~ Hazel Harps On


Oh dear. A little fear has crept in. Now that my book is out there and I’m gradually becoming known as an author, people might just start reading these blogs. They might come here expecting entertainment or eloquence or (gulp) wisdom. I don’t want to disappoint but I feel hopelessly inadequate. Any energy and skill I do have is already being stretched by writing the novels and playing the harp…

Should I push harder? Should I do more? Some writers manage to do SO much more, juggling day jobs and families and even producing two novels a year, as well as a (not monthly but) weekly blog. Wow. I have to face the truth. I am nothing like those writers. However, the harp has recently reminded me that I still have something to offer - and it is enough.

I’ll be totally honest. I’ve messed up several harp performances recently. Not majorly messed up, but messed up enough to be pretty cross with myself. That gig the other day, for example. I was nervous because of the multi-tasky demands of trying to sing well and play the harp well at the same time. Added to this was the fact I had to use amplification I wasn’t familiar with so my voice sounded alarmingly different, and it was a roasting hot day. It’s hard to play harp when your brain is fried and your fingers are so sweaty they keep slithering off the strings. Am I making excuses? You bet.

But the fact is that the audience - not knowing that I normally play a whole load better than this - was entranced by the harp and full of compliments anyway. Much as I feel like apologising when this happens, I don’t because it wouldn’t be fair either to them or myself. I’ve put in the work, I’ve done my best under the circumstances and I’m only human. It’s OK. I respect myself for having the guts to do it anyway and hope that I can learn to handle things better next time.

Another June gig was a private party at a gorgeous venue, the grounds of an Elizabethan Manor House. I had devised some harp accompaniments to go with a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream that was put on by a group of young actors, and we’d rehearsed together only once! Lots of cues to remember, lots of concentration required. On the day there was the challenge of extreme heat again, and this time I also had a historical costume (actually made from a charity shop dress bought many years ago when I was much slimmer). Uncomfortable or what? Yes, I had slippy fingers and fluffed some notes during my couple of hours solo playing… but when it came to the Shakespeare everyone’s eyes were on the actors; I relaxed and it all came together beautifully.

In Picasso’s words, ‘I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it’. Every time I put myself out there I risk doing it badly… but I hope that the audience will always get something out of it. As long as there are people who enjoy my harp-playing and my writing, I am proud. It is enough!

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