April 30, 2014

Just bloom

You know I like to get inspiration wherever it appears…and recently I found this quote (I found it online - who knows who said it) –

A flower does not think of competing 
with the flower next to it.   
It just blooms.

It’s a good lesson…and one we could all stand to learn and review every day.  We often compare ourselves to other people…and often for no reason, or worse, for the wrong reasons.  Here are four reasons why you should just knock it off…and use that energy for something else – like practicing so you can be a good as you can be!

  1. Often you are wrong – you are not comparing yourself to that other person, but rather to what you think that person is.  You are working on an illusion and there’s no way you can compare to something that doesn’t exist!
  2. You’re missing out. When you are comparing yourself to others, you may be so worried that they’ll find out that you think you're not as good as they are.  And that's when you miss out, that you're not open to learning from them.  Whether they are more experienced than you (or whatever it is that makes you think they are better than you) or just appear more confident – just think about what you could learn from them if you were open to it.
  3. You’re missing out of the fun of playing if you spend all your time and energy worrying.
  4. Eleanor Roosevelt may have said it best, “you wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
If you need objective quality evidence – record yourself each year.  At about the same time each year, record what you’ve been working (I like the holidays – you’re likely to be playing the same music each year and then you can really hear you far you have come!).

The person you can compare yourself to successfully is – you.  Look at how far you have come.

April 24, 2014

I know I should be chipper...

but good friends have shared bad news and it has accumulated to drag down my heart.

So I will do those small things that will be soothing - to think on my friends, to wish on them some small measure of comfort, and

to sit with my harp, playing away any pain. 

Sometimes you don't need to practice - sometimes, you just need to play.

April 16, 2014

Harp Camp 2014!

Kris and I had a great weekend laughing and playing and planning Harp Camp 2014.  This is the 19th year and we are really looking forward to our annual event in Southeastern Pennsylvania!

This year’s theme is “The Game of Music” – we will be having fun, playing games.  Of course, our games will be fun ways to learn those things that help us be better musicians.  Harp Camp is always fun with a very small group size that allows us to make it highly personalized in a supportive environment.  Lever harp players at all levels get the opportunity to extend technical skills…and have fun.

 Popular activities return, including our Afternoon Tea, Directed and Creative Ensembles and a rousing round of Bach to the Drawing Board!  While we have many “alumni” attendees, the warm, welcoming environment is open to new participants as well – join us, we’d love to have you!

The format tailored to you – no frustration.  Workshops geared toward your proficiency and comfort level and you’ll experience three days filled with creativity and fun.  Workshops cover diverse topics from learning to performance to composition and improvisation.
Harp Camp space is limited – this allows our class sizes to remain small – giving our attendees the personnel attention for which we are known. 

Come out to play with us at Harp Camp 2014!  You'll have a blast and will learn a lot as well!  Click here for more information.

April 9, 2014

Summer is coming!

It's about that time to plan your summer - especially your harp summer!  Of course the best choice would be to join us in Scotland on the Harp the Highlands and Islands tour in September!  But to be ready, I'd highly recommend you participate in the Ohio Scottish Arts School harp program.

This year's instructors include the amazing Sue Richards, Ann Heymann (a must see for anyone interested in wire harp!) and Corrina Hewat.  In addition, Charlie Heymann will be teaching those elements that make us better musicians not just better harpers.

From the OSAS website:

The Scottish Harp classes will focus on:
• Basic harp technique for beginners and intermediates.
• Repertoire at all levels, including tunes for competition sets.
• Scottish style, including ornaments, lilt, and dance types.

The nylon/gut harp classes will study Scottish dance music, airs, and songs, focusing on ornamentation, Scottish style, accompaniment, and learning by ear.
Ann Heymann leads the class for wire strung and historical harps (bray harps welcome) and Charlie Heymann leads an afternoon "band class" for all instruments.
Afternoons will include lectures, practice time, and playing in sessions. Classes will be available for beginners who have played for a few months, intermediates, and advanced players. 
Returning in 2014: An incredible option to assemble, finish and string your own 27 string wire harp (assisted by Charlie). Please contact Ann for details: annheymann@gmail.com
Evening jam sessions offer students the chance to develop accompaniment patterns and learn more tunes.
You will have a great time and will learn more than you thought possible - hope to see you there!

April 2, 2014

Greet the day

I had the extreme good fortune to be a guest at Holy Cross Monastery this week for a harp retreat with old friends and other friends I hadn't met before.  It is a lovely place in a beautiful location.  The weather was crap.  Gray.  Drizzly.  Misty.  It was perfect!

Of a morning, I greeted the dawn and was treated to the type of daybreak that only arises from awful weather – a breathtaking, gorgeous, extended crowning of the sun over the earth. 

The great thing about sunrise is that it can’t be rushed.  No matter how many you see (and I do my best to see as many as possible) each is beautiful in its own way and comes in its own time.  And no matter what you do, they simply are.  All you can do…is breathe...and wait for it...and enjoy.

Which is good for us to remember – we must sometimes take the time to simply be.  To breathe.  To allow the day to wash over us.  

This same approach can be brought to your harp and your music.  Don't rush.  Enjoy the beauty.  Let the music unfold.  Relish that presence.  Practice it.  Until, like placing your fingers, counting, or breathing, it merely comes naturally.  Practice enjoying and not rushing until it comes naturally...and becomes just the way you do it.