Success Story


Lisa Marie Kahn is professor of harp at Vandercook College of Music and president of the Greater Chicago Chapter of the AHS. She collaborates with many local orchestras and performs regularly as solo harpist at the storied Drake Hotel.

Redefining success and changing our mindset in the era of #winning

—by Lisa Marie Kahn

The tension in the room is palpable as the auditionees (your colleagues, your friends, your competition) all await the results of the competition. You’ve prepared this repertoire for years waiting for the validation of hearing your name called—the validation of me as a musician and artist. In my head, I’ve already composed the post I’ll share declaring myself a winner, and I cannot wait for the likes, comments, and congratulations. Finally, the moment I have been waiting for arrives, and my name is called! The room is spinning, something is off…beep beep beep beep!

I wake up. I’m inside my harp cover hiding for a quick nap in my glorified closet of an office at the hotel. It’s time for the next gig. I sit up, adorned in costume jewelry with full hair and makeup, my sparkly shoes next to me. This is a regular day in my harp life. I’ve earned three music degrees, but no one along the way told me my career would most likely look something like this: cat-napping in concert attire as I keep up a grueling schedule of performing, teaching, auditioning, and practicing. No one told me the big orchestra job or the plum teaching appointment would be so elusive.

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