May 26, 2010

Goal setting

Well, it’s about the middle of the year - that time when most of us are looking at our calendars and wondering how it could possibly be nearly June! But, clearly it is - the honeysuckle is blooming, the birds have more to say than the news media Talking Heads, and its getting a mite warm.

So, back at the winter holidays did you write down your goals for this coming year? They didn't have to be big goals - could have been to learn one new tune every month, or to teach at least one favorite tune to someone else so you could play it together, or to master rolling chords down smoothly, or to practice at least a little each day, or to actually count when playing, or -- as you can see, the list of goals is nearly endless.

I'm sure you headed my suggestion and did write down each of your goals. At this near midpoint in the year, it is the perfect time to review those goals and assess your progress on them. Are you making progress? Did you forget about some of them? Is one of them really giving you a hard time? If you’ve captured your goals and if you review them periodically you have the basis for a self tune-up or the makings of a good lesson with your tutor or the potential to take a private lesson when one of the “names” comes into town to give a workshop.

In addition, as you review your goals and your progress, make needed modifications. Goals are not chiseled in stone – this is a good opportunity to identify which of your goals was too easy, which are going to take more time than you initially thought, which goals were burning bright in the winter but now are not so attractive (yes, you can break up with some of your goals – just be sure you don’t break up with every goal!). Note the modifications you make to your goals and in an interval (maybe at the next solstice?) review and adjust again.
And remember that this grand goal setting is essential to see progress, but just as important is the small goal setting you need to do each and every time you sit down to practice. Be sure that those small daily goals will align to help you meet your big goals so that you are able to see progress.
And don’t forget to set and meet the goals to enjoy playing the harp and to share your gift with others.

May 19, 2010

Come out and compete at the Ohio Scottish Games!

It is coming summer and we’re well and truly in the thick of the Scottish Games season. I hope that you are polishing your tunes, learning your history and getting ready to enter a Scottish Harp Society of America sanctioned harp competition near you!

I love to compete – I love the drive to master new music, pushing myself to learn tunes that will meet the judge’s expectations and my own, and putting together a performance of which I can be proud.
In addition, I love competitions because they are friendly. I enjoy cheering for my friends (long held and newly met). And at nearly every competition I’ve entered I have had the opportunity to ask a fellow competitor to teach me a wonderful tune that I fell in love with on first hearing. In addition, I really enjoy that the camaraderie is more important to most competitors than the win - they just genuinely enjoy being there and hearing one another play.  Of course, its nice to win too.

Competition, while not for everyone, surely helps us push ourselves just a bit harder, to excel and to grow. We learn not only the music but also the “what” behind the tunes we select. It’s just this thirst to learn about the history and culture behind the tunes that lead to our Harp in the Highlands and Islands tours!

I am very pleased and honored to have been invited to judge the Ohio Scottish Games at the Lorain County Fairgrounds on 26th June. Ohio is a fun games and I have a special place for it in my heart because it is the first competition I ever entered. I made a fellow competitor (and now lifelong friend) in the parking lot! And I look forward to participating because I have so many friends there and such fond memories!

I hope you’ll come out and compete.  In addition to being a fun and enjoyable games, Ohio has a lot of wonderful prizes.  The rest of the Games is good.  I'll be teaching a workshop.  And right after, you could attend the Ohio Scottish Arts School!  (more on that later).

Come join me – here’s the link:

May 12, 2010

Drink it in!

I’ve talked about how everything impacts your harping. How we need to be open to all the things that help us become better harp players, more suited to the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of being harpers. So, here’s another in the physical column. And I know you’ve heard it before: drink your water!

But why do you need to stay hydrated to improve your harp playing? Well, the Mayo clinic tells us that the body is about 60% water, and we lose water through a number of bodily functions and not just the obvious one – you also lose water through breathing and sweating. So, it is essential to help replenish the water you’ve lost through going about your day.

But also, dehydration affects your brain. While severe dehydration may result in confusion or lethargy, milder dehydration can leave you with headaches, moodiness, tiredness and confusion. None of these will help you learn, practice or perform well at your harp or frankly, anywhere.

So, be certain, especially before you practice or perform, the stay hydrated – drink you water, it’s the easiest way to get water into your system!

May 5, 2010

Southern Maryland Harp Competition Results - redux

Well, it would have been very clever of me to include the photos in my last post! They are here, in this post, to assure that you call see the outcome and our excellent competitiors.  I hope it will encourage you to come participate next year! Photos courtesy of Jo Morrison.

Pictured from left are Judge Jo Morrison, Caroline Kemper,
Mike Connors, Marilyn Newman, and Donna Bennett.