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.

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