December 30, 2015

December 23, 2015

Need a last minute gift?

Are you still looking for that special holiday gift?  Need something that doesn't have to ship but will definitely delight?  Why not give the gift of travel and join us on the Harp the Highlands and Islands Tour in 2016!

Love the idea of getting to see Scotland from an intimate perspective but not keen on playing the harp all week (or too afraid you won't be "good enough"*)?  Join us on the Highlands and Islands Distillery Tour instead!

We'll have a great time no matter which trip you choose.  And if you book before the end of the year, enjoy discount pricing.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Wishing you all the best for Christmas - 
hope you got all the time you needed to play your harp!

*pishposh - we have had people come along who've never played the harp before the Tour, so you're destined to be good enough!

December 16, 2015

My tune a month goal

Earlier this year I shared with you my goal to learn one new tune a month.  I didn’t do as well as I had planned, for a variety of reasons.  To be honest, I did better than it would seem but, because I didn’t keep good enough records, there are tunes not listed here that were in the challenge but I don’t remember what I didn’t know before!  I did learn a lot though:

  1. I learned that I have to write everything down! My new plan is to have a single planner/calendar/journal so I always have all the info I need at hand rather than a collection of tools which actually created more confusion. 
  2. I did better some months than others….and that’s ok. 
  3. I’m externally motivated – although I love to learn new tunes, I mostly get them into my head for specific events or activities…. I don’t just learn to learn….and that’s ok. 
  4. Some of the tunes I learned: 
  • Fair Maid of Barra 
  • Caol Muile 
  • Alan Friendly (comp. Corinna Hewat (to be fair, that was rocking along but I got sidetracked and it’s not strictly there yet, but I’ll get back to it because I love it!))
  • Don Oiche m’Bethel 
  • The Wizard 
  • The March of King of Laois (which I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t learned earlier) 
  • Atholl Highlanders (another I never really got into my hands) 
  • Josephine’s Waltz ((Comp R. Tallroth) a tune all my friends play that I needed to catch up on) 
  • Amazing Grace (I’m slightly embarrassed that I didn’t know this cold – but that’s been fixed) 
  • Auld Lang Syne (another that I should have known but somehow had managed to not learn previously!) 
  • I reprised and worked on a few tunes including Malcolm Ferguson, Banks of the Lossie,  McIntosh’s Lament, and (given the date) a number of Christmas tunes I hadn’t played a lot before
I need to set myself a challenge like this more often because it helped me focus and learn! 

Of course, it’s nearly a new year so I can get back down to the business of the plan for 2016!  I have a good idea when I could start.

How did you do on your goals? 

December 9, 2015

Holiday Gift Giving

“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another” – George Elliott

“When you play, never mind who listens to you.” ― Robert Schumann
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein

These quotes jumped out at me – all by great artists – one painted with words, one with music and one with math.

This is the time of year when many are emboldened to play out of their practice space.  Many are perhaps more motivated than at any other time of the year.  Which is convenient since there are so many more opportunities to play during the holidays of the shorter days. 
Be encouraged by the spirit of the season, the crispness of the air, the general openness of people to festive experiences. Share your music, your gift, and that little piece of yourself that you impart when you play for others.

Share your energy – the influence of your loving human soul - to the extent you are comfortable (or maybe just a little farther from your comfort?).  Don’t worry about people listening to you – never mind who listens to you - but maybe share beyond the curtains and the cats. Don’t worry about being not perfect, about embarrassing yourself.  You won’t – you’ll hear the compliments paid honestly, from people who are grateful for your sharing.  Accept this praise not only of your music but also for touching someone else in a positive way. The compliment is them showing you that they understand.

And what better gift can you give and receive at the holidays?

December 2, 2015

Beating back the monster

It’s winter time again – and the weather can be the monster you’ll do battle with for at least the next few months.

To do that battle you have to be ready to defeat the ravages of cold air, dry air, rain, snow, and fog. You have to be vigilant and careful.  Not only is winter skin annoying, it can be dangerous.  Dry, cracked skin breaches your defenses and leaves you vulnerable to getting sick.  In addition, when your hands get dry and chapped they are painful which interrupts your playing.  So, here are seven things you can do to help your skin defeat the winter weather monster:

  • Wash up!  You still need to keep your hands clean so be sure to wash up thoroughly.  But in the winter, wash up as quickly as possible to avoid keeping your hands in the water any longer than necessary.  Be sure to dry your hands thoroughly too, to avoid chapping.
  • If you’re a hand sanitizer user – buy a hydrating version rather than one with alcohol.  Alcohol is drying and moisturizing sanitizer allows you to do two things at once (sanitize and moisturize).
  • Scrub up – exfoliation is good for your face, but it’s also great for your hands.  You can make your own scrub by mixing honey or olive oil and sugar.  Sloughing off the dead dry skin will allow your moisturizer to work better and will leave your hands feeling soft as well.
  • Moisturize – a lot!  If necessary, put a bottle of hand lotion next to every soap dispenser!  But don’t just put it there – use it.  And don’t forget to put lotion not only on your hands but also up your wrists and forearms.
  • Dress up – when you’re going outside – wear your gloves.  They can be fancy dress gloves but warm winter gloves will keep your hands warm which will ease their journey through winter.
  • Dress up for bed!  After you wash up and dry and moisturize your hands, you can also don gloves to “seal in” the moisture. One of the easiest (and warmest) ways to do this is to wear gloves to bed – you can buy inexpensive cotton gloves that are just the thing for this.  And there’s nothing wrong with giving your bedtime the white glove treatment!
  • Moisturize on the inside.  Drinking water is essential for so many things and one of those things is keeping you hydrated which also helps your skin make it through the winter more easily - drink water!
Use these techniques to care for your hands so you can play comfortably throughout the winter.

November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you have a wonderful day of Thanksgiving - take a little time to play your harp!

November 18, 2015

And the leaves kept falling…

It’s autumn and the leaves have all turned color from green to reds and yellows and now brown.  They are falling from the trees to the ground…and so, it’s time for the raking to begin.
We, none of us, get younger.  And with year autumn that passes, raking those leaves may become more of a chore, leaving you sore for a while.  That soreness is from doing unaccustomed work – but it is also a result of not stretching after doing so. 

But you can get sore from not stretching after work to which you are accustomed as well – that includes after practicing or performing.  Even daily practice takes work – from your whole body!  You should continue that work into a stretching routine which will not only reward you but will allow your muscles to rest and be prepared for the next practice session.

Performing (even if for the curtains and the cat) adds stress which you will likely carry in your body. Therefore stretching is also important after each performance.  By adding a stretching phase to your practice time you will train yourself to do the stretches which will carry over into your performances.

You will want to stretch your fingers and hands as well as your arms. But you know that.  You will also want to stretch your large muscles – the ones that hold you up on your bench and give you the scaffolding to hold yourself and your harp.  That means you’ll want to stretch your back, legs, buttocks, and abdomen.

Adding a stretching routine will allow you to gracefully end your daily practice while doing yourself some good!