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Why You Can’t Prevent Performance Crashes

Nov 12, 2018

Practice doesn't work.

Now that I have your attention, let me clarify.

The normal everyday practice that we usually do doesn't build the skills we need to play our music well. If you have ever practiced a piece and then had it crash when you performed it, you know this is true.

Consider this list of just some of the many distinctions between what we do in practice and what we need to do in...

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Genre Neutral: Music For All Occasions

Oct 22, 2018

Read that title carefully, please. I’m not getting political; I’m being practical.

Playing music that you love is a great base for your repertoire, but if you want to play anywhere other than your living room, you will eventually need to play music that other people want to hear. The practical purpose of this post is to help you choose music to add to your repertoire that will serve...

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Making It Look Easy: Creating Flow

Oct 15, 2018

They make it look so easy, the great masters. From the long putt that wins the match, to the artists quick sketch that reveals more than a photograph could, to the lightning fast scales in a Mozart piano sonata, we mere mortals know the depth of mastery needed to perform at that level. We understand why our attempts at these tasks don't have the same easy grace.

What's more perplexing is why...

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Five Steps to Build Your Repertoire

Oct 08, 2018

“A repertoire of 60 minutes begins with a single piece.” – Anne Sullivan

Okay, so I’m not Lao Tzu and my paraphrase of his famous saying about a journey of a thousand miles is not nearly as profound. But it is just as true.

The truth is that if you have just one piece that you can play, a piece that you enjoy playing and play fairly well, you can develop a repertoire of...

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Facing Fear: To Act Rather Than React

Oct 01, 2018

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

As a performer, I never found much comfort in that thought. My fears or nerves before a performance weren’t lessened by knowing that they were my enemies. I already knew that. What I was looking for, hoping for, dreaming of, was a way to not be nervous.

The truth in Roosevelt’s statement,...

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How to Build Your Curriculum

Sep 10, 2018

In last week’s post, I showed you why I think that creating a curriculum for your harp studies – as opposed to simply practicing – is an essential key to progress. If you didn’t read the post, you can read it here, but basically the idea is this: begin with a goal, then create a plan and a timeline. Add in benchmarks to measure your progress and you have the fundamental...

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The Line Between Difficult and Too Difficult

Aug 13, 2018

“Is this piece too difficult for me?”

When students ask me this question, I know it’s not because they’re lazy and don’t want to have to work hard.

On the contrary, I know they are ready and willing to put in the practice time needed to be able to play the piece. They just want to be assured that their time and effort will get them results. Why spend hours...

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Do You Worry About the "What-Ifs" ?

Mar 04, 2018

Do you suffer from the "what-ifs"?

My student was preparing for an important performance. We still had two or three lessons before the date, and I was confident she was prepared.

But at her next lesson she surprised me. Her playing was excellent, but she didn’t have the confidence in her playing that I did. She had a case of the “what-ifs.”

  • What if they don’t like me?...

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Hymns: A Harpist’s Guide to Playing Along

Dec 03, 2017

“Could you play along on these hymns too?”

It seems like a reasonable request. A well-intentioned choir director wants to take full advantage of having a harpist participating in the service. So now you find yourself with a sheaf of print-outs of the hymns with notes to “play along on verses 2, 4 and 5, whatever you feel like.”

Quite possibly you are clenching your jaw...

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Control: Why It’s Out of Your Hands

Oct 15, 2017

Life, especially in these hectic days, has become a search for control.

We look for more control over our calendar and our working days. There is an explosion of books, blogs and courses about productivity, all aimed at helping us bring more order to order lives.

We meditate, exercise and diet to gain control over our minds and bodies.

All the while, we know that control, at least the way we...

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