December 29, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year - all the best in 2011!

See you in January!

December 27, 2010

Happy Christmas!

I hope you have a lovely solstice, a joyous Christmas, a delightful Boxing Day, and as much cheer as you can stand plus one bit more!  Happy Christmas!

December 15, 2010

Preparing for the coming year

Don't forget to start setting your goals for next year -

- What music do you want to master?
- What technique to do you need to work on?
- What have you always wanted to do at your harp but been afraid to try?
- What gig have always secretly hoped to book and how are you going to book it this year?

Write down your goals and identify how you will meet them (be realistic - the point is to help you chart and follow your course, not to end up unfruitful on the other end of the year). Decide how you'll know when you've gotten there.  Make a plan, enjoy the ride!

December 8, 2010

The Holidays are coming - are you ready?

It's that time of year - the Holidays!  Lots of music to dust off to play for all of December, new tunes to try to get in shape to play in the venues we have booked (be they paying or family), as well as keeping up our "real" repertoire(s). 

If like many of us, you are playing for your own enjoyment, playing to put presents under the tree, playing at churches, corporate parties, holiday events, and all your regular gigs, its going to hit you are doing a lot!

it is really important to take good care of yourself at this time of year - we are all stressed up with somewhere to go - and the strain of adding to our usual busy routines can start to show - developing cracks in our usually pristine veneers...

Practice - be sure that you are getting enough practice but that you don't ramp up from a tepid 15 minute a day run through to a sold 2 hour practice too quickly.

Stretch - add stretching your hands, arms, neck and back to your daily schedule.  I don't know about you, but "reading neck" is my biggest problem about this time of year.  Since I usually don't spend a lot of time glued to a music stand, this period of seasonal (read, I'm not bothering to memorize it) music is killing me!  I don't normally have my head turned in that direction for about 10 months of the I really feel it now!

Rest - allow yourself enough time to prepare (corollary - know yourself and how long you will need to prepare for season - and give yourself that time so you can be ready) and build enough rest time into the schedule.  This is both physical rest (I am certain you're getting your 9 hours every night - right?) and mental (don't think you will actually be able to learn 50 performance ready Christmas tunes in a week).

Enjoy - no matter your level of harp performance, you have a life beyond your harp (you do, don't you?) so be sure to enjoy all the aspects of your life - use your creative outlets, enjoy the holiday season, have a cookie.

Remember that taking care of you is the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones - it will make you a better person and a better harper.

December 1, 2010

Mental preparation

I hope the last few posts have really whet your whistle to come see Scotland with us.  It is an amazing and beautiful country and there may actually not be anything better than finding a lovely corner to sit and play the harp together.  We visited some wonderful sites and were invited to play at incredible places.  And we're looking forward to sharing it with you in 2011.

Of course, travel can be challenging - there's so much to see, so many people to meet, so many photos to take, so many dishes to try, so many tunes to learn - it can be overwhelming!  But as musicians, we know the path to success - the way to be ready for these eventualities, what it takes to face a long day of learning, being excited, and having takes discipline and PRACTICE (you knew I was going to say that)!

But how would you practice to travel?  The best way is to have a goal (which is both an achievement and a time frame).  I'd suggest the easiest way to set your harp travel goal is to book your trip with us as soon as possible. 

Once your goal is set, then you need to prepare to ensure that you are ready to visit places and meet people, be awed and amazed, open to new things and ideas and to play your harp. 

One way to set your mind can be part of the discipline of getting ready for the holiday season.  you will probably be playing Christmas music, so learn some traditional Scottish tunes.  Learn them by ear if you're able.  I am very fond of the well known Christ Child's Lullaby and Da Day Dawn (its never too early to celebrate a holiday after all).

And as the new year swings around, continue to play your favorite traditional tunes, preferably with other music makers, enjoying the the ambiance of playing all together and enjoying the laughter and camaraderie. 

Prepare your mind to learn new things, see new places, gather new tunes, and enjoy.  If you do these things regularly, you'll be ready when you join us in Edinburgh and we begin our adventure!