“OK, so I did it. I took myself down to the Kickin’ Caribou Bar at the Arctic Hotel and played Open Mic night. I was so anxious I could hardly breathe.”


Meet Pauline Vaughan, a student from my “Hip Harp Toolkit” online course.

Pauline is an acupuncturist who works In Iqaluit, just below the arctic circle in Canada. She travels back and forth every couple months between the arctic and her home in eastern Ontario. In her practice, True North Acupuncture Studio“the world’s most northerly community acupuncture clinic,” she treats both Inuit and non-Inuit patients for a wide variety of health problems.

Like many of the musicians in my online courses, Pauline’s an expert at something other than the harp – but so determined to embrace the course principles that it’s completely inspiring.  One of the course principles is “Imperfect Completion” – and it’s one of the hardest ones to embrace.

Internet in the Canadian arctic can be unreliable, depending on weather patterns and the type of internet service being used – so taking an online course can require a lot of patience and persistence, but when Pauline began posting video homework at the start of “Hip Harp Toolkit,” I realized she was determined.

I didn’t realize how determined ‘til I saw her announcement in the course Facebook Group shortly before Christmas:


OK, so I did it. I took myself down to the Kickin’ Caribou Bar at the Arctic Hotel and played Open Mic night. I was so anxious I could hardly breathe.”

But then as I started playing I realized I was performing to a roomful of alcohol-enhanced Inuit who’d never seen or heard a harp before — and they were a singularly uncritical audience.

I realized a couple things: one what a great venue to just learn how to be a performer, and second, even though I thought no one was listening, they were — and they told me after they would have liked me to play longer because they loved the sound of the harp.

I got someone to video it for me so there’s a whole lot of lessons on performing right there. I also discovered I could learn a simple blues piece in two days.

When I get back I’m going to go there every week just to learn how to perform, because performing isn’t just playing music, it’s connecting with the audience and being really alive and communicating that.

I think harpists are taught to just sit quietly and play like nice girls.

Gotta get over that.

I’m too old to be a nice girl.”

WooooHoooo!!!!  Waytago, Pauline!!!!

Tue. Jan. 14, 2014 the next session of “Hip Harp Toolkit” starts

Pauline on “Hip Harp Toolkit”:

“I’ve never worked with a teacher who so inspired me to try stuff I feel scared of. I feel so encouraged in this course and have learned so much … the gift you give is the assumption that it doesn’t have to be so hard or so perfect to get some joy out of it and share it with others.

 Thank you for proving that principle, Pauline.

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