What are the qualities you think you need to be a good harpist? I’ll bet every harpist has a different answer for this.
Understand that I’m not thinking in terms of the skills useful to a harpist, skills like a good ear, the ability to sight read, musicality, flying fingers, and the ability to memorize. I would agree that those are all important to some degree, but I invite you to consider some of the personal traits or day to day habits that would be useful or even essential for a harpist.
This idea conjures up a completely different list. Maybe you’d put character traits like determination, perseverance, self-discipline and courage on that list. Those would indeed be helpful. So would objectivity, the ability to treat yourself with kindness and grace, even when you’re struggling. There are other mindset habits that are important too, like a desire to learn and resilience.
Today we’re going to explore one of the qualities that I think is crucial to the musical development of any harpist, and it’s not one of the ones I’ve already mentioned. It’s less a quality than it is an attitude and a habit. And it’s one that we very often overlook or discount as something frivolous. If you noticed the title for this episode, you know what I’m talking about; I’m talking about creativity.
I believe that creativity isn’t an add-on. It’s not an extra. It’s at the heart of what we do every day, every minute that we play. Every moment we play we are creating something, not out of nothing, more likely from black dots on a page. Those dots contain the genetic code for the music, if you will. But without our creative spark, those dots would never come to life. The music wouldn’t exist.
If we reduce our practice to mere repetition, we’ve lost our way. If we aren’t thinking about and listening to the music we are bringing to life, we are missing the best part of the practice process. And if we aren’t taking the extra step to enlist our creative nature in the service of our music, we aren’t serving the music or ourselves very well.
You’re probably having one of two reactions right now. Either you’re thinking, “Yes! Finally you’re speaking my language. Show me how my harp playing can feel more creative,” or you’re thinking, “Great. This sounds like a good idea, but it feels more like something else I have to figure out how to fit into my practice.”
Never fear. Today I will show you a variety of ways to make creativity a natural part of your practice habit. You won’t have to do anything crazy like light candles and meditate before you practice. (Actually, that sounds pretty zen.) We’ll talk about simple ways to engage your creativity in your playing every day. You’ll discover a sense of freedom that will make playing and even practicing more fun, and you’ll love the change you hear in your playing too.
Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode:
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