So here’s what happened …

Aside from playing to a completely full house on a Saturday night, and waking up to beautiful texts, emails and posts on Facebook about the show Sunday morning, I also got some wonderful photographs via text from a photographer named Brian Douglas.

But what really surprised me was the photo he showed me on his phone – of me a long, long time ago.

Turns out, Brian first saw me perform over 30 years ago when I was playing background music for the opening of a Savings Bank – and he was the photographer for the event.  The bank wanted a lot of slides instead of the usual negatives/prints, so he kept one of several similar shots. (What amazed me is how he could find it after all this time).

Just for fun, I made a composite of the two photos he texted me after the show, and shared it with students.

What I see in myself when I put these two photos together – is all the things that have changed … and all the things that have stayed the same, because of the great good fortune I’ve had to LIVE a life of creative expression.

So much has changed in 30 years: I play a completely different kind of instrument now! I used to play the standard classical pedal harp – and now I play a harp that didn’t even exist when I began playing – a harp I invented! I saw that I was using a music stand back then – and now I play using method I teach in my Academy – in which I know the ‘structure’ of a tune, and so I don’t use music. I also noticed that now I’m older!

But I saw something else. I saw what stayed the same: I saw the same focus, the same search for creative expression. That same search I see in so many of my students and in all great artists. That same longing to connect.

I see that it’s taken me a long time to become me … and I was always there.

As Miles Davis said:

“Man, sometimes it takes you a long time to sound like yourself.”

 

We each have a creative voice. It gets richer the longer we live. We get some pieces of the puzzle early in our lives, but to put it all together takes a long time – and  structure, tools, encouragement, guidance, a community, a mentor!

Which is why I created all that inHip Harp Academy.”

I’ve been incredibly lucky to find those things along my own journey of creative expression, from brilliant mentors and teachers, and sometimes just through luck.  In Hip Harp Academy, I’ve put together the tools, the guidance, the exercises, the creativity games that my own mentors shared with me – to give others a roadmap on that journey to a life of creative expression – a journey to yourself.

If you play the harp, join me now. If there’s another creative expression aching in your soul, find a mentor, a teacher, a community. Commit to seeing ALL you deeply are, to truly sound like yourself — and to sharing that with the world – no matter how expansive – or intimate – that world is.

Oh … and one more little part of the story, I didn’t tell you yet: Brian was at my show with his daughter, Sonya – and on a chain around her neck was a beautiful, tiny Irish harp.

I told her about my Academy and she blushed and said she was really just starting. “Great!” I said. “There’s an online school for you, too! A school called ‘Start-Harp‘ that takes people from pre-harp (yes, before you even buy an instrument!) all the way to intermediate,” so you have all the foundation you need to come work with me in the Academy.

That made me realize one other big thing that’s changed since I was playing background music in banks 30 years ago: back then I’d need to drive an hour just to get to a lesson, if my teacher was even in town – and I could barely afford a lesson every couple of weeks. Now harpists all over the world study with world-class teachers online in programs like mine at Hip Harp Academy,  or with Shelley Fairplay at “Start Harp” and through other great resources like Harp-School.com and Harp Column.

All this learning at a fraction of what I paid 30 years ago – because it can be done in groups, online, in powerful international communities.

And what’s still the same?

Music opens the world for us, inside and out – at the touch of a finger on a string. That hasn’t changed a bit.

If you play the harp ... Join DHC's Hip Harp Academy

Deborah Henson-Conant's "Hip Harp Academy" online learning community is open for self-paced learning yearlong.  DHC personal guides each class in the Academy once a year.  Access to each guided class is limited to students who register before the 2nd week of class. Registration for the Fall Guided course, "HIp Harp TOOLKIT" is currently closed.  

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