Finish That Piece! 3 Myths about the Messy Middle

May 13, 2019

What is the “messy middle?”

In any project, the messy middle is the sometimes, boring, sometimes frustrating stage between the excitement of the beginning and the vindication of the completion of the project.

In your music learning, it’s the repetitive, too often mindless practice stage after the initial learning of the notes but before you feel like you can truly play the...

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Never Perform Again? How To Succeed After An Epic Fail

May 06, 2019

It looks so easy when other people do it. It’s not complicated; you practice a piece until it’s ready. Then you play it.

We all know it isn’t really that simple. There are difficult passages and techniques to conquer. You have to earn to play it fast enough or slow enough or steady enough. You need to express the dynamics and the musical flow. And you have to deal with...

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Practicing Outside the Box: 2 Ideas for Creative Practice

Apr 29, 2019

No time to be creative? Let’s use your daily practice to stimulate your musical imagination.

Practice, even when we are avoiding thoughtless repetition, often feels like a less-than-creative task. Our quest for secure, confident and musical playing doesn’t seem to allow for much experimentation and play.

The fact is, however, that actively using your musical imagination can...

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4 Practice Strategies that NEVER Work (You’ve Tried at Least One!)

Apr 22, 2019

Is your practice strategy failing you?

In this third part of our Spring Cleaning Challenge blog series, I challenge you to look at how you might be sabotaging your practice. If you’ve missed parts one and two of the series, you can read them later. This one is critical!

Let’s face facts; practicing is hard work. It takes patience, self-discipline and energy. It takes...

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Playing More Musically: 5 Days of Discovery

Apr 15, 2019

I just want to play more musically.”

It's a common refrain among students and performers of all ages. We all want to play more musically, but exactly what does that mean?

A musically expressive performance is a result of the performer’s choices informed by his or her understanding. You can probably guess at the kind of choices I mean, like choices of tempo and dynamics. The...

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Spring Clean Your Technique: 5 Days to Fresher Fingers

Apr 08, 2019

In this first part of our “Spring Cleaning Challenge,” I walk you through a five day plan for refreshing your technique. Parts 2 and 3 of the series follow in the coming weeks.

“There’s no excuse for running out of gas.”

That was one of the first warnings my parents gave me when I learned to drive. As long as the gas gauge was working, keeping gas in the tank was...

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Don’t Do This! 7 Sneaky Harp Happiness Killers

Apr 01, 2019

It’s spring cleaning time, the season to spruce up, refresh and brighten, to clean out the closets, sort out the drawers and get a fresh start. I’m always amazed to realize that, once again, my junk drawer is full, my closet is a disorganized mess and I need to do something about it. It seems to be so easy to accumulate those piles and so daunting to face getting rid of them.

I...

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Spring Forward: Gardening Tips for Harpists

Mar 25, 2019

Spring is finally here, at least according to the calendar. I won’t believe it’s really spring, though, until I see the first cheery yellow daffodil in my garden.

I remember the year I planted those bulbs. I spent the better part of an autumn weekend digging holes in the side of a hill along our driveway. The ground was more rock than soil, but I dug where I could, placed the bulbs...

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Mastering Harp Geography: Get Out of the Middle of the Road

Mar 18, 2019

Would you drive in the middle of the road?

I live in a very rural area. We have beautiful forests of pine and hemlock and sparkling streams with plenty of trout, unless you listen to the unlucky fishermen. We also have very narrow roads. The middle of the road is sometimes the only place to drive.

But playing the harp is not a “middle of the road” venture. Your harp has plenty of...

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Take a Musical Gondola Ride: Play a Barcarolle

Mar 11, 2019

“Of course this rhythm is typical for a barcarolle,” I said.

My student stared at me with that glassy expression. She clearly had no idea what I was talking about. I immediately realized that I had fallen into a common teacher trap of assuming that my student knew what I did. So I needed to backtrack.

“Just imagine,” I said, “that it’s a beautiful spring...

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