This post is from a series that shares the “Final BEGINNING Projects” from my winter 2016 “Blues HarpStyle” online course for harp players. students created short videos based on what they learned in the course, and answered 5 questions about what they got from the challenge of this project.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 2.29.49 PMJAN SAYS:

“Living Alone, Surrounded by Angels” A Contemplative Blues in G minor by Jan Hirsch for vocals, harp and saxophone.

This composition is an expression of my profound and enduring feelings of the loss of my beloved husband, best friend and soul mate, using a Contemplative Blues Form as a vehicle for that expression.  I hope by being so public with my feelings of grief that I can help others have the courage not to deny their own profound feelings of loss. It is also a declaration of choosing a path of freedom, new adventures and accomplishments in place of searching for a replacement for what I once had.

Jan’s answers to my 5 Questions:

1. Give a short description of what it took for you to get to the place of being able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Near the beginning of the course, I became ill with a sinus infection and was exhausted, but in that state of being, I found myself responding to my innermost feelings of wanting to do Contemplative Blues — the illness broke down a reserve and allowed my soul to stand naked.

2. What freedoms and blocks in yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

I found the courage to sing in a new way.  I was trained to sing in an operatic way, but this soft, expressive voice was waiting to emerge and this course gave it birth.

Also, I was so inspired by Margi’s artful videos that I called a friend who is a graphic designer to teach me how to do that on a Mac.  However, he was very busy and was not able to help me, so I called another friend and was directed to an outstanding videographer and saxophonist — it was meant to be!  I would have never thought to pair a saxophone with the harp, but I was amazed at the sound — how Greg Fiske used his saxophone to express the human soul.   This has opened up a whole new direction for me and Greg and I plan to make more videos in this genre of music.  

I would have never thought to pair saxophone with harp, but was amazed at the sound! Share on X

3. What challenges did you meet to connect with your own freedom of expression in this project?

The time limit set for the videos was difficult for me because Contemplative Blues need time for a languid, expressive feeling.     

4. What were your personal “Ahas”?

I found a new voice and a new expression.  I was so awed by all of the musicians in this course and learned so much from each one, but I realized that I had to find my own expression because the Blues are so personal and come from so deep within — you literally sing your soul.

Blues are so personal and come from so deep within - you literally sing your soul. Share on X

5. Is there anything else you´d like to tell people who are watching your video?

I want to thank the dear people who wrote such meaningful comments on my work — you gave me courage to develop this idea.  I also want to reassure everyone that I am not in a state of emotional immobility from grief — my husband’s love has been the wind beneath my wings and I have flown to new and wonderful places, but I shall always cherish, with my whole being, the twenty-eight years we spent together and what we meant to each other.

DHC’s Feedback:

Jan …. I don’t even know what to say.  You took this to a whole other place.  You took ME to a whole other place.  The saxaphone and harp – wow – it’s great.  Genius.  It was fascinating to watch this piece develop and then all come together in this video.  I’m so impressed that you so deeply embraced this form.

There was a moment near the end where you voice was almost a whisper.  That was so evocative – I’d love to see you explore that.

And I love that you let yourself be inspired by Margi for the video itself— and it really looks fabulous.  I may have to get you two to do a workshop in how to use video editing software. Fabulous!


Hey, thanks for reading this example of what it’s like to go thru a course with me! Did you have Aha’s or revelations watching the video & reading the answers she wrote? Add your comments below. Please – no critiques – just share what you learned from someone courageously sharing a project that’s the BEGINNING of a lifelong creative exploration.

Check out the beginning of a lifelong #harp learning journey Share on X

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