I recently presented a workshop that I call “The 12 Habits of Highly Happy Harpists.” (My apologies to Stephen Covey.) Over my years of performing and teaching, I have noticed that the harpists who find more enjoyment and fulfillment in their harp lives have these particular habits in common. This is even more true for those harpists who make the harp their career. And I was pleased to present this at Philly Harp Day last March to a very active and inspiring group of harpists.
On my list of habits, Habit #6 is connecting with other harpists. We harpists are very social people, but playing the harp is rarely a social enterprise. We usually don’t have a large section in an orchestra where we can find harp friends. Getting together with other harpists to play can be difficult because of the harp moving involved. And sometimes, we live in a place that just doesn’t have a large harp community.
Nevertheless, keeping in touch with other harpists is crucial to our happiness and to our growth as harpists. Where else would you find a friend that truly understands the irritation of working with a conductor who just won’t wait for you to set your pedals, or the difficulty of getting your harp in tune in rainy weather? Who else could share in the joy of a perfect harmonic?
I learn so many important things from my harp friends. We share everything from the best place to park at that downtown hotel, to a great fingering for the arpeggios in Don Juan, to when the harp regulator is coming to town.
At this time of year, I am helping my students finalize their summer harp plans, so that they can use their vacation from school to learn more, have more fun and grow their musicianship over the summer. And one of our considerations is helping them expand their harp friendships as well as their musical horizons. (This isn’t just for younger students – I encourage my adult students to do the same thing!)
Here are some of my own plans for the summer:
Mid Atlantic Harp Conference, May 31, 2014
The American Harp Society National Conference, June 22-26, 2014
Somerset Harp Festival, July 31 – August 3
And here are two that I present each summer:
Harp Mastery Day, June 28, 2014 in Bryn Mawr, PA
Harp in the Mountains Summer Festival, (harpists age 13-19) July 13-19, 2014 Coburn, PA
There are many other camp and conference options, and there is almost certainly one that is not too far from you. And for ongoing “harp support,” be sure to visit the Harp Column website, where there is always something happening on the forums.