Yes, I see what you mean, and having all your time free for study makes a big difference. You are right in that we are all different, and it is as much my personality as any study that affects how I perceive music. I process it subconsciously all the time. To analyze something, I do have to look at the score by itself sometimes. The thing is, for me, and how I am trained, the craft of music-making on the harp requires so much adjusting of fingering, of tone quality on different notes to bring out this or that element of the music, where to accent, how to manipulate the tempo, and fingering more than anything else is what takes so much time, and I work it all out slowly, according to my nature. It depends on the piece, too. A classical concerto would be far different to learn in a week than Villa-Lobos.
I was able to learn Scintillation in eight weeks, but only because I was in Maine, with few distractions, if any. And it was still several months more to make it secure. I started harp late, but also intensive study of any kind, but that is my life pattern. I was very bright, and if I had had the right teacher, I might have become a wonderful violinist, but it didn’t happen that way. It is important that we find ways to make harp study available to the young with the best quality of instruction, but it is not easy in this country. No person of great wealth has ever stepped up to improve our conditions.
It has also taken me many years for all my many interests to recede into the background and let the harp dominate completely. The fact that I compose probably has always affected my ability to concentrate because it is a different force within with its own desires, needs and direction. Now, I am only planning a festival, practicing, composing, copying music, teaching, drawing in my spare time, and trying to keep the rest of my life together. I used to take dance classes every day, sometimes voice lessons, I wanted to try acting classes so much, it is all enriching. There’s just so little time or money. We are all forced to be multi-tasking, it seems, unless in an orchestra.