Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Door

It's early summer and something just bloomed. I've been waiting for it longer than I can remember. Winter seemed to go on forever, spring brought me lots of beauty. Yet still I waited. I didn't know what was going to happen, but I knew if I was patient enough, strong enough, and had enough belief, that something wonderful was going to come into my life.

A few minutes ago, as I was playing Kim Robertson's arrangement of The Minstrel Boy (sort of my theme song), I came to the end - and began to improvise! I had written/arranged/improvised on the piano years ago, but for some reason the harp always told me, "No. Not now. You're not ready." Intellectually I had all the tools I needed - except for the jackhammer I needed to break through the wall I was continually hitting. Perhaps I suddenly just noticed that the wall had a door in it...

I had begun playing gently, as I usually do. I brought the music up a notch, and floated back down. My hands reached in to coax the tone deeper as I reached the part that goes, "One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard - One faithful harp shall praise thee." But instead of ending, by hands took over and melded with the strings as I drifted lower, lower into the deep bass voice of my Warrior Caste McFall harp. I felt the vibration of the harp's body on my shoulder and in my chest. Something was being pulled out of me - 7ths and suspended chords - that were not in the arrangement. Chord resolutions drew me up into the middle ranges of the harp, and the song became gentle again. Around and around the melody spiraled up and down, braking apart and completely disappearing into fragments. I couldn't stop - wouldn't stop. I sped up. I slowed down. Old chords morphed. New chords entered, left, returned.

Was the me? Where was this coming from?

And, as I sit here I wonder - will it ever come back?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


It's been a long, blah winter without even a clean blanket of snow to hide the dormant grass and dirt. But the sun is out and temperatures are rising, fooling my daffodils into swiftly reaching out of the earth. Is there any wonder that I am eager for spring?

And with thoughts of spring, comes the anticipation of my yearly migration to The Harp Gathering. I will forever hold the two events in my memory as I recall the warming breezes, the golden sunrises over newly planted fields, and the sounds of harps in the air.

This will be the fourth spring I head off on my own to renew my spirit in the company of other harpers, harpists and the beautiful instruments they bring with them. The harps, like the people who bring them, are each unique in their own beauty. Their souls resonate through their soundboards and speak to my own in their secret language. The harpists glow from the joy of the sound washing over them.

Sound a "little over the top?" Perhaps. But, like my daffodils, I suddenly feel my arms reaching up for the warmth and light of spring - and The Harp Gathering.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peace Hour 2011

I just saw on Facebook that there will be an "event" on September 11, 2011 called Peace Hour. It's a wonderful idea from Harpists for Peace, and you can find more information at their website at:

This bit from their site tells a little about it:

"Harpists for Peace is an organization that was formed in 2007 by its president, Alexis Aria. The group's objective is to use creative means, especially through the use of the harp, a soothing and relaxing instrument, to invite all people to discuss some of the most vital issues of our times.

The Peace Hour is a global event, in which harpists all over the world play harp for one hour, inviting the audience to imagine through their own individual visions, World Peace. For a few minutes during the Peace Hour, harpists will pause the performance to commemorate the innocent lives lost; and invite the audience to remember the costly side of wars and conflicts."

I think that this is one of the greatest ideas I've heard in a long time! Starting today I'll be going through my music to find the pieces I'll be playing, and finding a location. Stay tuned for further updates!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mornings in the Garden

Last week we had the pleasure of having Two Women and a Hoe do some work for us again. This time it was a big job! They transformed our front yard into a garden that is really turning heads in the neighborhood.

It's only been five days, but my new garden has already had a great effect on my state of mind. Every morning I got out to water each new plant and check on their well-being. Are they getting enough water? to much water? I am amazed at how the rose bushes are blooming profusely, and the other bushes are sprouting new leaves. There are 57 plants and one tree, and it seems that I can remember each one and remark upon it's personal growth.

The tree and I are becoming great friends. Every day I begin the watering with the Red Bud-Forest Pansy tree by sitting on the nearby boulder and letting the water wash around the tree for a really long drink. I think about the beauty of the day and my surroundings. I then take my hose down the path and around each plant.

There is one special rose bush that I've become very fond of. The bushes all look identical, but when you get to know them, you'll see that one has blooms that are just a half shade lighter than the rest. I feel a special kinship with this "different" sister. I was the girl who grew up playing "war" with the boys because I was the only girl my age on the block. I was the girl who took up the coronet instead of the flute. In fact, when everyone else traded in their coronets for trumpets, I refused. I preferred the more mellow rounder tone of the coronet. I was the girl who read science fiction and watched Star Trek. And when computers first entered the workplace, and everyone else went running scared of the monster, I embraced it. (Thank you, Mr. Spock.)

Being a little different isn't uncomfortable to me. I love those parts of me that may seem a little "off" to others. I like to think that, like the rose, I add a little something unique to the garden.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's been a busy couple of weeks since The Harp Gathering, and I'm sorry that I haven't posted sooner.

As promised, here's the pictures:

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I didn't have much time to savor the experience when I arrived home, because I was preparing to photograph a friend's daughter's wedding. Immediately after that I made a last minute decision to take another photography class which required that I gather together 70 of my best photographs in order to develop a portfolio. This means, unfortunately, that the summer of The Harp Gathering will have to wait until another day.

Until then -

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Harp for Hearts

This morning I chatted with the winner of the prize harp at breakfast. She told me how she said a quick prayer before the drawing that went something like this: "Lord, if I win this harp, I'll use it to serve You." Within seconds Denise pulled her entry out of the basket. Then, to let her know exactly how she was to use the harp in service to God, there is a workshop this morning called Harps for Hearts - a decade of music for healing. There are other reasons that appeared that evening to confirm that this particular "harp for hearts" was intended for her.

There are so many things I am anxious to tell everyone about, but there isn't time at the moment. I'll also be attending the Harps for Hearts workshop, and the concert featuring Louise Trotter immediately after. Then it will be time for the drive home. It may be a day or two before I put up a summery of the weekend, but I'll hopefully have a slideshow of my photographs tomorrow.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Intention and Grace

This morning I attended a workshop with Timothy Harper that I had attended last year - The Minstrel's Mission. It was such an important workshop for me personally that I just had to hear his message again.

Timothy wanted us to be aware of our intention in playing the harp. What did we believe our mission to be? Was it self actualization? Comfort for others? Bringing laughter and joy? Bringing grace to others? It's not something I think about when I sit down to the harp. I often think about what I should be learning, am I playing the tune correctly, how can I get better, etc. In the next few days I'll be spending more of my time thinking about where I intend my harp to take me.

Sharlene Wallace also set the tone for my day. In her workshop, I Love Playing Scales!, she encouraged us to relax our hands, wrists and arms and send out sound arrows when playing scales. "Relaxation is Freedom!" she stated emphatically. Here I was, going back to the beginning of my harp journey, playing scales once again. But this time, I was relaxed, confident and focused. Yes, relaxation gave me more freedom to play with a rounder, richer tone. After the workshop I stayed behind a few minutes just to relax and play tunes I am familiar with. With all the things to do with weekend, I've been waiting to have the time to do this. Even though there were other people in the room, I was able to zone out and and spend time focused on just me and my harp. With my severe stage-fright, that's a nearly impossible thing. But I was relaxed - and feeling free.

Lunch time brought the "harp tasting." The audience sat with their back to the stage, as two harpers, one of which was Frank Voltz, played several different harps so that we could compare the sound. Bill Webster choose my McFall to be one of the harps used, and it was great to hear it played by two such talented performers.

Afternoon brought another fun workshop with Kim Robertson and many conversations with workshop participants, including one who made the last minute decision to attend on Friday morning. Her husband flew her here from Kansas in his plane in time for the Friday night concert.

Tonight's concert began with Timothy Harper singing and playing some of his favorite songs. He told us a wonderful story about Denise Grupp-Verbon which I will save for later.

After Timothy, Sharlene Wallace took the stage. "Relaxation is freedom" was evident in her playing. Her fluid, effortless playing was inspiring. I also was mesmerized by the Latin rhythms.

Lisa Lynne also entranced me. Grace poured from her harp in a laid-back Californian style that caused me to envision ocean waves breaking on a beach. Then she playfully brought out an angel puppet and used it to play the melody line of a piece. Can it get any better?

You bet it can! After the concert everyone filtered into the Vendor Hall. There was the usual sound of many harps being tried out, but then I heard two harps playing a tune together. I turned around to find the legendary Louise Trotter jamming with Kim Robertson. They were each using a Jeff Lewis new GH model harp. People stopped what they were doing and gathered in a circle around them. After a few songs, Frank Voltz was pulled into the circle. With shouts of "Go Frank, go!" he began to add in some great jazz licks. As the playing continued, the crowd was encouraged to sing along. As we did with our Happy Birthday song for Timothy Harper the night before, this was a group could sing along in three part harmony!

Eventually someone reminded us that there was a big morning planned and the jam session broke up. So here I am, trying to get a few thoughts written down before sleep erases them. I've got tons of great photos from the day that will have to wait until I get home to share them with you.

Oh! and I almost forgot! The prize harp was raffled off this evening! The rest of the prizes will be raffled off tomorrow. But for now, it's off to bed for me. I'll be back in the morning.