Tuesday, 27 March 2012


You would think that as a harpist, I would understand how important it is to listen to other harpists performing. I get a lot from going to concerts (although I don't do it very often, not nearly often enough) and taking part in workshops etc. But I have always found it incredibly hard to sit down and listen to classical music. Part of me cannot sit still in contemplation for long enough. The rest of me is afraid of the emotions that come up from listening to and concentrating completely on music that I love.

My mum bought me a harp CD for Christmas. The CD is called Harp Showpieces, and I doubt she had even heard of the harpist - Judy Loman. I suspected she looked at the back of the box, saw La Source which I recently performed for the first time (having fallen in love with it aged 10!), and thought it would make a good stocking filler.

Hasselmans - La Source - performed by Isabelle Moretti

I don't think she knows what she has started. I lent it out to the payroll manager at work as his wife had expressed an interest in getting some harp music to listen to, so he came round to my desk one day to ask for some recommendations. I lent it out before I had listened to it myself, then realised this wasn't quite right, and so once he gave it back, I had a listen. I broke my rule of no classical music in the car (normally I get too absorbed and can't concentrate on the road) and it hasn't been out of the CD player all week.

A chance comment from a chat over Facebook with another harpist's brother led to my discovering the Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo by Parish Alvars - which I then was delighted to find was on my new CD. He had said it was his favourite, but his sister said it was really hard, and did I play it. His sister is incredibly talented and is one of my biggest sources of inspiration, having been completely wowed by one of her solo concerts a couple of years ago. I said I couldn't play it, and if his sister found it hard, there was precious little hope for me. I didn't know it at all, so skipped through to the track on the CD and began to listen. It was incredible.

Parish Alvars - Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo - performed by Eleanor Turner

It then reminded me of another piece which I absolutely adore, and has been a favourite for some time - Legende by Henriette Renie - herself an incredibly talented and pioneering harpist from the days where women were only allowed to play the harp at home as a way of increasing their marriageability!

Renie - Legende - Xavier de Maistre

I'm not sure I can bear the thought that I will never perform these pieces - doing a full time job, plus all the other things I currently spend my time on, means I do not have the required practice time to devote to the harp. Truth be told, just the practice time alone wouldn't be enough anyway. I am carrying another scary injury, and I know that if I am to really progress, I need to spend a significant amount of time and effort picking things apart and putting them back together

I began investigating music courses (long story) and am thrilled to have been offered an audition at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire on April 18th....

So I have picked up my practice time again, to get ready for the scariest performance of my life.

And to help me out, my mum pitched up with another CD on Sunday - this time she admitted she didn't have a clue who the harpist was - and it was the aforementioned Xavier de Maistre, who is rather dashing and Mum admitted this was a big part of the reason for choosing it. I have yet to listen to it, as I copied it onto my phone and promptly lent it back to her!

My blog has been a little light on pictures recently so here is a harp I adore.... a Marmite harp - I think it is stunning. It's a Salvi Scolpita - and the image is from Salvi Harps

Monday, 19 March 2012


I read this article on my lunch break today Lucky Bears and was struck firstly by the beautiful pictures, which remind me of my beautiful greyhound Ronnie. His eyes are very similar to the bears in the picture (my other dog has big dark eyes rather than small deep set eyes).

It's quite exciting to think of what researchers can learn from one animal and apply to another to help them.

Most of all, I wondered, would it not just be common sense to assume that after 5 months of slowing your very existence down to the bare minimum, of course all your battle wounds would heal and your body would be restored? (I realise that it's a bit more complicated than that, as bears' temperatures drop significantly etc)

When I went on my yoga holiday in October last year, our instructor talked a lot about how your body's natural rhythms slow right down over the winter, to rest and rejuvenate ready for the spring. Admittedly I haven't felt particularly springlike over the past couple of weeks, but otherwise I have spent most of winter eagerly anticipating what the new year would bring.

I have lots of things in the harp diary, things to help me grow as a harpist as well as fun things to do just for the love of playing my instrument and sharing it with others. I am loving teaching my 4 wonderful pupils, who always leave me feeling inspired and full of possibilities after our lessons.

I have booked 2 full weeks off work, one in April and one in June. The week in April should see my house well on the way to being finished off, plus giving me some time to get some proper practice (and some training!) in.

I'd love to book a proper 'getting away' holiday, but my current future plans are uncertain, there are some exciting things in the offing and until I am a bit more certain I don't want to commit myself financially to anything too big.

So while I have spent my last few months not hibernating in the bear sense, I do feel like I have had some time to take stock, heal from a difficult year, and work out what might be next for me. The original Project M is now a distant dream, but there could be a different M in place of it which is very exciting, and extremely scary. But in a good, glad to be alive way.

Thursday, 15 March 2012


I have purchased a domain name (well, 4 actually)

I have joined twitter.

I have asked my pet IT person for some help with building my website.

I have an idea of how this will all fit together with my blog.

I'm quite excited about all this really.

Other things in life are feeling pretty stuck right now, but hopefully the above progress combined with some harp practice and some clutter clearance will keep me going....

Here's a quick song which is rattling round my head at the moment... utterly delightful quality pop

I love the lyric "Oh, I want life, Life wants me..."

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Neglect of many types

I have neglected my blog. I have neglected my harp playing. I have neglected myself in many ways.

I've just got through a couple of days of tiredness-to-the-point-of-loopiness and it has been a bit scary how quickly it's possible to go from everything feeling good to everything feeling very, very bad.

This March will be another busy one - last year I called it Mad March for the Harp and was rather stunned that it happened again this year.

I'm drifting a bit and losing focus - after a year of healing last year, there are so many things I want to achieve now I am back in the room as it were, but this will take some careful planning so I must make sure I find some time to do this. I love planning (typical Virgo) but normally I fail to make said plans stick (not typical Virgo!).

Having nearly given up the harp approximately 3 times a day over the last few weeks, I am now pretty sure I want to continue. Time is the main obstacle for me, there is not enough time for me and not enough for the harp. Finding my voice (well, in a harp way), my style, finding how I work best with the harp, these are exciting prospects for me, but scary too as they are so deeply entangled with who I am and who I want to be.

When I think of giving up, I then think about playing La Source, playing the Pierne Impromptu-Caprice (now a very distant memory!), playing Stairway to Heaven and Paranoid, playing with Frankie and John, listening to Glinka's Nocturne (forever associated with the lovely Marie) and Renie's Legende and de Falla's Spanish Dance. The thought of never playing again then gets too much and I feel guilty about even thinking that way. Deep down I know there's no harm in exploring all the options, but it's hard to find those who can really relate, and empathise, and counsel.

I need to ring my fantastic harping friend Zanna as she never fails to lift my spirits and get me inspired again....