February 14, 2018
I am very excited that I have a new(ish) studio space! I’m having a great time teaching Harp and Piano to a whole different group of people and having the opportunity to be active in Southern Maryland again.
I’ve been kitting out the new space little by little. First it was carting the harps from Virginia (or borrowing…or both) and working from a delightful electronic keyboard. But time has been passing and I had gotten a piano specifically for the studio space (all 88 keys and everything!) as well as the keyboard. Having both really opens up some possibilities – so we’ll be able to do some interesting stuff as we progress.
But this weekend I got the icing for the cake – a new harp (ok, new to me – but that’s excellent because someone else has done all the hard work of breaking it in!). So now the studio harps are a Dusty Strings Crescendo 32 in Walnut and a Dusty Strings FH26, also Walnut. It sounds so smooth and mellow when we’re playing!
Of course, the unexplored space is between the harps and the pianos – with the electronics going, maybe we’ll do some overdubbing and see what kind of musical mayhem we can make – but that’ll come later, if there’s interest.
The studio is in Leonardtown, with its great small-town vibe and eclectic shops – and we’re so near the river we can look right out the window if we need inspiration! I’m delighted to have been invited to use this space at Coaching for the Voyage - what a great group of people to get to spend “work” days with! We are always looking for interesting potential collaboration spaces and I know something creative will come out of this – there’s a purpose for every opportunity! And being in Leonardtown – a recognized Arts and Entertainment District – there will be plenty of fun to share both at First Fridays soon to come and other events we haven't even thought of!
Until then, lesson times are available and I’d love to work with you. I’m also pleased to be offering coaching as well. Coaching is for those who are relatively proficient at the instrument and don’t need or want regular lessons, but on occasion would like to “tune up” technique. I’m also offering consulting for those who are looking to stretch and flex their repertoire and would like feedback on presentation, composition or arranging. If you’re looking for a teacher in Southern Maryland leave me a comment and let me know - and I'll look forward to meeting you!
February 7, 2018
Valentine’s Day – just the words can strike fear into the hearts of many! There is often the question of what to give as the perfect present. Who should get those presents? Is it too soon? Is it too late? These are clearly angst ridden questions! One person we sometimes forget to get a gift for – ourselves! (If you’re one of those people who goes Christmas shopping, “one for them, one for me, one for them, two for me” – that doesn’t count here! You still deserve a present (or two!)).
You should get yourself a gift that reflects your love of your instrument, your talent and your time. Here are some ideas* (because you want to give a good gift!):
- Buy some lessons. The time and money you invest in becoming a better musician and a better harper can only be time and money well spent. It is, after all, an investment. So, really, it’s a gift that will keep giving for years. If you don’t think you need lessons, you might invest in a “tune up” or some coaching. Most teachers will offer this type of lesson too (be sure you explain what you’re looking for before going). Coaching can also be done via Skype (or similar app). I also offer an “executive” lesson which is an intensive full day for a special price. You know you can find me here.
- Have some work done. When was the last time you had your harp regulated? Your friendly neighborhood luthier can be your best friend – especially if your harp needs repair. And that repair can range from a little TLC to a regulation to a major repair. I am a huge fan of my local luthier – Rick Kemper. If you are near Washington DC, I highly recommend him. And if you’re not nearby – find the luthier closest to you and start baking a batch of cookies to woo them!!
- String yourself along. Check your string chart and your string stash. Do you have an entire spare sting set? Are you keeping your string chart up to date? When you replace a string, do you replace the replacement? You never know which string will break next and you want to be prepared!.
- Buy some music. Sometimes people are surprised to hear me, the purveyor of aural teaching and learning, say this. But – I have loads of music. I have harp music but I also have fiddle books, pipe books, piano books, and I just discovered I have a saxophone book (no clue – I’ve never played that – but it has some fun tunes in it!). Books are full of reminders of the music and they are a great way to find new material, learn something new, go in a different direction, or work on your sight reading.
- Acquire a new harp! This doesn’t even need an explanation! Do you know how many harps is the right number to own? One more!!
- Buy some harp bling. Given that it’s a relatively small market, there’s loads of harp bling available. I am a big fan of the stuff I have and I find that my favorite piece is an excellent business card because people ask if I play and that starts the conversation.
- Get a manicure. You might think manicures are all about filing and polishing, but I find the best parts are the massage and the moisturizing. Massage – yumm! And it’s winter, so take care of your skin (especially important in the current flu epidemic). Enough said.
- Get some new walking shoes. What? You know that taking care of you in the global sense is good for your harp playing so just get out there! And if it’s been a while, get yourself some good walking shoes so you enjoy it more, and get out for a walk more often.
- Sign up for a workshop. Workshops are an excellent way to learn because you get to work with someone you to whom you likely don’t have ready access most of the time. They’re typically taught by “names” who are darn good musicians and amazing teachers. I’ll be detailing some of my favorites later when I line up summer vacation ideas. Remember that workshops are offered at competitions and by organizations so take ‘em when you can get ‘em!
- Start a new journal. Capturing your ephemeral progress in some tangible way will help you immeasurably. To capture your progress you’ll have to think about what you have done, where you’re trying to get and how you might make the journey between then. It also means you have to recognize your hard work. On bad days, leafing through it can rekindle your hope and focus, and on good days it makes patting yourself on the back so much easier because you can see in one place how hard you worked and that you truly deserve a reward. Whether you write it down, do audio recordings, draw it, scrapbook it – you will be glad to see that you’re not making it up – you are developing as a musician!
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and giving that special harper in your life a lovely gift.