Journey to the Heart of a Harpist

My voyage of rediscovery

I’m just now rediscovering a passion that was long dead to me. It was something that at one time in my life was all consuming but I eventually gave it up. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve found it again.

I’m talking about rediscovering my muse, my art. I played the harp for a long time. Yet I walked away from it because there was a point when it no longer gave me joy.

Sally at harp
Playing my concert harp

I began learning the harp at age 10 and studied it through my college years. I was classically trained and learned a great deal of the instrument’s classical repertoire.

After college I spent time as freelance harpist, mostly playing weddings and background music. The problem was that more often than not, I found myself performing music that I didn’t find particularly interesting or challenging. I felt little enjoyment in what I was dong and eventually I burned out.

Becoming a librarian

I made the decision to switch gears. I stopped freelancing and enrolled in graduate school to study library science. Sounds perfectly logical, right?

I have no why I made the leap from musician to librarian. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I like information and the various means of obtaining it, especially books. Or maybe my decision was more pragmatic. I could enter a profession that would give me a steady income along with built-in perks like a pension, health insurance, and paid vacation leave.

AV Librarian
My library hangout

I now have worked as a librarian for nearly 30 years yet my harp fell silent for much of that time. My once vibrant instrument that filled the house with music had become an ornate piece of sculpture in my home.

Then one day it happened…

A harpist once again

After years of not touching the instrument, I suddenly felt the urge to play once again. I took a deep breath, tuned up my poor, neglected  harp, and was amazed at how natural it felt. In that moment I realized that the harp was still a huge part of me.

That’s when I fell in love again. I started to play the harp regularly from that point on. I had rediscovered something that made me feel passionate. I found joy in the music that I thought I had lost long ago. I was loving the harp so much that I ended up buying not one but two new harps; a concert grand pedal harp and a small, electric lever (non-pedal) harp.

Becoming a harpist again got me thinking about taking my harp back out in the world. I also started to wonder  what I wanted to do once I retired from the library and the clear answer was play the harp. That’s what bought me to Deborah Henson-Conant’s Harness Your Muse Mastermind program.

Harnessing my muse

Deborah Henson-Conant (aka DHC) is a composer, harpist, and performer who is known as one of the World’s foremost electric harpists. She plays a small, strap-on electric harp that was designed for and named after her; the Camac DHC Light.

I discovered DHC when researching music for the lever harp. I especially fell in love with a fiery showpiece she composed titled Baroque Flamenco. I found that she offered an online course where she taught the piece and I signed up. I loved the class so much that I ended up taking several of her courses over the last couple of years.

While most of her courses run over the period of a few weeks; Harness Your Muse Mastermind (HYMM) is DHC’s intensive, one year mentorship program in which a small group of harpists/artists work to create various projects such as a show, an album, a blog, compositions, or a variety of other creative endeavors under her tutelage. With Act 3 of life approaching, I knew wanted to develop a means to share my harp and music out in the real world.

I had to think long and hard about making such a huge commitment but ultimately I knew this program would give me the tools, support and push I needed to realize a dream of creating a small show with my harp that I could easily take on the road. Thanks to the program, I’m also beginning to realize there are less conventional ways to share my music that I’m interested in exploring.

So here I am. A harp playing librarian who is taking her first steps in a voyage of discovery to once again embrace a passion I thought was long dead. Maybe I’ll reconnect with the librarian side of me as well.

I don’t what I’ll discover along the way but I know I’m in for a grand adventure.