Once upon a time,  during one of the severe pandemics in the 21st century, when all people were forced to stay at home and could not meet and play music together …

… an international community of DARING harp players met each week in a Virtual Academy to plumb the secrets that their hearts wanted to tell. There, they each committed to share a song – each with their own unique gifts – not in the name of perfection, but to turn their hearts – and their harps – to the music of connection.

WELCOME to the STRINGS OF PASSION
Final-Beginning Projects 2021

The “Strings of Passion” are 7 principles of creative resonance, the concepts that lead from creative impulse to creative expression – and they’re principles I discovered over decades of creative output. 

The class, “Strings of Passion” is taught only at Hip Harp Academy and takes harpists through the 7 strings and how to apply them to your own music. The class also explores the 7 modes, and the art of motivic improvisation.

These are the “Final-Beginning” projects from the 2021 “Strings of Passion” class. We call them “Final-Beginning” projects because they mark the end of one adventure and open the door to another. They’re not meant to be perfect, but to capture a moment in time and to use the principles from the class to create and share a new musical creation. 

We asked each harpist to describe their experience when creating and recording their project and you can read what they wrote in the drop-down blocks below their videos.


Louise:

I really enjoyed creating this both musically and visually, and I hope you like it! 

Louise's Insights about this Project
This is an expansion of what I showed in Half-Bake.
Synchronicity: I loved having more than double the usual time to create the Suite, especially being able to do a full 12 bar blues pattern. I’m quite amused that it’s come in at exactly 3:30! 
Serendipity: The audio you hear under the title card is from a video I made previously, and added harp to, of a silhouetted possum in our golden elm tree, and the bird’s tones are F & C, like DHC’s first bar in Motif 1!
Necessity: I liked the backlit blue tinged footage from my previous video, but didn’t want to finger-sync my new recording which is a semi-improvised pattern, so I have used some of the Half-Bake footage in SloMo. Hope not off-putting; I think it has a sort of dreamy effect.
 
I really enjoyed creating this both musically and visually, and I hope you like it! Louise

Lauri:

I sent the reading of a stanza from Mark Strand & DHC, “You Have a Voice.”  Hopefully a form for future use in my ministry. I was relieved and excited about stretching and gaining more opportunities with my harp.

Lauri's Insights about this Project

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

I sent the reading of a stanza from Mark strand & DHC, “you have a voice”.  Hopefully a form for future use in my ministry

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Forms, use of structure, simplicity, setting up video and backdrops… Vision music suite…

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

It was easier than the other times – but still challenging as 8 am not confident in my playing ability and I didn’t want to “mess up” DHCs beautiful music!  Logistically I’m proud I did it and on time!!

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

“ judgement of self”. Making a plan and sticking w it…

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I had FUN & felt proud that I did it!

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I was relieved and excited about stretching and gaining more opportunities w my harp and grateful about being part of such an incredible “ community!”

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I can do this!!!

Stephanie:

This is a recording of “Part of Your World.” It is intended as a message of hope and empathy. found so much more in the song than I expected! When I shared the video with a friend, she cried and thanked me. I walked away feeling I had done the best work of my life. Thank you DHC!

Stephanie's Insights about this Project
Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is a recording of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, music by Howard Ashman, Lyrics Alan Menken.  It is intended as a message of hope and empathy for the Jordan High School community wher I teach Special Education as we ease out of quarantine and gradually get back to school.
JMAC- credited at the beginning of the video is the Small Learning Community within the Jordan High School that focuses on media and communication technologies..  The videography, effects and set design were done by JMAC students and alumni. A more elaborate version with video cuts of student memories interspersed with my message and performance is going to be presented to the school when we come back from break.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Impulse: I signed up for SOP on an impulse. I was having the post-holiday blahs, Quarantine Edition. My friend, also down with the blahs,  had asked me for a recording of her favorite song and I could have knocked an O.K one off in about 30 minutes using someone else’s arrangement, but I wasn’t motivated.
Structure:I used a basic song structure, but added an extra bridge so I would have room to improvise if I felt like it. I used the three X turnaround ending DHC modeled early in the course (sadly couldn’t fit it into the submission video, but will share the whole thing with anyone on request.)…It was hard to make the three final statements of the refrain distinct from each other, but I think it created a more balanced satisfying  ending.  I also used a harp line ( the running 16th notes) from the original recording as a unifying theme
Character: The song is in the voice of a very popular (Disney Princess, gyah!) character who had a pivotal emotional role in many people’s childhoods.  I wanted to balance what many  know about the character, young, wistful and looking at a world she is separated from with something larger that we all are experiencing.
Roles: Rather than doing it “Little Red Hen” Style (all by myself) I reached out to the stage manager at the high school where I teach, and asked him if he would record me.  I put him in the role of Professional with High Expectations (he does have extensive credits including running shows at Disneyland) . I bragged about working with DHC and showed him DHC’s “Funny Valentine” .  I knew that if I did that, I would have to come prepared with a rich arrangement and a confident performance.   Dave is a dear friend, but does not like having his time wasted.
For other Roles, DHC and the SOP group were my creativity coaches, my friend who requested the song was the Fan Who Will Like Whatever I Do (everybody needs one, but playing to that group alone is stifling.) . I thought I needed someone to be the Harp Teacher but I was able to do that for myself.
Deconstruction:  I integrated much much more listening than I have done for any piece I’ve transcribed.  I am sure my family would like to kill me because I walked around singing along.   In the car line for my Covid shot I listened to it 6 times in a row.  I really felt like I was looking at the song on the molecular level.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Having made a date to be ready, I was able to make the time to practice.  It is nice to be at home and have a harp ready at lunch break.  Emotionally, I had to break through shyness and participate more actively in SOP rather than lurk…that’s hard because once I do get attention, it triggers a lot of neediness and then I think I want all the attention.

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

Freedoms- DHC encouraged me to play the rhythm the way I heard / felt it.  Frankly it changes from performance, to performance.  Sometimes there are two beats between phrases. Sometimes there are more. …It really doesn’t matter in this context (solo) and actually helps put across the character., who is a little scattered , impulsive and passionate. Over time, I found letting go of trying to do perfect rhythm ended up giving me a lot more awareness and control over it.
Blocks: All the hits of negative self-talk:
“ Why don’t I look 28 anymore?”
“ I really shouldn’t be doing performances, on video or live until I lose some weight.”
“ I wish I had a straight back Even if I did all the yoga and bodywork in the world it won’t fix the scoliosis”
“I can try as hard as possible but I will never be as good as ________(insert name
of super-talented colleague, successful harp classmate, legendary teacher)”
Need I say more?

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I honestly wasn’t ready to do much fancy improvisation the second time through the bridge, I ended  just playing an octave up and adding a few ornaments, but I wanted it to do more .  I did put in a nice echo effect though.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I loved,  loved, DHC’s metaphor about structure, the sugar crystals on a string. So much of my Special ed teaching can be a combination either putting out (usually metaphorical) fires or checking off someone else’s boxes.  This reminded me that the time I take in planning including selecting structures and processes that work for me produces better teaching and more time for the fun stuff.
I struggle a lot with balancing an analytic mind with emotions and habits that can be chaotic. Recognizing when I have strength in recognizing and  creating structure is a big plus.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I had absolutely no physical pain preparing this project.  I was unconsciously shaping the music to fit my body.  This is big since I have had recurring pain associated with performance for the last 20 years.

This makes me think I could do a larger recording project with careful planning.
Rather than preparing a CD like a 50 minute recital, I can set a recording date every month or two months , bring in a couple ready pieces and put them down.

I felt I needed a “lesson” – measure by measure feedback from a capital H Harpist on how I was playing before I could present it.  I actually, for this project, didn’t.  Both times recording- my Half-baked and the “Final” I was shocked by how fluently I played on the first take.

Working with a Professional with High Expectations is so much easier when 1.)
They don’t have power over your financial future(as in “ You’ll never work in this town again”) 2.) You, the artist, defines the time frame and the expected outcomes.
3.) You are in a place where you are ready to hear feedback, good and bad without taking it as a judgement on your whole being.  Once beyond those three elements working with someone with a high level of expertise is an awesome experience. I knew  Dave would treat me with respect, but knowing he knew what quality is I reached higher.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I found so much more in that song than I expected!
In the introduction, when Ariel is singing about all the cool stuff she has in her cavern, but she thinks “who cares, I want more”  -That was exactly me in quarantine. Comfortable at home with my harps, garden, cats and cozy sweaters,  I could push a button and Amazon, Etsy or Ebay  would bring me whatever cool rare teapot or fancy hair clip or thingamabob I could wish for within a day or two.   (Anything, except a new refrigerator, that took 9 months! 🙁 ! )  Even knowing how safe and lucky I was , the sense of separation from people, connection and choices really created a hole in my heart.  This song helped me express that.

The taping was a wonderful, emotional experience,  I saw people I hadn’t seen in months. Everything in the auditorium. where my students had performed many times, was sparkling and new.  I had an instructional aide who is also a makeup professional come do my face.   Dave, the stage manager asked one of his young alumni to come in and do the video.  The videographer recognized the song as soon as I played the bisbigliando-and said it really brought back his childhood.  The song even got a few tears from crusty old Dave, my Professional with High Expectations. So I know I was putting something across.   And when I shared the video with my friend Annee she cried and thanked me again and again.  I walked away feeling I had done the best work of my life.  Thank you DHC.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Ilene:

I knew I wanted to tell a story and play music. This class has made it easier for me to use my voice. I also enjoyed the process of the storytelling.  I challenged myself to make the video very personal and felt comfortable doing it.

Ilene's Insights about this Project

Attach your homework in PDF or JPEG format here:

final project Ilene Miller.pdf

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is a video of my telling a story and then playing the music.  Please note that when I uploaded the video it transferred in a very choppy and blurry way.  I apologize for that.  When and if I can fix it, I will post it to Facebook.  Also, this was the first time I used a video editing program as well as green screen, so I had some problems — the most obvious of which is that some of the harp strings are erased!

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

These are the strings that I used:

Impulse. I used the string of impulse to come up with a theme for my project.
I knew I wanted to tell a story so I wanted it to be personal.  I had been singing    the song around the house and I knew that I should use it for my project.  It also    was around my grandmother’s birthday so I was thinking of her.g
of her
Structure.  I chose the narration/music structure because It has been one of the easiest structures for me to work with this session. Because I am telling a story and singing the song, I am able to use simple accompaniment and not get too worked up about my playing.

Character.  For the string of character I looked closely at using expression in both my storytelling and my song.  I also used a green screen for the first time so I could use a background associated with a lullaby. I tried to use appropriate expression in the narration and I also tried to make it soft because the song is a lullaby.   When I sang the song, I tried to make the lullaby soft and calming and also to make the accompaniment reflect the style of the song.

Roles (Leadership/Followship; Bass, Melody, & Accompaniment; Archetypes). I used the string of roles in different ways.  I used my voice for melody at all times.  Sometimes I accompanied myself with arpeggios, but other times I used a single bass note and accompanied that with the rest of the chord in my right hand, usually an octave above.  I did this so there would be some variation but also to provide some rhythm and to simulate what was happening in the song.

Deconstruction. I spent a lot of time looking for ways to make the song easier without just playing arpeggios as accompaniment.  I went through the song measure by measure and found the measures where the music repeated and then I looked at the lyric.  It made me realize that there was an opportunity for me to vary accompaniment according to what the lyric was actually saying because the music was doing the same thing.

Lift-Off. I was able to lift off when I realized that nothing is perfect.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.     Well, I had to practice this many, many times, since this was the first actual time I had played the song.   Then, I had to deconstruct the piece and find the easiest ways to accompany myself with the harp.  I learned from the class that I should use the harp as accompaniment, so I had to figure out the best way that could allow me to sing the song and play the harp without making me crazy.  I also decided to use a green screen for the first time which was definitely a learning process. On an emotional level I had to accept that it was OK to make mistakes.

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

Because of this class it was much easier for me to use my voice and feel good about it.  I also really enjoyed the process of the storytelling and I will continue to use that.  I liked my narration.  However, I am always self-conscious about my lack of skill in actually playing the harp. It took a lot of work and practice for me to be able to play the piece and sing with it.  However, because of my being a perfectionist, I made way too many videos before choosing the one I am presenting. I wasted a lot of time on that.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I challenged myself to make the video very personal and feel comfortable doing it.  I also challenged myself to be imperfect and accept my imperfections.  I challenged myself to be “me” during my narration.  I challenged myself to enjoy the process.  I challenged myself to be satisfied with my harp playing and to vary the accompaniment.   In the end I think I met the challenges.    One issue was that when I shortened the script I had to leave out parts of the story that brought in some of my own personality, and I was sad about that.  Another issue  was in just trying to keep it as simple as possible, but not always doing that.  I am a perfectionist so I tend to do things over and over and over.  I was on my way to doing this with the filming because I would look at the video and not be happy with the emotion in my voice or how many notes I had played with my right hand or what I said in the narration or how many mistakes I made.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

This class made me realize how important structure is to success in life. I am very disorganized person who really doesn’t function well without structure. The Academy has been very important to me during the pandemic.  The structure that I got because of this class helped me to get through.  I made a commitment to practice my music and exercise my body every day before noon and not to make any appointments or other activities until later on in the day.  I also enjoyed the practice of speed writing. Even though I might not participate the next class  know that I will still organize my life in the same way.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I realized that I had to Lift-off.  That’s when I said, “nothing is perfect”  — this is the last take and I am using it no matter what.
I realized that it ok to make a mistake and I shouldn’t be afraid of what other people think.
It’s ok to better at singing than playing the harp.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I’d just like to say that I was very proud to finish this project I am really looking forward to doing more.  I learned a lot that will help me.  I also learned that I like storytelling and in addition to playing at the bedside I should consider do concerts and sing alongs in senior citizen facilities.  Finally, when I finally uploaded the finished video it was ver choppy and blurry.  If I ever find a way to fix this, I will post it on Facebook.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

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Heather:

“Anema e Core” (Italian song in Latin style) – from a lead sheet. This was a blast! I have been working to learn how to use lead sheets to expand my repertoire. Lead sheets now are easier to understand….less daunting.

Heather's Insights about this Project

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

Final project
anema e Core (Italian song in Latin style)
-from a lead sheet 1st x melody, 2nd X improv

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

This video demonstrates all of the roles -bass, melody,  accompaniment, improv…all in a mini five part structure (4 parts for time)

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

This was a two week fast blast. I have been working to learn how to use lead sheets to expand   my repertoire and trying to memorize more. I had the melody mostly memorized but really I need a few more days to really solidify that aspect…so I read it from the lead sheet!

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

Memorization is sluggish hard work for me…But I’m getting better at it. I have a better understanding of what it takes to really know a piece. Not just kinetic, or auditory or visual but a layering process is best for me.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I found out I’m really terrible at any of this if I’m tired!

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

Lead sheets are easier to understand….less daunting

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I love latin

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

There are obvious oopsies – but I learned this lead sheet really quickly for me.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Stefanie:

Stefanie’s Sounding Story No. 1 – “Nasreddin and the Red String; The Secret of Playing with One Single Note.” I had to overcome the belief that I am not a good storyteller, especially not in English. I overcame it when I heard all the encouraging feedbacks of so many people in the Academy.

Stefanie's Insights about this Project
Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

Stefanie’s sounding Story No. 1 – Nasreddin and teh red String
The secret of playing with one single note

Attach your homework in PDF or JPEG format here:

final-beginning-project-worksheet-SOP-2020_v1 Stefanie Bieber.pdf

Describe your written materials – if there’s anything in particular you want to say about it to help people know what they’re looking at, add that here.

This is the Finall Beginning Project worksheet, filled out.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I used them all, they play part in all my creative processes.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I had to overcome the believe that I am not a good story teller, especially not in english. I overcame it when I heard all the encouraging feedbacks of so many people in the academy

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

Freedom: knowing about my ability to improvise with music and talking

Blocks: judging my self for not being professional enough.

Freedom: Just don’t try to be professional, instead have fun and enjoy the easiness of imperfection.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

let go the idea of having to be professional whatever that would mean.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

My teaching has become even more encouraging and joyful

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I need no lable saying “professional”, I am what I am and some people besides myself even enjoy what I have to offer, even if it is only one single note.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

Enjoy and please subscribe to my new channel, so that you don’t miss more Stories, that will follow.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Laurie:

The song, “Winter Sky” had been brewing in me all Winter. The bare branches of the oak trees are evocative of my inner experience of grief. But the song also became the dying of my need to hold myself back from sharing what I want to create.

Laurie's Insights about this Project
Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

The title of the project is Winter Sky.
I put a short poem called The Oak Tree by Mary Howitt to music and then sang a bit of Winter Sky, written by written by Billy Edd Wheeler and made popular by Judy Collins. I changed the word “stars” to oaks in Winter Sky.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

The impulse to share my experience of Winter and seeing bare oak branches against the sky.
The structure became creating a happy little ditty to be the bread in the musical sandwich and the more pensive song in the middle.
The natural backdrop in the video of trees became the visual role of describing what I am singing about.
Lift off was the doing of it and just having the attitude of getting it done and putting it out there.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

The song, Winter Sky had been brewing in me all winter. My roommate died a few months ago and the bare branches of the oak trees are evocative of my inner experience of grief. But the song also became the dying of my need to hold myself back from sharing what I want to create. After I put the happy poem to music that sounded like an old English folk song, I found myself humming it all the time. The two songs became a healthy gestalt of two different emotions.

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

ohhh mannnn, the need to impress, the need to be perfect, showing my wrinkles, my thumb is playing in a hitchhiking position while I teach my students to play with a curved thumb. I’m too emotional. Don’t depress other people, am I authentic enough. The list goes onnnnnn…..

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

The challenge to share what is not perfect.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

The integration of happy and sad about the same subject, oak trees.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Sally forth, don’t think about it, just do.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I think that if I had done the middle part of the video, where I sing a cappella, without caring or trying, it may have seemed more natural and authentic.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Marie:

I had fun telling the story of how this one song has been important throughout my whole life.  It was rewarding to complete this project and to verbalize the significance of Over the Rainbow for me!

Marie's Insights about this Project
I had fun telling the story of how 1 song has been important throughout my whole life….playing little sections and then ending with the entire piece.  It was rewarding to complete this project and to verbalize the significance of Over the Rainbow for me!

No further questions or comments!   Thanks & Enjoy!

Doris: 

My First Final Imperfect Project. I worked again on an idea with inner voices, then i tried to make a kind of rondo out of this as you taught. I had fun doing it.

Doris' Insights about this Project
Describe your video so I know exactly what you’re sending me. If there’s anything special you want me to look at, listen to (or ignore), tell me what it is.

My First Final Imperfekt project. I worked again on idea with inner voices, (until 1.20) then i tried to make a kind of rondo out of this as you teached. Ist is just a beginning, but i had fun doing ist. Total 3 min, as you told that this is ok.

TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED COACHING ON. Provide specific questions here so I know what you want me to give you feedback on. Remember, I’m not grading or assessing your work – I’m coaching – and I can only do that if I know what you’re TRYING to do, so I can gear my coaching to help you achieve that.

Thank you for any feedback, and specially what is working on this rondo Form i tried out of an improvisation

Do you want feedback on your homework (this may mean that it gets shown during the chat) (see the note below about this choice)

YES!

BJI:

I really enjoyed creating this. I wore the red hat to claim my acceptance of my past.

BJI's Insights about this Project

Describe your video so I know exactly what you’re sending me. If there’s anything special you want me to look at, listen to (or ignore), tell me what it is.

This is my final project for Strings of Passion. I really enjoyed creating this. I left out the childhood story and it was still over 3 min. Cutting out more was like cutting off a body part, so forgive.

TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED COACHING ON. Provide specific questions here so I know what you want me to give you feedback on. Remember, I’m not grading or assessing your work – I’m coaching – and I can only do that if I know what you’re TRYING to do, so I can gear my coaching to help you achieve that.

I believe you do not coach on final projects. I applied suggestions that you mentioned at the half bake. I wore the red hat to claim my acceptance of my past.

Is there anything else you want me to know about your video?

Thank you for your guidance. I am getting more confident and finding and honing my style.

Do you want feedback on your homework (this may mean that it gets shown during the chat) (see the note below about this choice)

YES!

Lynne:

I am SO happy to be able to play this song in this style. I never thought I would or could. I thought I was stuck in the world of slow, pretty songs. After almost a year in the Academy I KNOW that I’m NOT stuck. 

Lynne's Insights about this Project
Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

Final Beginning Project for SOP 2021. Story BluePrint, shortened story, full song w vocals, Bossa and improv section and 3 turnarounds

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

  1. Impulse – the desire to produce cool rhythms and sing up-tempo

2. Structure: 1) short intro on i (Cm), 2 verses in Bossa minor key iv-i-V-i, 2) bridge relative major V-I and back to minor V-i, 2 verses instrumental (one w stride improv, one comping Bossa), bridge again, final verse with 3 turnarounds ending w a gliss

3. Character  The bridge was the hardest for me, but also the part that reminded me of my mother the most. But I’m not yet comfortable enough to don her persona at that part. But, by the end I do!!!! And yet, I’m being me – not doing my imitation of her voice…

4. Roles I’ve got this engrained for sure. Bossa=bass+comp, voice=melody. Stride improv separates them in time with improv=melody

5. PracticING & PracticES used the metronome technique to get to a point of being able to improvise, I practiced especially the transitions so I wouldn’t hesitate thinking what came next- especially going into the improv – I decided to hold the note to avoid the gap! Easy fix once I thought of it.

6. Deconstruction 1) reduced the stride rhythm to be able to improvise (and started each riff with the arpeggio of the chord and moved from there),2) where I “heard” quick chord changes in my head, I used glisses instead. This gave me the freedom to enjoy those moments rather than stress over them.

7. Lift-Off – yeah, I got there – I really enjoyed playing this

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I’ve been deconstructing the Bossa using your warmups and I really wanted to be able improvise, to use it with a different progression as well as sing. I tried with Girl from Ipanema, but I couldn’t work it out. Then I remembered THIS song!!! It had the perfect combination of singing-not singing/playing-not playing in the verse for me to make it work.

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

I felt it went too low in my voice for the bridge, so I transposed it from Am to Cm. This caused confusion while playing, I had to find new landmarks to remember.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

It was a process to get to the point of being able  to put what I wanted into this project. First, I had to get comfortable with the Bossa, then I played with the stride to be able to improvise with it, then I had to find a song I knew and liked and figure out how to sing while playing the Bossa. One (chunk) new skill at a time. That’s how you eat an elephant.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I have started and stopped many exercise practices-either hurt myself, or given up. I recently found a very low impact program that is 15 minutes every other day, walking on the off days. I’d tried it for 2 weeks in Feb and liked it (until I hurt my back shoveling) and determined to commit to it once I was better. I started March 16 and I’m still at it!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

While simplifying to play at the level I’m at makes things more attainable, it is STILL worthwhile to stretch and gain new tools, and practice them enough to be able to apply them – even simpler versions than are in my head. I just don’t need to learn them all at once! One at a time is fine, THEN put them all together!

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I am SO happy to be able to play this song in this style. I have wanted to do something like this since the first time I listened to a DHC CD 15 years ago just after I got my first harp. I never thought I would or could. I had NO idea how to approach it. I thought I was stuck in the world of slow, pretty songs. After almost a year in the Academy I KNOW that I’m NOT stuck.  I have broken free of what I thought were my limits and have a path and the support to do more – even if it is just for me! Thank you, Deborah! You are the BEST for sharing your process. It makes SO much sense. All music should be taught this way, it is so much more satisfying!

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Melinda:

This is a piece that I wrote, which came out of improv.  I played part of it for my half-baked project, but have added a bit more to it since then.  It is raw and unedited…a draft.

Melinda's Insights about this Project

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is a piece that I wrote, which came out of improv.  I played part of it for my half-baked project, but have added a bit more to it since then.  It is raw and unedited…a draft.

Carol:

The “aha” was that I was better off just telling my story instead of relying on a written script. Each time I recorded, the story came out slightly differently, which I liked. 

Carol's Insights about this Project
Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is a story of my final beginning project, with an introduction to the Gospel song, “I’ll Fly Away”, followed by my playing of the whole song — with a story in between.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

  1. Impulse:  My approach to this project was to answer the question:  “What am I passionate about?”  That led to a desire to play an old Gospel tune, “I’ll Fly Away.”   Structure:  Looking at a couple YouTube videos, I saw a structure of playing slow, then fast.  I decided, at some point, to incorporate a slow rendition, then a faster rendition into the context of a story.  Character:  The videos I watched were of a New Orleans jazz brass band.  How would I adapt that character into my project?  Roles:  I couldn’t pull off being a brass band, but I figured I could try to communicate the spirit of a brass band.  Practicing and Practices:  Well, it was a challenge!  I tried different ways of playing, trying to make the song come alive.  Deconstruction:  Then I finally accepted that I could not mimic a brass band, so I might as well keep it simple and just have fun.  Lift-Off:  The video that I’m submitting for my final beginning project was not necessarily intended to be the one I would submit.  It is clearly imperfect, but I had fun doing it and just went with the flow.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

  1. Logistically, I didn’t do anything special.  Emotionally, after getting frustrated because I was trying to do something I couldn’t do – convey with a harp the impression of a brass band – I just let go and had fun.

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

  1. I had grandiose ideas for this project at first.  I had to scale it down to something I could actually do.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

  1. The challenge was in deconstructing this project.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

  1.     I’m not sure how to answer this.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

  1. The “aha” was that I was better off just telling my story instead of relying on a written script.  At the very beginning of working on this, I did write out a script.  Then I abandoned the written script, and each time I recorded, the story came out slightly differently, which I liked.  Another “aha” — I made some obvious mistakes in playing the faster version of the tune, but I just kept going because I was having fun, and I was not going to let the mistakes get the best of me.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

  1. Comments from anyone seeing this project are welcome.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Dimitra:

This is a lullaby for little, big and inner children. I learned a lot about myself during this class. Especially how much I need structure in my life in order to be able to be creative. 

Dimitra's Insights about this Project

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is my final project for Strings of Passion. It’s a lullaby for little, big and inner children.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

  1. Impulse

    The impulse to write this song came during a therapy session about my inner child and how to comfort it.
    I had the impulse to use it for my final project after I got feedback and encouragement about my singing in a homework video.

    2. Structure

    I decided to use a „classical singing“ structure for this song:

    Intro
    Singing
    Instrumental version
    Singing
    Ending

    3. Character

    During this course I realized that my music has the most character when I don’t try actively to bring in character but just act naturally. Yes I thought about how to play the piece and what to put in the background, but that’s it. Then I let got and just played it like I would for a child.

    4. Roles (Leadership/Followship; Bass, Melody, & Accompaniment; Archetypes)

    My harp playing has the role to support my singing. By playing the harmonies it creates a base I can follow with my voice.
    And by singing this song I take on the role of a caregiver that comforts a child.

    5. PracticING & PracticES

    I tried to establish a regular warm up practice during this course. It only worked partly because I tend to be too hard on myself and that kills the fun. So I need to find something that I enjoy playing and helps with technique as well.

    6. Deconstruction

    In this case I honestly didn’t think about deconstructing the piece, because I wrote it myself and already think about it in a very structured way. So there wasn’t much to deconstruct.

    7. Lift-Off

    In the end I let go of my doubts and insecurities and just played the song.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Logistically I made arrangements in my music room to be able to record videos with a neutral background by installing a curtain I can pull in front a wall. And I bought a ring light and a holder for my phone to make better videos. 
And I put the stuffed animal in the back to be visible through the harp strings.

Since this is a very personal song for me, emotionally it was difficult to distance myself enough from the song to be able to sing it without crying and simultaneously not distancing too much to still be able to make a connection to the audience and being authentic.

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

It took me a long time to decide what to choose for my final project. There were two pieces in the shortlist and in the end I chose neither of them but followed an impulse I had after getting feedback for one of homework videos. 

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Since this is a very personal song it was hard to let go of my doubts about sharing it. My inner voice keeps telling me I’d make myself much too vulnerable when I sing this song publicly. 

And after I recorded the video with my phone and watched it on a bigger screen I saw that you can see a gap in curtain in the right corner. I considered filming the whole thing again, but then decided to embrace imperfection here. It’s about the music and the message not a little gap in background.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I learned a lot about myself during this class. Especially how much I need structure in my life in order to be able to be creative. I can’t be creative in an unordered environment, it distracts me too much.
And I also realized again how important conducive conditions are for me. They have a big impact on my efficiency. 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Just do it and don’t think overthink everythng.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – but please just use my first name

Sarah:

This video was created for a job interview to work with children. I want to show that the harp can play different styles and can be fun.

Sarah's Insights about this Project

Describe your video so I know exactly what you’re sending me. If there’s anything special you want me to look at, listen to (or ignore), tell me what it is.

This is the video where I want to show that the harp can play different styles.  During the job interview at the song factory, I want to determine whether I will show the video.  I found the video a bit it’s a bit weird. I’d like feedback.  Am I looking too tense and laughing too little?  Is the strumming too messy?  Last time I played it more like a medley, now I do it more casually and I talk in between is that better?  With all that puppet theater I play less well, is it noticeable and is that disturbing?  All tips are welcome!

TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED COACHING ON. Provide specific questions here so I know what you want me to give you feedback on. Remember, I’m not grading or assessing your work – I’m coaching – and I can only do that if I know what you’re TRYING to do, so I can gear my coaching to help you achieve that.

My light didn’t get on in time. I try to communicate with the puppets, is it to exatoracting? 

Is there anything else you want me to know about your video?

Thx a lot for all the coaching and thank you Sally!

Do you want feedback on your homework (this may mean that it gets shown during the chat) (see the note below about this choice)

YES!

Margie: 

I’m excited to tell stories through music. I feel more connected to the story material AND the music! I’m continuing my exploration of music used in Jewish rituals.

Margie's Insights about this Project

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

I’m continuing my exploration of music used in Jewish rituals. In this case, the Sabbath is ushered in with the song, “Shalom Aleichem,” which means Peace Be With You. The Sabbath is a day of rest, of relative peace from the cares and commitments of everyday life. I created a video in iMovie, for the first time using a combination of the recording of the song and pictures to represent the sunset on Friday night and the candles, wine and challah that are part of the ritual of the Sabbath. I have an improvised intro and ending with the song in the middle. I plan to work on a 5 part arrangement of the song.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I touched on all of the strings. My impulse was to learn this piece because I love it! For now, the structure is 3 part – intro, piece, ending. I am thinking of an improvisation, possibly playing the piece twice with the improvisation in the middle. I HOPE the character of the piece conveyed a spiritual commitment. I think of it as a commitment to peace. Roles were fairly typical, but the archetype I had in mind was an older generation for whom this practice of observing the Sabbath was a natural part of life. There were no soccer and other school activities on the weekend! I developed a practice of improvising on the chord progression in the piece, and I practiced it until it likely drove my husband crazy – and I still love it! I deconstructed it in a way that helped me memorize it once I understood how it was put together. Finally, I have lifted off with it and hope to catch more wind in my sails as time goes by!!

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

My emotions run high with these songs from my younger years, particularly since my two children have embraced the Jewish faith and rituals in their 30’s! I’ve always loved the songs, and now they have more meaning when I know my children are singing them and observing the Sabbath. I admit that tears come readily to me when I play so I just needed to take some deep breaths and continue with this beautiful, spiritual piece.

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

I continue to be uncomfortable in front of the camera, so I keep doing it!! I was happy to structure this so when I’m talking you don’t see me. Rather, I inserted relevant pictures. I connected with the freedom of creativity and hope to develop this piece further. It truly is a beginning final project! Lots of aspects of iMovie elude me!

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Mostly technical challenges from importing material into iMovie and placing it in the right position! My freedom derived from knowing it doesn’t have to  be perfect!! 

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

“Find something to love” in people’s work in the Creativity Gym was a wonderful way to approach many things I encounter in life. I can be judgmental…..it’s much better to be positive!!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I’m excited to tell stories through music. I feel more connected to the story material AND the music! My personal Aha is the value of practices as well as practice, and the beauty of just a few notes on the harp. Also, I realize I need to work on expressing “character” in a way that I do spontaneously, but not in a practiced way. I need to loosen up!

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I created a candle lighting video in which I describe the lighting of Sabbath candles. This video picks up where that one left off. The sun is setting and the candles are lit. Now, I play and others sing “Shalom Aleichem.”

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Cherie:

I’m playing “Looking at a Rainbow through a dirty window”.  I’ve made my own arrangement using motifs and ideas from the course.

Cherie's Insights about this Project

Describe your video so I know exactly what you’re sending me. If there’s anything special you want me to look at, listen to (or ignore), tell me what it is.

I’m playing “Looking at a Rainbow through a dirty window”.  I’ve made my own arrangement using motifs and ideas from the course.   
I have gone to some effort with my setting and used a black background this time so the coloured lights on the harp would show up more, looking through an old window frame. 

TELL ME WHAT YOU NEED COACHING ON. Provide specific questions here so I know what you want me to give you feedback on. Remember, I’m not grading or assessing your work – I’m coaching – and I can only do that if I know what you’re TRYING to do, so I can gear my coaching to help you achieve that.

Do you think the motifs with the dominant  and  a hint of the melody worked?     Did the form work?
I found your suggestions from the half bake very helpful and after at first trying the blueprint of Nightingale I was able to try something different using the dominant chord.    I also was able to repeat the melody with the longer piece, and have a longer intro.

Do you want feedback on your homework (this may mean that it gets shown during the chat) (see the note below about this choice)

YES!

Joke:

I thought this song way too simple to be interesting. The freedom was that this was not so, and I could do a lot to vary it endlessly.

Joke's Insights about this Project

I’ve submitted Y Gwyd, a song from the songbook of William Gwynn Williams. 

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Keep it simple, make it fluid and enjoy what you’re doing.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Since my plan A proved to be above my technical capacity, I had to resort to plan B. That decision was a hard one to take. It felt like your Nightingale-feeling at first, till I got your comments and suggestions.

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

The block was that I thought this song way too simple to be interesting. The freedom was that that was not so, and I could do a lot to vary it endlessly.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

That I never could play the twice in the same way.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

None, strongly enough I had this free state of mind already in other parts of my life, only not in music. 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Simple can also be beautiful

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I just hope they can enjoy it without prejudice.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Fern:

This is a greeting card for friends and family. I started this piece when I first started harp lessons 15 years ago and dropped it because it was too hard. I had to get over that I wasn’t good enough to play and perform it. I love it now!

Fern's Insights about this Project
Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is a greeting card of Beauty and the Beast that I plan to send out to friends and family, just to say “hello”.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Principles:  patience and practice, play with fingering to make it easy and comfortable. you.  Use chords, thirds, fifths, sixths for enrichment, find chords that you like to explore, have fun.  Look pretty when you perform, pay attention to background. Take one thing from each class and concentrate on that for the week.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I started this piece probably 15 years ago when I first started harp lessons and dropped it because it was too hard.  I love it now, emotionally I had to get over that I wasn’t good enough to play and perform it.  Logistically it has a lot of fingering that I had to change or figure out,

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

Rarely I felt freedom equivalent to “dance like no one is looking”, playing loudly strumming, just making noise.  My blocks are being locked onto the page, unable to expand and explore.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I have. hard time feeling free!  Allowing myself to be freer with the music notes, volume and rhythm.  Making sounds middle of the road musically, kind of bland, neutral is what I sound like to myself. I want blues, soul, jazz, feelings other than niceness in my work.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I became more disciplined in exercising and practicing in the morning before anything else happens in my day.  I got back to creating fabric collage, stamping and card making.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Playing a piece over and over until I am satisfied with the recording really helps, and having a purpose for the recording makes the repetition bearable.

The warmups with each chat are wonderful
Only try to grasp one thing from each class and work with that.
Find music that speaks to me – so I’ll want to keep playing and changing it forever

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I hope that you have happy feelings as you watch it!

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Tara:

This is the story of how I was captured by harp. It was challenging for me to interweave speaking and playing in a way that flowed well.  But in some ways, this was the easiest harp project that I’ve done so far, because I knew I had all the pieces I needed.

Tara's Insights about this Project

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is the story of how I was captured by harp, accompanied with Brian Boru’s March.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Impulse: to share a personal story with music, using a very familiar piece.  Structure: to intersperse spoken word and musical fragments in a cohesive way, leading to a full tune.  Character: Just trying to be myself.  Roles: I acted as storyteller and harper; within the tune, RH took the melody while LH took the bass and accompaniment. Practicing and Practices: Making conscious decisions about what to try, how to incorporate feedback/suggestions, and when to allow simple wandering.  Deconstruction: pulling essential elements out of the tune to use as prefiguring during the story. Lift-off: trusting that I can share this in a way that seems natural and easy.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I had shared longer versions of my story before (without musical accompaniment), but this needed to be more concise, so I had to let a lot of details go. It feels a little like getting your first haircut: you’ve had to give up something that formed part of your identity, and you might not like the results at first. For the tune, I wanted to personalize the version I had been playing, so I explored simple alternatives in the arrangement. That process always involves some floundering, but no one drowns.

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

I can sometimes feel like I should apologize for performing a piece that other people have already played much better than I.  Using the piece to illustrate my story allowed me to give the song meaning in a way no one else had done, so that I felt no need to apologize for it.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

It was challenging for me to interweave speaking and playing in a way that flowed well.  But in some ways, this was the easiest harp project that I’ve done so far, because I knew I had all the pieces I needed.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I’m more alert to how stories of different kinds can touch people.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Above I mentioned feeling like I should apologize…I’m not sure I had identified that before.  Realizing that I have the option of using a story to bring in a piece gives me yet another tool to use in personalizing what I play.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

Thanks for all the feedback and inspiration from everybody!

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – but please just use my first name

Sally:

The video is far from perfect. However, I came to the realization that it didn’t matter, and that it should be shared in all its glorious imperfection. Very freeing!

Sally's Insights about this Project

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is a duet version of DHC’s “New Blues.”

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I have some trouble with the String of Impulse, but I had been intrigued by these self or Zoom style duets / ensembles that have popped up during the pandemic. I really had to think in terms of roles to get the bass, accompaniment, and melody into the arrangement. I think the two harps may have crossed into each other’s territory role-wise. I thought in terms of deconstruction and character. I look at what I’m presenting here more as a prototype that I hope to experiment with more. 

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Logistically, it was more about the technique of setting up the camera, using a scratch track, and editing the pieces together with the editing software. There’s a ton I haven’t figured out yet but I wanted to present the idea of what I hope to achieve. Emotionally, it was letting go and having fun playing the music,

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

Perfectionism is always a block for me. I did give myself permission to use the first takes for both harp parts, which is a minor miracle. The big struggle was editing, but I finally decided to stop fussing with it and present what I able to right now.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

There are hiccups in the video, wrong notes, funky color, and other flaws. It’s not perfect, but I came to the realization that it didn’t matter, and it was healthier to share this in its glorious imperfection than keep it hidden.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I’m trying to organize my time and environment for better creativity.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Have fun!

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Charlene:

I now have a date and place for my show. I’m sure I am going to have days where I regret getting myself into this. But I also imagine how much FUN we’ll all have at the performance. 

Harp to Heart Concert Take 3

To see the fruition of this project, see the post about Charlene’s New “Harp to Heart” Show, including a 5-minute video of highlights from the show.

Charlene's Insights about this Project

Describe your written materials – if there’s anything in particular you want to say about it to help people know what they’re looking at, add that here.

Harp to Heart Show plan – take 3!
I now have a date and place for my show. Having this space has freed me to rearrange my set list. Rather than having the first set be just me, I have integrated the other performers into the whole show, giving more variety.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Impulse, Structure, Character, Roles, Deconstruction, Practice/practices, everything but lift off!

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

I’m taking on too much! I’m sure I am going to have days where i regret getting myself into this. But I also imagine how much FUN we’ll all have at the performance. 

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Time is always an issue. Tiredness and ability to focus. finding the balance between what i can imagine doing and what i can actually do within the next few months. 

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

My early morning walks have now become part vocal practice and part prayer practice. When i added the prayer piece, things really began to free up and move forward. 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I’m not the best harpist, I’m not the best vocalist, but I am the person showing up today. I have something to share, however imperfect, that no one else can.  

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

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