Robots

A while ago, I heard a story on NPR about the robots in Silicon Valley. They are sort of taking over the work force in many ways and a lot of jobs are going to be lost in the future. It is kind of a depressing thought. These days there are a lot of ways to listen to music and get our tunes. There is also the widening divide between the have and the have nots which certainly isn’t being helped but the increasing use of robots.

Starting off as a professional musician I was certainly aware that I was only able to get started in this job, in the small market where I live,  because of my “patron of the arts saint” husband. I am seriously lucky and very lucky to have the time to grow my business. I know that despite the fact that there are lots of ways to get music, seeing live music, especially with the harp!, is a priceless experience. I love hearing from people that they remember clearly and fondly their first time hearing a harp. Often when people see me I’m their first time ever seeing a harp in person and they are sooooo excited and intrigued.

So although I am a luxury for many I think I’m still in a good position to continue and expand my career. I’m also blessed to be able to devote a nice portion of my work time to my charitable goals and reach into the community. I get to see the joy of brides and little kids when they hear the harp and you know that robots just wouldn’t appreciate that as much.

Out of the comfort zone.

Last week I was away from home for a while while my husband was in the hospital. We knew it would be about a week but we weren’t sure about the exact chain of events, if he would have a private room, and a whole host of other questions. I wanted to bring my harp but I was unsure about too many things regarding space, logistics and weather so I decided to bring this small lap harp that I own.

Honestly, I’ve never actually been able to get comfortable with a lap harp. They are just missing too many strings! But I decided that this was a good opprtunity to spend some time with the little harp and I wouldn’t be worried about it in the space or it’s well-being. One of the issues that I always have with the lap harp is being able to translate written music on to the reduced number of strings. It takes a lot of creativity to transpose things on the fly as you are playing and to compensate for the reduced strings. Generally I am tied to written music and the relationship I know between what I see and my 34 strings so this has been a problem for me.

While we were in the hospital I took a lot of opportunities to work with the lap harp and to improvise some music. Also not one of my strengths but I really, really enjoyed myself. I came up with some fun things and I learned a lot. Sometimes it is good to step out of your comfort zone. I know the harp helped make a difficult week more tolerable and the nurses were always happy to come in when I was playing! You could certainly tell the difference in the blood pressure numbers for my husband. That was the best benefit.

 

 

The great Harpmobile search

A couple weeks ago we learned that our daughter, Christa, has a failing car. This provides a perfect opportunity for me to get a new Harpmobile! I’m so excited!!!

My sweet 1999 Honda CRV has been a great car this past ten years and it just turned over 100,000 miles. There is really no reason to replace it but I’m ready for an upgrade.

So we began our car search. If you are a harpist you have a very different set of criteria that you require for a car. I’m sure it was a first for several of the salespeople that we saw. Doing the research and looking at things online will only get you so far before you have to go look and put your harp case in the car.

Naturally, some of my requirements put us in the higher range of options on cars but we are thinking long term. I’m not going to spend the next ten years with a back lift hatch that is as unfriendly as the one I have had. Of course, technology has created a big change in vehicles since I lays bought one as well.

I’ll save you all the ups and downs but I think we are settled on the Nissan Rogue. Mary-Megan, the wonderful sales woman, at Superior Nissan is trying to find my car right now. The car has an amazing cargo system and it is the best dealership in town. I’ll be happy to deal with them for the next ten years. I hope she finds it soon!!
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I got my fabulous new car a couple weeks ago. It stayed in the garage the first week due to the bad weather but now we are out and about. I named her Alora. First time I’ve officially named a car other than Mr. Ugly that I owed at a low point in my life. This is clearly a high point and I feel soooo fancy!!! And she is all dressed up and ready for work.

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Visits with Grandma

We returned from our lovely vacation and I was able to get my fingers slowly back up to speed. I have to say on the Saturday after our return I was soooo happy to be back at my harp I almost cried. However, it was a good break and although a little too long to be away from the harp when I do return I’m energized for practice and working on material. I actually feel like I’ve taken another step forward.

I was very happy to be asked to go and play at the Apple Blossom Retirement home in Rogers today. Walking in there is like a déjà vue of the place where my Grandmother lived in Oregon. The very first public performance that I gave was there for her friends. I’m sure it was dreadful, and short!, but I was so thrilled to be playing that I think they appreciated my earnestness if not my musicianship. I still sincerely miss my Grandmother and I’m sure she would love to hear me play now.

Harps in Italy.

I’m in the middle of a two week adventure in Italy. Today I saw two paintings from the 1400’s that included harps! There were in the gallery that houses Michelangelo’s David. That puts my harp sighting total at three so far. A lot lower than I expected. There was one in Cortona and I was able to get a postcard of that painting but not of the ones today. All three date from the 1400’s and show more of a plucking action than the strumming that we do now. I’m not sure if that is how they played then or if the painters were just not as familiar with the actual instrument. Nonetheless, they were beautiful to see and I hope to find a few more as we continue our adventure.

If you would like to read all about my adventure in Italy that blog is located at http://stockdell.com/travel/.

Palliative Care

As many of our conversations start. “I heard this interesting story on NPR today…. ” This is really a great story and an important one for the future state of our health care. It is good to see the continued work and acceptance of this. Also for people to remember that hospice and palliative care are not the same thing although they are often confused.

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the story.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/12/16/250194489/how-palliative-care-helps-one-iowa-family-s-experience

Mike and Sonia ROCK!!!!

My new website is now totally up and running!! Mike and Sonia Davis Gutierrez have done an amazing job getting the website up. I am on the learning curve for WordPress and it is steep but I feel pretty good. Except for late Thursday night it asked to do an update to WordPress and the theme that is used for my site. Mike and Sonia had everything running beautifully and it did the update and then everything was GONE! I was freaking out. Apparently it was a theme issue that everyone was having but considering my lack of experience on the site it was scary for me. Mike put it all back together and we are back in business. I put up a few music snippets and we are off. I think Mike and Sonia are happy I’ll be out of the country for a couple weeks and won’t continue to ask questions.

Bottom line, I can’t thank them enough for all they did. I’m very happy!!!

Visits to the Airport…

Today marked the first of three trips to the airport this week. Today and Wednesday I’m playing in the middle of the terminal as people walk by and the way to their travels. On Thursday we are going to be part of the travel set!

Tons of fun to play at the airport. It is, obviously, something that people aren’t expecting to see in the middle of our small airport. Someone asked me today if it was a lot of red-tape to get clearance to be there. I had to admit that it actually wasn’t since Kelly Johnson, who manages the airport, is my neighbor. So she knows me and I wasn’t going in past security – that part actually would be difficult. The man commented that it sure is nice to live in a small town! I agree!!!

It was nice to spread a little holiday cheer in the middle of the bustle of the airport. I think all the workers liked it more than the travelers.

I’ll play again on Wednesday and then Thursday we are off on our Italian adventure!!

Wednesday was also fun at the airport. I saw a two-year-old run to “Momma” who had just gotten off a plane. If that doesn’t melt your heart I don’t know what does.

There were some challenges to playing at the airport. Wednesday it was very windy and I was sitting by the door. The sun chased me both days so I moved my harp a ton but Wednesday I wore my full angel costume and that was a kick. Tough day at the office for me. Ha!

Angel at the Airport.

Angel at the Airport.

Fayetteville Library

For the third year in a row, I have had the pleasure of playing at the Fayetteville Public library during the holidays. I shouldn’t say this but this is my favorite gig. Might be because I’m a book-aholic and this just puts me in my natural environment. If I do say so myself, the librarians love me and I LOVE interacting with the kids. I played Friday afternoon and then Saturday morning after the kids story time with the Grinch. When the kids come by I give them little jingle bells (which I’m sure their parents hate later!) and they can play along with me for a little while. It is so much fun. We really do have the best library and the librarians never say SHHHHHH.

Gala for the New Design School

We got home in time from Kansas City for me to attend the Gala for The New Design School. It was a fun evening, as always, from these guys. I played for the opening hour and then things got rockin’. Mike and Sonia are so great!