March 29, 2017
When you decide to compete you will need to prepare! While you might think, “Oh, I’ll just plop myself down here,” you’ll feel so much more confident (and play so much better) if you spend some time getting ready ahead of time. How much time? Well, that depends on you!
There are three areas in which to focus to maximize your time – Music, Body and Mind, this week – look at your Mind!
So here’s where the competition really occurs – in your head! On the day, will you feel ready? What are you really concerned about? Keep in mind that most of our music is from inside our heads so your preparation (or lack thereof) will show – mostly to you!
Be honest about why you are competing. Is it very important to you that you win? Or do you just want to acquit yourself respectably? Are you focused on your performance or everyone else’s? Check in with your ego before the day so you can be prepared for any outcome...and learn from it.
Remember that the judge is looking forward to hearing you play and will share any gems to help your development as a musician – no one is looking badger you (unless you intend to do that to yourself – which is not very helpful).
Don't forget that this is one day. Whether you play a personal best or instead are humbled to learn your fingers seem to have developed contrary minds of their own that have embarked on a petite version of the Hundred Years War with one another, tomorrow is another day....
Enjoy (and practice looking forward to) the social and fun atmosphere of being with other harpers. Cheer them on and look forward to learning new tunes, meeting new people, laughing, smiling, and learning from the comments you get.
It’s just a competition – not an audition. It won’t decide your fate for eternity. Live a little, laugh a lot, love your harp! See you out there!
March 22, 2017
When you decide to compete you will need to prepare! While you might think, “Oh, I’ll just throw on a kilt and sit down to play”, you’ll feel so much more poised if you spend some time getting ready ahead of time.
Of the three areas in which to focus to maximize your time – Music, Body and Mind, this week – it’s your body*
While competing isn’t running a marathon, being physically prepared certainly helps!
Work on your bench stamina – if you can’t sit on your bench comfortably for longer than it will take to play your competition set, you may need to improve your stamina. You won’t be sitting on the stage for very long (although it might feel like it) but the time you have spent on the bench practicing will help you get settled and comfortable more quickly which may help you be more comfortable as you start to play.
Practice all the movements – we spend a lot of time practicing our technique like closing our fingers appropriately and sitting up strait by also practice breathing while playing, relaxing between notes, gesturing (but not wildly – please, you’re not Liberace!), sitting without slouching, walking on stage without schlumping, and smiling! All of these things will come more easily if you practice them – just like the music itself!
Variety – try to practice in different locales to become used to changes in lighting, temperature, furniture layout, and sound qualities. This will help you be more focused and comfortable when you make ready to play your comp set. Practicing in your stage clothing will also allow you to get used to it (or change it before it makes you crazy!). Definitely practice sitting down in a kilt!
General stamina – no matter how you cut it, competition day is long! It is also a total disruption of your regular routine. Add that disruption to the excitement of competing and you will be better able to enjoy the day if you are in better physical condition. You don’t need an arduous workout – just get some exercise each day. If not for your heart, then for your art!
Practice enough to feel confident in your skin and you’ll have moved yourself more of the way there! Next time – preparing your Mind to compete.
* I’m not a physician or a fitness expert, these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, malady, disorder, problem, difficulty, trouble, woe or ill. Quit whining and go back to practicing!
March 15, 2017
When you decide to compete you will need to prepare! While you might think, “Oh, I’ll just throw out a few tunes”, you’ll feel so much more confident (and play so much better) if you spend some time getting ready ahead of time. How much time? Well, that depends on you!
There are three areas in which to focus to maximize your time – Music, Body and Mind. This week it’s the Music
Before you even begin to consider tunes – read the rules! Nothing is more frustrating that talking to competitors on the day of a competition only to discover they have prepared tunes that don’t meet the rules – wrong tune types, not enough tunes for the category, too many of the same type of tune, etc. It’s disheartening! But I can guarantee you that every competition has rules – and that they all state that in the end, the competitor is responsible for reading and complying with them!
Learn your music – unless you have an iron ego, most of us would prefer to play our best and that requires actually knowing the music we intend to play. Be sure you actually know the tunes – otherwise when you sit you will activate that switch in the bench – you know the one that empties your brain as soon as you start to play? Yup, that switch.
Consider a backup plan – having prepared at least two sets of music that conform to the rules can be very freeing. This backup plan means that if for some reason you have a crisis of confidence with a particular tune on the day of the competition, you can shift to your other set. Just knowing that makes you feel more confident and gives you flexibility to play whatever feels right that day (or to switch when everyone before you plays the same tune – don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen!).
Practice enough to feel confident with the music itself and you’ll be most of the way there! Next time – preparing your Body to compete.