Why Keep Practicing? A Long Term Strategy

Mar 30, 2020

First there was the shock. What is happening? What am I supposed to do about it? How can I keep myself and my loved ones safe?

Then there was the feeling of a “snow day,” that surprise gift of a day when the snow has made travel impossible. Schools and offices are closed, and you’re stuck in the house. Once you sort out the cancellations and make that first cup of hot...

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What To Do Now: Making Music in Interesting Times

Mar 23, 2020

There’s a saying known as the “Chamberlain Curse” that has a new significance these days: May you live in interesting times. It speaks directly to where we are now across the globe.

For many of us, these times feel less interesting than confusing, discouraging, overwhelming and frustrating. I take heart, however, knowing that this is a unique opportunity for us as musicians to...

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Yes You Can! 12 Things to Do When You Can’t Practice

Mar 16, 2020

You just can’t do it.

It’s 9 PM and you’re finally finished with a non-stop day. You can’t even remember what you did today, but you know this is the first chance you’ve had to sit down and catch your breath. You know you should be practicing. But you just can’t do it.

They happen to all of us, even the most dedicated harpists, those days when you just...

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Floppy Fingers? Develop Strong Fingers the Smart Way

Mar 09, 2020

No harpist ever had floppier fingers than I did. 

I had been playing the harp for eight years, and still my fingers were all over the place. Every knuckle bent the wrong way. My double-jointed thumbs slid off the strings. I didn’t know how to fix them, but it was clear to me that unless I straightened my fingers out, my dreams of being a harpist were going to stay merely dreams....

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Family Connections: Alphonse Hasselmans

Mar 02, 2020

One of the powerful motivators for me in my harp playing and my teaching is the sense of legacy. I love thinking about the harpists who came before me, for whom the music that I know as standard repertoire was new and exciting, who studied with the legendary masters of the instrument. This history inspires me with a feeling of gratitude and an awareness of the responsibility that I carry as a...

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7 Reasons Tuning Your Harp Is Worth the Trouble

Feb 24, 2020

There’s a famous quote attributed to the composer Igor Stravinsky that every harpist knows: Harpists spend 90 percent of their lives tuning their harps and 10 percent playing out of tune. It has the painful ring of truth.

The harp is a treacherous instrument in this regard. The magic of the organic materials that comprise so much of the instrument is that they make the instrument very...

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Finding the Best Route to Accomplishing Any Task

Feb 17, 2020

Sometimes it seems there is no way to get where you want to go. 

You practice and practice, but the results you are looking for don’t show up. Maybe you are trying to finish a piece, fix two measures or prepare to play in public, and you’ve reached a point where nothing you do is moving you forward. It may even feel like all your progress is backward and your music is actually...

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Repeat Ad Nauseam: Why You Aren't Finishing Your Pieces

Feb 10, 2020

When was the last time you felt like you really finished a piece of music you were learning?

 

Look at the music on your stand right now. I’m guessing that somewhere in that stack is a piece of music that you've been playing for longer than you care to think about. It’s a piece you love and really want to play. You started it in a burst of energy and worked through challenge...

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Rich, Warm, Round: How to Create Your Sensational Harp Sound

Feb 03, 2020

I always envied my harp teacher’s sound.

My harp teacher for nearly all of my harp studies was Marilyn Costello, former principal harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. As you can imagine, she was a fabulous harpist, but it was her tone that was so compelling. Her sound was lush and plummy, liquid and full. I could recognize her playing anywhere just by the sound. In fact, if you study...

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The Secrets to Building (and Playing) a Worry-Free Repertoire

Jan 27, 2020

This is the fourth in a series of posts focused on how to set - and achieve - goals. Be sure to check out the prior posts, Why Being a Better Harpist Isn't Good Enough, Three Disciplines of a Trustworthy Technique, The Most Important Piece You Aren’t Practicing and read on to the end of this post for a special invitation.

In case building a repertoire is on your must-do list for this...

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