The older I get the more I want to recede into magic! When I say magic I specifically mean the magical world of storytelling. I’m midway through a project that started earlier on in the year with an advert on Insta for a ‘Storyteller’ required for a small community theatre in Eastbourne called Printers Playhouse, and to my delight I got the job! Four years ago when I started playing the harp I set a few dreams of possibility – to accompany myself, create my own music and use the harp for storytelling. Slowly these dreams are becoming a reality.
Though I found the early process of learning the harp challenging, my optimism overrode the sore fingers, brain and bruised ego! If only I could have inserted a sim card in my head to fast track. It was also a particularly difficult year personally as two family members were struggling with their health, so I retreated to the harp to escape, as the focus I needed stopped me worrying. My relationship with the harp became very intense and I tried not to slip into ‘if only.’ The harp became such a love affair – “where have you been all my life?” style.
Fast track to now, with this Saturday’s show I reached a new milestone – I used my harp in a children’s storytelling setting! I think as a freelancer you have to have these moments to check in and say! “Hey….you did it” and do a wee happy dance! Our story was based on an imagined ‘Planet Aviary’ where the birds had put themselves inside an aviary and locked the humans out!!!! The subject of birds gave a kaleidoscope of musical opportunities. It was wonderful to try my hand at underscoring, improvising a theme for a character, setting a song to music and accompanying everyone singing with my harp. Harps are brilliant for sound effects by using your hands in less harpy ways with nail flicks, bashes, pinches, knocks and even singing into the back of the harp! The harp has an ancient tradition of being the storyteller’s friend.
I’m overjoyed with the positive feedback from my harping storyteller ‘debut.’ It is so important for children to see harps up-close and personal. I often liken them to unicorns…..they have a mystical, fantasy kind of magical aura; they are heard of but rarely seen! It’s quite different in Scotland or Ireland where harping is deeply entrenched in the culture but down here in the South many folk don’t get to experience harp magic. After the show one audience member said to me “You may have inspired a little future harpist today.” That’s a lovely thought.
Leading me back to my initial opener: the older I get the more I want to recede into magic. To be in a position to create a spark, a pause, an opportunity to open up the imagination or bring in a little magic through the world of storytelling is a beautiful thing: it fills the soul and is a wonderful privilege. My mind is bursting with ideas of how to move forward beyond this project….. and I’ll keep sneaking in the harp wherever I can!!!!!
Thank you for sharing this moment with me.
The Gossamer Threads Project
‘Deepening our connections to nature and each other through creativity’
If you are interested in our work and want to catch the last 3 shows ‘Playtime at Printers.’
If you would like to learn the harp and find a teacher or hire a harp I recommend Pilgrim Harps as a great first port of call. I hired my first lever harp from them and the are super lovely and supportive.
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