My teacher Alice Chalifoux used to say that ” playing the harp well was 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.” As a performer and teacher for over 20 years, I completely agree – but I do think there needs to be more inspiration.
I believe natural talent is essential and determination is crucial if you want to be successful in any of the arts. However, the passionate artist burns brighter than others and it is clear in their performances. Inspiration is born of deep desire and searching within one’s discipline -it can also arrive from outside your field in a very unexpected way. Determination comes naturally as it is fueled by passion to be complete in one’s chosen art form.
As a struggling student I worked very hard to catch up with some of my more brilliant colleagues. Some of these musicians were prodigies, some of them work-a-holics, and some of them blessed and lucky. But not all of these musicians became “Successful”. Many of them made other choices that made them happy and found “success” outside of performing. During my student years I learned the value of really hard work and the definition of excellence. To receive a compliment from your teacher or another famous musician was heaven. Working with other outstanding musicians was inspiring and highly motivating. I learned many valuable skills just observing their creative process. I was fortunate to train in a conservatory with so many talented musicians and the Cleveland Orchestra a few blocks away. As a professional harpist, I still learn from my colleagues and listen with a discerning ear. There is nothing more thrilling than hearing or being a part of a brilliant performance- it is transforming and lives within you forever. When you understand what it takes to get there it is even more gratifying. It raises the bar of excellence and you know great artistry when you hear it, see it, and feel it.