Years ago when I first started playing the harp, I played in dining rooms in posh hotels – the kinds of places I would never go to eat myself. I’ve never been a holiday-focused celebrant, so I always volunteered to work – meaning, to play – on holidays like Thanksgiving – the way harpists all over the U.S. played in dining rooms today.

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And I loved knowing my playing was actually useful in aiding people’s digestion and their experience of the meal. Like I was collaborating with the chef, the wait-staff, the architect who designed the room, the farmer who grew the food – to create this dining experience.

And the digestion.

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People were hearing, but not listening, and it was a rich environment for me to develop confidence in playing and especially in improvising. Once I got over the fear of the Classical Police in my head, I started improvising on EVERYTHING – musicals, jazz tunes, classical themes – and it created a foundation for everything I did afterwards on my harp.

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It also helped me develop an understanding of musical structure, and how you can take a melodic theme and apply a musical structure to it – and come up with a different musical experience each time.

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Kind of like a kaleidoscope, where the contraption – the structure – stays the same, and so do the internal elements – like the notes, or the confetti inside the kaleidoscope – but the way they work on each other creates something different each time ….

[Long pause … ]

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[4 hours later]

And here, my friends, is where I stopped this small missive and wondered “Hmmm … how does a kaleidoscope work, and could I create a kaleidoscope image of my instrument, or my hands … and how would I do that?”

Which led me to this video tutorial: Make Your Own Kaleidoscope in Adobe Photoshop (thank you Helen Bradley)

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Which is how I ended up with these images. Look at them closely and you’ll see they’re all kaleidoscopic versions of snippets from my website’s header image.

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