November 12, 2014

Get some exercise – three good reasons

As the winter comes, we want to burrow in, swaddled in sweaters, nursing steaming cups of lovely tea.  And we’re likely, given the chill, to get some practicing in which is good given that ‘tis nearly the season and we’ll be asked to play more often.  The days are shortening, the nights getting deeper.

It would be easy to crawl back under the duvet, to snuggle in to our beds.  But all that snuggling and all that nestling needs to be combated.  For your general health and well-being you need to get a little exercise and some fresh air*.  And a little exercise and fresh air won’t be amiss in your playing either.
We’re not talking about running a marathon or training for the World’s Strongest Man competition.  You can just go for a short walk to gain a benefit.  There are three good reasons to get a little exercise this season:
  1. The simple act of taking a walk outdoors in the winter will help lift your mood.  Evidence suggests that even 10 minutes of sunlight a day can help stave off seasonal affective disorder.
  2. A little time outside can invigorate you (and thereby, your practicing).  Think of it as a little wake from your potential long winter’s nap! A short walk can enhance your energy (again directly contributing to your practicing).
  3. A little extra exercise will also help exorcise those extra cookies that appear in the season and allow you a small measure of perceived virtue! And everything you do to take care of yourself will be reflected in your time at the harp.
So use these three good reasons to get a little light exercise outside, even as the winter deepens and the cold settles in – you’ll be glad of it when you sit at your harp – to practice, to share or to perform.

* Of course, this is not medical advice, nor should you pursue this approach if it is in direct contradiction to advice received from your physician.  This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Duh.

November 5, 2014

You are what you think. Now get ready to change your mind.

What a great quote!  I stole it from a brochure for a conference – that has absolutely nothing to do with the stuff we normally talk about…which is why it stood out to me – I love when I get knocked on the head by a thought that seems to be from left field and yet is TOTALLY aimed at my head!

How do you think about yourself as a musician?  A harp player? A performer? A person?  Do you ever think about how what you think about you impacts the you that is present?

Are you open and accepting of yourself?  How do you talk to yourself? Would you talk to anyone else that way?

Many of us talk to ourselves in a very negative way.  But here are 7 ways to turn that around:
  1. Make time during your practice to provide constructive feedback
  2. Make kind and gentle feedback comments to yourself in a positive way
  3. Write down your feedback….and read it again later
  4. Record yourself so you can provide more objective inputs at a later time and from a different perspective
  5. When you are not very nice to yourself, stop, correct yourself, and restate your thought in a positive, constructive way – the way you would to another person
  6. Take your time not only observing yourself and the way you think, but also to reconstruct the kernel of the original message in a positive and useful way.
  7. Lather, rinse, repeat!   
You can change your mind by practicing reframing your comments to yourself.  And it will get easier…with practice!