After spending two days stomping the pavement, I was tired. I told myself that if I get one performance out of all of my efforts, gratitude would be at the top of my list. While praying at the river, my phone rang. It was a number that I did not recognize. The voice told me that we had a conversation yesterday, and I told her how I played the harp. She was engaged and wanted to receive a quote for her wedding ceremony. I was overjoyed. Home soon found me furiously typing away the numbers to email to my potential client. A week later she booked her date, and sent me the information for her planner.
This experience taught me a lot and inspired me to think about the next step. After all of the work that I did: preparing the print media, introducing myself to different venues, emailing follow ups, and updating all of my social media outlets, I was able to get a client. How can I increase my booking possibilities? Paid advertising has never worked for me. Word of mouth has always been the solution. However, people like Instagram a lot and seem to truly connect with videos. People are able to easily understand the full scope of what is being offered in addition to learning more about the vendor. I am currently looking into making a promotional video in addition to mapping out new ground to stomp. If I was able to get one client, what if I aim for another?
My life is rooted in full time work as well as the freelance world. The combination of the two affords me a reality that is interesting and often filled with duality. I am an employee and my own boss at the same time. I am the woman that truly works seven days a week. While others are enjoying their time off, I am often engaged in some sort of event that helps to develop my brand. An interesting twist to this is that when I do attend networking events, I do so for the social aspect. However, when in full work mode, there is only one agenda: be the music.
Valentine’s Day found me decked out in a new red blouse so that my red dress would not make another appearance all over social media for the second consecutive year. My day began entertaining at the spa as people walked in for their pampering appointments. I was showered with giant smiles and cries of joy. Compliment after compliment put me in appreciation heaven. A two hour break soon found me in Subway. Food somehow gets lost in the mix on performance days. It was not long before my marathon began with the nursing homes. There were three that were on my agenda. Luckily for me, enough music had finally been scanned into my IPAD. Playing songs from a pre-selected folder was so easy and it made me feel so very organized. By the time my home saw me again, the only thing that could greet me was my bed. Happy Valentine’s Day…..
Lady of Harp
The secretary named Crystal needed to speak to me. While we were talking, she told me about the cd that I gifted the secretaries for their special day.
“I wanted to thank you for the beautiful CD we received for secretary’s day. I would like to share something that happened last night. My niece was visiting and she shared with me that she has been suffering from insomnia since her mother’s passing in March. I took her outside and sat her in my car and played the CD for her, after a few minutes she fell asleep. It was the first time that she was able to sleep for any length of time. I gave her the CD and she called me this morning to tell me she had achieved a full night sleep with the CD playing. I just wanted to say thank you..”. Such feedback is worth more than any check that is given to me.
When I realized that the primary class was making percussion instruments, I decided to supply them with a class set. While en route to the general area, it was difficult to locate the room. I wondered into another classroom to ask where I could find my destination. Upon entering the land of the smurfs, all activity ceased. A lone voice could be heard exclaiming, “THE MUSIC TEACHER IS HERE!”. All of a sudden, all of the smurfs began chanting the word music. Blushing soon took over my face as the harp presentation crossed my mind; this class was the audience and apparently, they remembered it well.
Later that day, a teacher asked as to what transpired in the room. While explaining the warm moment, she informed me that the primary grades were so starved for cultural exposure because of the demands of the heavy academic schedule. I asked her if there was time to schedule another musical interaction with the children, and she responded with a jubilant yes. Perhaps my violist has some time to show them the wonderful world of the string family.
Prior to teaching my new private student, she informed me that her birthday party was coming up and that my presence was required. What have I done to receive such honors from the smallest people on earth. All of these things happened on the same day. How marvelous.
When I started performing professionally, the cruise ships came calling. I did several wedding ceremonies on Carnival Cruises before realizing that it was not worth my time and effort to haul my monstrous instrument over bulk heads. It quickly lost its appeal, and land kept me quite grounded. When a company asked me to do a wedding a cruise ship, I thought that it would be nice to visit my old stomping grounds. Imagine the pictures against the ocean. This positive outlook quickly faded as the chaos unfolded. I have decided to present this in a loose list form as it was the same one that I texted to almost everyone that I know….
NIGHTMARE ON THE OEAN
1.) no signs for the proper terminal
2.) went to wrong garage
3.) groom didn’t know what terminal it was. He told me to “Follow the signs…”.
4.) get to elevator. No license. Had to go back to the 4th floor.
5.) get to security. Can’t board for two hours because of coast guard.
6.) boarded before the two hours but wasn’t allowed to leave security (second clearance) because of the K-9 unit. They had to smell my harp for drugs.
7.) the first dog came twice. Was not acceptable for some strange reason.
8.) I was there so long that I decided to play for tips. One of my songs was the Titanic…
9.) when the K-9 unit arrived, he didn’t even tell me it was okay to go. Security had to chase him and told me that he was a lazy ass.
10.) got on the ship. Coordinator assistant meets me. Two men have to carry my harp to the location because an elevator doesn’t go to the top deck.
11.) ceremony was on a top deck in the hot sun. I had to hide next to the officiant.
12.) keep in mind that the client wanted me to play over recorded music and during the speaking. I may have actually played for ten minutes.
12,) everyone leaves. There is no help to get me off the ship. I descended the same flight of stairs without any help. I get to the gang plank when officials stop me with an interrogation:
1.) are you crew? No.
2.) is this the ships property? All $32,000.00 of this instrument belong to me.
3.) you won’t fit in the elevators: I came in through those elevators.
They had to shut down the entire gangplank to escort me off the ship. One of the officials informed me that all of my problems were rooted in the fact that weddings were not allowed on the first turn back from Europe. However, this man was allowed because he was someone important.
13.) Returned to the place where I spent hours waiting for a damn dog. Security apologized to me again. Someone gave me a bottle of water. It was the first that I had all day.
14.) I finally returned to the first level of security. The ladies asked me how the wedding went because they watched my experiences on the camera and were horrified. We exchanged tales of woe as I made my departure back to the fourth floor garage across the street. Once everything was loaded, I heard my name. One of the security guards had chased me all the way to the fourth floor to give me my license. It had fallen from me without my knowledge and she figured that she could catch me because it would take me time to load. I could have given her my first born child as this was only the second time in the same day that my license tried to escape me. **For those of you that remember, I had to renew it last year prior to it being stolen. At this point, maybe I just don’t need one…..moving on.
I told the company that I was representing that the overtime fee needed to be raised due to the trauma that I had to endure and she agreed. I now have to pay for therapy, massages, and alcohol; not necessarily in that order. Chances are very high that I will not step foot on a ship to perform again. If I do, it will be because they have agreed to cover my mortgage….the remaining balance.
As I sat there in the quiet solace of the funeral home, it dawned on me that it was my first time at a funeral since performing at my father’s funeral. Would I be okay? How would I react being in this setting?
Before long, my hands began to play and the sounds filled the entire place. The funeral director came and smiled at me. He closed the doors so as not to allow anyone in before the appropriate time; however, a head or two would peep in. It was not long before the doors were open and people filed in sporadically.
The tears began to fall, and the muffled sounds of crying were heard. This is to be expected at a funeral which is why boxes of tissues are readily available. I found myself in the dynamics of my music, and performed many of the same songs that I performed for my father. As the crying continued, more people trickled in and embraced each other. Some people approached the casket for a final look while others heavily sank into the pews. The thought of my mother falling asleep to my music crossed my mind as I began the next selection. This was a healing process in plain view.
My hour came to a close, and my eyes fell on the Soprano. She was set to sing a capella. After discovering that the Ave Maria was included on the program, we performed it together. When we were finished, we smiled at each other and agreed that we had to do a concert together. The last time that I saw her was at my father’s funeral where she made the crowd swoon with her rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. Here we were again for yet another congregation of mourners with our classical repertoire in hand.
After leaving the funeral home, the problem of lunch arose. There was enough time for me to grab a smoothie and pack the music for the wedding that was awaiting me in a few hours. It was said that my day sounded emotionally draining. Perhaps, but in truth, I feel very prepared for such situations. It is at this point in my life when I realize how much healing is a part of my job.
In 2010, The Beginning was released as my first cd. It had occurred to me that I had fallen into simply doing performances that enabled me to be in the background; this is something that I needed to change. Music has been a passion of mine since childhood, and there was more that I could do with it besides my normal endeavors. Compositions began to appear and the impromptu songs that I created suddenly surfaced as a new skill for me: improvisation.
Since releasing that cd, interesting collaborations have occurred. Poets have poured their hearts out on stage as I plucked tunes behind them. Some of the songs on the cd were written for: Flamenco, Ballet, and Middle Eastern Dance. I even used my music while teaching at a local womens’ shelter. There was once a beautiful pole dancer that freestyled for ten glorious minutes while I created her soundtrack.
When I think about why I live this musical life, I think about how the music makes me feel. It gives me the opportunity to be creative and step into an extraordinary life. My mind can go somewhere and take the audience with it. Words do not have to be said; the music does the talking for me. It can convey the deepest of emotions and the heights of joy.
Harp was not available to me when I had a fleeting thought about it in middle school. As my senior year of high school came to a close, my father suggested that I try it. It was not long before I was performing at local events and with various ensembles. Life serves as the inspiration for me to continue this journey with my harp. There is so much to share and explore with this rare instrument. It brings me a great deal of satisfaction when people are able to get in touch with their feelings because they were able to listen to me perform.
Along the journey of life, I discovered meditation. It soon dawned on me that the harp would be beneficial to such a practice. It was then that I created Harpitations; meditation to my improvisations on the harp. This was something that I pursued at a local spiritual center for a year along with womens’ circles. People would share their visions and feelings of being balanced after the sessions. It was always an interesting exchange of energy. I would offer the music and the people would return their words of elevation. In the near future, I see myself developing this into something that can benefit more people.
As the year progresses, new projects shall appear on my plate. Celtic Harp is something that shall be a pursuit of mine in addition to a possible Soprano & Harp recital. Composing is always around the corner, and there has been more than one request for another cd. Narrowing down the theme shall be difficult as there is so much that I can do: angels, lullabies, popular music; it is so hard to choose. The one thing that is certain is that the life of a musician is always full of wonderful things that entertain not only the audience but the musician as well.
I do not listen to harp music. This probably surprises many people but it isn’t something that I gravitate towards. I would much rather listen to cello or R&B music. However, the timbre of the Celtic harp is one that has always entranced me. Its history within Ireland runs deep. Listening to it is so very soothing. I have often wondered if I would purchase one. After I met a Celtic harpist today at the local Renaissance Faire, I know that I will.
Her small stage was set against the lake at sunset. She was dressed in attire of yesteryear and the sounds of her instrument were absolutely beautiful. It was a subtle statement of healing. It was a joy to watch and listen at the same time. I introduced myself and was given the opportunity to play the magical instrument. It was not long before I purchased a cd and left my business card.
As my soy candles burn, the cd is playing in the background. Its a nice quiet Saturday evening. Perhaps this music captures the joy of my day and heals the trials of the week. It will no doubt serve me well in the near future as my weary body drags me back to work.
It was a bright and sunny Christmas morning. My performance was inside of a country club in West Palm Beach. Since it was for five hours, there were many breaks to take. Upon returning from my second break, a mother brought her young daughter to meet me. She informed me that when I left for my break, problems began at her table. Apparently, the little girl was enjoying the sounds of the harp and wanted to know when I was returning. She was so insistent that the mother thought it would be best both of them came by the stage to say hello. I greeted my new friend and thanked her for her support. When her mother asked her if she was ready to leave, she shook her head no.
During another occurrence at that very same country club, I was dressed in a purplish dress with flowers. As I performed on stage, a little girl in the same color walked up to the stage and parked herself. She remained in front of me for a very long time. She simply listened to the music. She seemed entranced in the middle of the hustle and bustle of all of the waiters and people swarming around the gigantic food displays. The chefs noticed the interaction and mentioned that a photographer should have been present.
I used to feel terribly lonely during the holidays because I would be away from family and friends performing in far away places. It came with the territory of being a musician, and I dealt with it the best that I could. During one of those holidays, a little girl brought me a picture that she had drawn of me during brunch with her family. There I was sitting at the harp with the words, you play like an angel. Since she bestowed such an honor on me, I have not felt lonely during holiday performances.
It was a dark and stormy Wednesday afternoon. My car was packed and ready for the performance. The nice warm black sweater with pearls fit me quite nicely. As I drove down the highway, I mentally reviewed the playlist in my head. I contacted my on site person to let her know that I was en route. It had been many years since I performed at Baptist Hospital, and I was happy to return to such a lovely place. I used to walk there and feed ducks.
After I unloaded, the hospital labyrinth swallowed me whole. It was quite a sight to see so many doctors and support personnel. It was nice to get a glimpse of so many different types of careers in their actual environment. Once inside the auditorium, I was greeted with smiles and good cheer. Once the instrument was tuned, I began to perform. It was then that the adventure began.
A woman approached me with such joy on her face. She said that her mother used to play the harp and when she heard me performing,…..she was unable to complete her sentence. She indicated to me that she had been crying and truly appreciated what I was doing. Music can have such an effect on people. It can provide them with emotional releases. Three hours came and went. The set finished with Adele as I have been updating my music with very current radio hits. Everyone was sad to see me go.
As I drove home, the rain continued to make its presence known. I thought about how touched that woman was by the music. It did something for her. I wonder who else can be moved with a performance….
It was going to be a three and a half hour performance in the middle of Christmas Day for a brunch at a country club. I began the day at my ancestral altar and spent time in prayer. It was a simple way of giving thanks for my life and how it has transpired this season. I even made it a point to mention that my arms would remain open for future abundance. Well, they were full once the phone rang minutes before my first performance. Apparently, my presence was required at another venue immediately after the first one. There would be no time for a leisurely lunch or even a sip of tea. Unfortunately, I have yet to find my beloved pink water bottle.
As I flew from Boca Raton to Hallendale, I thought of holiday seasons of yesteryear. This has to be my busiest December to date. I have performed consecutively for days at a time and received last minute phone calls for engagements only hours away. I only wear red or black during this month.
Night has fallen. People are either having a second round of dessert or calling it a night. I have crawled into bed with thoughts of how Boxing Day should be conducted. As the New Year approaches, there are things that I would like to do to prepare including a proper house cleansing for myself and a client. (she doesn’t know it yet but her house cleansing will include lots of harping…). The fingertips are tired. The eyes are heavy. The body asks for rest. The radio is off in my home. I do not even hear crickets.