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Things are Underway!

Things are finally kicking off around here!  My previous post mentioned the calm before the storm, referring to the last few weeks before things started to get really busy for me.  I’m now a couple weeks into that and things are just going to get busier!

 

Student’s New Harp & A Weekend of Lessons

One of my students has been on the lookout for a really good pedal harp for several months now and a couple weeks ago, I was able to set her up with the perfect harp down in Alpharetta.  Two students with two new pedal harps in the last two months…how exciting!

Congratulations, Julianna!

The following weekend, I spent a few days up in the Nashville area teaching lessons.  Julianna had her first lesson on her awesome new pedal harp, so we spent time going over some “proper pedal techniques” and looking at some new types of repertoire that she’ll now be able to play.

First lesson on a new harp!

I also spent an entire day with one of my other students, in what I referred to as a sort of intensive harp “day camp” focusing on some problem areas and general performance practice and stage presence.  I took my 85 with me so that we were able to play together, including a couple of fun harp duets.

I pulled into the driveway with a loaded-down car, ready for a full day of the harp!

 

AHS Evaluations

This past weekend, I had the fantastic experience of serving as the adjudicator for Day 1 of the Georgia Chapter of the American Harp Society’s Auditions & Evaluations.  Students from a wide variety of ages, levels, and backgrounds came and performed solos for me while I wrote down my impressions and suggestions for improvement.  Afterwards, I had a few minutes with each student to go over my feedback with them.  In March, we’ll all get together for Day 2, where each of the students will once again perform the same solos for me, showing me in what ways they did (and possibly didn’t) use my feedback to improve.  I’ll once again provide my feedback on their performance, then many of them will perform solos in a recital.

I’m thrilled to have been asked to be a part of this event and send so much appreciation to Ellen Foster, the Chapter President, for all of the work that she has done and will continue to do for the event.  I thoroughly enjoyed spending a long day viewing performances from such a variety of students (would you believe no two students performed any of the same pieces?) and I’m really looking forward to Day 2 when I get to hear how all of the students have improved.

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Pencil and paper ready to go, just waiting for the first student to arrive.

 

My Newest Fan

Last week, we added a new member to our family.  Meet Ori!  He’s already one of my biggest fans and decided to get up close and personal with my harp the first time he saw me practice.

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Since then, he’s decided on a less obtrusive spot to spend my practice time.  More often than not, I find him curled up under my bench while I’m playing.  Once the other kitties get used to his arrival in our family, I’m sure I’ll have all 4 kitties listening to me practice!

What’s Next?

So much!  I’m only just getting started!

Next weekend is my student Masterclass.  All of my students in the area are preparing their solos, so I’m really looking forward to what will be a new experience for all of them.  I’m also preparing a mini-workshop on some particular topics that students are interested in, such as tips for memorization.  I hope to record the Masterclass for students who are unable to attend.

The weekend after, I’ll be performing at the Alpharetta Presbyterian Church Kirkin of the Tarten celebration services.  I love Celtic music, so I’m always excited for any opportunity to play a bit of Scottish music.

The following weekend, I’ll be spending a couple days down in Montgomery Alabama in rehearsal and performance of the chamber arrangement of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.  The two harp parts for the full orchestra version are not easy, so this chamber arrangement where both harp parts are basically smooshed into one is a real challenge!  I can’t wait for this performance, it’s such a wonderful and beautiful choral piece.  This will also be my first time performing with the Montgomery Chorale.

The weekend after that will be Day 2 for the AHS Evaluations!

Followed the next weekend by Recital #1 in Murfressboro, Tennessee.  Stay tuned for all of the official details for my upcoming recitals.

And on and on from there!

 

Project in the Works

I know I like to say cryptic things about big projects in the works…but keep an eye on my website and Facebook  page for news about an upcoming project that I’m working on.  On top of everything else going on, I’m cracking down on one of the big projects that was displaced by our sudden move to Georgia last year.  Stayed tuned!

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A Calm Before the Storm…

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season!  I ended up having a quiet Christmas home alone with my kitties this year while my husband traveled to visit family.  A few days earlier, Gurney – our cat who was very sick back in July/August – started showing signs of the same illness again.  Between needing to keep an almost constant eye on him and our other cat Riley’s feeding tube, it was decided that I should just stay here.  It was a bit surreal spending Christmas home alone, but the fact that I’m going into another year with all 3 of my babies means that it was worth it!

 

Christmas Blessings

The last few weeks have been filled with some very welcome blessings!  Not the least of which is Gurney seems to be back to normal and Riley had her feeding tube removed last week.  I can’t begin to describe the weight that has been lifted from me.

Gurney has resumed his job as the household crazy cat. Here he is making a bed of my harp cover, as he does every chance he gets.

I had a fantastic time performing with the Alpharetta Symphony Orchestra for the first time a few weeks ago.  It was an absolutely lovely concert and I met some wonderful musicians.  I look forward to performing with them again in the future!  Unfortunately, none of my family were able to attend the concert, so I don’t have any pictures of the beautiful church or the performance.

I also had an amazing time performing with the Roueché Chorale up in Chattanooga the weekend before Christmas.  I performed with the orchestra and choir, as well as twenty minutes of solo prelude music at the start of each evening.  The church was packed for both performances and the concerts were extremely well-received.  Mr.Roueché’s arrangements and selections for the program were gorgeous and the overall experience was absolutely stunning.  Even though I was a performer, even getting to listen to the performances was probably my favorite Christmas experience to date.  My parents enjoyed the first performance so much that they drove up to Chattanooga from Alabama the following evening just to see it again!  My best friend Edna, who lives in Iowa, also attended both performances…though that could have been in part because she was staying with me and was forced to go wherever I did while she was here… 😉

Photo by Berrie Smith, taken from the Roueché Chorale Facebook page. (Click the picture for link.)

One other blessing that happened right before Christmas was….the long-awaited return of my piano!  It was delivered a couple weeks before Christmas, but was so out of tune from the repairs and shipping that I had to wait until I was able to have it tuned a little over a week ago before I could really play it.  The piano is 28 years old and was extremely faded in certain areas from 20 years in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, so the finish was evened out while the piano was up in Indiana at the factory.  The result is that the piano now not only sounds a great as ever, but looks practically brand new!  It’s not quite the deep red cherry that it was in 1989, but the piano tuner could hardly believe it wasn’t a brand new piano when he walked in the front door!

Originally knowing Walter Pianos only by reputation, the piano tuner and his apprentice both fell in love with my piano during the time they were here.

More exciting news in recent weeks include the purchase of a brand new Chicago 40 pedal harp by one of my students!  Congratulations, Anna!  One of my other students has also just put a deposit down on a wonderful 85E pedal harp.  I happened to be at the harp store when the current owners brought the harp in and was able to check it out and play it.  I knew immediately that it would be a fantastic fit for my student, so I’m excited that she’ll be able to check it out and see if she agrees.

 

What Comes Next?

So what comes next?  So many things!  As I mentioned in my previous post, the next few months are really filling up for me.  There’s a period of time through February and March where I think I’ll be traveling every weekend!  While I’m not looking forward to the driving, I’m looking forward to the reasons that I’ll be driving!  I still can’t specifically talk about a couple of them, but there are a lot of things in the works!  Here are some highlights:

Masterclass

On February 18th, I’ll be having a Masterclass in Athens, Alabama for all of my Tennessee and Alabama students.  I think this will be a great experience for the students involved and give them a chance to really take time to study one another’s playing.  All of my applicable students are currently working towards performing in the Masterclass, so I’m looking forward to a full and informative class!

AHS Evaluations

On February 3rd and March 10th, I’ll be serving as the adjudicator for the Georgia Chapter of the American Harp Society’s Auditions and Evaluations.  It’s not a contest so much as a chance for students of all ages, levels, and backgrounds to perform and be evaluated.  On February 3rd, students are invited to come perform true solos and receive feedback and evaluation from me.  On March 10th, they’ll return and perform the same solos for me, receiving feedback and comments on their improvement and progress over the weeks between.  I haven’t had the opportunity to hear very many student harpists in Georgia since I moved, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what sort of talent we have in this area!

Upcoming Solo Recitals

I’ve been hard at work preparing for my upcoming solo recitals in the Spring.  My first recital has been officially scheduled for Sunday March 18th at the Blackman United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  I have tentative dates for the rest of the recitals, but am waiting for final confirmation before announcing them.  Later dates will include performances in Madison Alabama, Alpharetta Georgia, and possibly a location in south Florida as well.  Keep an eye on my website and Facebook page for announcements and information regarding all performances.

You know things are official when I buy new harp shoes!
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Where Has The Year Gone?

Time Flies

As we’re rolling on into December, I’m realizing that this year has practically flown by.  I was looking back on some of my older posts with hints of big and exciting things to come in 2017.  Many of the plans were put on hold with our sudden move to Georgia and those holds were extended by unrelated and unfortunate circumstances that have arisen since the move.

Possibly my biggest distraction the last few months has been pertaining to our cats.  We have 3 cats and anyone who knows me knows that my kitties are my babies and very important to me.  In late July, we almost lost Gurney to a urinary obstruction that led to a major overhaul of our lifestyle to help prevent a repeat of what happened in July.  Among other changes we’ve made, my husband and I now even make our own homemade cat food!

Of course, once things started to settled down with Gurney’s illness, poor little Riley decided it was her turn to end up in the ER.  The past 2 months have been filled with countless drives to a specialist vet down in Atlanta and almost constant care for my poor little girl.  A little over a month ago, I had a feeding tube put into her and it literally saved her life.  By my count, this morning was the 101st time I’ve tube fed her.  My harp-playing callouses have almost been overshadowed by the callouses that now cover my hands from the hard-to-work syringes.  But I wouldn’t change a thing I’ve done for Riley, as hard as it’s been, since it means that she’s still here.

But!  This is a website about my life as a harpist, not my life as a cat mommy!  Please read on for news of exciting things to come!

 

Exciting Things To Come…and I mean it this time!

While the kitties have taken up a lot of my time over the last few months, exciting things have been on the move for me and my harps!  Through the drama with the cats, my students have kept me sane and I’m still accepting applications for new harp and piano students!  Now that we’ve settled and the internet and my various connections have caught up to the change in location, I’ve begun performing again after a few months off after the move.  One such performance was an awesome concert with the Oak Ridge Symphony in Oak Ridge TN in early October.  It was a fantastic concert with great harp parts for 4 of the 5 pieces, including Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite (one of my favorites) and Poulenc’s Gloria with full orchestra.  I’ve also begun offering my services as a harp technician in the area again.  Last weekend I did a partial string change, felt change, and regulation on an excellent little Style 15.

Preparing for the Oak Ridge Symphony concert in October.
Preparing for the Oak Ridge Symphony concert in October.

Quickly Upcoming Performances

This Sunday, December 3rd, I’ll be performing with the Alpharetta Symphony Orchestra for their Christmas Concert.  I haven’t had the opportunity to perform with the AlphaSO yet, so I’m really looking forward to getting to know the members and staff!

Two weeks later, I’ll be performing with the Roueché Chorale and Orchestra up in Chattanooga for their Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols on Thursday December 14th and Friday December 15th.  As well as performing with the orchestra and chorale, I’ll be providing all Prelude music as a soloist.

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Big 2018 Engagements…so far!

2018 is already shaping up to be extremely busy for me, with 2-3 months of constant weekend traveling in the works in the Spring alone.  There are a couple things that I can’t say too much about until they’re “officially” announced, but I have been hired as guest instructor for a week long harp retreat and will be serving as adjudicator on two occasions for another event.

In February, I’ll be hosting a Masterclass for my students and the immediate families in Athens, Alabama.  Right now, all of my students are planning to attend and participate, so I’m excited for the class.  I’ll be really interested to see how my students enjoy their first Masterclass, as most have never attended a Masterclass before.  I think there will be a lot for each of them to experience and learn.

On Sunday March 4th, I’ll be performing Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” in Montgomery, Alabama.  I always love performing the piece and am especially looking forward to the March performance.  We’ll be performing the chamber version of the Bernstein, in which the orchestra is reduced to only 1 harp, 1 percussionist, and organ.

 

2018 Solo Recitals

I felt this upcoming news deserves it’s own segment of my post!  In the Spring, I’ll be performing my first major solo harp recital in 5 years!  Right now, the plan is to “take it on the road” with performances in Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida.  Dates and venues are still being finalized, but the Tennessee recital will likely be mid-March, with the Georgia and Florida recitals taking place over the following month or two.

I’m finalizing the program for the recital this week, but I’m hoping to include many of my favorite pieces from over the years.  The Tennessee (and possibly Georgia) recital will also include a special guest performance by one of my very talented young students.  Stay tuned for all the details!

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Newsletters and Lessons and Events, Oh My!

Something I’ve noticed since our relocation to Georgia is that they must love their newsletters here!  Every month, we receive newsletters (which are basically full magazines) for the neighborhood we live in, the city of Canton, the city of Holly Springs (where our house is technically located), and another Canton one that’s specifically family-oriented.  The neighborhood we live in is large and I’ve been told is made up of 1288 houses and growing.  I have a text-only ad that will be running in the newsletter’s classifieds section each month and for the month of August, I will have a 1/2 page full color ad advertising harp lessons and my availability for gigs and events.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the ad turned out when the newsletter is delivered in the next couple of days!

If you found my website from one of my ads…Welcome!  Please use the menu at the top of your screen to explore my site and learn a bit more about me.  If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to Contact Me and I’ll get back to you the first chance that I get!

Lessons

If you, a family member, or someone you know is interested in Harp Lessons, I’d love to speak with you about it!  I have a few open lesson slots in my schedule and I am currently interviewing new students who are interested in studying the harp.  You may have a lot of questions about harp lessons, such as what is involved in playing the harp or how to get your own harp for practicing, and I’m more than happy to discuss all of these things with you!  It’s very important to me to be forthcoming and honest with all information, as I want students (and parents of younger students) to understand and be as knowledgeable as possible in making the decision to study the harp.  I have taught students from 5 to 85, from those who are comfortable with music to those who have never seen a piece of music in their life.  All are welcome!

Harpist for Events

I am also available as a solo performer for gigs and events of all kinds, public and private.  You can read more about my background and experiences in my Biography section.  I have almost 20 years of experience playing for all types of events, from weddings and funerals, company banquets and luncheons, fashion shows and arts fairs, to everything in between.  My Repertoire includes classical, jazz, pop, religious, holiday, Celtic, and all types and genres of music.  If you are unsure of what type of music you would like, I’d be happy to discuss it with you, offering suggestions and ideas based on my knowledge and years of experience.  As with all things, please feel free to Contact Me with any questions you might have about anything!

Updated Video Page

My Video page now includes 9 videos of myself performing a variety of styles and genres of music over the years, from popular and holiday, to classical and Celtic.  I hope to soon begin recording more videos to add to and update my video collection, so stay tuned!

Anything Else?

We’ve been in Georgia a little over 3 months now and it’s finally starting to feel like we’re really settling in.  It seems as though it’s been one thing after another since our move, between constant visitors, my husband’s business trips, and my being sick for almost a full month.  It’s starting to feel like home now though and I’ve even finally been able to make a few trips on the crazy winding roads around here without using my GPS!

My piano is finally in the process of being repaired and hopefully will be returning to me quickly.  I’m lucky to borrow my sisters full-size Yamaha electric piano in the meantime, so I was able to being teaching piano lessons with no delay after our move.  I’ll definitely be happy to have my real piano back home though!

Harp lessons also started immediately after the move and all of my students are doing so well the last few months, it’s really been a lot of fun.  One of my younger students in Tennessee even got to spend all of last week at The Summer Harp Academy, a week-long intensive harp “camp” led by one of my former teachers, Elzbieta Szmyt.  I’m absolutely thrilled at how much my student learned and that she had such a great time there that she’s already looking forward to going back next year.  I admit to being a bit jealous that she got to spend time with Ela though, because I miss my former teachers!

As always, stay tuned for new projects and exciting things to come!  Now that things are settling down since our sudden relocation, I’m finally able to crack down on a lot of the things I’ve been wanting to work on!

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Greetings from Georgia

Greetings from surprisingly windy Georgia!  You’ll have to forgive me for this post getting straight to the point…

 

I’m not usually one to ask for help with things, but I find myself without a choice in this case.  Last week during our move from Tennessee to Georgia, the professional movers that were hired to help us with our move dropped my piano and severely damaged it.  I’m admittedly a bit untrusting of other people to handle things important to me and made 3 trips to Georgia and back just to move my harps and fish tanks because I didn’t trust them to anyone else.  Unfortunately, I simply couldn’t move the piano myself and was assured that these “professionals” move pianos “almost daily.”

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My piano was built for my family in 1989 and I have memories of visiting the factory to see it being built when I’d first begun lessons when I was 5 years old.  The number of hours I’ve spent with that piano over the past 28 years is absolutely immeasurable.  When I was growing up, it was there with me through preparing for performances, practicing for jazz band, learning pieces for state competition, and all the other things I was involved in.  Even when I was away at college, I’d return to my parents’ house on the weekends and it wasn’t uncommon for me to get up on a Saturday and play the piano for 5 or 6 hours on end.  Since the piano was given to me by my parents several years ago, I’ve played it almost every single day.  And now, it isn’t just important to me anymore.  There are several very special young piano students who, years from now, will remember back to my piano as the one that they first learned to play.  Even though I only took lessons from my first piano teacher for a few months when I was 5 years old, I still remember everything about her house, her cat, and especially her piano.

The long story short is that my piano is on its way back to the factory where it was built in Elkhart IN and the movers’ insurance is only looking to pay a mere $200 of the estimated thousands that it will cost to get my piano repaired.  You can read the details in the link below, so I won’t take your time restating them all here.  Any tiny bit will help and even if you aren’t able to give financially, please consider sharing and spreading the word.  And as always, prayers are always appreciated as well!  Thank you for reading!

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Click the logo above to go to Maggie’s Piano GoFundMe campaign.
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Maggie Plays the Harp…in Georgia!

georgiaAs the snazzy graphic states, we’re moving to Georgia!

A little over two weeks ago, my husband was very unexpectedly offered a job (that he didn’t apply for) in Alpharetta, Georgia.  It’s such a great opportunity for him and his career that despite my extreme reluctance to move away from Spring Hill, even I had to admit that there was no way he could turn it down.  The company that he’ll be working for is so enthusiastic for him to begin that we were asked to relocate as soon as possible.  All of this leads to less than a month passing between finding out about the job offer and our moving day.  The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of me spinning in circles and waving my arms in stress-induced panic.  Our move day is scheduled for two weeks from tomorrow, but we’re still waiting for final confirmation on where we’re moving!

It’s been very hard for me to tell my students about our impending move.  Happily, I’m confident in each of their plans to continue their lessons.  My piano students have found new teachers to immediately continue their lessons without any downtime.  I’m especially happy that due to our relatively close proximity to the Spring Hill and Huntsville areas, I’ll be able to continue teaching almost all of my harp students, even after the move.  I’m looking forward to beginning lessons with new harp and piano students in Northern Georgia and growing my teaching studio there.

Since my family lives in the Huntsville area and my husband’s family lives in the Spring Hill area, I plan to visit both areas extremely often.  Luckily, Canton GA isn’t too far away for trips back and forth just about any time I’d like.  Because of that, I still plan to perform with orchestras in Tennessee and Alabama, as well as continue accepting gigs and events in Alabama and Tennessee.  Unfortunately, I will be unable to accept new students in the Spring Hill area and my plans to begin teaching in the Huntsville area again will have to be cancelled.

While this move is bringing a lot of big changes to our lives, I’m excited for what it will mean for my husband’s career and the future of our little family.  I’m happy to still be close enough to maintain a connection to Spring Hill/Huntsville and my students, and eager to see what new students and opportunities I will have in Georgia!

 

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Exciting Things in the New Year!

Winter Student Recital

 

The 2016 Winter Student Recital was a fantastic success!  Not only did we have a good turn-out of family and friends, many people from the Community Baptist Church and Spring Hill locals came out to see the students play as well!  Once again, all of the students gave wonderful performances and I received tons of positive comments in the following weeks from people who had attended.

Special thanks to John Evosevic and the Advertiser News newspaper for the awesome half-page article about the recital.  They surprised me by turning my simple inquiry about placing an ad into a full-scale article, which you can read on the Advertiser News website here.

recital

 

It’s a bit late for Christmas, but I started out one of my new projects (a YouTube channel for piano videos) with a video of the Christmas “Medley of Carols” by Dino Kartsonakis that I performed at the end of the Student Recital.  You can watch it here:

Exciting Things Ahead

Exciting things are on the horizon for 2017!  In a previous post, I alluded to some projects in the works for the coming year.  Two of those projects include a new series of harp videos that I will be premiering in February, as well as publications of many of my arrangements becoming available for purchase!  I’m super excited to share a lot of what I do and have been working on with you in the coming months!

In preparation for new and exciting things in the world of Maggie Lovell, I’ve created a Mailing List/Newsletter for keeping up-to-date on my projects, performances, and general news.  There’s no fear of being spammed or overrun with newsletters, as it will only be used for major updates and newsworthy goings-on!  As my projects come to fruition and the newsletters begin to bring news, there will be options to customize what kinds of news you would like to receive.  Interested in the videos but not the publications?  No problem!  Rather see me perform in person, instead of in videos?  We got you covered!

Subscribe to the Newsletter here!

Because I am just that exciting, one of my highest requested and most happily received Christmas presents this year was a harp piece that I’ve been wanting to learn for many many years.  I won’t say what it is, but it’s the only piece composed by my favorite harp composer that I had never played, as it cost quite a bit for just the one piece and is rarely performed.  I won’t say that I’ll be performing it in a recital, but it does give me the added inspiration to begin preparing for a possible solo harp recital sometime in the Spring.  As if I didn’t already have enough projects on my plate!

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Winter Student Recital & Shiny New Website

Winter Student Recital 2016

That’s right!  The Winter Student Recital is right around the corner!  Sunday December 11th at 3pm at the Community Baptist Church in Spring Hill, TN.  Wow, that’s a week from tomorrow!  I’m so grateful to all of my students who are participating in this recital, especially coming so (relatively) soon after the recital in September.  After all the “horror stories” I’ve heard from other teachers about having to give up on Student Recitals because of students being unwilling to participate or dropping out, I consider myself extremely blessed and am certain I must have the best students in the world.  Not a single one of the students who performed in the September recital decided they didn’t want to do it again!  With the addition of a few new students, the recital is certain to include a fantastic variety of ages and levels.

The program is still being adjusted, but right now it’s looking to include 12 students performing on both harp and piano with a total of 16 performances.  The recital will be about 50/50 harp and piano solos, as well as two selections for harp and piano together.  The majority of the pieces performed will be popular Christmas songs, but there will be several beautiful non-holiday selections performed as well.  Unlike the last recital, the public is invited to attend this recital and enjoy the performances.  I did a phone interview the other day with the local newspaper, who will be printing an article about the recital this week.  I hope to have a good turnout!

 

recital-ad-for-posting

 

A New Website Design!

After dragging out working on it for a couple months, I finally sat down the last few days and put in the hours to do a massive overhaul of my website.  There’s still several things that need to be tweaked and added, but the bulk of the work is done.  Whew!  Hopefully the more streamlined menu and elegant design make the site both user friendly and pleasing to view.  I’ll be having new pictures taken in the beginning of the year which will be integrated into the site.  This new design and set-up also makes way for the two big projects I have planned for 2017.  I don’t want to go into too much detail, but keep an eye out for updates on a new video series and future publications of my arrangements and transcriptions!

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A Successful Recital!

Once again, I’ve been remiss in updating this as frequently as I intend to!  Luckily, this post was well worth the wait!

Last Sunday, on the 11th, my first Spring Hill student recital took place at the Community Baptist Church.  Nine of my students played (including my husband, who has only had 2 weeks of piano lessons!) and every single one of them did a fantastic job.  I didn’t open the recital to the public, wanting my students to feel at ease and welcome to play for one another.  I estimated about 30 people in attendance, a few family and friends.  It was a nice crowd!  I’m so happy and thankful to all of my students who attended the recital.  As I told them all probably 20 times, the recital was for them, not for me.  I wanted them to have the opportunity to hear one another play and be inspired and encouraged in their own practicing and learning.  I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!

group-editted

Most of my students won’t start working towards it for a few more weeks, but I’m already hard at work planning and preparing for the next student recital.  The plan is to have a recital on or around December 11th, featuring chamber music, duets, and ensembles, as well as solos.  I hope to pull out all the stops for the Winter recital and make it a grand event!  Now that my students have more of an idea what to expect, I’ll be advertising and inviting the public to come hear a wide selection of Christmas tunes and secular pieces.  Tentatively, I hope to have a Student Recital each Spring and Winter starting next year.  I’m going to shoot for May/June before many students start to travel and take time off for the Summer, and early December.

In other news, I’m thrilled to say that I’ll once again be playing with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra in November.  The program includes Smetana’s Moldau, which is a gorgeous piece.  The only thing better than playing with orchestra is playing with orchestra on pieces that I love!

Meanwhile, I’ve continued with my silly side project of uploading one video a week to my secondary YouTube channel.  Along with harp covers of songs you wouldn’t expect to hear on the harp, I’ve started uploading quite a few covers of video game themes.  As I’m writing this, my computer is currently bogged down rendering tomorrow’s video, which will be my 11th weekly upload.  This video will be a “harp ensemble” version of the main theme from Halo.  I try to keep most of my video game arrangements as solos, but I thought Halo was deserving of something a bit more…epic.

halo-project

Probably a good thing I’m rendering the video overnight.  I have no idea how many hours it’s going to take!

 

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Some Thoughts

Strap in, I’m getting wordy tonight!

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I never wanted to be a teacher.  All the way back to when my mom used to try to pick out melodies on the piano and I had to resist saying “Do you want me to play that for you?”, I never thought I had the patience or people skills to be a teacher.  I taught harp lessons in college because it was required, or part of my job, or just to help out a teacher who had helped me so much.  Anyone who knows me on a personal level could tell you that I’m far from the most patient person on the planet.

But y’know what?  I love teaching.  A lot, in fact!

I think the first time I realized I was starting to enjoy it was during the last years I was in school.  I was teaching a high school girl who didn’t seem overly interested in playing the harp and was basically just biding her time taking lessons to appease her mom until she left for college and could quit lessons.  I figured that if I was going to teach her, I should at least try to get her to enjoy it, so I told her I’d let her play her favorite type of music.

And what was her favorite type of music?  Metallica.

Conveniently, I happened to be a Metallica fan too, so I said “You know what?  I’m going to arrange your favorite Metallica song for the harp and I’m going to convince the Assistant Professor to let you play it for the Pre-College recital!”  So that’s what I did.  With a harp arrangement of “Call of Ktulu” by Metallica, my student suddenly wanted to practice and get better, and she learned a song that was not only significantly longer than any song she’d played before, but also considerably more difficult.  To top it off, I arranged it for the pedal harp with several pedal changes and she learned it that way, despite only having a lever harp to practice on at home.  I talked the Assistant Professor into letting her play it in the recital (it helped that it was a Halloween recital) and she did a fantastic job.  Finally, she enjoyed playing the harp and she took her bow with a big smile on her face.  I was so proud of her and how far she’d come in those few months of learning a Metallica song on the harp.  I started to realize that maybe there’s more to this whole teaching lessons thing…

I still have the video of her performance!
I still have the video of her awesome performance!

Fast forwarding to now and I love all of my students.  They’re all so different and it’s so interesting to me how one student will be great at something everyone else is terrible at…or how all of their interests in learning the harp (or piano) are so varied.  I’m so proud of all of them and what they’ve done and continue to do.  I think I can definitely say without a doubt that I’m looking forward to the Student Recital next month far more than any of my students!  I want them to show off what they can do and to see what each other can do.  They come from all sorts of different backgrounds and their ages range from 8 to 60, but I think they’re all awesome for their own reasons.

It seems to be true what they say about back-to-school time being when a lot of people take up new hobbies and lessons.  I started 2 new piano students last week and tonight I met with a new piano AND harp student.  She already has experience with piano, but she’ll be starting piano lessons with me next week and harp lessons as soon as she gets a harp at home.  She wants to learn harp so badly that her parents told me she’ll love it and want to stick with it regardless of whether I’m nice to her or it’s really hard.  It reminded me of how my parents were so convinced that I would love and stick with the harp that they bought me a Concert Grand pedal harp before I ever had my first harp lesson.  I can’t wait to get started with her, both on piano and harp, because I just know she’ll take off like a shot!

I talk a lot about the harp and teaching harp lessons, but I think one of my favorite teaching memories happened today during a piano lesson.  I was teaching a 9 year old boy his second piano lesson this evening.  Last week, his mother called me and said that she would like her son to learn piano but he really didn’t want to and was convinced (because of trying at school) that he wasn’t able to because he was too small.  We set up a preliminary “test” lesson last week so that I could spend 30 minutes with him and try to prove to him that not only is he more than capable of playing piano, but that he might really enjoy it.  I was absolutely floored by how quickly he learned things, understanding anything I told him immediately and not needing anything repeated.  I had been prepared to teach him to play a song by using a set hand position and fingering numbers, but I took a gamble and started to explain how to read music…and he ended up learning how to read music in that one lesson, without ever asking a question or needing me to repeat anything!  Amazing!  He came back for another test lesson today, remembering everything from last week flawlessly and sight reading new songs with new notes perfectly on the first try.  The songs are simple, so to give him an idea of what he could do, we played a duet.  He played his simple melody with both hands and I played the teacher’s part at the bottom of the page.  He had such an enormous grin on his face through the whole song and he kept looking over at me like he was amazed that he could play something so neat.  I think we both learned something during his lesson today.  He learned that yes, he CAN play the piano.  And I learned that a silly, repetitive song made up of only 3 notes can be the most important thing I teach in a day.

Anyways.  All that sap aside.

Perhaps the time I spent teaching my Metallica-playing harp student years ago stuck with me because of how much alike we were.  While I do enjoy me some classical and traditional harp repertoire, one of my biggest enjoyments is arranging and playing things on the harp that you would never ever think to play on the harp.  I’ve uploaded several videos over the past 8+ years to a YouTube channel, videos of varying quality, but always of non-traditional things played on the harp.  For a long time, I’ve wanted to make a lot more and start uploading videos more consistently.  I finally got the ball rolling on that and I plan to continue as long as I can!

So here we have this week’s video.  This is “Dance of Death,” a song by Iron Maiden, which is probably my favorite band in the world.  I arranged it for 4 harps (with a 5th harp popping in for a few measures) and recorded it on my Salvi Echo electroacoustic harp through my JamMan looper pedal.

My videos may never get a lot of recognition, but sometimes the enjoyment I get out of making them is all that really matters.