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5 Ways to Celebrate Harp-y Holidays

There’s nothing like “harp” for the holidays. 

That’s not quite how the song goes, but it is certainly true that no instrument seems more suited to Christmas celebrations than the harp. Choirs sing of the ”angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold,” and carolers remind us to “strike the harp, and join the chorus.”  Whether your mood is peaceful contemplation or joyful merriment, the harp simply is Christmas. 

If you’re a harpist, your calendar is likely bursting for the next few weeks with engagements from choir concerts to church services to office parties. You and your harp will be a part of more Christmas celebrations than you can count. Chances are good, however, that you have left out the most important holiday celebration of all - yours. Putting self-care on the back burner is never a good idea, but can be particularly damaging at this time of year.

Here is my cautionary tale:

I remember all too clearly a holiday season when my inner Grinch surfaced. I had been working what felt like non-stop, my toddler had an ear infection which meant I was sleep-deprived, and I was fighting horrible traffic to get to a party where I was going to play for three hours. I arrived at the party and found it was going to be more difficult than I expected to move the harp indoors. 

The party was in a private home, and I hadn’t realized that the hosts had invited their guests to come an hour before they wanted me to start. So even though I was early for my start time, the guests were already milling about, and trying to move the harp through the crowd without running anyone over took more patience than I had. I didn’t realize at the time that my grumpy “bah, humbug” spirit was showing, but the hosts let me know later that they were put off by it. They didn’t know I had only had three hours of sleep the past two nights. All they saw was my bad mood. 

It’s critical for yourself, and for anyone you plan to play for this season, that you maintain your holiday sparkle. Your first strategy should always be to ensure proper sleep, diet and exercise. But going one step further, I would like to suggest 5 ways to add some holiday harp happiness to your personal time, quick tips to make your own holidays special while you’re busy adding musical magic to everyone else’s. 

  1. Create the holiday mood at home. If you love decorating for the holidays, don’t forget your practice room. Hang that favorite decoration where you can see it when you are sitting at the harp. If decorating is beyond your capacity this season, get a scented candle - maybe cinnamon or evergreen - and bring some of the sensory holiday experience into your practice room.
  2. Switch out your usual warm-up. Your favorite arrangements of holiday carols could make an excellent warm-up. Try out the carols you want to learn for next year, or the ones you love that you want get a chance to play otherwise this year. 
  3. Make a holiday greeting card. Take a photo of your harp by your tree and use it as your holiday card this year. Even better, make a video of you playing a holiday song and send it as a video card to friends and family. 
  4. Share the harp happiness. Whether or not you will be performing this holiday season, you can always share the music by playing for a shut-in friend. What friend or family member hasn’t heard you play in a long time and would love to have you play their favorite song? You have the ability to give a unique gift to someone you love.
  5. Plan for success in the year ahead. What will you and your harp do together in the new year? Are you ready for the next level of growth? Do you want to try a new piece, learn a new technique, maybe spend more time with other harpists? Before the season gets too busy, give yourself a gift of lessons, or a workshop, or a retreat, something that will help you grow and enjoy your harp even more next year.

Don’t forget to take these moments for yourself. There’s nothing like your harp to help you celebrate the holidays.

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