A Can-Do Attitude

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Alison Reese is editor of Harp Column. She is a freelance performer and teacher in West Michigan. Email her at areese@harpcolumn.com.

Looking forward to all the possibilities 2021 holds

As we put the final touches on this issue of Harp Column—the final edition of 2020—I admit to breathing a sigh of relief. This has been a year unlike any other, and I’ve never been so happy to turn the editorial calendar to a new year. While we will all be living with the realities of COVID-19 for a long time, there is something encouraging in looking to 2021 and the possibilities its blank canvas hold.

A blank canvas, though, is not what harpists want to see when they look at their gig calendars for the coming month. As pandemic gathering restrictions continue to take their toll on freelance musicians’ way of life, we’ve been blown away by the creativity and resilience of our #practicalharpist community. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. No group of people better is prepared to figure out creative solutions to new problems than harpists. We’ve spent our careers preparing for this.

“Can you move your harp to the top of that mountain for the wedding ceremony?”

Sure thing, just point me to the trail.

“Sorry, the orchestra librarian forgot to give you the music for Symphonie Fantastique. Can you play second harp at today’s rehearsal?”

No problem. I’ve got a marked copy on my iPad.

“My two favorite artists are Justin Bieber and J.S. Bach. Can you play a little something by both?”

Of course. I thought you’d never ask.

“There is a global pandemic, so can you shift your lessons online, livestream your performances, set up a home recording studio, and find new revenue sources?”

Absolutely. Just give me a minute.

Not that any of it has been easy or fun, but harpists are getting the job done. Here at Harp Column, we continue our commitment to helping harpists navigate the uncharted territory of pandemic life and celebrate the small successes enjoyed along the way.

With gigging demand down, most harpists are looking for income anywhere they can find it, and grants can be a saving grace right now. If the thought of writing a grant application strikes fear in your little harpist heart, you need to read Elizabeth Huston’s article “Go Get the Grant” on pg. 18. Huston, a professional grant writer and harpist, gives you a simple step-by-step guide to landing some financial support for your next project.

In our Sounding Board column on pg. 12, Toledo Symphony Orchestra principal harpist Nancy Lendrim writes about her return to the concert stage in September for a homecoming six months in the making. Her recounting the experience is not all unicorns and rainbows, but is a heartening message for all artists at this time.

We tap the harp hive mind to help solve some new harp dilemmas that have risen from pandemic life in “COVID Quandaries” on pg. 28. And on pg. 31 we share some of the new projects, skills, and creations that have come out of harpists’ unexpected free time since March.

In a reminder that the music world continues to put one foot in front of the other during this pandemic, our news section is chock-full of announcements of teaching appointments, harp models, and publications.

Finally, our interview with harpist Tristan Le Govic (see “Breton Brilliance” on pg. 22) wraps up our year of conversations with harpists you might not know, but we think deserve a closer look. Le Govic’s passion for the music he makes is inspiring, and as he reflects on his travels through the harp world, he shares this thought: “I don’t know if my experience would be the same if I played a different instrument. I am very grateful for this community.”

After this year, I think we all are.

Alison Reese is editor of Harp Column. She is a freelance performer and teacher in West Michigan. You can email her at areese@harpcolumn.com.

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Editor of Harp Column, freelance harpist, private teacher, hot yoga lover, and grammar geek.

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