September 21, 2017

Is it a Maybe?

So, here we are, about ¾ of the way through the year.  Everyone’s back to school and the holidays are fast approaching.  By now, hopefully, you’ve sorted out your yes’s and no’s.  The next question is do you have your maybe’s?

Perhaps the biggest maybe at this time of year is related to the goals you set for yourself.  So maybe it is a good time to review them.  How are you coming?  Do you need to tweak any? Do you know?

This is where that journal comes in handy – it’s a good time to review your notes to see if you are getting where you wanted to go.  If not, can you see what you need to work on?  Do you need to:

  • Rededicate your practice time
  • Actually practice
  • Reprioritize your practice time
  • Actively schedule elements of practice
  • Review your goals to make sure they are realistic for your real life
  • Examine your journal to have a better idea how it’s going so you can continue to meet your goals
Are you getting there?  Maybe part of the way?  Maybe isn’t bad at all – as long as you mean it!

September 14, 2017

Just Say No!

After at least a week of saying “Yes!” perhaps it’s also time to start saying “NO!”

No can be so negative but sometimes it’s the best answer to allow you to hang onto your sanity!  Or to make progress toward your goals.  I will always encourage you to stretch – to do things that are a little scary or uncomfortable.  This is because typically these things only l-o-o-k scary but are actually a lot of fun once you break through.

But some things are scary for good reason.  They are better avoided – a stretch piece that is a huge stretch, a stretch piece with an unreasonable or unrealistic deadline, something you just really do not want to do (or don’t agree with doing), something that will just add the straw that broke the camel’s back to your schedule. 

Here are some things it might be helpful to say “NO!” to:

  • Weddings – if you don’t like to be stressed, don’t book weddings!  Only do them if you feel confident – otherwise they will chip away at your confidence and possibly your self-esteem.
  • Short notice gigs – if you don’t have regular practice time in on your repertoire, you will not be ready at the drop of a hat.  So don’t do that to yourself.  Only book gigs for which you can be confidently and competently prepared.
  • Music you’re not interested in – now, I’m not saying don’t experience new things but this music is also typically music you don’t know (so you won’t have tricks up your sleeve for dealing with not being rock solid on the tunes).  Or it's music you haven’t worked with (so you’re likely not solid and confident).  And this is often coupled with short notice and/or weddings!
  • Only playing for the cat and the curtains – Get over yourself!  No one plays perfectly and you never will either.  The only way to get better at playing for people is to do it.  You know – to practice doing it by doing it.  The longer you put it off, the more you tell yourself you’ll do it later, the harder it will get.  So get out there.
Say no to anything that will require more preparation than you will be able to devote.  If you are only able to practice 30 minutes a day, don’t even think you’ll be able to take on a challenge and succeed (Carol of the Bells from scratch in 2 weeks? Ha, don’t even).  You will be stressed and unprepared and miserable. 

Practice saying No at the right times so you are ready to say Yes as appropriate.  And if you’re knocking yourself down (over these or anything else) - Definitely Just Say No!

September 7, 2017

Just say “Yes!”

Music can open so many doors.  People are genuinely interested in how we make music – our instrument, ourselves, our repertoire.  And we should be honest – making music is a rare gift.  We are very fortunate.  Did you know that a Gallup poll indicated that 96% of adults surveyed thought music could be learned at any age?  Perhaps more surprising, a whopping 85% of adults wish they had had music lessons as a child!  And 70% stated that they’d like to learn to play an instrument.  Further, 66% stated that there were too many impediments to learning to play*.  And only 5% of adults are proactive and arrange to have music lessons in their own lives**.

That makes those of us who took up the harp as adults a rare breed!  And whether we were trained in music as children or came to our instruments as adults – we are making music and we are extraordinary!

You may not feel special.  You may not feel accomplished.  You maybe still comparing yourself to others and therefore maybe unwilling to share your music.  But maybe it’s time for you to just say Yes.

Yes – to those people who visit you and ask you to play for them.

Yes – to going into schools to share your instrument and your talent with young people who might not otherwise ever see or hear a harp – and certainly are unlikely to ever get to touch one!

Yes – to volunteering to play at a local care home on a regular basis.

Yes – to your local church or civic gathering.

Mostly, say Yes to yourself – Yes, I am a musician who is continuing to grow and Yes I will share with others.  Yes I will commit to investing in myself and my practice.  

Just Say Yes to plucking up the courage to do more with my harp!