There aren't very many decent pictures of me playing the harp, but I intend to start changing that...

That icon comes from this picture )

Last week Natick had its first monthly Art Walk, where downtown merchants stay open late and bring in local artists to show off their work. I, being a downtown merchant, participated. Since my shop is a bit off the main drag, I did the pied-piper thing and played the harp outside to draw attention to my place. A local news photographer, who'd visited the shop earlier, came back and snapped this pic, which she shared with me.

Technical note: here I'm playing my small 29-string Pakistani harp... I'd loaned it to a friend, but borrowed it back for the occasion. Even if I *could* move the pedal harp to the shop for things like this, I'm not sure I'd want to. Of course, now I have to start practicing songs that fit on the little harp... I've been spoiled by playing a harp that goes more than one octave below middle C...
Some of you may remember this post I made last year about a new musical toy (29-string folk harp). I thought I'd offer an update along with some thoughts...

I started out teaching myself, then at some point I realized that maybe some lessons would be in order. I mean I was making progress, but I didn't know if my hand position was really correct or anything like that. I so did not want to repeat the mistake I made on the piano which was to practice mistakes early on and ingrain habits that get in my way later on.

Long story short, I found a fantastic harp teacher just a few minutes from my new house in Natick. In fact, I'd consider her my best music teacher evar!. She and I hit it off right away, and it's been great working with her ever since (hey, she's a music person and a cat person, can't go wrong there!). For the first time in my life practice on an instrument is fun and stimulating; I look forward to plinking on the harp before bed, and I make time for practice every day. I also look forward to lessons in a way that I never did before.

I think the big difference is that these lessons have a different dynamic than my lessons of the past. It feels like more of a "collaborative" relationship and less of an adversarial one. Under the old pattern, I'd prepare my lesson every week (or not, since it was often more of a chore than a pleasure) and submit it to the teacher for judgment. With the harp and my current teacher, I'm more able to work with her on my lessons. Take the piece, practice it, make note of what does and doesn't work, and bring those issues up to her at the next lesson.

There were some weeks towards the beginning where I wasn't able to practice at all (especially when we were in moving or electrician hell). During that time I felt comfortable coming right out and telling her I didn't practice, but what could we work on. I got a lot more mileage out of those lessons than when I was a kid and didn't practice the piano or sax...

At one point I realized that I might want to revisit the piano at some point with this new approach. I asked her if she could recommend a piano teacher that works the way she does. She said, "Oh, I also teach piano too!". Woot! I haven't started piano studies with her yet; the plan is that I'll continue on the harp alone for a few more months, then we'd go to alternating weeks for harp and piano. We'll see how that goes.

I'll likely be posting more entries on this thread of my life under the "harp" keyword and an appropriate icon...

March 2015

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