June 10, 2015

Time to tune up

In the summer, there are so many camps, workshops, programs and they all suggest that you start early to get your fingers toughened up because you’ll be playing more than you usually do. 


But what does that mean?  How can you get ready for these events?  Here are seven ways to tune up for a workshop so you can get as much out of the last session as the first:

  1. Make a schedule – you know you have a finite amount of time to prepare, so plan to use it – each day increase your time on the bench a little (add no more than 10% each week – just like running).  A small increase allows you to build up without adding too much at once, which will help you stay on track).  Be sure in also increase the number of times each day that you sit at your harp – the workshop might be 8 hours a day but that won’t all be on your bench so you might want to practice sitting to your harp 3 times a day rather than one really long stretch!
  2. Work your plan – it’s all well and good to make a plan but then you have to actually use it!  Be sure that you actually do the things you set up in your plan
  3. Be realistic – if you never have time to practice on Sundays (for example) – build that into your plan, don’t think that suddenly the time will appear.  This is especially true if you are working around your current schedule – if you only have 30 minutes a day to practice, do not think that suddenly you will find 3 hours a day to practice.  However, if you are so strapped for time that you can only practice for 30 minutes a day - know that you will need to modify what you expect to get out of each day of the workshop.
  4. Remember your braces: when you had braces, you didn’t expect all the movement at once – it was gentle progress you were after – same thing here – gentle positive progress will not only allow you to feel better about your work but will result in a noticeable benefit.
  5. Warm up – this is not the time to skimp on the fundamentals – do plan to spend a little time warming up (and when you get to your workshop, don’t forget to do this!)
  6. Stretch – just as you know that a good warm up is essential to avoiding injury, a good stretch at the end of your time at your harp is also important while you are increasing your time on the bench.  And when you are at your workshop, stretching will also be important – you will be working hard.  In addition, workshop participants are often a little stressed (concentrating, wanting to “do well” (whatever that means – everyone is learning!), trying to learn a lot in a little time with the tutor all add to your stress).
  7. Journal – keep a record of what you are doing and how it is going – while this is always a good idea, it’s especially important when you are trying to prepare.

Summer workshops, camps, and other events are a great way to learn, meet new friends, catch up with old friends and really expand your harping – be sure you are ready to make the most of the event!

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