May 29, 2013

Saw you on Facebook

We all know we need to practice every day if we want to improve and grow and expand our technique, repertoire, and performance.  But it is so hard to find time to practice…and soon an entire week has gone by and you haven’t even looked at your harp.

I was chatting with someone recently and in our catching up she was telling me how busy she was and also that she wasn't seeing any improvement in her harp playing. 

There’s a lot going on.  We are all busy.  We have work, and home, and friends…and harp.  And it is difficult to fit practicing in every day.  And she’s not getting any better.
The kicker is, we were chatting on Facebook where she is a frequent poster*.  She always has time to post on Facebook and spends a great deal of time online each day.  I don’t know how she does it – keeping all the balls in the air!

I’m not denying anyone time on Facebook (or any other activity) – clearly I was on Facebook too since we were chatting.  It was the complaint about the lack of progress in the face of the very time consuming (and non-productive) activity that I found interesting.
In each day, in each moment, we choose how we spend our time.  As harpers we have chosen a beautiful, forgiving but demanding instrument.  It is a hobby or profession that requires much of us to move on and develop.  We either choose to work hard to get that reward or we must recognize that we do not get the prize without the fight.  The rewards are great – but the price is high. 

Does your ideal match your schedule?
* before you think it was you, this is actually a composite of people and conversations I have had recently – it’s not you, really, it’s someone else J

May 21, 2013

Checking in

So, it's about the middle of the year (already!) -

how are you coming on your goals?  Give them the tune-up they probably need...and keep moving toward them!

May 15, 2013

Getting Ready for Summer Camp

We talked before about getting ready for all the exciting summer harp happenings – very important stuff – you want to get as much as possible out of these learning opportunities!

But what about your harp?  Is it ready to get schlepped all over the place?  Going out of its home?  Going for a ride in the car?  What can you do to improve your harp’s travel life?
Getting schlepped is just a fact of many harps’ lives – yours may go everywhere with you or it may almost never leave the house.  Either way, make sure your harp case is ready to go –
  • Clean up your case –
    • remove the cat or dog hair (you know who you are!), pull the detritus out of the pocket
    • put your key and tuner and extra strings in the pocket
    • put the shoulder strap (or straps if you have a backpack-able case) on the ring
    • untwist the handles so you can comfortably carry it
  • Clear out your car –
    • make sure there’s a place to put your harp in your car
    • ensure that your harp is in a place that is safe for you and your harp in the event of an accident
  • Check the weather –
    • the challenge of traveling a long distance in the heat means you have to think about keeping your harp cool and out of the sun
    • going out of the house in the summer guarantees you’ll have to tune (a lot) if it is very humid where you are or where you are going
Show your harp a little travel love and it will make your learning go more smoothly by assuring that you don’t have to stress over damaging your harp while you travel!

May 9, 2013

Preparing to go to Camp!

Many of us get to spend at least part of our summer participating in Harp activities.  We have discussed some of them here.  I think we all really look forward to the excitement of seeing old friends, meeting new people, playing together and more.

But one of the biggest challenges for us is to be fully prepared. We spend our precious free time and our money to go so it is really important that we be prepared to get as much from each event as we can. Here are five ideas to help you get more from your harp activities:

1.       Increase your daily practice time – even a weekend workshop has a lot more playing time that your average practice session.  Summer always seems to sneak up on us – so start increasing your practice time from now so you won’t have to ramp up quickly and get hurt.

2.       Increase your stretching – as much fun and as fatiguing as these activities are they still involve a lot of sitting – at the harp, at meals, while chatting.  So start increasing the amount of time you stretch each day – that way you will have developed the habit before you need it at a workshop.

3.       Increase your listening – many of the folk harp events have an emphasis on the oral tradition and learning by ear.  Learning this way takes practice so don’t let your hard earned ability to learn languish in the winter – practice learning by ear from cds or other people playing.

4.       Take care of yourself – start now getting enough sleep, eating carefully and taking some exercise so you have the stamina to get through the long days of harp activities.

5.       Have a plan – before you even get to the venue have a good idea what you would like to learn and how you will go about acquiring that knowledge.  Do not wait until you arrive to select the workshops you’d like to attend or even to find out who’s teaching.  Know what you came for.

There’s so much to learn, with a little time and effort now by the time the summer season kicks off, you’ll be more than ready!

May 1, 2013

It will be summer sooner than we know it!

This year is zorching past mostly in a blur.  But summer time is when the living is easy...and so is connecting to other harpers!  It is the best time to find some outlets, learn some great stuff, meet new people, and play a whole lot. 

I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. I wish I had the time to go to more but here are a few that are tried, true, that I sincerely look forward to each year:

In June there is the Ohio Scottish Arts School.  It can begin at the Ohio Scottish Games in Wellington which is a large and friendly competition and the unofficial start to the week.  As always there will be fantastic tutors at OSAS in 2013 including the amazing Corinna Hewat and the fascinating Abby Palmer as well as the brilliant Ann and Charlie Heymann and the incomparable Sue Richards.  It is an wonderful week and you will leave with your head full of tunes and your laughter ringing in the halls.

In July is the Somerset Harp Festival.  As usual, Somerset has cooked up an incredible collection of people to teach you things you  didn't even know you needed to learn.  You will see old friends, make new friends, be tempted (and seduced) by the vendors' hall.  You think you will be able to pick out your harp from the tasting but instead you will discover other harps you will have to figure out how to acquire (or at least try!).  You will leave exhausted and planning for the next one.

In August is Harp Camp.  This is different - it is very intimate with only ten students included each year.  We focus on very specific teaching at the harp and our time away from the harp is a cornucopia of sights, sounds, textures, and tastes all focused on improving your inner musician!  We mold the schedule from feedback of the specific needs of the participants as well as the goals and desires they share with us. 

There are many harpy things to do in the summer - these are just my three favorites.  I hope you make the time to get out and play this summer!  Where will you be going this summer?