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Which Is Your Practice Style: Greyhound or German Shepherd?

May 24, 2021
This post was first published on August 25, 2014. Updated on May 24, 2021.
Are you a Greyhound or a German Shepherd, musically speaking?

Let me start with a story:

There once was a music teacher who had two students, approximately the same age and skill level. One week, she assigned each student the same new piece. The students were equally excited about learning the piece. When the students...

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Permission to Play

Apr 26, 2021

Life is full of shoulds; your harp playing shouldn’t be. But I bet it is.

Do any of these sound familiar?

I should practice scales.
I should finish this piece before I start a new one.
I should warm up before I start playing.
I should learn this piece my teacher gave me, even though I don’t like it.
I should practice this piece slowly even though it’s driving me crazy.

I think we...

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3 Practice Myths That May Be Killing Your Music

Apr 12, 2021

I gave up on the “practice makes perfect” idea years ago. 

In my experience, it doesn’t matter how long, how diligently or how much you practice; “perfect” is not a guaranteed result. Musicians who persist in pursuing perfection face inevitable disappointment and frustration. The common alternate version of this saying, “Perfect practice makes...

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How to Feed (or Find) Your Free Spirit – and Still Get Practice Done

Mar 29, 2021

Does this sound like you?

You love playing the harp but you aren’t sure you like practicing. You want to play well and make progress but sometimes practice feels like a chore that you dread. You make a practice schedule one day and break it the next. You wonder if you simply lack the self-discipline to play the harp. 

The truth is you don’t need massive self-discipline to play...

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The Fork in the Road: When Not to Quit (and When You Should)

Mar 08, 2021

There is a fork in the road ahead. You can see the sign ahead and you’re coming up on it fast. The problem is that you aren’t sure which fork is the correct one. Taking the wrong fork could mean a costly detour. How do you choose?

Thanks to GPS systems drivers are no longer without an answer to a “fork in the road” question. My Google maps lady tells me which road to...

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Do You Need a Reason to Practice? 3 Ways to Find One

Feb 15, 2021

The secret of getting ahead is getting started - Mark Twain

Motivation is a puzzling phenomenon.  It ebbs and flows. It can be the carrot or the stick. It can be an internal compulsion or an external force. In whatever form motivation appears to us though, it is always fueled by the answer to one question: why?

We are motivated to do something for a reason. It may be a reward or a positive...

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No Time to Practice? 15 Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes

Jan 25, 2021

Even in these days of social distancing, people seem to be busy. It’s proof positive of Parkinson’s law: work expands to fill the time allotted. Although your schedule appears empty, somehow you still can’t find the time to get everything done. 

This may be why I still hear from harpists who are frustrated that they can’t find time to practice. Yes, working from...

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Breaking the Speed Barrier: 3 Strategies for Playing Faster

Dec 14, 2020

Sometimes the impossible...isn’t.


In 1954 when Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes, he didn’t just break all the records. He demolished an idea that had long been held to be a truth: the idea that human beings were incapable of running a mile in under four minutes. 


John Bryant, a British journalist and himself a runner,...

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What Playing Music Really Is: 3 Surprising Truths I Learned From My Teachers

Dec 07, 2020

Music is a necessity of life for me. I’m guessing it may be for you too. Music runs through my head every waking moment, and probably when I’m sleeping. Making music and teaching music, particularly helping others enjoy their own music studies, are the activities that claim most of my time and energy.

Of course, my musical journey has been far from smooth. I have had disappointments...

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Beyond the Bar Line: The Secret to Seamless Music

Nov 09, 2020

The bar line, that thin vertical line separating one measure from the next. It has several important functions but it can also be a hindrance to smooth, fluid playing.

Bar lines have been used in music since the 15th century as a simple way to visually indicate the meter of music. We know meter as a repeating pattern of strong and weak beats. ¾ time, for example, has a strong first beat...

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