#30minutes30dayschallenge or An Exercise in Accountability

An old friend of mine from Penn State and I were talking about marketing and social media videos one day and decided to challenge ourselves.

We wanted to post one video a day on Instagram for 30 days. How hard could that be?

I made it 23 days. This is how the month went -

Day 1 - excited! motivated! MAKE ALL THE VIDEOS!

Day 5 - keep that momentum going!

Day 10 - Hmm how can I switch this up and post a more interesting video?


<Insert break because Dani came to visit>

Pick back up on Day 20 - I have no motivation. This is hard. Why do I even harp.

Day 21 - I am drawing straws here. What the heck should I post?!

Day 23 - Last video (unintentionally)...I’ve got other things going on that are more important.

So, what did I learn?

Well, first of all, I gained 100 followers in only 23 days. If I did this every day for a year I’d probably gain more than 1200 followers! Pretty cool. If I spent 30 minutes a day practicing for a year, that would be 183 hours total per year. 183 hours I most likely would have spent time doing something more “important” or immediately gratifying - you know, things like unloading the dishwasher, emptying the garbage, rubbing my dog’s belly, etc. (OK- the rubbing my dog’s belly IS pretty important).

I’m learning about the importance of persistence and routine from this book “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy. Side note: one of the best pieces of advice I can give when you are “soul searching,” “going through a quarter/mid/whatever life crisis,” or “need some inspiration” - read books by successful people. Listen to podcasts or TED talks by successful people. A lot of them give the same message but in different forms. I tell ya, there’s something there!

Anywho, this book talks about how an object in motion stays in motion. There’s no reason why I can’t find 30 minutes a day to practice the harp, right?

Although, it is easy to come up with excuses. Such as -  

The harp is high maintenance because it requires daily tuning - of 48 strings.

I can’t just sit down and and sight read.

I have so many things to do.

Blahbitty blahbitty blah.

I learned to make the harp a priority again.

I’ll admit - I had a friend come visit and it was difficult. This forced me to make the videos days before she came. However, life does simply get in the way. Now I work a full time 8-5 job so my videos are made either before (hello 7:30 am), during my lunch break, or in the evenings. I’ve discovered when I’m least likely to do it (evening) and when I’m most alert and clear minded (lunch) and try to plan accordingly.

Something else happened. I keep a running tab of music to “play on Instagram.” Pieces I hear on the radio that I think could translate well to the harp. On days I was feeling particularly uninspired, I had to muster up the enthusiasm to find something and make it work anyway.

I learned that sometimes you have to draw from inspiration even when you don’t feel like it. Stick your nose to the grind! Or whatever they say. You’ll feel better after.

I discovered the amazingness of the Acapella app. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to do exactly what this app does on YouTube. The hours spent on the program Garageband, syncing clips, playing with a metronome in my ear, counting out loud “1-2-3” then clapping and trying to sync two videos of that clap together. But no more! I can even collaborate with friends all over the world. How freaking cool is that?!

I learned about accountability. When you have someone else cheering you on and trying to accomplish the same goal as you, it really makes your work effective.

Videos that I thought would be awesome and took a lot of time (I did a video combining Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” and Toto’s “Africa”) weren’t in fact as impressive to my audience so much as say, a Justin Bieber video. SMH (is that shake my head or smack my head?)

Moral of the story? Keep showin up. Keep on keepin on. It’s just Instagram followers, right? Who cares? Well one of those Instagram followers could turn into a lead one day and turn into a client who in turn through word of mouth spreads your business. It’s a great form of free advertising. And it holds you accountable.

Has anyone tried an accountability exercise like this with music? What has your experience been like? What were the expectations, surprises, downfalls, struggles, accomplishments?

Check out my "#30minutes30dayschallenge" on my Instagram account! 


The Barre Method: A Love Story

I write this as my body is sore and muscles I didn’t know I had are aching. I haven’t done barre in 2 weeks and took a class yesterday and it (quite literally) kicked my booty.

I started taking barre classes in Philadelphia at a studio called Focus Fitness while I was completing my Masters in Music at Temple University. I fell in love with the slow, steady, ballet-like movements. It’s the only workout I’ve found that I actually crave when I haven’t done it in a while and, when I go a few times a week, I’ve found I can have that extra ice cream and not immediately feel it stick to my side.

This isn’t just a confessional. Even though musicians use their body and usually in quite contorted ways, we never talk about caring for our body. We never talk about how the food we eat can affect our focus. Or how it can affect our sleeping patterns, which in turn affects our focus, drive, and stamina.

Barre not only made me stronger; it helped improve my focus as well. I’m sure yoga has similar effects. This is due to the mind-body connection when you are isolating muscles and performing the tiniest movements to engage and fatigue them.

Barre helped me with performance anxiety. Instead of my nervousness manifesting itself through my shaking fingertips, instead, I think about engaging my core to help “root” me and so the rest of my body can perform.

I implore you to keep searching for it. The workout that works best for you. I’m convinced there is a perfect exercise and workout routine for everyone. What works for my best friend (running half marathons) doesn’t necessarily work for me. But I’ve found my workout soulmate in barre. What’s yours?

Getting Into the Head of an Adult Student

I got an acoustic guitar for my 16th birthday. My best friend at the time was a singer/songwriter and I wanted to try it too. When all I could teach myself were the same four chords, the guitar quickly began to collect dust in my closet. Thirteen years later, it has followed me and my life to the west coast. Maybe I haven’t gotten rid of it because it was a gift or (I hate saying this) the fact that it looks nice on display. Or maybe it’s that there’s always been this nagging voice in my head to give it a try.

    I already play three instruments, so why take up another one? Well, the guitar, like every other instrument, is unique in its own right. It seems relatively easy to strum some chords, but when you watch a master play, it is truly mesmerizing. Like some other instruments, it can morph its sound, whether it’s sultry spanish, creative jazz, soothing classical, or gritty rock. One of my favorite sounds the guitar makes is when the player slides their fingers on the fretboard to change notes. Maybe it’s these reasons that keep it in the back of my mind as something to learn.

    So since it’s 2017 and we’re all making these things called resolutions, and this has been on my list for a while, I told myself I’m going to try to practice guitar for at least 30 minutes every day. Last night I sat down on my couch, hunched over the music on my ipad, with the most imperfect posture, and played for an hour. Instead of playing “Ode to Joy” in my lesson book, I started searching for music on one of my favorite websites, www.musicnotes.com. Trying to learn through a traditional music book seems like a waste of time, and I can’t help but wonder if other beginning adult learners feel the same. I’m the type of person who would rather go through something than around it, and this seems like one of those times. I’m going to try this self-taught method for at least a month and see how far I’ve come. I can already tell there are habits I’m developing that could potentially take more time to undo and that some aspects of playing could probably be made easier with correct instruction.

    What are our time constraints as adults? I’d say time and money are at the top of the list. My deal with myself is if I’m disciplined enough to practice the guitar for at least a month, maybe I can justify spending money on formal lessons. And then I’d have to go through the arduous process of finding “just the right teacher,” but more on that later...

    They say children absorb information like a sponge. I’d like to disagree. I think children have something that adults don’t have - time. I also don’t think they’re unafraid and unintimidated by certain tasks like we may think. After teaching many children over a few years, I can tell you that children get just as frustrated, if not more so, than adults. So the moral of the story? We need to make time. And we have it. It’s there. It’s that half hour before you go out to dinner when you’re scrolling mindlessly through Facebook on your phone. It’s the half hour on a Saturday morning when you’re watching TV. It’s the half hour you’re watching a movie before bed. It’s there, we just need to find it and stick to it.

    The point of all my rambling is I realized last night this process of learning guitar could help me get into the mind of an adult student. Granted I already have a musical background on my side, but in terms of the kind of songs I want to learn, the frustrations I run into, the cost of lessons, and other issues I run into, this could be a valuable lesson of wearing another’s shoes.

What has been your experience as an adult learner with instruments or in other subjects? What do you find are your strengths and weaknesses? Are there any method books you’ve found that really motivated you?

Musician's Easy Guide to ForScore in iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is the best invention for musicians, ever. 

Before, when gigging, you had to haul binders of sheet music, or worse, if the client needed specific songs you had to spend time weeding through all your music and finding each particular piece. 

Gone are those days. 

Now you simply type in the music title you're searching for and voila! it appears on your iPad. 

You can also print WIRELESSLY from your iPad. Kids these days will never know the struggle of corded technology! 

I love my iPad Pro so much...I should probably get a commission. 

Here are 7 videos showing the tools I use most in ForScore. 

The wireless pedal I use can be found here on Amazon. The model I use has doubled in price since I bought it last year, but this link would be a similar pedal for around $90 which is what I originally paid. 

The stylus I use can be found here on Amazon. $7 for 3 beats the $50 I paid for my one stylus pen that I have since lost. 

The Easiest Way To Upload Music To Your iPad

  • download three apps - ForScore (it's $10 - worth $100 in my opinion), Genius Scan (free), and  Dropbox (I pay $100 per year for unlimited storage. If you find another way let me know)

How To Share and Print Music

The wireless printer I have is Canon and can be found here on Amazon. 

How to Make a Bookmark

How to "pull" pages from a book in ForScore and create a separate file. You can add this bookmark to setlists, print it, and label it as a single song to find it easier. 

How to Make a Setlist (similar to a playlist)

Perfect for organizing music for weddings since all brides have different requests. I also make a setlists for background music, teaching, my arrangements, and others. 

How to Make Notes and Draw on Music

A harpist's dream since we're always editing music. 

How to Rearrange Music

There's also a way to "link" pages in ForScore but this is the method I use. It may take a minute or two longer, but I like to "erase" music that I don't need on the page. 

How to Use a Wireless Page Turner

Harpists, if you don't have one, GET ONE. You can thank me later ;)