reduce it down to a shorter rounded pick, so it's like strumming with the wrong edge of a plectrum…
I am going to be *so* good at country music when I finish this audiobook autoharp course!
And I mostly play folk inspired music, so country's not *that* far off what I'm aiming for 🙂
I take it back, my MP3 file just told me to set the counter on my cassette player to 0 so I can keep rewinding back to the start of the song and replay until I get it perfect! 😆
Gosh I've downloaded the audio that goes with the autoharp book - it's a full on instructional audiobook (that used to be a CD) designed to teach you the autoharp with the book existing just to support it!
You get whole tracks of talking, then a play through, then just the vocal!
(The American version of "We are climbing Jacob's Ladder" is way less fun than the British version. I always assumed American religious school assemblies would be more dynamic than C of E.)
(It is really amazing how many of these songs I had never heard of - even when I heard the tune!
It's not like I didn't grow up learning recorder or singing songs in Christian school assemblies or at Sunday school!)
Oh well! It's been very educational listening to dozens of different arrangements of traditional American or Country music in the hopes of finding one that isn't some modern reinterpretation that changes the rhythm or worse!
I spent the entire evening assembling this Spotify playlist of all the songs in 'You Can Teach Yourself Autoharp': https://open.spotify.com/user/11173932629/playlist/44WdAYzjIZhuoNvjfcGUoQ?si=6JKs9RmzQdq-owJNaXAygQ
…then I discovered the Kindle edition comes with a free digital download of all the featured songs actually being performed on autoharp as they're arranged! 😅
Another autoharp problem: My instructional songbooks are both full of American traditional and country music songs, virtually none of which I know the tune for.
I think I need to make a Spotify playlist of trad American songs so I can practice the strum pattern exercises a little more easily! Googling for the tune every time I get to a new one is getting a bit silly.
(This observation brought to you by my decision this evening to try to play like my books day and the famous autoharp players do.
Also by quite how much pain I caused myself until I had the sense to switch back to my 'wrong but right for me' method.)
…you'd think that I'd remember this autoharp ergonomics fact, given that it's the entire reason why I ended up playing an autoharp!
I wasn't able to hold down chords on a guitar fret or play a keyboard without agonising forearm cramps.
My hands and wrists are… unusual and require a custom approach.
Every time I try to hold my autoharp at the angle that everyone else plays theirs, I very quickly remember how much my wrists hurt if I keep them straight while I use them. They're only comfortable when bent.
Then I'll forget this pain was the reason why I adopted such an odd playing angle, and I'll gradually convince myself that this can't possibly have been true and I should try again…
(Having technique improving exercises that are actually possible with my finger picks now is also likely to help practicing become an enjoyable habitual routine rather than frustrating.
Making it not actively painful to practice already made a good start on reducing frustration!)
Having postural vertigo at the moment made it a much easier decision to get a stand to keep the autoharp on at home.
Bending down to my gig bag to lift the autoharp out or put it in can make me dizzy is a dangerous-feeling way.
Also, all the advice I've seen says using a stand to display your musical instrument rather than keeping it hidden in a case is one of the biggest factors in practicing more - so, bonus!
(As a matter of course, I avoided any sellers whose product photos showed a hand wearing the picks backwards.
I mean, if you can't work that out, I don't trust you to know sizes either.)
I've been confounded by autoharp books including strumming patterns where the finger picks strummed up as well as down.
I followed a hunch that maybe it was my picks and not my technique that made these strum patterns impossible, so I ordered some replacements with good reviews…
These 'Stagg' picks feel much better, they're thinner, have a flattened 'blade' and, most importantly, they securely strum in both directions! 👌🏻
Having listened on headphones, I think I need to adjust the Tone knob on the pickup to cut out the high pitched resonance coming in at the start there.
Also, some of the bass strings are a little out of tune after being plucked for several hours, so, sorry about that!
OK, a test recording of the autoharp pickup through the EQ-7 graphic equaliser pedal, as promised! 🎶
And here's the same thing mixed with the microphone sound 🎤