I took a break from harp. For an entire semester, I did not pluck a string or read a single note. But as fall rolled by, I realized I missed making melodies. Passing the campus music building, I would longingly glance at the students practicing their sonatas and
orchestra pieces. I never thought I would feel so strongly about giving up my large, at times bothersome, instrument, but somehow I was incomplete without it.
After considering this, I resolved to return to the thing and take up my callouses again. Over break I practiced in preparation for lessons and joining the orchestra. But as I settle into the harp stool once again, I remember the effort which musicianship requires of the person.
While the loom-like instrument can be a source of pressure for me, it is one I absolutely need. Nothing teaches you intentionality like working on a piece of music. You’re given a compilation of odd rhythms and ridiculous melodies and expected to put it together for an effortless performance. No one else can stitch together those triplets and half-notes for you. You must, measure by measure, work the combinations into your finger memory. Through harp, I have unearthed the secret to success in most things, and it’s also something I am terrible at: focus.
Too often I find my mind wandering as I near the third line of a piece. I’ll start deciding what I want for lunch or what homework I’ll attack first when I finish. Oddly enough, this also happens while I’m reading assignments for class. But just as new year is for resolutions, so a new semester is for renewed efforts, and focus is one of mine.