October 29, 2014

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas –

It’s barely begun to cool down, the days have hardly gotten any shorter and the trees haven’t really begun to show their colors.  It’s October!  But it is also definitely time to start preparing for Christmas!  From parties to church services, from fundraisers to celebrations, ‘tis the season to be asked to bring a little joy to people by playing for Christmas.  Will you be ready?  Here are 8 things you can do to be prepared this season:
  •  Start now – Christmas is right around the corner, but the holiday season is even closer.  Holiday decorations had appeared in big-box retailers before Labor Day and the Christmas events will start after Thanksgiving if not before so you need to start now to be ready.
  • Make a preparation checklist – write down those things you need to do to be prepared (some of the items in this post might be helpful for that).  Use your checklist to help yourself prepare.
  • Budget your time – be sure to manage your time effectively – refreshing tunes you’ve learned before, learning new material, whatever you need to spend your time on – arrange to have that time available.
  • Select your tunes – know what you are preparing for and use that information to generate a solid set of tunes (and specific tune lists).
  • Schedule practice – not kidding.  The holidays are notorious for days filled up beyond reason, earlier than expected, and with way too much to do.  Be sure to schedule your practice time in – or you won’t get any!
  • Use your practice time wisely – because your practice time will be at a premium, be sure you plan for that time so you can get the most out of every moment.  No shillyshallying at the harp, no unfocused playing through – actually practice when you’re practicing.
  • Make notes for next year – some of your preparation will be very good, some will be no help whatsoever. Make notes to yourself for next year so have even better preparation in the future.
  • Enjoy yourself – the preparation is challenging, and the added stress of performing may get to you, but be sure to enjoy yourself.  And also be sure to acknowledge any improvement in your performance, the level of difficulty of the music, the speed of refreshing tunes you had learned
    in previous years – all those positive indicators that arise from your preparation.

Christmas comes but once a year – fortunately, it stays for a while and provides you a great opportunity to prepare and to play for family, friends, and customers.

October 15, 2014

Community Ties

One of the things I like best about the harp community is that it is a community – with lovely people.  There is a specific joy from coming together to share music and laughter and friendship and experiences.  To that end, there is a lovely opportunity to get together with other harpers coming up soon.  If you can make it, you should not miss the Washington Area Folk Harp Society Getaway (WAFHS). 

The instructors this year are Seumas Gagne and Emily Mitchell.  The annual WAFHS Getaway weekend will be November 7-9, 2014 at the Wyndham Gettysburg hotel in Gettysburg, PA.

Seumas Gagne and Emily Mitchell, photos unceremoniously snatched from www.wafhs.org       

The registration fees are $105.00 for WAFHS members and $125.00 for non-members.  There is also a reduced rate for non-adutls (see the website).  There is a package deal with the host hotel that includes meals during the weekend (including the banquet).  Check http://wafhs.org/getaway for updates.

October 8, 2014

The Inspiration Club

Jack London is quoted as saying, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
Every day we have to build our motivation to get onto that bench.  Every day we have to work to maintain our proficiency and to get just a little bit better.  Every day that we decide to skip sitting on the bench to do that work takes us a little farther away from what we want – in our heads and in our hearts.  And every day a big something, or a hundred little somethings, get between us and that bench.  And every day that we don’t make it to the bench makes the next day just a little easier to skip.

And so, every day, we have to get inspired, motivated to get on that bench.  But, as Mr. London said, we cannot just sit idly by, awaiting the momentous arrival of that inspiration.  Rather, we have to hunt for it…and some days, we need that club!  We have to do not only the work that we set out to do, but we also have to do the additional work of digging in and finding our inspiration – the right fit for each day, and applying it to ourselves.

Some days the inspiration can be learning, another day it might be fear (the dreaded upcoming competition perhaps?), and on another day it might suffice to be the joy of being at your harp. The toughest days are those in which you can’t identify the right inspiration – but that can be just what you needed that day – some distance - but not distance from the harp!

So, don’t wait for inspiration to fall from the sky - make your own.  Apply it to your day – with (or without) a club! See you on the bench.