On a recent My Harp Mastery call we were talking about being relaxed while you play, when one of our members asked this question: “What about my face? It always looks grim when I play?”
That grim look is probably the face of concentration and intense focus. It’s natural, even if it’s not attractive. Forcing another expression, like trying to smile, can actually draw your focus away from the music. A better solution is to keep your mind focused on the musicality you want to convey through your playing. If the piece is sentimental, let your face reflect the calm sweetness of the music. If the music is fast and fiery, an intense expression will help convey that energy. The idea is to bring your entire self into the music you are making, to be totally aligned with it.
This idea of alignment has been on my mind recently in a different way.
I am a harpist not only by desire and training, but as my vocation. It is what I do as part of my personal mission and to earn my living. I am a professional. Professional harpists practice daily. But in the past few weeks, as I have been caught up in some of the other aspects of my business, I put my practice on the back burner. And it felt terrible.
While I have been able to give myself grace on this in the past, to understand that there are times when other things must take priority temporarily, it has always felt like a slippery slope. I know from my own experience, as well as that of my students, that it can be very hard to get back into the practice groove, even if you’ve only missed a few days. Any day I practice is a good day. Any day I don’t practice feels incomplete.
Not every harpist feels the need to practice every day. After all, most harpists aren’t professionals. But whatever your harp dream is, you need to be putting it into action. For instance, if I want to be a professional harpist, then I need to act like one. Whatever the reward or satisfaction you seek in your harp playing, you need to be sure you are taking the steps you need to earn it.
I challenge you to take the same steps I took recently when I got a little off track. First, consider your harp dream. What is your inner connection to the harp? In what way is playing the harp meaningful to you? What is the personal fulfillment you are seeking through your harp playing?
And next, think about how that dream translates into action. Are there daily or weekly habits you need to create to ensure that you maintain a strong connection to the harp? Do you notice habits that motivate you or maybe de-energize you, the way not practicing de-energizes me? Keeping your actions aligned with your purpose is one of the secrets to harp happiness.
WHICH IS YOUR HARP DREAM?
Look at these connection points below. Which ones most closely fit the dream you have for your harp playing? And are you putting that into action consistently?
Professional: The harp is what you do and who you are in a major way. Your actions should be aimed at maintaining excellence.
Passion: You love everything about the harp, and you love playing it. Your actions will be directed toward keeping your connection to the harp strong and alive.
Purpose: Your harp playing has a mission; you may be serving others with your music, or finding in the harp a needed outlet for personal expression. Your actions will require you to devote time and mental space to focus on bringing out the music that is inside you.
Pastime: The harp is one of the hobbies that you love. Your actions must be planned or scheduled to prevent the harp from getting lost in the swirl of your other interests.
You may have seen yourself in one or more of these harp dreams, or you may have a different harp dream. Whatever yours is, be sure you are acting on it, living it daily. Often there is only one step between “talking the talk” and “walking the walk.” How will you take that step today?