It’s Been a Long, Long Time
The big day had come! I was about to give my first performance in 35 years in which my harp and I were front and center.
The preparation process was behind me and the moment of my harp comeback was upon me. I was anxious. I was excited. I was nervous. I was ready.
After spending several months putting the program together, performance day finally had arrived. A brief introduction was given, my name was announced, and I took center stage. Well, it wasn’t a stage but the lobby of the library where I had worked for the last 25 years. But I was back on the boards for the first time in decades.
I remember looking out at the audience and thinking wow, that’s a lot of people for a program in the library. I confess there was a brief moment where I wanted to bolt from the stage. My stomach had been doing flip-flops all morning and it hadn’t abated by show time. Did I mention I was nervous?
Still there was that rational side of me that knew I was prepared for this and that I really wanted to do this performance regardless of any trepidation I might have. I took a deep breath, sat down, pulled the concert harp onto my shoulder, and began to play. The moment I waited for all these years was underway.
DHC wisely suggested I start with a brief introduction on the harp by playing some arpeggios and glissandos. The beauty of this being that it was relatively simple to do yet fun for the audience. And it was a way for me to know that I had control of my hands right off the bat. I was nervous but playing that little teaser let me know that I ultimately was in control of the harp.
Once I truly got underway with the show; I could feel the nerves dissipating. I began to feel more comfortable as I played through the first piece and I felt my focus on the music intensify.
I featured both my concert and electric harps. My goal was to present various musical styles to showcase the diversity of the instrument. I played classical pieces, a Blues, a loop cover of recent pop tune, my mother’s favorite piece that I learned when I was 13, a calypso, and a flamenco piece.
I don’t know exactly when it hit me but at some point early on in the show I realized that I was enjoying every moment of it. And more importantly, the audience was enjoying it. They were responding to not only my playing but to what I was telling them about me and my two harps.
I became uninhibited and unafraid. In fact, I shed my usual shy persona and became this extrovert that I didn’t recognize yet embraced. I even included an audience participation number due to DHC’s encouragement, which is something I would never dreamed I’d be doing.
The connection to the audience was electric. I had known intellectually that art should be shared but when I was performing my show; I now knew it on an emotional level. I had something to give and the audience graciously accepted it. It made me grateful beyond my wildest expectations.
In the past I would have scrutinized every note I had played post performance. But this time, I simply relished the experience as a whole. Imperfections didn’t matter because I came to realize it was not about showing off my technical prowess. It was about giving the audience a complete performance. It was about what the audience felt from my interaction with them.
I felt wonderful afterwards because I had such a great time performing for this receptive audience. People came to tell me how much they enjoyed the program and that they learned a lot of new things about the harp. They were surprised at the types of music that I played on the harp and all the effects one could do with it. A couple people mentioned how much fun the audience participation and the loop cover were. And since I live in Hawaii, I got the extra bonus of being laden with leis.
I learned more about myself and my harp from this performance than I could have possibly imagined. I learned that playing for an audience makes the music come alive. My hard work at the harp paid off in a way that gave me more satisfaction that words can describe.
I can’t wait to do it again.
Stay tuned for more about the program pieces…