I am a freelance harpist, and I play in plenty of different settings. On a happy day, I receive emails/phone calls something like this:
I heard you play the other day…/ XX recommended you as an excellent harpist…/We played together at the YY location….
I wonder if you are available to play Ceremony of Carols/Requiem by Faure/Brahms/Rutter… /something or other at this location at that date. We would be so happy….
There is also another small piece to be played, originally for piano. I think it will be beautiful on the harp.
Are you game?
Maybe I reply a couple of times if this is an email conversation, and try to figure out what this mystery piano piece might be. And a couple of days later, there is a large letter in the mailbox. And the four stages of freelance practice kicks in.
First step – Initial shock
What on earth is this?
This stage maybe need little explanation. Any harpist who thoughtless accepted pieces “originally for the piano, probably sounds great on the harp” must have encountered these pieces. The person who suggested this piece obviously doesn’t play the harp, doesn’t know how a harp work, and might not ever have seen one.
Stage two – Anger
I guess there must be kinder harpists than me out there, but at this stage, I turn really grumpy. My husband get to know every fault of the piece, how much time I will have to spend to rearrange it, how ignorant humankind is to put such focus on the piano and not the harp, which is far, far better. He is very patient thought, and he knows there are two more stages.
Stage Three – Hard Work
In the end, I am most of the time far too lazy to rearrange the piece. So instead, I start to practice. And practice. And maybe cross out a note or two, but far less than it sounded like when I was complaining to my husband. And I practice. And practice. And I reach…
Stage Four – New Beginning
Suddenly, this is my new favorite piece of music. It sounds so great on the harp, so I start to recommend it to my harpist friends. I can’t wait until the concert, it will be one of my best concerts so far.
And then I reach the first rehearsal, and it might be all good and happy and the choir sings in tune and we prepare for the best concert ever made. Or… I failed to notice the word “Briskly” in the beginning of the piece. If so, go back to Stage One…