In the last post, I offered some ways for busy professional harpists to create momentum in the new year in their playing and in their business.
Today I would like to suggest some similar momentum-creating ideas for adult students or non-professionals or teachers of the same.
I have a number of adult students, and I love teaching them. They are motivated, focused on what they want to do and hard workers. Of course, the other non-harp parts of their lives sometimes pushes their harp studies on to a back burner, but they are dedicated student harpists.
One of the challenges for an adult student is the lack of clearly defined, reachable goals. For young students, there is the year-end recital or the music exam. The landmarks seem more noticeable.
With no highlighted mileposts, adult students can sometimes languish and feel frustrated by a perceived lack of progress. This is particularly true for people who have been highly driven professionals in another field. Understandably, these students can lose momentum easily unless they can see steady progress.
Does this sound familiar? If so, here are some possible action steps to take to find your mojo again.
1. Music Exams. Most of my younger students take the ABRSM exams. But these exams are open to students of ANY age. Adults can choose to take the graded exams or an assessment exam. The exams give you something worthwhile to prepare for in a non-public setting and instant feedback.
2. Make plans to attend a harp event. Whether it’s one of the big conventions or a local harp society chapter meeting, the camaraderie of other harpists is energizing. Workshop events like Beginning in the Middle are also a great way to learn new things and meet new harpists.
3. Choose one thing and do something about it. What one thing, if you could change it or fix it, would make the greatest difference in your harp playing? I’m sure you have an idea. Identify that one thing and then make that your mission for this year. Talk to your teacher about setting out a detailed plan. Or find a coach that will work on that specific thing with you. There’s lots of energy when you laser focus on one thing.
4. Change the frequency and/or focus of your lessons. You will want your teacher to buy into this (or if you’re the teacher, you could suggest it). Try adding one extra lesson per month, and make it a lesson with a special purpose. It could be a duet lesson, where you sightread duets with your teacher. It could be a technique session, where your teacher leads you through a complete technical work-out. Or you could decide to devote the next number of lessons to one particular piece or element of playing.
5. Create a “harp meditation” time. The “harp meditation” is a 15 minute ritual at a regular time in your day. Decide what type of “meditation” you want. Is there one special piece that you always love to play? Do you just want to play gentle scales, arpeggios and chords so you can enjoy the sound and feel of your harp? Perhaps you would enjoy trying some improvisation or composing? This works best if you make it very ritualistic. Perhaps your 15 minutes is right after your morning yoga. Or maybe you have a cup of your favorite tea beside you. Or a calming moment just after dinner with a scented candle next to you. And most importantly, this is NOT practice. It’s playing something you want to just because you want to. How radical is that!