What posesses some people??

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    David Ice

    I recently played a concert. I was virtually note perfect–in fact, I only missed one note! I got loud and long applause….the biggest applause in the concert (which was a mash up of various instruments and styles.)

    Afterwards, at a reception, an elderly lady beckoned me to come over. Her first words to me were, “I’m a nasty old lady…”
    The rest of her comments were a diatribe about me. She didn’t criticize my technique, tempo, tone, musicality, or anything like that. She complained about how I talked into the microphone and “whatever that thing is you do, that thing you play on, whatever that piece was….it wasn’t long enough” and other such nonsense.

    I know I attract the crazies–I always seem to end up with them. But this was a first! I recognize the source–a sad, bitter and lonely old lady who readily acknowledges that she is “nasty”–but still, who goes up to a performer after a concert and tears them down so? If she could have condemned me for having spinach between my teeth and my zipper at half-mast, she would have delighted in that! I mean, she couldn’t even remember “that thing you play” was a harp!

    I just don’t understand the thought processes of such a person. I mean, WHAT DO YOU SAY?

    (FYI, the microphone was being “live monitored” by the sound booth and absolutely nobody else had any problems with it, and it was one of my finest live performances, and I’m a pretty tough critic of my own playing.)

    I just don’t understand these people…….anybody have similar stories? I can laugh it off, but at the same time–is it a mental illness, inner rage, or jealousy that makes people do such things?

    I’m just SO GLAD I’m not on her Christmas card list…..

    Dave Ice


    I think you shouldn’t worry about it. She’s obviously nuts…this is her thing.
    I’d just smile and say….Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the concert….and proceed with packing up or whatever.


    There are two things I tell myself when I meet people like this. “You cant argue with crazy, and you cant fix (self inflicted) stupid.” People like this are vampires, they only exist to inflate themselves by deflating others. Sorry this happened to you.


    Could be dementia in which case it really isn’t in her control. Otherwise, there are people who derive enjoyment from being miserable in which case you made her day. Therefore your performance was a success for the entire audience, even her.


    I dunno; it may have been obscured, confused and unpleasantly delivered, but I would try to take it home as a compliment that she said the piece wasn’t long enough. She may have complained about a lot, but the bottom line was that she wanted more.
    As far as how to handle such situations, I just smile brilliantly, say, “Why, thank you so much, but I must excuse myself.” and turn and flee, um, I mean, walk away….


    I think I would have held her to her initial statement and responded, in as sweet a voice as I could muster, “My goodness, you really are a nasty old lady.” Then walk away.


    I had a gig a couple of years ago at an adult home during the Thanksgiving Holidays and a women who seemed to be a grown daughter visiting her mother in the home said to me before I played: “Do not point that thing at me. I have a headache and simply cannot take it.” That thing was a pedal harp. The rest of the audience seemed to really enjoy. Sigh. I do not even think I had my amp and if I did I assure you it was not heavy metal I was playing. On another note, David Ice. I really like your arrangements. Your arrangement of Fields of Gold is one of my favorites. Hope you will do some more.


    I was doing a solo gig one time, vocal and guitar. As this woman was leaving she came over to me and said, ” It was really quite nice deary. But next time you should try to do more harmonies.” I said ,”Thank you. I’ll work on that”.

    David Ice

    Thanks for all the replies….and I’m glad I’m not the only one! I do laugh it off. Usually I get the people who want to tell me how the aliens have implanted a radio in their heads to control their thoughts. But this one totally caught me off guard! What does make me sad is the thought that this woman (who, while frail, didn’t strike me as one in dementia) can not take or give pleasure. How sad to always look for the negatives in life–to concentrate on the thorns and never smell the roses!

    Perhaps that’s the life lesson here…..ignore the thorns and smell the roses instead!

    Gretchen Cover

    Umm, I played a Christmas cantata last Dec, and a harpist walked up to me and asked why I didn’t use a pick for all the glissandos (I forgot to buy one soon enough and was too cheap to pay overnight shipping). No other comment about the performance,

    BTW, David, what is going on with your shoulder?


    I use a thick oval piece of leather that was part of a key chain when I have a long stretch of glisses…found it in the junk drawer.
    As for talking to harpists in situations as you describe, I learned long ago to just NOT. Seemed like even a compliment would be taken the wrong way.
    In your case, probably the problem was that you played the job and she didn’t.

    Gretchen Cover


    Thanks for the tip to use a leather piece. I found an old key chain with leather and it worked just fine. The leather is now in my harp bag.

    D W

    Her opening line ”I’m a nasty old lady….” is a disclaimer, she was actually paying you a complement. you didn’t need to talk about whatever it was you spoke about you just needed to play and since what you were playing on (harp) and what you were playing was so nice she wanted to hear more. No need to talk just play!!!



    Once again you CRACK ME UP! I would SWEAR that it was my Mother-in-law, but she’s stuck on the end of a couch in MD so I don’t think so. Anyway, as my grandmother used to say “Some peoples children”!

    Lisa – LOL coming to you too! Yes, by all means – watch where you point “That thing”. LOLOLOL

    Ah yes, this fun world of harps that we live in . . . Don’t cha just love it?

    Kay 🙂


    Some people think advanced age is actually an excuse for becoming a “nasty old lady” and may even be proud of it. I can’t think why. I intend to become a cheerful old lady. Oops. I’m already an old lady!

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