Happy New Year! 2021 Improv, plus looking back at 2020

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What a year it was, eh? I hope you made it through 2020 ok. I was just listening to my 2020 New Year’s Improv, recorded a year ago on January 1st, and thinking how I had no inkling back then of what this year would bring.

I just finished recording a new short improv to welcome in this year (as has become tradition).

With 2020 behind us and effective vaccines starting to roll out, we can look forward to 2021. But I also want to look back at 2020. For me, I feel so lucky I was able to continue doing what I love, just sometimes in different ways than I had expected. In the midst of all the stress and trauma of the year, I was also able to achieve some things of which I am proud, and so today I wanted to focus on these as we say goodbye to 2020.

26 new episodes of Harp Tuesday

I ended up busier than ever this year with teaching, but thanks to the support of my viewers I was able to continue to devote the time to record a new Harp Tuesday episode every two weeks (including episode 202, recorded Dec. 29th, which looked at turning pages on a tablet via “face gestures”). Here are a few of my personal favorites from 2020:

In the very first episode of 2020 I offered some thoughts on why starting to learn something new can seem so overwhelming… and how if you can get through that initial resistance it’s often much easier than you thought!

I love problem solving in general, and I always love recording episodes looking at problem solving on the harp and specific pieces of music, such as this look at Alla Turca Jazz.

In episode 185 I tried out the idea of a “play along with me” episode, working on rolled chord drills. It’s one thing to briefly talk/demonstrate how to practice something, but I think there’s also a lot of value of actually seeing a full practice run-through of something such as this. If you’re looking for a New Year’s goal, doing this type of drill every day for 6 months will definitely lead to a dramatic improvement on the speed and evenness of your rolled chords.

Episode 186 was on a subject very dear to my heart, and something that I think is very significant and important – how to hear and listen for phrasing; how we get from note to note.

(I also wrote a couple of essays on the subject that I think are well worth reading).

Episode 199 was a virtual duet! One of the challenging things about this year has been not being able to play music together in person. While it’s not the same, in this episode I offered the possibility of you playing along with me in Henriette Renié’s beautiful duet, “Les pins de Charlannes”.

And of course episode 200, a look at how I got started playing the harp! I really enjoyed telling this story :)

Those were a few of my favorite episodes! If you got to www,harptuesday.com you can scroll down to see a list of all Harp Tuesday episodes and see what else I recorded in 2020.

Three weeks in July!

The next thing I wanted to celebrate is a three week period in July where I set myself a goal of releasing three different projects.

To start with, I finished and published my arrangement of Bach’s iconic Toccata and Fugue in D minor, and recorded a music video of it. I just sat down and watched the video again right now, and I’m very proud of it, as well as all the work that went into the sheet music – I think I produced an edition that is clear, readable, and effective.

Next, I published and premiered a new composition, Uncharted Shores, a composition that I started on camera, for Harp Tuesdayepisode 178. (I’ve written two other new pieces this year, both premiered during live-stream concerts. Look for more on those soon).

And finally, for the third week, a big publishing project – my PDF book Transcriptions for Lever Harp. This collection of seven different works transcribed for the lever harp has been a big success – thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy, and who has let me know how much they’ve enjoyed working on the music within it.

Working towards those self-imposed deadlines in July certainly led to some late nights and long days, but it was very effective at getting these projects out the door! I have plans for more publishing projects coming up in 2021 – I will keep you posted :)

Music Videos!

The next thing I want to celebrate is that I released a number of music videos this year. Starting with a video of Alla Turca Jazz, Fazil Say’s take on the iconic last movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11. A super fun (and challenging!) piece.

Then as lockdown hit, I went back and finally published a couple of performances from a concert tour in 2018. I’d published a performance of Clair de Lune before, but recently I’ve been pairing it with my transcription of the opening Prelude from Suite Bergamasque. This performance from Santa Barbara, California included both the Prelude and Clair de Lune.

I followed that by uploading a performance of Grandjany’s fantastic Children’s Hour Suite, from Sofia, Bulgaria.

More Debussy was next, with a video of Maid with the Flaxen Hair. Then Hasselmans Chanson de Mai, paired with some footage of the beautiful wild Camas flowers that bloom here in the spring. And Peter Maxwell Davies Farewell to Stromness, paired with footage taken around the shorelines of Victoria.

After the Bach Toccata and Fugue and my Uncharted Shores, my next two music videos were two of the pieces from my book Transcriptions for Lever Harp – Bach’s Toccata, arranged for lever harp and filmed outdoors at a nearby park, and Bach’s Prelude No. 1, filmed on a hillside just after the sun had set.

The last two music videos I published in 2020 were tie-ins to Harp Tuesday episodes – Les Pins de Charlannes (playing both parts), and Poor Wayfaring Stranger, arranged by Carol Kappus.

Look for many more music videos to come in 2021!

Performing again!

The final thing I want to celebrate from 2020, is live-streaming. On October 3rd I did a live-stream concert, my first since 2015. I was really happy with the technology, how everything looked and sounded, and with the response. I ended up doing two more concert in 2020 (on Dec. 5th and 20th) and I will definitely be doing more in 2021! It has felt so good to perform again and it’s great to have that to look forward to, and to work towards, even as I also hope that in-person concerts will become possible again at some point in 2021!

Thanks for indulging me on this look back on some good parts of 2020. As we turn our view towards 2021 I hope it will bring many good things to you and yours. Stay safe and as always, thanks so much for reading!


Something extra – a short video clips of a rare snow day here in Victoria, BC!

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