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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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Centering Yourself at the Harp: Where You Sit Makes a Difference

Sep 21, 2020

Let’s find your center.

No, this is not a post about meditation or focus or concentration. It’s about something much more practical: how you should center your body at the harp.

Maybe you’ve had an experience like this one. You watch a video of yourself playing the harp. It’s difficult enough to watch and listen to yourself but what makes it even worse is that something...

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Never Have a Bad Lesson Again!

Sep 07, 2020

I’m going to make a bold assertion. You should never have a bad lesson.

Before you start feeling pressured to dash to the harp for some frantic last-minute practice, I need to explain. I didn’t fully understand this concept until I had been teaching for a while. As a student, I thought that a bad lesson was when I didn’t play well. When things didn’t go as well in my...

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One Book, 10 Ways to Become a Better Musician

Aug 31, 2020

“What about this chord?” he asked. He was so eager to learn, so excited by the possibilities, that the excitement was visible in his face. I was almost as excited. It wasn’t very often that a student brought that level of energy to theory class. This was a question worthy of a thoughtful answer.

Actually, he and I had this discussion many times, especially in his first year of...

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Practicing Differently: 4 Steps to Faster Learning

Aug 10, 2020

“Think different.” - Apple advertising slogan

We’re becoming accustomed to change. That doesn’t mean that change is any easier to live with. It is simply a condition of the times. 

Because we are bombarded by change, we cling more tenaciously to the few constants in our daily lives, particularly in our music, even when they may be detrimental to our sense of...

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Making Connections: I Vow to Thee My Country

Aug 03, 2020

The tune to the song “I Vow to Thee My Country” is a favorite of harpists everywhere, thanks in part to skillful arrangements by artists like Kim Robertson and Rhett Barnwell. The melody is one of the themes from “Jupiter,” a movement of Gustav Holst’s iconic symphonic suite, The Planets. As is often the case, the back story is nearly as compelling as the...

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Find Your Focus: Six Week Success Plan

Jul 27, 2020

I always have looked forward to summer as a more relaxed time. It’s a season when I can pause, slow down the pace of my work without guilt, knowing that I am refreshing myself so I can start the autumn with renewed energy and enthusiasm. 

This summer, however, is completely different.

We’ve all had too much time on our hands: time to work and time to worry, time that hangs...

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What To Do When The Applause Is Gone

Jul 13, 2020

You try to cover all the bases. You practice your technical drills, review your repertoire regularly, strengthen your musicianship; you’re doing all the right things. But it still may feel like there’s something missing. Possibly you don’t feel accomplished, or you don’t see your progress.

If you’re doing all those “right things” and practicing...

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