October 18, 2017

Holiday Preparation – it’s in the Planner!


I have a terrible time keeping track of calendar events.  I have an electronic calendar but I really rely on my old fashioned paper planner.  And on more than one occasion, that planner has saved me from making mistakes.  No matter what the form, having a planner just helps us feel more organized.  With the holidays rapidly approaching, what should you put in your planner to be ready for holiday events?


Here’s what I have in mine:
  • The contract
  • An Event Questionnaire (that makes sure I ask all the right questions – where? what? When? Who? Anything special or specific)
  • A “Countdown” to the event (especially important if I have to learn a specific piece of music for the event)
  • Reminders
  • Other activities (when to write the set list, when to touch base with the event point of contact, when to receive the balance due, etc.)
  • “Stuff of life” (don’t offer to help move furniture or do other heavy lifting the day before a big gig!) 
All of this helps to contain stress, manage expectations, be prepared, be professional, and stay pulled together.  With the holidays right ‘round the corner, your planner can help you stay sane, focused and calm – just what clients expect!

October 11, 2017

Holiday Prep is in the Bag!



Many of you have asked me what I carry in my gig bag – especially since you've never seen it.

You've never seen it because it doesn’t exist!  It's not that I don't prepare to go - it's that I have a minimal bag and I keep everything in the pocket of my case.  


But, let’s think about what you should carry – even if your gig is playing for your cat.  It bears thinking about where you are playing, what the event is, and your level of comfort. I do have a small gig bag because I don’t typically take a lot of things many other people consider essential.

I have all my music in my head so I don’t carry a binder of music or an ipad – just a sheet of paper with a list of tunes (and sometimes lever settings, if I’m feeling less confident).  I also carry:

  • Strings
  • Tuner (electronic and fork)
  • Tuning key
  • Event Contract/information
  • Amp+cables (if needed – see event and venue above).

Others are more comfortable knowing that they have everything they need, no matter the circumstance.  One of my closest friends has a tool bag - it’s the size of a roll aboard suitcase!  But it has everything she needs.  She plays a very different repertoire and has had a lot of experience (which is code for bad stuff happening).  So her bag includes all of those things as well as:

  • Back up tuner
  • Batteries (for tuner)
  • Stand lamp
  • Backup stand lamp
  • Music binder
  • Backup music binder
  • Clothes pins (for windy days)
  • Headband, barrettes, hair elastics (also for windy days)
  • Extension cord
  • Multi-plug surge protector
  • Make up
  • Folding music stand (back up to the Manhassett which doesn't fit into the bag)
  • Tuning key
  • Spare tuning key
  • Umbrella
  • Tarp
  • Note pad
 And we both also bring:
  • Business Cards
  • Snacks
  • Water Bottle
  • Shoes (it's sometimes challenging to haul your harp in shoes that are appropriate for the event)

We each look at the other’s gig bag and laugh.  But our solutions work.  Hopefully they give you a good start on deciding what you should carry in yours for the Holiday Season…something that helps you feel settled and ready for each time you play.

October 5, 2017

Harp the Highlands and Islands 2018 Dates Announced!



David and I are very excited to announce the dates for the 2018 Harp the Highlands and Islands Tour.  We will be going 9 – 16 June.  As before, we will start by gathering everyone in Edinburgh to head right out to see the sites.

We’ll spend our time exploring, visiting, touring, and getting ourselves immersed in amazing Scotland – which was recently voted Most Beautiful Country in the World!*


Add in learning tunes coupled with our sites and you can’t help but love every minute.

Go here to learn more.  We have honed our trip to assure that every day is full of amazing!  Even the weather, which can be moody, only improves our visit.

Seats will go quickly so be sure to return your reservation form and deposit to secure yours!  There are only five seats available.  A small harp will be awaiting you so you can avoid the stress of flying with a harp. 

Got questions? Ask away here.


September 28, 2017

Tick Tock Tick Tock – Four Steps to Holiday Preparation



It’s autumn.  The leaves are beginning to turn and temperatures are beginning to subside.  Days are shorter and nights are cooler.  All of which means that it will be winter soon. Or stated another way – the holidays are coming!

Although retailers start putting out holiday merchandise before Halloween, it's easy to scoff.  But don't fall into a false sense of having a lot of time.  Don’t let the holidays catch you not quite ready – start your preparation now!  I’d suggest breaking it into four steps:


  • Make a Schedule – holidays are starting earlier each year with some Christmas events scheduled before Thanksgiving! (This is especially scary if you’re Canadian and Thanksgiving is in October).  Realistically, you have about a month and a half so scheduled your practice and learning to assure you get everything into your practice.
  • Make a list of the tunes for gigs.  Within that list, identify those tunes you played last year and those that you’ve included because you’d like to learn them.
  • Make a practice plan – using your schedule and your list, plan time to polish those tunes you already know and to learn those that you don’t.  Be realistic!
  • Make a program of holiday and non-holiday music that you’ll be able to use and get comfortable with.  This is a good idea not only because it allows you to better leverage your regular repertoire but also because your listeners will enjoy the break from holiday tunes while you’re playing and it will help the old favorites seem less hackneyed both to you and to your audience.  It also helps keep your regular repertoire in your mind and hands.

By being organized you will be able to be comfortably prepared for the entire holiday season from November to January with minimal angst and stress.  Now you just need to book some holiday gigs and you’ll be ready to go!