In my online school Hip Harp Academy there’s always a creative challenge at the end of each course.

I call it the “Final-Beginning” project – the project that ends the course and begins your relationship to this new skill.

In the fall course, “Arrange Yourself,” the challenge is to create a short medley of 3 contrasting holiday tunes and I want to share one of my brilliant students, Alexandra Coursen’s final-beginning project.

“Arrange Yourself” gives a basic formula for those tunes but…

Alexandra didn’t follow the formula.

Wanna know why?

Alexandra has the soul of a composer.

This is something I observed from the first time she sent a homework assignment – and I’ve watch a rich unfolding of that composer in the year since she created the final-beginning project below.

So first enjoy this beautiful medley, then…

I’ll share the rest Alexandra’s exciting journey with me in “Hip Harp Academy”.

“Arrange Yourself & Hip Harp Toolkit” the course Alexandra was in, is a 10-week arrangement course for the harp. Each time Alexandra would submit her homework, I’d be struck by how she approached the work.

The class was about arranging – but Alexandra wasn’t arranging, she was composing. She was getting deep into the way the melodies worked, dissecting them and playing with them on a structural level.

This was natural to her.  Not effortless… but natural.

It was so obvious to me that Alexandra had the heart and soul of a composer that, at the end of the year, when I debuted my “Harness Your Muse” group mentorship program, she was one of a handful of people I personally invited.

I was delighted when she joined the group, because it was the perfect place to nurture and expand her natural talent: In a focused group of 12 highly creative harpists from the US and Europe, who invest a year of their lives in a journey with their muse.

In the “Harness Your Muse” program there are basically two kinds of creative journeys:

  • A journey TO A GOAL – like the creation of a show
  • A journey OF DISCOVERY, what I call an Odyssey Project

Alexandra’s was an Odyssey Project.  It started with a question and a practice.  The question was something like “What does it mean to be a composer?” The practice was to create a new composition each week and blog about it, answering 10 questions she and I came up with together.

You can see the beginning of her journey in the first few posts at her blog at

In the most recent posts you can see where the journey is right now, as Alexandra is about to head off to the U.K. as the finalist in an international composition contest – the only woman of 13 finalists –  and is currently scheduling interviews with her local media.

Maintaining a practice was not something that floated Alexandra’s boat – BUT committing to the practice and doing it imperfectly got her to a place where her passion grabbed her and began pulling her forward.

And that’s exactly what we want.

“When we start a creative journey, the goal isn’t to “succeed” at the journey, but to find out where it is we want to BE, where our roots take hold.”

Alexandra started resonating powerfully with one kind of compositions she calls “NameTunes.”  About 4 months into HYMM Alexandra began writing about the NamePieces she had composed. The result is her book of “NamePieces.”  It includes the stories of how the NamePieces were composed, photos, and “How-to compose NamePiece” instructions. You can hear one of them at the MY MUSIC page on her website, and you can also order the book directly from her.

She abandoned the practice we’d developed and followed that passion.

And that’s exactly how it should be.

The whole point of creative guidelines is to give you FOCUS, not to create RESTRAINTS.

The point of creative guidelines is to give you FOCUS, not to create RESTRAINTS Share on X

This is an example of both a PRACTICE and STRUCTURE – two concepts at the heart of my new online creativity program, Strings of Passion.

By having a simple structure to follow, and the practice of following it daily, Alexandra started her journey with a basic question: “What does it mean to be a composer?”

If you resonated with Alexandra’s story and are feeling inspired to start your own journey, using the concepts of PRACTICE and STRUCTURE, with your own unique question…

Sign up for the Learn more about the power of internal structure and the art of creative practice in my 10-Week “Strings of Passion” course beginning January 7, 2017 at

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