Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side

Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain

I wanted to take a bit of time to explain the, probably fairly obvious, change of direction here. I’ll try to keep it as short as I can.

If I’m entirely honest, I have to admit that over the past few years, I’ve been very unhappy in my personal relationship with the harp. I went to college expecting one thing, learned that the world is quite different than I knew and changed my expectations to fit the real nature of this industry, and yet still most of my endeavors were fruitless. I won’t go into the whole “sob story” now, because I feel that I am moving past it, but it’s long since passed the point where other people started noticing my rotten luck with the harp.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I was posed a certain question, that I started to consider where I was with the harp and where I was going with it. The question was “Have you ever wondered if maybe everything falls apart for a reason? Perhaps you’re meant to do something else with your talents.”

Leave to thy God to order and provide

From that day on, the thoughts began to whir in my mind. Maybe she was right. Maybe there was a reason for what seemed like the worst luck in the world. Maybe I was meant to do something else. And a thought that had popped in and out of my head for almost 20 years came back with a vengeance.

I remember one year at church camp in high school, telling someone that I wished I could be like Calvin Talyor, a pianist who had visited our church a few times. I wished that I could use my love of music to share God’s love more intensely than just playing Special Music at church every few months. It’s a thought that has come to mind many many times over the past two decades, but I’ve never lingered on it long. While it didn’t seem impossible, I could never get past a few key obstacles. The main obstacle being the need for public speaking, which anyone who knows me personally can likely imagine why that’s a difficulty for me.

But ever since I was posed the question of whether I was meant to do something else, my fleeting dreams of music ministry began to stick harder. And in these recent months, I feel like I’ve had sign after sign that I was finally on the right track. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when something happened in my relationship with the harp that absolutely devastated me, that I finally had the resolve to make a decision.

In every change He faithful will remain

When I’m upset and don’t feel like doing anything, I often turn to the piano. Playing piano is probably the only thing that I can do where I can just shut my mind off and enjoy myself. Lately, my piano obsession has been some fantastic hymn arrangements by Mark Hayes. Somewhere between “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” and “This is the Day of New Beginnings,” I knew that I’d finally reached the point in my life where I could make that decision, the one I’d been on the edge of for so long. The decision to step away from being a professional harpist and focus on music ministry.

Making the decision was easy, but living with it over the following days was most definitely not easy. Stepping away from the professional side of being a harpist meant a lot of things. It meant stepping away from my students, from possible opportunities in my life, and in many ways felt like “giving up” everything I’d been working towards for the past 20 years. It took me a few days to come to terms with it and by then, I knew even more that I had made the right choice.

Be Still My Soul, thy best, thy Heavenly friend

When I make a new arrangement, I usually sit down and do it in one sitting. The day after I made the decision to leave my life as a professional harpist behind and take the harp into music ministry, I sat down and started on a new arrangement specifically for my ministry. I had a lot of hymns and Christian tunes to choose from, but for some reason, “Be Still My Soul” kept sticking in my head. If you don’t know it, I’ll wait here while you go listen to it.

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it when I first started working on my arrangement, and the final result was not clear to me until I reached it, but it ended up being the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done as a musician. And unlike my normal arrangements that I do in one sitting, it took me 4 days to finish.

Through the arrangement, I realized that my long-felt fears that turning away from being a professional would be like giving up all the time I spent in school, my 3 degrees, and the professional level of talents…those fears were unfounded. I felt like I was able to pull every aspect of my career as a harpist into this one arrangement. Not the least of which is my long-given-up original dream as a harpist, my love of film music and music that tells a story.

I wanted to share this new arrangement with you now. Not because it’s completely finished (I have some little changes I want to make) or because this is a great video. I want to share it because the moment I fully pulled this arrangement together, I felt such fulfillment and satisfaction like I’ve never felt with the harp in my entire life. If I had any doubts before then that I was finally going in the right direction, they left me with the completion of my arrangement. I don’t know that it’s the best arrangement I’ve ever made from a musical standpoint, but from a personal standpoint, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

To me, this arrangement tells a story. It’s the story of a person who can’t find their way, who has stress and anxiety and hardship in their life. They want to let go of it, they want to give it up to God, but they can’t take that step and accept God’s help. This arrangement is a conversation between them and God, in which the person keeps fighting back against Him, unable to let go of the things causing them pain. Until finally, God’s voice calls through to them and they can begin to let go. And in the end, all that stress and anxiety and pain is gone and they’re where they should always have been.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

After I finished putting it together, I realized that I’d told my own story without meaning to.

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt happier with myself and my life as a musician than I have in a very very long time. I’ve felt such satisfaction and joy in working on new arrangements and starting down this new path of using the harp for music ministry. It’s been such fun that I can’t even bother to be upset that it took me this long to reach this point. This new joy has bled into other areas of my life besides music, and I’m in the process of making some major changes across the board.

It hasn’t all been easy, but I know it will be worth it. The hardest part is stepping away from teaching. Some of my students have been with me for a very long time, but I’ve been blessed that while not all entirely happy about it, they’ve all been extremely supportive of my new direction. I’m working with each one of them to find the perfect new teacher for their interests and wants out of lessons, and will be transitioning them from myself to their new teacher(s) in the coming weeks and months.

While I’m stepping away from private teaching, I will still be helping and teaching at the Summer Harp Academy this summer and in other professional teaching capacities. I’ll also still be playing with orchestras, because that is a love that God gave to me and I couldn’t walk away from that even if I wanted to. All other gigs and “professional level” performances will cease as I clear out my schedule to focus on arranging, practicing, and traveling around to perform. At some point, I’ll update my website with more specifics about my music ministry. Right now, it’s all a work in process!

As always, if anyone has any questions, feel free to Contact Me. Otherwise, keep an eye on my website and Facebook pages for updates!

Happy New Year!

I admit to having slacked on updating this blog over the last several months, seeing how you only have to go back 2 posts to get to last year’s “Happy New Year!” update!  I promise to be better this year!

A Busy Year

Lack of updates did not mean lack of activities.  If you LIKE and follow my Facebook page, you’ll see that I’m much more inclined to post updates about my activities there.  To be honest, it’s easier to pop a quick update on there than to make a whole post here…but I do promise to try harder this year!

As always, a very very busy Christmas season!

Over the course of 2019, I did a lot of performing.  From playing with the Augusta Symphony and other orchestras throughout the year, to performing with several professional choirs and other chamber ensembles.  During the first couple weeks of December, I had wall-to-wall rehearsals and performances with several choirs and orchestras throughout Georgia and Tennessee, in celebration of the Christmas season.

Back in June, I once again taught at the Adult Harp Retreat in the beautiful north Georgia mountains and had a wonderful time working with all of the students there.  While personal reasons prevented me from returning to the Summer Harp Academy in North Carolina back in July, I was able to contribute and help them out as I was able with my typesetting and other remote skills. I’m looking forward to being back at the SHA this summer.

Private teaching really blossomed after our relocation from Canton to north Cumming in the spring of 2019. I think our Canton location was not ideal for many people (myself included!), but our new home in the north Cumming/Dawsonville area is much more travel-friendly and convenient for students from all directions.  And if you’ve been on my website at all in the last few months, you may notice that I have started offering online lessons to experienced students who are unable to travel here in person. You can read more about that on this page.

Christmas Videos

Throughout most of the month of December, I uploaded a new, casual video of myself playing a Christmas song each day as I counted the days down until Christmas.  All videos were posted to my Facebook page, but I did create a page on my website to house all of the videos once they were complete.  You can find those videos here. As they are casual videos, they are low-production cell phone videos that mainly show my hands.

Most videos were of the harp, though a few were of piano, with a couple interesting bonus videos thrown in! Due to my busy schedule of gigs in the mid-month, I did miss a day. To make up for it, I created a brand new arrangement to record for one of the days. The song I chose was the beautiful “Mary Did You Know?” which you can see here:

Looking Ahead

I have a few things lined up for 2020, though I don’t want to go into too many details until things are further along. One thing I’m hoping to begin in the next week or two is to start uploading regular piano videos. While not harp-related, I will likely post a link to them here once I get them started.

One of the big things I’m working on for this year is that I hope to perform another solo recital (or 2), as I did back in 2018. Date(s) and location(s) to be determined, but I will post more details as I have them. It’s entirely possible that SOMETHING might happen in the coming months that might eclipse the recital(s) and move me to decide not to do them, so I won’t give more information about them until I know for certain they are happening. What I will say though is that repertoire has been selected and I’m excited to be working on almost all entirely new (to me) pieces that I’ve always wanted to perform, while sticking to a theme of each piece being by a composer from a different country. This is a recital theme I’ve wanted to do for many years, so I’m very excited to finally do it!

We’re Moving!

That’s right!  At the beginning of March, in just under 3 weeks, my husband and I are moving to the northern part of Cumming GA.

Why a Change?

When we first moved to Georgia in the Spring of 2017, my husband’s job transfer and the resulting move were as unexpected as they were sudden.  The fast timeline he was asked to keep in beginning his new position in Georgia meant that the first time either of us ever came to this area of the state, we had to choose a house.  My 2nd trip to Georgia was to get the keys to the house, and less than 2 weeks later, we were moving in.  Being unfamiliar with Georgia, we selected Holly Springs as an area with a reasonable drive to my husband’s work, and a mostly centralized location in the north Atlanta region.

Now that we’ve been in Georgia for coming up on 2 years, we are more familiar with this area and where things are located.  I’ve been wanting to move closer to a larger area with better shopping options (we’re a bit in the middle of nowhere right now), and despite only being about 15 miles from my husband’s work, the nature of the drive means those 15 miles typically take over an hour each morning and evening.  (Those of you from Georgia likely understand that.)  With my new position at the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus, it became evident that somewhere along highway 19 in Cumming would be the ideal place for us.

The New Location

Our new house is in a very new neighborhood located on highway 9 in north Cumming, just a couple minutes from US-19/GA-400.  Despite longer miles, the ease of the highway means that my husband’s drive to work will take a fraction of the time.  Likewise, my drive to the UNG campus in Dahlonega will be a quick and easy jog up 19.  I’m also looking forward to the ease of access I will have to shopping and public locations.

Luckily, this change in location for my teaching studio does not adversely affect any of my current students.  I’m also hopeful that this new location will be a benefit to potential students who live in north Georgia.  During the time that we’ve been here, I’ve received numerous inquiries about lessons from people located in cities north of here who were ultimately unable to make the drive down to my current location.  I’ve been told multiple times that even in Holly Springs, I’m the furthest north professional harp teacher in the area, leaving few options for potential students.  I’m hoping that a location a bit further north, and so close to several state roads and a major highway, will help facilitate lessons for those who are interested.

I’ve marked the following map with a small red circle in the area of our new house, for those who would like to get an idea of location.

Click for more detail.

Estimated travel time to my new studio from some popular locations are as follows.  When I refer to the name of a city “proper”, I refer to where the city is marked on the above map.

-Less than 10 minutes from the outlet mall area of Dawsonville, Coal Mountain, Silver City, and northern areas of Cumming.
-Roughly 15 minutes from Dawsonville proper, Chestatee, and Cumming proper.
-Less than 30 minutes from Milton and Alpharetta proper.
-Roughly 30 minutes from Dahlonega proper, Gainesville proper, and most eastern parts of Canton.
-Roughly 40 minutes from most parts of Canton.

If you’re interested in lessons but unsure of travel distance from your location, please feel free to Contact Me and I’ll help you get an idea!


I’m extremely excited for this move and looking forward to getting settled into the new house.  Knowing that our current location would only be temporary since we were new to the area, we never fully unpacked or settled in here.  I’m looking forward to making the new house our new home!

Happy New Year!

December in Review

The month of December really flew by!  The first two weeks, I kept busy with multiple rehearsals and performances almost every day.  I had a wonderful time being a part of 7 beautiful Christmas performances with 4 organizations across Georgia and Tennessee.

In two performances with the Georgia Philharmonic, I had the joy of performing an arrangement of “Some Children See Him,” arranged for tenor, harp, and oboe.  The Roswell United Methodist Church posted this video to their Facebook page of our performance on December 7th.


Here are a few other pictures from December 2018 performances!


New Position

I’m extremely excited to announce that I’ve been appointed as faculty in the University of North Georgia Music Department.  Starting next week when classes commence for the Spring semester, I’ll be teaching UNG harp students and majors.  UNG is a wonderful school on a beautiful campus, and I’ve enjoyed already getting to know a few of my colleagues in the Music Department.  I’m looking forward to being a part of the university and helping to grow their music program through the involvement of a harp program.


Looking Ahead in 2019

In the coming months, my husband and I will be moving from our current location in the Holly Springs/Canton area to Cumming, Georgia.  I’m really excited for the move, as it will put us in a location that will be easier for students’ access, as well as make my husband’s drive to work in Alpharetta and my drive up to the UNG campus in Dahlonega much faster and safer.  Once we have the finalized information about where we’ll be moving, I’ll be sure to update my information with the new location.

I’ve been asked to return as a guest instructor at the Adult Harp Retreat again this Summer, and will also be returning to the Summer Harp Academy as an assistant instructor.  I’m looking forward to being a part of both retreats coming up in June and July, as I had an absolutely wonderful and memorable time at both in 2018!

Upcoming Christmas Performances

Upcoming Performances

It seems like the Christmas season is quickly approaching and the performances are starting to line up!  There’s an almost 2 week span in early December where I have rehearsals and performances almost every day.  While I’m sure more events and performances will be added to my calendar when all is said and done, I wanted to go ahead and share the ones I know.


Georgia Philharmonic

I’ll be performing with the Georgia Philharmonic in their annual Christmas program in early December for two performances.  Both concerts will be at the Roswell United Methodist Church in Roswell, Georgia and feature the RUMC choir.  This will be my first time performing with the Georgia Philharmonic and I’m very much looking forward to working with them!

Friday December 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Sunday December 9, 2018 at 3:00 pm


Alpharetta Symphony

I’ll be running straight from the second Georgia Philharmonic concert to play with the Alpharetta Symphony and the Crabapple First Baptist Church Choir.  I performed with the Alpharetta Symphony for their Christmas concert last year and am very much looking forward to playing with them again!

Sunday December 9, 2018 at 6:30 pm



Roueche Chorale

Last year I had the wonderful experience of performing with the Roueche Chorale’s Candlelight Service of Lessons & Carols up in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I’m thrilled to have been asked to return this year and am excited to perform with the chorale and ensemble again!  Both performances will be at the Ridgedale Baptist Church in Chattanooga.

Thursday December 13, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Friday December 14, 2018 at 7:00 pm


Cherokee Chorale

Another new ensemble (to me) this year is the Cherokee Chorale in Canton, Georgia.  I’ll be performing with the chorale and ensemble in two concerts in mid-December, both at the Canton First United Methodist Church.  This will be the first time for me to perform so close to where we live, so I’m excited for the opportunity to meet and perform with more local people and maybe even some neighbors.

Saturday December 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Sunday December 16, 2018 at 3:00 pm



Keep an eye out here and on my Facebook page for any updates regarding these performances or others that I might add to to my calendar!


What Else?

Other Christmas Things?

While I had been in the process of preparing a Christmas recital in early December, I made the decision to forego the Christmas recital this year as my professional commitments began to build up.  That said, I have created and prepared a few Christmas arrangements and pieces that I hope to record and have available for viewing/listening on my website as Christmas approaches.  As always, keep an eye out here and on my Facebook page for updates!

What’s in the Works for Next Year?

For the summer of 2019, I have been asked to be the guest instructor at a week-long harp retreat again.  I don’t know that my involvement has been made known to those who attend the retreat just yet, so I won’t be officially announcing it until I know that it’s ok.  I’m excited for another full week of teaching, I had such a great time at the camps I taught at this year.

With a busy schedule pushing me to forego a Christmas recital this winter, I’m already looking ahead to performances in 2019.  Right now, I’m trying to decide between doing a couple of full recitals in the late spring, or focusing my performances towards videos and online viewing.  If I do full recitals like I did earlier this year, I’m already thinking of a few really fantastic pieces that I would love to perform and share with my audiences!  I’ve always been one for playing the less traditional pieces (not wanting to play the same things as everyone else), so some of the pieces are really wonderful and unique.  If I decide not to do full recitals, I have plans to get back to recording a lot more videos in the coming year.

For my students, I’m hoping to put on another Masterclass in the spring.  I’m in early planning stages, having just sent out some feelers to my students to see if there is interest or feedback from the Masterclass earlier this year.  After the class we had back in February, I got some immediate feedback that was very positive, so I’m hoping to build on that and continue offering this opportunity for my students to perform and learn.

I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting, but I’ll be sure to give updates as info becomes available!

An Understandable Delay?

After I got back from my week at the Summer Harp Academy, I was looking forward to a lull in performances and travel to really focus on some personal projects and preparing for my Christmas recital(s).  But life had other plans for me apparently!


I miss riding already. 🙁

I’ve taken horseback riding lessons for awhile now and the Friday after I got home from SHA, I fell off a horse for the first time.  People fall off of horses all the time and walk away fine, so even as I was falling off, I didn’t think much of it.

Long story short is that I broke 5 of the vertebrae in my lower spine.  I’m incredibly lucky that I did not have to have surgery and shouldn’t have any lasting effects from this, but I am in the middle of a long and painful recovery.  I like to think that I’m actually ahead of the recovery estimate though.  The neurologist estimated about a month until I’m able to get around by myself, and 2-3 months before life really can get back to normal.  I’m a week shy of one month today and while I am hobbling a bit and need to hold onto something for support, I’m able to get around fairly well by myself.



Thank you to Skylar and Marisa!

Tasty, tasty food from my student and her family!

I’ve been extremely blessed that my parents were able to immediately come over from Alabama and spend almost 2 full weeks taking care of me while my husband had to leave for a long business trip that he could not avoid.  Since then, my husband has been working from home to take care of me.  One of my newest students and her family came over and dropped off a whole bunch of really really tasty food for my parents and I to eat during that first week or so, which was so very unexpected and sweet of them to do!  I need to ask them for the recipe to the enchilasagna so that my husband can try it too!  Then a few days ago, I received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from the Georgia Chapter of the American Harp Society.  Again, so sweet and unexpected!  It’s so wonderful to be part of such a great and caring community of harpists in this area.


The flowers look so perfect, they almost don’t look real!

Luckily, I didn’t have to take very much time off from teaching before I resumed lessons with my students, and I already had a bit of a break over these couple of months from performances.  I haven’t been able to play the harp since the accident and likely won’t be able to really get back to playing my own solos for another month or so, but there has been no hindrance to my teaching and other duties.  The only delay has been with preparing for my Christmas recital (I’ll likely still have time to prepare for that once I am able to get fully back to practicing, keep an eye here for recital updates) and working on finalizing my arrangements for my store.  I very much work on arranging while sitting at the harp so that I’m able to try things and write down what I play.  While I’m unable to spend much time at the harp, I’ve put progress on my arrangements on hold.  Again, keep an eye on my site for updates of when I will begin having arrangements available for purchase.  Hopefully the delay shouldn’t be much more than another month or so!


Stay tuned for updates about my Christmas performances.  In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me in you’re interested in Harp Lessons or hiring me for an upcoming event.  My recovery should not impede my ability to perform beyond September at the absolute latest, and I anticipate getting back to playing even earlier than originally predicted!

Summer Harp Academy 2018

This past week, I had the absolute joy of spending 8 days up at Lake Junaluska NC, assisting with the Summer Harp Academy.  SHA is a week-long intensive harp camp, led by Elzbieta Szmyt and Jan Jennings.  Ela is one of my teachers from Indiana University, so it was fantastic to get to see and spend time with her.  I had never met Jan before last week, but her reputation preceded her and it was great getting to know her a bit throughout the week.


Lake Junaluska and the Lambuth Inn

We spent the week at Lake Junaluska NC, which is a large complex of buildings and hotels arranged around a lake in the mountains.  The scenery was beautiful (I get to go to the nicest places!) and the hotel we stayed at – the Lambuth Inn – recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation.

The Lambuth Inn

The view from just the parking lot!



Throughout the Week

For the students, the week was filled with private lessons with Ela and Jan, masterclasses with Ela, harp ensemble, and several workshops and seminars led by Ela and Jan.  My job there was to assist Ela and Jan, move harps as needed, prepare rooms for whatever was scheduled next, tune harps (so much tuning!), and help students with anything they might want or need extra help with.  I also taught private sight reading lessons to about half of the students, while Aubrey (the other assistant) taught the other half.  We both ended up participating in some of the student harp ensembles as well, which is great because I love harp ensemble!

Ela called on my student April to help demonstrate something during a workshop.

Most students performed in at least one Masterclass, if not more.

Sometimes students would practice wherever they could find a place in the hotel…such as in front of the bathrooms.

A couple evenings, we moved 10 harps into the lobby and spent a few hours “jamming” with harp ensemble and sight reading.

Ensemble rehearsal, led by Ela.

All of the students for the 2018 SHA.


This is a short I video I took from one of the student ensemble rehearsals.  The piece they’re working on is “O’Carolan’s Concerto,” written by a famous Irish harper.


Faculty Recital

On Tuesday evening, we moved a couple harps to a local church for a faculty recital.  Ela and Jan both performed several pieces, while Aubrey and I each performed one solo.  Aubrey and I also each performed a duet with Ela.

Just one of the many reasons I love my car…2 full size concert grand pedal harps!

The Waynesville NC First United Methodist Church was beautiful and had fantastic acoustics for a harp recital.

Jan received about 20 random song titles from audience members, then improvised an almost 15 minute long medley of as many titles as she could. It was so impressive!

One of my students who attended the camp recorded this video of my solo.  I performed “Mallorca” by Isaac Albeniz, which I transcribed for the harp several years ago.


The duet that Ela and I performed is “Off She Goes & She’s Gone,” a medley of two Irish tunes, arranged by Deborah Henson-Conant.  I’ve always loved playing it, so I jumped on the chance to play it with Ela!  Here are clips from each of the tunes:


Student Recital

For the students, the week culminated in a student recital at the same local church on Saturday afternoon.  All of the ensembles performed their pieces, and each of the 17 students performed the solo that they had been focusing and working on during the week.

Ready for the student recital!

My student April attended SHA this year for the 2nd time and if there were awards given, I think she would definitely have received “Most Improved” by the end of the week!  She spent the week working on “Intermezzo” by Snoer, a nice piece that I came across a few months ago and thought would be a nice challenge for her.  She performed “Intermezzo” in the student recital on Saturday and wow-ed everyone with her talent!

So here is April Zhao, performing “Intermezzo” by Johannes Snoer!


Where to From Here?

I’m still recovering from the week at camp…I’m so tired!  But I’m looking forward to having some downtime in the coming weeks and months.  I have quite a few projects in the works that I’m looking forward to really digging into.  I’m also starting 2 new harp students this week, so I’m really looking forward to getting to work with them.  I’ve tentatively planned a Christmas/Winter recital in early December, so I might start preparing for that soon.

In the meantime, it will be nice to not have to travel for awhile.  This summer has been busy, I certainly won’t complain about a chance to rest!

Adult Harp Retreat 2018 Videos

You can find the post about the week here!


My first arrival at Smithgall Cabin.  From the carport where I left my car (I elected not to ford the river to the parking lot) and across the bridge to the cabin.

You can hear the rushing of the water that we heard at all times throughout the week.  I loved it!!!  The weird jingling sound in this video was my car keys hanging out of my pocket…I have a lot of keychains. 😉


The first large ensemble rehearsal on Monday morning.  Rachel was leading the ensemble in a piece called “Wild Mountain Thyme.”


Wednesday afternoon with the oboist.  Robin volunteered to play first on this beautiful piece.


Some scenery.  This is from the deck of Smithgall Cabin.  It sits up above the intersection of the two “creeks,” so this is where they come together.


Standing on the balcony/deck of Creekside Cabin…where I then proceeded to lock myself out and had to bang on the door until someone noticed and let me in!


This small foot bridge was off to the side from the cabins, so I didn’t notice it at first.  Beautiful view from over the water!


Dover Cabin’s small ensemble piece, in rehearsal for the concert.  The piece is “Les Pins de Charlannes” by my grand-teacher Renié!


A short scan of the large ensemble performing “Wild Mountain Thyme” in the Saturday evening concert.  I was trying to be discreet from the front row, which is why the bad angle.


Rachel filled in as a third harp (due to a student being unable to attend at the last minute) for the Creekside Cabin small ensemble piece “La Llorona.”

Adult Harp Retreat 2018

This past week, I had the immense pleasure of spending just shy of 8 full days in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia, teaching at the Adult Harp Retreat.  Every year, a group of adult harp students travel from upstate New York and south Florida and all spaces in between to spend a week enjoying and studying the harp.  Two professional teachers are brought in to teach lessons and masterclasses, as well as lead ensembles and give evening presentations.  The students are almost all “hobby” harpists, from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, and playing levels.

Back in October, I was asked to be one of the instructors for the 2018 Adult Harp Retreat and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since.  The retreat is organized by Judy Smith, who also attends as a student, and she works very hard to plan and organize this retreat every year.  Leading up to the week of the retreat, I was in touch with Judy and my fellow teacher Rachel Brandwein to make sure that we planned a fantastic week for all of the students.

To save on loading times, I made a separate posts with my videos from the week.  You can see them here.

Smithgall Woods

The Adult Harp Retreat took place at the Smithgall Woods State Park.  The 3 cabins that we stayed and played in were far into the woods of the north Georgia mountains, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.  After stopping at the visitor’s center and receiving a code, I drove through the gate and almost 2 miles of this:

The AHR made use of 3 cabins in the woods.  After passing the first of the cabins (Creekside), I continued on to Smithgall Cabin, which is where I stayed during the week.

To follow the road along to the last of the cabins (Dover), you actually have to drive through the constantly-rushing creek (which is quite a bit more than what I would actually call a “creek”).  My car is very very low to the ground, so I elected to stay in the carport and never drove across.

Smithgall Cabin sits above the intersection of the two “creeks”, so we got to spend the whole week hearing the constant flow of water.  Despite the relatively small area of water, the flow down the mountain was constant and actually fairly loud.  To help with loading of this page, I put all of my videos on a separate page.  You can go there to see videos I took throughout the week, which include several where you can hear how loud the water actually was.

From where I parked, there was a long foot bridge over the water and to the cabin.  This is a picture taken looking back towards that bridge and the cabin.

Here are some other general scenery pictures, before I get into the events of the week.

And here are some pictures from inside Smithgall Cabin, before the others started to arrive.


On Sunday, everyone arrived and gathered in Smithgall Cabin (it’s the largest and central of the 3 cabins we used) for a meet-and-greet and dinner.  Afterwards, we went over the schedule and everyone was invited to play their easy piece that they pull out when someone says “Oh, you play the harp? Play something for me!”


After breakfast, everyone moved their harps into Smithgall Cabin for large ensemble rehearsal.  Rachel and I each were in charge of leading 2 of the large ensemble pieces.  Of course, I never managed to take any pictures of myself doing things…so here’s Rachel leading the first large ensemble rehearsal!  There’s also a video from this first rehearsal.

After lunch, I made the trek to Dover Cabin and spent the afternoon teaching private lessons.  During what was supposed to be free time, I spent about half of it talking with students about things they’re working on and questions they had, followed by helping a student with some of her music.  After dinner and dessert performances (when anyone who wants to can perform a piece just for the sake of an opportunity to perform), Rachel and I presented an evening of duets.  Having never even met before (let alone played together), the students got to see what it was like for us to try putting ensemble music together on the fly, as well as what our process would be if we were going to continue working together.  It was amazing fun because Rachel and I worked together really well.  It’s rare to find someone who can feel the unwritten dynamics and expressions the same as you, so it was all smiles Monday evening for me at that wonderful experience.


All of Tuesday morning and most of the afternoon, I continued teaching private lessons at Smithgall and Creekside.  On Monday, several students had shown interest in a demonstration of loading/unloading a harp from a car, so I volunteered to do demonstrations for small groups during free time on Tuesday and Wednesday.  After dinner, Rachel led a small workshop on sight reading.  There weren’t any extra harps for me to participate, so I sat in and watched/listened.


Wednesday morning was another large ensemble rehearsal until lunch.  That afternoon, the students had the opportunity to play a piece with an oboist that they had prepared.  (The oboist is somewhat behind the pillar on the left side of the picture below.)  Free time again for me was more harp loading/unloading demonstrations.  Students had a break that night after dinner by watching a movie, while Rachel and I hung out on the deck of Smithgall Cabin.


Thursday morning was more large ensemble rehearsal.  After lunch, I taught a Masterclass for half of the students.  During free time, one of the students asked me to give her an extra private lesson.  We spent a little over a half hour working on jazz music, so it was a lot of fun!  I used the last half hour of free time to finally have a chance to just go to my room and sit.  After dinner and dessert performances, I gave a long presentation on basic harp repair and maintenance, unintentionally keeping everyone too long after bedtime!  Oops!

And I somehow managed to not take any pictures on Thursday….oops again!


Friday morning was finally my chance to work with the small ensembles.  Each of the 3 cabins was divided into a small ensemble of 3-4 harpists, with a piece of their own to work on.  I did a lot of running from one cabin to the next that morning!  After lunch, I taught another Masterclass for the other half of the students who hadn’t been in the Masterclass on Thursday.  During free time, I helped one of the students practice loading/unloading her own harp into her car, since she’d come to one of my demonstrations where I did it with my own harp in my own car.  On the way back to my cabin, I got sidetracked into another extra private lesson.  After dinner, I gave an – again unintentionally – overly long presentation on arranging music for the harp, showcasing and performing a variety of my own arrangements.  This picture is from the Dover Cabin small ensemble rehearsal.


Ah, the day of the big concert!  In the morning, we had a last large ensemble rehearsal.  After lunch, harps were loaded up and moved to the First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, Georgia.  Once harps were unloaded and tuned, we had a mini-rehearsal and run-through of the program.  It was an early dinner at Smithgall Cabin before right back to the church for a wonderful concert.  The students performed 4 large ensemble pieces and the 3 small ensemble pieces.  Rachel and I performed 2 of the duets that we had most enjoyed playing together on Monday evening.  After the concert, we gathered for a late night get-together at Smithgall for celebratory ice cream cake, wine, and conversation.  The 2 non-cake pictures below were from rehearsal.  I swear I actually did things!  I just couldn’t take pictures of myself when I was conducting. 😉  There are also a few videos from the concert and rehearsal.


After a late night and an early morning, everyone loaded up and headed home!


All in all, it was a great week and I had a lot of fun!  I was very tired when I got home (and to be honest, I still am!) but every minute of it was worth it!  I met some wonderful people and new friends while I was there.  I’m so happy I got to be a part of it!

Don’t forget to check out my separate post of videos from the week!

Spring 2018, in Review!

Finally!  A chance to breathe!  It’s been a crazy few months, but things have finally settled down for the time being.  I thought I’d take some time to talk about highlights from the past few months, so prepare yourself for pictures, stories, and maybe even a video or two!




Picking up where I left off in my post in early February, some of my students gathered at my parents’ home in Athens, Alabama for a fantastic Masterclass in mid-February!  It was a wonderful and casual opportunity for each of the students there to perform a couple of their solos for one another, without the stress and audience of a full student recital.  Each performance was followed by feedback from me and a sort of mini “group lesson” on each piece.  After the performances, I spent some time talking about a few topics that students had suggested, topics that are hard to take time to discuss in-depth during lessons, but are important for everyone.  This was the first Masterclass for each of the students in attendance and I received some very positive feedback.  I’m hoping to continue having Masterclasses once every 6-12 months, depending on schedules.

The Masterclass was recorded for students who were unable to attend.  As always, I forgot to ask someone to take pictures, so here’s an action shot from the recording.

Thank you to my parents for hosting the Masterclass!

Performance in Alpharetta


The weekend after the Masterclass, I performed at the Alpharetta Presbyterian Church as part of their Kirkin of the Tartan celebration.  It was such an awesome celebration of the church’s Scottish heritage and as I always do, I really enjoyed having a change to perform some of my beloved Celtic music.  It was also a joy to perform in such a beautiful location and show my appreciation for the church’s willingness to host my solo recital there in late April.  Unfortunately, I ultimately had to cancel the recital and was unable to perform there again, but I’m hoping to arrange for another performance sometime later this year!

Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
Such a beautiful church!

Bernstein in Montgomery


Speaking of beautiful churches!  At the beginning of March, I spent a few days down in Montgomery, Alabama for rehearsal and performance with the Montgomery Chorale.  In celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday this year, I performed on the chamber arrangement of Bernstein’s gorgeous Chichester Psalms.  The original composition is for full orchestra with 2 harps, whereas the chamber arrangement is written for 1 harp, 1 organist, and 1 percussionist.  This performance included 8-9 percussionists, along with myself on harp and the organist.  The Chorale choir and director were absolutely fantastic to work with and the First Methodist Church of Montgomery where we performed was probably one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever had the opportunity to play in.

First Methodist Church of Montogomery
Built in the 1920s, I believe.

First Methodist Church of Montgomery
Even more beautiful inside! I took a lot of pictures, though this was taken by my parents.

Here is an excerpt of the 2nd Movement of the Chichester Psalms, as I performed it with the Montgomery Chorale.  This video was taken by my mom, so it’s very centered on me. 🙂

AHS Evaluations, Day 2


Mid-March marked the 2nd day for the American Harp Society Evaluations.  Each of the students that had performed for me on Day 1 in early February returned to perform for me again, demonstrating in what ways they had improved during the weeks between.  It was really great to see how much of my feedback and advice had been taken to heart and I saw tremendous improvement in all of the students.  Different teachers may have different opinions sometimes, but I was thrilled that the students’ normal teachers took my feedback into consideration as well.  There was a wide range of student ages and levels that performed, while many of the younger students performed in a recital for friends and family.

AHS Evaluations
Several of the students who performed in the AHS Evaluations Recital.

Preparing for Recitals


Between teaching and performances, I was working hard towards my 3 recitals in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.  As you can see from my last post, the Georgia recital was unfortunately cancelled, but the Tennessee and Alabama recitals went off without a hitch!

Here are a few pictures while preparing…

Changing Strings
My regularly scheduled, full string change! Nothing better than the sound of new wires!

Changing Felts
New felts too!

Ori on the Harp
I just had to take this cute picture of Ori…before promptly telling him to NEVER climb my harp again.

Tennessee Recital


Before moving to Georgia, I was pianist at Blackman United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  My husband and I were thrilled to visit in March and see some of our old friends at the church, where I played for a church service in the morning before the church graciously hosted the first of my recitals that afternoon.  The audience was small, but filled with family and friends from the church.  Most of my husband’s family that were there had never seen me play the harp before, so it was great to show them a bit of what I do.

Here is my Tennessee performance of Grandjany’s transcription of “Pavane et Bransles,” the piece that I played to begin each of my recitals. I’m having difficulty converting the videos from my Tennessee recital to an editable format, so there is no video to accompany the audio for this one.

Alabama Recital


Hope Church in Madison, Alabama hosted the second of my recitals.  There was a big turn-out for this recital, with a full audience of church members and friends that they had invited from elsewhere.  I was so happy to see so many people in attendance when hardly anyone there had ever met me.  It’s difficult to advertise and promote a harp recital in general, let alone somewhere you don’t live.  I think it’s a testament to the welcoming and kind nature of Hope Church that they were so inviting.

Here’s a clip of my Alabama performance of Renié’s amazing “Ballade Fantastique,” a piece that follows completely the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe.  This clip is just the beginning of the almost 15 minute long piece.

And Last, but Not Least…


My months of endlessly busy weekends wrapped up this past weekend with a wedding up in North Carolina.  The forecast called for 60%+ chance of rain most of the day, but it held out and the sun came out long enough for a beautiful outdoor wedding.  Outdoor weddings are always a gamble for me with the harp, as I can’t take the instrument outside in certain weather conditions, so I’m grateful the weather held off long enough for me to perform.  The couple asked for several specially requested songs that I made my own arrangements for, so it’s always fun to play something new!

NC Wedding
I did get my own little tent for the ceremony, just in case the rain decided not to hold off long enough.

What Comes Next?


While I’m definitely happy to have a break from the non-stop busy weekends for awhile, I’m already looking forward to what I’ll be doing in the coming months!

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, I will be a guest instructor for the Adult Harp Retreat in mid-June, spending about 8 days at a lodge in the Smithgall Woods State Park in the north Georgia mountains.  The students at the retreat are all adults, coming from a variety of locations and backgrounds and playing levels.  I’m really looking forward to working with each of them one-on-one in private lessons, as a group in masterclasses, and leading them in one of my favorite things…harp ensemble!

Recently added to my schedule, I’ll also be spending about 8 days in mid-July up at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina as an assistant instructor at the Summer Harp Academy.  I’m especially excited to be at SHA because it is a week-long camp for pre-college and college age students, run by one of my former teachers and favorite people in the world…Elzbieta Szmyt!  One of my younger teen students, April, attended SHA last summer and will be returning this year as well, so I’m also looking forward to spending time with her!