Happy Friday! And welcome to the first guest post on the Fischarper blog!
Below, you can find a great post from Molly Madden. I met Molly some years ago at the Illinois Summer Harp Class. We started chatting (errr...typing) about Molly guest posting for the blog, and I'm so glad that she agreed to it! Her post below is a wonderful complement to this blog.
Enjoy this cool glimpse into the life of an orchestral harpist and her music!
Music image via Pixabay.
There is a thank you note that I need to write, but I don’t know how to address it. It is a thank you to friends I have (likely) never met whose names I will (probably) never know. These friends of mine don’t know me, either, and they weren’t intending to help me, and yet through their efforts they have saved me hours of precious time and spared me from much potential embarrassment and frustration. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, nameless friends, fellow harpists, for the many helpful, clear, insightful, corrective, scholarly, creative, humorous, and oh-so-beautiful notes that you have left for me in my orchestra parts.
Professional orchestras often rent their sheet music. This means that the parts I receive in the orchestras I play with have passed through the hands of conceivably dozens of harpists before making their way to me. Occasionally I’ll receive a part that’s blank, either because it’s fresh, new, and untouched by harpist hands, or else because an orchestra librarian erased the markings before passing the parts along. A clean slate is nice in its own way, and I know many harpists prefer to write in their own markings, but my favorite parts are the ones that are old, worn, taped together, and–most pertinently–heavy with graphite assistance from fellow orchestral harpists around the world.
So, to you, friend: Thank you for your markings. Thank you for warning me that the conductor will probably switch into cut time at measure 25 and that I need to watch out for some gnarly rubato in the middle of my difficult solo. Thank you for being with me through hundreds of measures of rests with your invaluable play-by-play commentary so that I don’t get lost, and for pointing out the most obvious cues (“trumpets loud!” or “cymbal crash”) that let me know it’s time for my next entrance.
Thank you for your pedal markings and for your ingenious fingerings. You have come up with truly clever ways to make tricky passages manageable. When I never in a thousand years would have come up with a thumb slide in that one section, there you are, sliding away like a kid at the waterpark. When I would have tried for a jump, your wisdom and experience advise me that a turn-under would be more secure. When I would have been buzzing like an angry bee trying to play the same string too rapidly, you show me that I could use an enharmonic note to take the pressure off and let both strings ring a little more freely.
You’re also funny. Whether you’re pointing out that a passage in Mahler’s second symphony sounds just like Star Wars or drawing pictures for me in the margins, you always know how to make me laugh--sometimes during a rehearsal’s quietest moments.
Thank you for writing neatly (no easy feat on a music stand!). Thank you for putting in the hard work so that when I receive the music I can sit down and start practicing immediately. Thank you for warning me to put in earplugs, to listen for the flutes, to check the tuning on my high F#, to wait for the horns, to watch for the conductor to place that one beat, to bring out my right hand.
No, we haven’t always agreed, and you haven’t always been right, but I would be gravely remiss if I didn’t pause to reflect and acknowledge that I am a better musician... thanks to you.
Thank you for this great post, Molly! What a nice inaugural guest post!
Be sure to check out Molly's website here. Don't forget to pop over to her facebook, and tell her how much you loved her post!
If you're interested in guest posting in this corner of the web, just drop me a message and we can chat!
Welcome to the blog! I'm Barbara, and I work as a freelance harpist and private music educator. You can read my bio here. On the blog, you can find posts about various aspects of this career path, especially teaching and crafty stuff. Thank you for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or on social media. And don't forget to subscribe to the email list for updates!
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