April 24, 2013

'Tis the Season

Wedding season that is.  The good news is that people are still getting married!  If we're fortunate to be booked we know that we will add immeasurably to the event.  I heard a great characterization for waffling brides (or checkbook holders), "People won't remember what you served for dinner but everyone will remember that you had a gorgeous harp!" (if I could remember who said this brilliant pearl I would definitely credit that person here!).


Some of the best parts of playing a wedding include:
  • Knowing that you are making an event extraordinary
  • Playing through your repertoire (out in public!)
  • Seeing some of the best architecture in your area
  • Seeing some of the nicest gardens where you live
  • Having a solid half hour to play before the main event (typically uninterrupted)
And if you're not playing weddings - why not?  "I don't want to" is a perfectly good answer.  "I am afraid to" isn't as legitimate - and may point out things you should work on (we're talking about music, not temperament!). 

What do you like best about playing for weddings? What do you play? Do you have any standards or chestnuts? If you had to play a wedding tomorrow, do you have enough music at your fingertips?  I hope you'll what you like and what works with me!

April 18, 2013

It has been a rough week for many

This has been a week full of bad news in the US with people experiencing horrific events in many places.  While we typically don't experience such awful things very often, others aren't always so lucky.  I was reminded of a quote:
"This will be our reply to violence:
to make music more intensely,
 more beautifully,
more devotedly
than ever before"
- Leonard Bernstein
Keep the faith, play on, share, someone will be listening and be glad of it.

April 10, 2013

Finding help when you need it

One of the great things about playing the harp is that we have a relatively small population of nice people who seem to enjoy helping one another. I find that to be a delightful part of being a part of this community.

I have a new student who has experienced the heartbreak of broken strings – a lot.  This is a shame for two reasons.  First we all know how unhappy our harps, and by extension we, are when strings break.  This reminder of frailty is so disheartening. And the joy of changing strings is one I know many of us share (not!).  Second, this student is a Skype student so we have the added distance and a digital layer which are not very conducive to teaching how to replace a string.

To that end, I’d like to highlight the good work of another – we were able to use another website to find the information needed and I’d like to share that with you too.  And I’d like to thank that person for sharing her knowledge and expertise in an approachable way. 

We went to Sylvia Woods for help – and I’d like to point you to her in case you need help too.  With a collection of videos (including videos on how to tune your harp and how to replace strings) she walks us through those tedious but essential elements.  She really has done us all a service! Find the videos at: http://www.harpcenter.com/category/harp-videos

I hope you find this information useful and that this blog acts in some small measure as a help to harpers – if it has been a help to you, please let me know.  And if there is something you’d like help with, let me know that – I’ll see what I can do!

April 3, 2013

In the absence of practice

It sometimes happens that a long time goes by and you don’t get to sit at your harp.

At all.
No matter what you’d like to do, it doesn’t happen. 
This does not improve your playing.
Nor does it improve your disposition.
I know - I am in one of those places right now.  I am in the middle of a travel-fest.  I have not been home to practice and when I do get home I am so focused on completing everything else that I don’t even get to touch my harp.
Very disheartening.
However, this is not a time of no practice, just a time of no playing. 
I have my trusty headphones and loads of music I only wish I could play.  I am listening (over and over and over). I am thinking about what I have heard and what it will look like on the strings and how it will feel in my fingers…when I eventually get back and can play.
There are many ways to practice.  Some of them reveal better results faster, but they all have their place.  As you move into the part of the year that is busy, your schedule bursting like the new flowers, remember that you can practice without your harp, when you have to. 
It will make you that much gladder to sit when you return – and will prevent you from losing too much ground.  Of course, nothing will improve your playing more than time in the seat, so be ready to knuckle under when you get there!