January 30, 2013

Its winter – go play inside!

It is easy to get the winter blahs – the sun comes up late, it sets early. When you go out you have to bundle up – which makes the sun have a harder time getting to you to help block the blahs.  But we have a secret (or not really secret) weapon – you can use your harp to help keep those blahs at bay.

We already know that music can facilitate healing – physical and mental.  There are research studies indicating that live music directly impacts healing.  What could be better than playing to yourself?  You can’t help but be there so be present when you’re playing, concentrate on the vibration on your shoulder, the tone, and the just having fun part of playing!

So, sit by a window, play music you enjoy, revel in the tone, the feel of your harp, and sheer enjoyment of playing the music – and feel the blahs retreat…hopefully until spring!

January 23, 2013

Being organized actually does help

So, we’ve talked about setting resolutions and setting goals. One of the biggest challenges we face is staying out of our own way. Being organized is a huge challenge for many people but it really helps you to focus. And being organized means that you can spend your time working on playing the harp rather than looking for music, pencils, light, and whatever else is getting in your way.

    1. Being organized doesn't mean being neat. It also doesn’t have to be about complicated systems or collections of containers – use what you have, do what works for you, don’t let someone else tell you how to do it – just do it! 
    2. Make to do lists – make lists of the tunes you want to work on, need polishing, what is ready to go.  Use these lists to organize your practice time.  They also let you know what you have ready to perform should you need to perform.
    3. Get your music organized – put your sheet music together – mine is alphabetized, but you should put yours together however works for you – by time signature? By key? By tune type? However you think to look for it, that’s how you should organize it.
    4. Have your tools close to hand – whatever you need, whether its pencils, manuscript paper, a calendar, good lighting, music stands, arranging your harps in an accessible way – do whatever you need to make your space work for you.
    5. Use whatever tools you need – calendar, white board, bulletin board, boxes, shelves, whatever works for you! If a white board will help you keep focused on what you’re working on, put one in your music space.  If you like having everything in sight, get shelves, if you like your space tidy, use baskets or drawers to contain the clutter.
You’ll be amazed by how much more you can get done when you get organized first!

January 16, 2013

It’s that time of year when we know we should be setting goals. We might not want to have resolutions – they are slightly terrifying and we know that most people don’t stick to a resolution. In addition, resolutions are about improving yourself – but you probably don’t really need to improve yourself – you need to improve your playing! So you need to set seom goals. But you might not really know how to do that. Here are four easy steps to help you get started setting goals:

    1. Decide what you’re goal is – you need to know what your goal is so you can persue it.
    2. Make it specific and measurable – this sounds harder than it is.  Specific of course means that your goal won’t be “I’ll play better this year” but rather something concrete like, “I’ll practice more this year”.  You can see that this concrete goal is also measureable.  You can improve the goal by also making it measurable.  Rather than saying, “I’ll practice more this year” you might state your goal as “I’ll practice 10 minutes more each day than I currently do”.
    3. Write it down – It is important to write it down so that you don’t get confused or lost.  Be sure to leave it somewhere that you can read it regularly – tape it to your music stand, write it on your mirror, or somewhere else that you’re sure to see it.
    4. Check yourself – While all those steps get you started, the real work will be in the follow through.  The best way to achieve that follow through is to schedule a checkup.  Put it on your calendar, verify you’re making progress.
    5. Modify as needed – Sometimes, despite all your hard work writing your goals, you get it wrong (or you didn’t consider other factors like work or family commitments).  If you are just not going to make it (or your goal turns out to be inaccurate) modify it.  There’s nothing that says you can’t change your goals if needed!
Enjoy the progress you’ll see when you make progress toward and eventually accomplish your goals!

January 9, 2013

Its about that time...

It’s that time of year when people make resolutions.  But will resolutions actually help you?  Maybe, maybe not. 

Resolutions are meant to help us become better people.  Unfortunately they often transform themselves into horrible nascent little guilt trips that we will endure every day that we remember to.  So as you approach your harp resolutions make sure they work for you –

1.       Select a single resolution, not a group of them – you are much more likely to succeed if you have one to focus on. This should work no matter what your resolution is – whether it is a harp resolution or not.

2.        Define you resolution so that it is specific (don’t leave at “I will practice more” – make it “I will strive to practice for an hour every day” or “I will get up half an hour early to practice before I go to work”)

3.       Make a concrete plan to implement the required work to achieve your resolution – don’t leave it to chance.

4.       Be sure to schedule a time in the future to check in with yourself and see how you’re progressing.   No need to go through all the effort of designing a resolution if you don’t verify you’re moving toward it!

January 1, 2013