I can hear my heart in my ears, thu-thum, thu-thum, thu-thum. I’m just about to start, and I really don’t know if I can do this. My feet seem to be moving in slow motion and my hands are clammy. I’m not sure that I can remember everything that I’ve been rehearsing and practicing day and night. Oh, why can’t this just be finished already, and why did I ever talk myself into this? My teachers have said that I’m ready, but why does my heart feel like it’s exploding?
“For me, physical and mental preparation go hand in hand with the harp,” says Elizabeth Hainen.” My daily routine is 30–60 minutes of yoga and a run with the dog. I was led to this discipline due to a wrist injury a few years ago. I was preparing to record the Parish Alvars Concerto in G-Minor, and I sprained my wrist lifting luggage. With only two weeks before the recording session, which happened to be in Bulgaria, I met with a yogi who was recommended to me. She was a bit eccentric but so passionate. She instructed me on how to stretch and work with my injury and that it wasn’t just my wrist but everything attached to my wrist, (i.e. forearm, elbow, shoulder, etc.) This was a revelation to me. I could actually feel better after doing these stretches so that by the time I needed to play it was somewhat under control. I still didn’t have full range of motion in the wrist but I certainly was in a better position to do the recording. Yoga and focused energy are paramount to my ability to practice and perform. I really cannot express in a few sentences what it has done for me, but just remember, we are all athletes at the harp. We must strive to stay active and clarify our minds before we even think about practicing. Then, once we are at the harp, we must fully warm up on exercises and etudes to make sure our bodies are ready to accept the rigors of practicing.”
Then, suddenly, it’s over. I hear applause and cheers. My friends and family run over to me saying, “Congratulations! I knew you could do it!” I nearly collapse while my teacher bows, presents a certificate, and shakes my hand after tying on my second-degree brown belt. Who knew that this experience would feel a lot like my first harp degree recital many years ago?
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Jaymee Haefner’s performances have been described by Daniel Buckley as possessing “an air of dreamy lyricism… interlocking melody lines with the deftness of a dancer’s footwork.” Jaymee joined the
University of North Texas (UNT) faculty in 2006 and was appointed as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the College of Music in 2010. Recently featured at the 50th Anniversary American Harp Society (AHS) National Conference in New York City, and the 2014 AHS National Conference in New Orleans, she has also performed throughout the Dallas‐Fort Worth area, in Mexico, the Czech Republic and Russia. Her recordings include features with the Bloomington Pops Orchestra, baritone Daniel Narducci and Alfredo Rolando Ortiz. She published a biography entitled The Legend of Henriette Renié and presented lectures at the 2014 World Harp Congress (WHC) in Sydney, the 2008 WHC in Amsterdam and the 2009 AHS Institute in Salt Lake City. Jaymee was Chairman of the 2011 AHS Institute and was recently appointed as the Treasurer for the World Harp Congress, she also and serves as the National Harp Associations Liaison for the WHC Review publication. Jaymee’s current projects include a “Better than One” duo with harpist Emily Mitchell and her “Crimson” duo with violinist Matt Milewski. Both ensembles are currently preparing CD recordings. When she isn’t practicing the harp, Jaymee trains in karate and is a first-degree black belt. She obtained her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Arizona and her Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University.