January 28, 2015

But what’s next?

If, like me, you have listed learning more tunes as one of your goals this year, you may be casting about for ways to select those tunes you are going to spend your precious time, sweat, and tears on. How do you select new tunes?  Here are four ways to chose what to learn to play:

  1. Listen, listen, listen – learn those tunes you enjoy listening to.  I decided that I had to learn pedal harp simply from hearing a gorgeous piece of music on the radio!
  2. Learn what’s on offer in workshops that come to your area.  This is especially important if you live in moderate to low harp density areas.  Get to every workshop you can, especially if they are few and far between.
  3. Comb through books and sight read for gems.  This is good both for finding new tunes and to practice your sight reading.
  4. Host a tune swap.  What could be better than learning new tunes? Learning new tunes inside a party!  It is great to learn from a friend.
Unless you are preparing for auditions, learn any tunes you like – especially  if you like the sounds of them.  And be sure to really get the tunes down - don’t just get a passing familiarity.  Really get in there and wear it! And with all these sources you'll have plenty of tunes to select!

January 21, 2015

This year we are planning the first Harpa tour of Scotland! We will go through some of the most beautiful scenery to be seen anywhere and this trip will allow you to experience the majestic splendor of Scotland. We will leverage our Harp the Highlands and Islands tour and build in some fantastic concerts. We have a diverse group of musicians and I can hardly wait to hear us!

We will start in Edinburgh and head out to Perth and from there we’ll begin nearly two weeks of exploring, enjoying, performing, jamming, and sharing! And all the while, you will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of well-known sites and off the beaten path sights you didn’t even know about.

Beth Kolle is the Arranger in Residence and Sue Richards is our Concert Mistress.  Here’s a little sneak peak of the itinerary for May:

17th – Collect at Edinburgh, on to Perth (overnight)

18th – Tour to Wick via Glencoe and Loch Ness (overnight Wick)

19th – Ferry/Coach tour to John O' Groats (overnight Wick)

20th – Wick to Elgin via Dunrobin Castle (overnight Elgin)

21st – Walking tour of Elgin, rehearsal and performance for CLAN Cancer Support (overnight Elgin)

22nd – Drumnadrochit and free time in Inverness (overnight Drumnadrochit)

 23rd – Urquhart Castle returning to Drumnadrochit for rehearsal and then performance (overnight Drumnadrochit)

24th – Lossiemouth via Aviemore Mountain day tour (Overnight Elgin or Lossiemouth – tbf)

25th – Moray coast, return to Lossie Baptist Church (LBC) for rehearsal, church dinner and performance (Overnight Elgin or Lossiemouth – tbf)

26th - Via Pluscarden Abbey to walking tour of Forres, rehearsal and performance at Forres Heritage Centre in Tollbooth Courtroom (overnight Elgin)

27th – Royal Deeside tour (overnight Elgin)

28th – Splits into two groups for Ballindalloch and Distillery tours with floating concert at Ballindalloch (alternate halves) (overnight Elgin)

29th – Return to Edinburgh... share good byes

As you can see from the itinerary have four confirmed venues for Concerts.  Each of the venues is looking forward to the fundraising opportunity!

Hope you’ll join us for this unique tour and opportunity. Contact me if you are interested or want more information.

Send your deposit as soon as possible to guarantee a seat. The balance will be due 20 March 2015. A single supplement is available if you like.

January 14, 2015

Keeping track – it’s still January

I know you have goals. You may call them goals, resolutions, objectives, but it doesn’t matter what you call them. What is important is that you have a direction in mind and that you have some idea how you are going to get there. And the easiest way to know if you got there is to be able to see your progress. 

We often state our goals in squishy words. It is easier, but it creates so much angst. How do you know you are better? Are you sure you’ve developed your (insert objective here)?  You do have to track your progress to be sure that you have made some.  This is especially true for those dark days when you cannot remember how far you have come.  So, here are 5 ways to make track your progress so you can see you are getting somewhere:

  • Make it measurable – select something countable.  Number of tunes, minutes of practice, days of work, whatever measure will help you verify your progress.
  • Make it visible – it’s all well and good to feel you’re getting there, but seeing it for yourself really helps.  You can mark a calendar, keep a journal, make a wall chart, use an app, build a spreadsheet – how it appears is not nearly as important as that you will use it and look at it.
  • Make a baseline – record yourself now and put that aside. At the end of the year record yourself (this works best if you do the same piece of music).  Now listen to the two recordings to determine if you have met the goal. You will be able to see (or in this case, hear) that you have come of the baseline. 
  • Make it manageable sized bites – you’re not going to achieve each goal in one go so break them into steps that you achieve in each practice, each week or month, or some other segment.  Then you can track those steps to see progress.
  • Make time, but not too much time – don’t let tracking your goal become the thing that takes up all your time. Tracking is just a tool so you can stay focused and motivated – so you can keep moving forward. 
Give it a go – track your progress and see how far you come!

January 7, 2015

Goals for 2015

It is January – a new start to a new year.  And of course, it is resolution time.  We all know that resolutions are simply goals wrapped in festive paper.  I always entreat you to set goals so I thought I’d share some of mine for 2015.
Because I want to succeed I have selected a small number of goals that are SMART.  By that I mean the goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed.  I have structured my goals to meet these criteria – otherwise how would I know when I got there?

I have established three goals for my harp life.  That might seem like a small number but these are just for my harp life and I have other goals for other parts of my life.  In addition, I’d rather have three completed goals than a larger number of goals that are languishing, uncompleted and weighing me down.  And I'd rather reach for the stars and touch them than be caught up trying to figure which star to reach for first!

Goal 1 – Learn at least one tune per month.  This is attainable and realistic given the competing pressures on my schedule, I will definitely know at the end of the year if I have learned 12 tunes (by learn I mean prepared through performance, not just knocked one back at a workshop).

Goal 2 – Practice reading at least 5 minutes per day.  I find reading music increasingly challenging while I’m playing and my sight reading skill has dropped.  I know the only way to improve my sight reading is to practice. This will improve my capability as a teacher, an ensemble member, and just to broaden my horizons as a musician.

Goal 3 -  Book at least one new type of gig.  This is me looking to expand how I look at performing. So, just booking more weddings is not the point here, but rather to seek out new types of performing or types of event at which to perform.  Because the rest of my life can sometimes get in the way of my harp life, I have set this goal low but will be delighted if I can break through to more.

What goals have you set for yourself for 2015?