I’ve been to two harp workshops this summer, and after both I’ve wondered why I went. It’s not that they weren’t wonderful and inspiring and great fun. They were. But I come home even more confused about where I’m going and what do I want to do with the harp, anyway?
A week later, I know that going to a harp workshop is my search for the magic fairy dust that will make playing the harp easier for me. Surely I’ll find some magic that will make me able to sit down at a harp and have a tune tumble out of my fingers, like the young girl who played The White Cockade at the workshop in June. Surely there will be a teacher with a magic wand that inserts tunes and allows me to spill them back out of my harp and my fingers, without trying and without mistakes. I want magic. I want it to not be so blooming hard and long to get any better. I want more ease and fluidity and musicality at the harp and I want it RIGHT NOW!
Instead, I have to content myself with and be grateful for my slow, plodding progress. I have to recognize how far I’ve travelled, even at my slow plodding pace. My harp teacher and harp workshops have pushed and pulled me closer to the state I desire, closer to grace and ease and music I can play and share. But there’s no magic fairy dust or wand or wizard that will turn me into the musician and harper that I want to be. The answer is not out there – it’s somewhere in me.
And I’m discovering, uncovering, learning, practicing, perfecting what I know and what I want to be able to do, step by plodding step, one day after another, just by showing up at my harp bench and doing the work. And I’m hoping that my oversupply of diligence, persistence and love make up for an undersupply of any natural, inborn musical ability and/or talent for playing the harp.
Such a muddle, so many questions and uncertainties, and then comes this answer: “My heart wants her own language. My heart wants her own voice.” I’m not sure what question this answers. What I do know is that tomorrow morning I’ll be sitting on the harp bench at my harp, warming up, trying to sight-read, practicing hand shapes and placing and turn- arounds and cross-overs, playing the tunes I do know and love greatly, and hoping to remember that everything I do at my morning practice, every technical skill I even slightly improve, leads me closer to the ease and fluidity and musicality I want at the harp.