Just say “Yes!”

Music can open so many doors. People are genuinely interested in how we make music – our instrument, ourselves, our repertoire. And we should be honest – making music is a rare gift. We are very fortunate. Did you know that a Gallup poll indicated that 96% of adults surveyed thought music could be learned at any age? Perhaps more surprising, a whopping 85% of adults wish they had had music lessons as a child! And 70% stated that they’d like to learn to play an instrument. Further, 66% stated that there were too many impediments to learning to play*. And only 5% of adults are proactive and arrange to have music lessons in their own lives**.

That makes those of us who took up the harp as adults a rare breed! And whether we were trained in music as children or came to our instruments as adults – we are making music and we are extraordinary!

You may not feel special. You may not feel accomplished. You maybe still comparing yourself to others and therefore maybe unwilling to share your music. But maybe it’s time for you to just say Yes.

Yes – to those people who visit you and ask you to play for them.

Yes – to going into schools to share your instrument and your talent with young people who might not otherwise ever see or hear a harp – and certainly are unlikely to ever get to touch one!

Yes – to volunteering to play at a local care home on a regular basis.

Yes – to your local church or civic gathering.

Mostly, say Yes to yourself – Yes, I am a musician who is continuing to grow and Yes I will share with others. Yes I will commit to investing in myself and my practice.

Just Say Yes to plucking up the courage to do more with my harp!

* https://www.namm.org/news/press-releases/new-gallup-survey-namm-reflects-majority-americans%20
** https://gb.abrsm.org/en/making-music/4-the-statistics/

Make yourself practice – do some good

If I were to be honest out loud, there are more days when I have to force myself to practice than I care to admit. There are always so many other things that need to be taken care of and which require my attention. And often sitting and playing feels too decadent to be work – making it even more difficult to practice and do the work. I know many of us have this same challenge. (And we know this is different from the occasional, “I just don’t feel like practicing! <whine>” malaise we sometimes find ourselves in!)

I recently came across a quote that is modifying my perspective on all this. This is an excerpt – it was part of a talk delivered by Karl Paulnack, Music Director of The Boston Conservatory*. I thought he made a good point – about taking ourselves seriously. He said

Karl Paulnack our value as musicians

“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.”

And he’s right!  There is little more rewarding than chatting with an audience member after a performance and learning that you have created an experience that touched that person very personally and specifically.

He goes on to say more, about our value as musicians, the effect we can have, the good we can do. All of these are important – and we need to remind ourselves of these truths. No matter our level of play or our amount of experience, we have something to contribute, a good to give – and we have to work to bring our best when we are sharing.

So, go practice – the world is counting on us to do our craft.

* read the whole address here

Planning for everything

Recently, a harp friend died. This was a tragedy as she was a lovely person and a very good harp player. I had known her almost all of my harp life.

Not long after that, her family wanted to move on and part of that was to assure that her harps went to good homes. And so I was fortunate to be able to help the family in finding each harp a new loving home. But it got me to thinking.

Picture1It was very difficult for the family – it’s a difficult time as it is, but having to figure out how to move these harps along was just another burden for them. Because we love our harps and our harp friends/family so much, we may forget that to our “real” family isn’t as plugged in to our harp world. They don’t know how we communicate, how to “shift” a harp, where to go for help, how to move on.

In addition, while our families might try to meet all our wishes, we may not have shared what we would like to happen to our harps (and their assorted detritus!). You may want to be sure that your harps go to a chosen friend or you might want them embedded in a local organization’s harp rental program, or you might want your local (or favorite) school to receive your bounty. But if you don’t tell anyone, no one will know. Be specific – remember that it is likely a loving, non-harper will have to attempt to do what you want, so guidance from you would be a big help!

Therefore it is important to document and share your harp wishes with your family. Think about (and plan for) where you’d like all your harps to find a new place when you will no longer need it. If you will donate to an organization – be sure that the organization knows it will eventually receive your bounty. Be as lovely and generous as you always have been and others will appreciate your kindness.

Three ways to do good


We all play our harps for our own reasons – we love the feel, we love the creativity, we love to perform, etc.  But sometimes we need more.  Sometimes we need to give back, to help others, to do more.  You can use your harp in service – and the harp is an excellent way to do that.  Here are three ways you can give back with your harp.

Health and Healing – Many people are called to contribute by supporting healing. There are a number of programs available to become trained to provide music in health care delivery systems.  Find a program such as Music for Healing and Transition – accredited  with the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians to assure that you are learning the material you need to provide an environment conducive to the healing process.  Not interested in pursuing study?  You can still play in hospital waiting areas for the families anxious and waiting. 
Work with education – If you are interested in helping children, you could develop presentations to introduce them to the harp and its music.  Many schools would be delighted to have your contribution.  And remember how many people have never seen or heard the harp – you can get in there early!  You might even find some new harpers there.  Schools need enrichment content and all the pupils could benefit from your time.
Entertain the under-served – no matter where you live there are likely to be people who are not able to access quality entertainment so why not share with them?  Nursing homes, shut ins, group homes, and others would be delighted with any performance you would be willing to share. 
Service is an excellent way to overcome any reluctance you might have about performing – these audiences will be so grateful for your time and talent.  In addition, it helps us to learn that playing and performing is about sharing, it’s not about us!
There are so many ways to share – if you have others, please add them in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you – 

A New ad-Ventura

I am truly an East Coast Girl.  I will never be a West Coaster.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t visit as often as possible – I love to visit the West Coast – and I do as often as possible. 

You might be an Eastie like me, who loves to visit the West Coast, or you could be a Westie who’s looking for something-something fun – may I recommend the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA?

You might be surprised – they don’t have a harp competition so what am I going on about?

Well, if you have the opportunity, it would be worth your while – because Harp is making its inaugural debut at the Seaside Games this year – http://www.seaside-games.com/harpGlen.php

The Harp Glen is being sponsored by the Clan Currie Society to introduce the Harp to visitors to this event. In addition to shedding light on the fabulous and rich history of the harp this event will showcase actual harps and harpers.

There will of course be harpers playing and more importantly, an opportunity for people to try and to learn.  Highlights of the two-day Harp Extravaganza include:

• Harp Ensemble performance
• Solo Harp Performances
• A Harp Ring/Circle
• Harp “Petting Zoo”
• Mini Harp Lessons

The Clan Currie Society, who is the Title Sponsor of the Scottish Harp Society of America’s US National Scottish Harp Championship, is working with the Seaside Highland Games to showcase the harp at this Harp Gathering event.

I hope if you are able you’ll support this new event – what a great time!

A New ad-Ventura

I am truly an East Coast Girl.  I will never be a West Coaster.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t visit as often as possible – I love to visit the West Coast – and I do as often as possible. 

You might be an Eastie like me, who loves to visit the West Coast, or you could be a Westie who’s looking for something-something fun – may I recommend the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA?

You might be surprised – they don’t have a harp competition so what am I going on about?

Well, if you have the opportunity, it would be worth your while – because Harp is making its inaugural debut at the Seaside Games this year – http://www.seaside-games.com/harpGlen.php

The Harp Glen is being sponsored by the Clan Currie Society to introduce the Harp to visitors to this event. In addition to shedding light on the fabulous and rich history of the harp this event will showcase actual harps and harpers.

There will of course be harpers playing and more importantly, an opportunity for people to try and to learn.  Highlights of the two-day Harp Extravaganza include:

• Harp Ensemble performance
• Solo Harp Performances
• A Harp Ring/Circle
• Harp “Petting Zoo”
• Mini Harp Lessons

The Clan Currie Society, who is the Title Sponsor of the Scottish Harp Society of America’s US National Scottish Harp Championship, is working with the Seaside Highland Games to showcase the harp at this Harp Gathering event.

I hope if you are able you’ll support this new event – what a great time!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogpost…

So, sometimes you learn something you have to share immediately – and this is it.  Mike Conners is a teacher at North Carolina’s Penn-Griffin School for the Arts (disclaimer – he’s also a friend of mine).  Heb recently introduced his hobby, harping, to his students as club.

You might also recall that Mike won the 2011 Scottish Harp Society Travel Scholarship which he put to use improving his repertoire and experience, which he took back to his students. Here’s Mike in Scotland (photo unceremoniously ripped off his blog: Miketheharper.blogspot.com!)

But the point of this post is not that Mike plays the harp, but rather to highlight his students’ project – raising money to buy more harps for the club.  They made the news (watch the video and read a short report here):

http://myfox8.com/2012/06/05/students-play-harps-to-raise-money/

They need more harps, including a pedal harp.  This is a really great opportunity for the students to learn a great deal – about music, about fundraising, about community, about community service.

These kids have already saved $2,200 from donations.  They gig to make money too!  But, as we all know – to buy more lever harps and a pedal harp will require more than a couple of gigs.  So, I’d suggest we chip in –

To donate contact Mike Connors at 336-819-2870 or send mail to:

Penn-Griffin School for the Arts, 825 East Washington Street, High Point, NC 27260.

Please write “harp donation” on the memo line and make checks payable to Penn-Griffin School for the Arts. Donations are tax deductible – and I’m sure if you have a harp you’d like to donate, they’d be happy to hear from you.

(PS, I would have loved to share a photo of the kids playing, and while I have no compunction with asking Mike for forgiveness for pillaging graphics from his blog, I’m not tangling with the tv station and their lawyers! Just check out the video!!)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogpost…

So, sometimes you learn something you have to share immediately – and this is it.  Mike Conners is a teacher at North Carolina’s Penn-Griffin School for the Arts (disclaimer – he’s also a friend of mine).  Heb recently introduced his hobby, harping, to his students as club.

You might also recall that Mike won the 2011 Scottish Harp Society Travel Scholarship which he put to use improving his repertoire and experience, which he took back to his students. Here’s Mike in Scotland (photo unceremoniously ripped off his blog: Miketheharper.blogspot.com!)

But the point of this post is not that Mike plays the harp, but rather to highlight his students’ project – raising money to buy more harps for the club.  They made the news (watch the video and read a short report here):

http://myfox8.com/2012/06/05/students-play-harps-to-raise-money/

They need more harps, including a pedal harp.  This is a really great opportunity for the students to learn a great deal – about music, about fundraising, about community, about community service.

These kids have already saved $2,200 from donations.  They gig to make money too!  But, as we all know – to buy more lever harps and a pedal harp will require more than a couple of gigs.  So, I’d suggest we chip in –

To donate contact Mike Connors at 336-819-2870 or send mail to:

Penn-Griffin School for the Arts, 825 East Washington Street, High Point, NC 27260.

Please write “harp donation” on the memo line and make checks payable to Penn-Griffin School for the Arts. Donations are tax deductible – and I’m sure if you have a harp you’d like to donate, they’d be happy to hear from you.

(PS, I would have loved to share a photo of the kids playing, and while I have no compunction with asking Mike for forgiveness for pillaging graphics from his blog, I’m not tangling with the tv station and their lawyers! Just check out the video!!)