It was a day for me to step out of my box and do things that are not in my routine. Yesterday, I taught a bellydance workshop at a local dance studio. Afterwards, I made a guest appearance with Deep Fried Funk at Ginger Bay Cafe which was literally moments away from the studio. Life was quite interesting.
It was a good feeling to create a space for women to come and share the dance with each other. My facilitation led to thoughts and application to daily life. Women discovered things that were lacking in their lives and made steps to change. Smiles glowed across the room as each woman was given a chance to own the stage in her own way. I look forward to doing this again in the near future.
Upon arrival in the cafe, I flashed the drummer a wicked smile. We met years ago when I presented myself for a spoken word night at Bed on South Beach. We have worked together ever since. He smiled back and motioned for the sound engineer. “Oh, I forgot to tell you, we have a harpist..”. “A WHAT?!”. Laughter filled the air as the words slowly sunk in. After a discussion with the pianist, Misty & All of Me (John Legend) opened the night. There is no feeling in the world that can match performing in an ensemble. Nothing comes close. The listening and blending make for an uplifting experience.
As a glass of wine met my hand, thoughts of the day flashed through my mind. My CDS were ready to be sold. The workshop went well. The performance was fun. All of this made me feel as if I had many things to offer which brought a smile to my face. It felt good to be creative and in service all at the same time.
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.
My desire to have a laptop has spanned a few years. As of last night, this desire has manifested itself into a Mac Air with a hot pink cover. After recruiting for the local chapter of the American Harp Society, I realized that I had to become more active myself. Upon planning to attend the harp party, a former harpist reached out to me and mentioned her longing to return. I now have a partner in crime that also wants to become more active in the harp world. I have looked into festivals and have included them in my travel plans. Remember, come Spring Break I will be sipping something alcoholic on a foreign beach with something accompanying me….my new laptop. I want to blog about the excitement at night from my hotel room. Why, I am blogging from my bed this evening thanks to this piece of expensive technology. CHEERS!
My mother has been doing better with the mourning process. She has remained as social as ever and attends to daily matters. She did not speak about my father as much as she did in latter months. Physical ailments began to plague her and trips to the physical therapist began. Since I have my own history with physical issues, I asked about massages. She was not receiving any. I thought about how a massage therapist worked on me shortly after Daddy passed away. She volunteered to work on me as a way to help me with the tremendous loss. It was such a kind compassionate gesture. We became friends after that. Naturally, I thought it would be great if she could work on my mother; it was a surprise.
We met at my mother’s house all the way down South. Upon introducing my mother to my friend, it was explained that she was a massage therapist. Mommy’s face quickly crumpled into a questioning expression, “Who is getting a massage?”. She was not expecting the massage or the live harp music that I was providing during her session. I had done this same thing for her many years ago with the assistance of my father. I told him what I wanted to do. He said okay, not to worry about anything. Mommy was dressed for the massage therapist when she arrived and to this day, I do not know what Daddy said to her.
As the session got under way, the repertoire included many of the songs that Daddy enjoyed. It was natural for me to perform Mommy’s favorite Adagio Cantabile. Upon hearing it, she asked me to play it again. We soon heard a lot of sniffling. The music continued as the massage worked its magic. Fortunately, we had convinced her to have a session for 1.5 hours. She needed every minute of it. Upon completion, my friend, and I sat on my mom’s bed and chatted for a while. Mommy was fast asleep which was good because that was another issue since her loss. She was out for a good fifteen minutes before she rustled a bit. We told her to stay put and take her time.
It was amazing to witness such a healing take place. My friend felt so honored to have been a part of my family during this significant time. She was a good fit based on her compassionate heart. Mommy was able to do a lot of releasing on that table. I can only imagine the pain that she still experiences with such a tremendous loss. Mommy talked about my father for the remainder of the day which is something that she had stopped doing as much. It is my intent to help her get more massages on a regular basis.
Because we enjoyed the process so much, my friend and I are thinking about creating a package that offers this service to the general public. We felt as if we wanted to receive such a wonderful gift ourselves. The music was heartfelt and the massage allowed so much to be let go. What a gift.
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.
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.
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….