Is there a secret that every successful musician knows - and you don’t?
“She always seems so confident.” “She never lets things get to her.” “She doesn’t seem to feel the pressure.” “She looks like she’s having fun.”
Other the years I’ve watched performers who just didn’t seem to get flustered. They didn’t seem nervous or worried about the possibility of things going wrong. I’ve envied their calm.
I’ve also been surprised when people have said the same things to me, commenting on how easy I made it look.
While I understand how performing can look easy when you’re in the audience, I know that it certainly doesn’t feel that way while you’re up on stage. And in the years that I have been teaching and coaching harpists through auditions, competitions and performances, I have discovered that there is one thing that successful performers do that separates them from the rest.
Joan Sparks, Louis deLise, Anne Sullivan
What is it about the flute and the harp? These two instruments in combination evoke elegance and grace, both visually and aurally. Perhaps a Jane Austen drawing room comes to mind, or the most recent wedding you attended. Whatever else flute and harp music may be, it certainly is everywhere.
Like many harpists, I can remember my first flute and harp experience. It was typical, I imagine. I was asked to play at a wedding, and in the next sentence asked if I had a flutist who could play with me. I was in high school at the time and needed the paycheck, so without ever having worked with a flutist before, I promptly answered, “Of course.”
I found a school friend, Laurie, to play with me, and over the next few years, we performed a number of times at different venues. During that time, as I played with more community and youth orchestras, I also discovered that nearly every flutist I met was eager to work with a harpist.
Soon I had a...
Welcome to 2019! I love a new year. It feels like a beautifully wrapped present with your name on it, just waiting for you to open it. What might be inside??
If you’ve been following the last few blog posts, you’ve learned the steps to designing your 2019, to setting goals and creating a plan to achieve them. The process we have used is a little untraditional and whimsical, and I hope that you’ve had fun with it.
The lighthearted approach doesn’t dilute the power of the system, though. It’s just the spoonful of sugar that helps make the deep thinking a little more approachable.
I thought it might help you to see how I personally used that same system to set my Harp Mastery goals for 2019. I have several areas in which I set goals each year, and Harp Mastery is one of them. I also set personal goals, harp playing goals, spiritual goals and some others as well. I don’t always accomplish all of them, but I always end up having made progress in the...
In this third post in the “Design Your 2019” series, we discover the most important factor in achieving your goal.
The “Princess and the Pea” was always one of my favorite fairy tales. In this 1835 classic story, Hans Christian Andersen writes about the test that a prince’s mother devises to ascertain if a prospective bride for her son is truly of royal blood.
A young woman who appears at their castle door one dark and stormy night claims to be a princess but cannot prove it to the mother’s satisfaction. So the mother places a pea in her bed under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds, believing that only a true princess would be sensitive enough to feel the irritation in the bed. When the princess awakes the next morning, exhausted from a sleepless, uncomfortable night, the mother concedes her royalty, and the price and princess live happily ever after.
The true test of the princess was not in how she looked or acted, but in her deep sensitivity, not...
In last week’s blog post, Design Your 2019: Write Your Movie, you created your movie trailer, your description of your harp vision for yourself. You identified your happy ending as well as some of the obstacles you might encounter along the way.
Your next step is to look at what you will need to do and NOT do in order for your vision to become your reality. Most people would begin by setting out the steps they need to follow. Unfortunately, it’s easy to bog down in that process; there are so many steps that it’s hard to know where to start.
You probably won’t be surprised to know that I have a different approach for you to try. We will use the Sorting Hat.
If you know the Harry Potter books or movies, you’re familiar with the Sorting Hat. As each new student enters Hogwarts Academy, the Sorting Hat is placed on his or her head and the hat assigns them to one of the four houses: Gryffindor for the courageous, Hufflepuff for the humble and hard-working,...
You may not be familiar with Don LaFontaine’s name, but I guarantee you have heard his voice. His deep and resonant voice became synonymous with the words, “In a world where…” Yes, Don LaFontaine was the movie trailer voice, warning us of the perils that awaited our hero and his eventual triumph over them.
What if your harp story were a movie? What would be your happy ending? What difficulties would you encounter along your path and how would you surmount them?
Today I want to walk you through the first step in planning for 2019. I want to help you design your harp happiness, not just hope that you stumble across it. And we will do it together by writing your own “In a world where…” movie trailer.
Possibly you have tried to set goals before and failed. The way most people approach it, it’s a painful process. But it doesn’t have to be, and the process we will start today is not only painless; it’s even fun.
In today’s world, fame is just one viral video away.
The internet stream of cute cats and adorable toddler antics is the modern megaphone for getting your new message out to the world.
The internet, and YouTube in particular, has transformed the music industry from one in which you had to know the right people to get any notice to one where all you need is your cell phone. As we become ever more accustomed to the instant worldwide audience that every musician has access today, we find ourselves wondering how music could possibly spread in a pre-high-tech era.
As it happens, this year we celebrate the anniversary of a piece of music that “went viral” 200 years ago. It was Christmas Eve of1818 when one of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols was written and performed for the first time.
That day the assistant priest of a small church in Oberndorf, Austria handed the church organist a poem he had written and asked the church’s organist to set it to...
It’s nearly impossible to play your best when you’re tense. And whether that tension comes from nerves, stress, holiday headaches or all three really doesn’t matter. Tension can ruin your health, your music and your mood.
Before the holidays reach their fever pitch, let’s look at some commonsense ways to ease the stress and create relaxation and – dare we say it? – beauty in your playing.
There’s nothing mystical here, no crystals or aromatherapy. Just a few simple ideas to help you add your musical touch to the holidays and enjoy it. Does that sound impossible? Fear not; read on.
The most important thing you can do for your playing is to have strong and supple support from your body, and that starts with your posture. Here are a few key elements of posture to keep in mind and check regularly:
Nearly everyone experiences some physical manifestation of performance nerves.
Whether it’s butterflies in the stomach, cold feet, sweaty palms, shaky hands or scattered thoughts, these symptoms can threaten to undo all our hours of hard work and preparation. Even worse, it’s often fear of the symptoms, not the anxiety about the performance itself, that causes the most damage.
This is why performers are always on the hunt for the silver bullet, the magic cure that will keep the nerves at bay. Ask around and you will find people who put their trust in meditation, deep breathing, medication, bananas and lucky socks. If any of these work for you, that’s fantastic.
But that’s not what this post is all about.
I would like to share three strategies for coping with nerves and anxiety that have more to do with management than with magic. You might not have heard many people talk about them, but they are powerful core strategies that will work even when your lucky...