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Where is Music Leading You?

music miscellany Oct 19, 2015

Blog Harp in the Mountains 2018! About Anne Resources Contact MY HARP MASTERY Where is Music Leading You? POSTED ON OCTOBER 19, 2015 BY ANNE Vecchio portone con batacchi leoniniDo you think you know where music is leading you? Is it to a career, a fulfilling avocation, or a rewarding way to connect with other people? Or are you approaching one of those places where you’re not sure what the next step is or which way to go?

There are often “opportunity moments” in music study, moments when we experience the power and possibility in going a new direction or trying something new. Your first musical “opportunity moment” was probably when you decided on an instrument to study. That was the beginning of a musical journey for you, and you ave likely discovered since then that the path was not as straight or as clear as you had expected.

I’d like to look at some of the more usual “opportunity moments” and share with you some of the advice that...
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The Secret of Professional Musicians

musicianship Oct 12, 2015

Professional musicians exude a confidence that is the envy of many aspiring music students. They seem unflustered and calm,not burdened with nerves or uncertainty. How did they get to that level of security? And how can you get even a little bit of that for yourself?

The secret to that confidence is easy to identify; it’s experience. Whatever it is, whatever sort of performance, whatever type of music, they’ve done it before, and probably many times over many years.

We all understand the value of experience, how it is a foundation that supports you and a cushion that prevents hard landings. But do you know what kind of experience you need? And do you know how to use your experience to best advantage?

The most obvious kind of experience is performing experience. Playing everywhere you can and for every audience you can find is the easiest way to create comfort for yourself when you perform. That doesn’t mean every concert will be easy or that you will never feel...

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Are You Holding Yourself Back?

musicianship Oct 05, 2015

It’s no secret that the person in our mirror is the one that can make the biggest impact on our lives. If you feel like you’re doingGirl walking through a magic door in sky everything right, but it’s still not working, this story is for you…

Many years ago, I started karate lessons. It wasn’t something I had ever thought I would be doing, but when my son started karate, it seemed like an interesting idea. I liked the structure, the discipline and the exercise, both physical and mental, that it demanded.

Only weeks after we started, the studio help a “board breaking” event, where all the students were invited to come and be instructed on how to break boards with their hands. Naturally I was a little concerned for my hands, but the sensei (who was also a musician) assured me that I would not hurt my hands and that, yes, even brand-new beginners could do this.

So that evening, the younger students gathered in their circle and the adults...

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What’s Your (Metronome) Number?

musicianship Sep 21, 2015

I was sitting in the audience at a concert. A performer was onstage receiving well-deserved applause, and I heard two people in front of me commenting on the performance. “She played well, but it was too fast,” said one to the other. Just a moment later, someone behind me said to their neighbor, “I really think she should have played it a little faster. It was under tempo.” Did these people actually hear the same performance, or were they just listening for a metronome number? 

Obviously, they heard the same performance, but in different ways. And what their comments made clear was that there is no single “perfect” tempo, but that tempo is as much as part of overall musicality as dynamics and tone. Tempo is just one of the musical elements that we performers choose to communicate our musical ideas. It is part of our personal expression of a piece of music.

But if tempo can be an individual choice, what are we to do when a composer has given...

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Build Your Repertoire without Having a Breakdown

performing Sep 14, 2015

The scene: A visitor comes to your home and sees your beautiful harp in its special place in your living room. “Play something for me,” she says. You gracefully take your place at the harp and play a piece of music that enchants and delights.

Or does your scenario run this way: When your visitor says, “Play something for me, ” you respond, “Well, I don’t really know anything, that is, it’s not finished yet and you probably wouldn’t like it anyhow…”

It’s a shame not to be able to play something for friends who ask (or for an audience, for that matter), especially if you’ve been playing for some time, but that isn’t the worst part. The worst part is the embarrassment at having to admit it. It’s hard to feel like you’ve accomplished anything if you have nothing you can show for it.

That’s perhaps the most powerful reason to always have ready repertoire, nothing fancy, but music that you can...

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Does Your Music Speak?

musicianship practicing Sep 07, 2015

Can you hear me now?

Do you struggle to make your music speak? Are your hands so full of the notes that there doesn’t seem to be time to think about the music? Perhaps you know your music should communicate something, but you’re not exactly sure what it should say or even how to go about making it speak. Or maybe you’re trying, but it doesn’t feel like you’re doing enough.

In the earliest stages of music study, a teacher emphasizes basic technical skills. After all, if you can’t play any notes, you certainly can’t make music. Then the student learns about dynamics, and learns to create soft and loud notes and to make gradual changes like a crescendo or diminuendo. Often, however, there comes a point where teachers stop “teaching” students about expression and just expect the students to play musically.

In contrast, I remember my teacher spending entire lessons on how to shape a particular phrase, or pace a rallentando evenly....

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What’s Your One Thing?

musicianship practicing Aug 31, 2015

We musicians are a dedicated bunch. While we may not fit the romantic image of the musician starving and sacrificing all for Busker singing and playing guitar inside a rubbish binhis art, we all make big sacrifices every day in order to play music, whether we are professionals, students or amateurs.

Consider this. You’ve bought an instrument (or two or three), paid for lessons, and spent hours practicing. You put yourself in uncomfortable situations like lessons and performances. You have a desire to play and you are prepared to do what it takes to make music the way you want.

So here’s the question: is it working out the way you hoped? Are you having a good time? Are you making the progress you want? What new musical experiences are on the horizon for you? What are you looking forward to playing someday?

As you prepare to start “back to school” season, take a moment to look at your playing and set some new goals or recommit yourself to old ones. I just went...

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Why You Should Be Impatient – Now!

We have all heard that patience is a virtue. Patience is also a necessary skill for every musician. We must have patience while we develop our technique, learn our repertoire, or memorize a piece of music.

After all, music is an art of “becoming.” You aren’t simply born a musician; you “become” a musician, and that takes time, diligence and patience.

But impatience can also be a valuable tool. While patience is strong and steadfast, impatience urges us to take quick action and inspires us with energy, drive and motivation. Impatience is the kindling that turns our creative spark into a roaring fire. When you understand how to use your impatience, you are tapping into a powerful force.

Think of how impatient you might be to:

  • Start learning your “dream” piece.
  • Plan a special performance.
  • Develop your personal repertoire.
  • Play music with a group of friends.
  • Try playing music in a different musical style.
  • Compose your own music.
  • Have some fun...
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Fingering Followup: a Checklist

musicianship practicing Aug 17, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about why you should write less fingering in your music. I started getting quite a number of questions and some nervous reaction to the post, so I’d like to post this followup to clarify some of those questions..

Some people seemed to think I was advocating not writing in fingering at all, which is not what I meant. I do write fingering in my music, and I can’t imagine that there is any harpist who doesn’t.

But there are important distinctions to be made between which fingering is necessary or even essential, and why, and which fingering is not only unnecessary but quite possibly counter-productive. When you are using fingering markings correctly, they will help you play your pieces more reliably, fluidly and musically. When you are using your fingering markings incorrectly, you are likely actually slowing down your technical and musical development. Who needs that?!

So to help you make these distinctions and keep your...

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Where Creativity Finds Direction: the Teacher-Student Partnership

music miscellany news Aug 10, 2015

Sometimes tension is a good thing.

Tension happens at the place where two opposite forces or desires meet. At that place or in that moment, the forces are equal. The tension is resolved either when one of the forces prevails over the other, or the forces work together.

Picture the surface of a pool of water, calm and undisturbed. A leaf floats down to the water and the surface tension of the water supports the leaf and it floats. But a swimmer dives into the water, breaks the tension and plunges into the depths. Or a young boy skips a stone across the water, the surface of the water helping to project the stone on its journey.

The music lesson can be that moment as well, that place where the interests of the student and the expertise of the teacher meet with the dual aims of expressing and directing the student’s musical creativity. And that is why the integrity of the partnership is so critical to the student’s success. What are the two opposing forces in the...

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