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Millennium Harp Quest (part 3)

Harping for Harmony sponsors Millennium Quests for harpers. The concept is to declare a quest for a one-year period that will stretch your comfort zone as a musician and provide a community service to your locality.

Jo declared her own Millennium Quest on March 13, 2003.

15. Common Ground on the Hill, Westminster, MD

I have been teaching harp classes at Common Ground on the Hill Music and Arts camp since 1998, and it is always an opportunity to play in public in unexpected places. This year's classes ran from July 7 - 12. I pushed myself to do new things and stretch as a musician. This is VERY hard here, because there are so many amazing musicians here, and it's easy to be afraid of looking foolish or unprofessional. I joined the Common Ground Latino band on the harp, and also joined a Blues workshop, and played improv solos on a daily basis with these groups. I was amazed at the response - people loved that I was doing it! Not only that, but I found that once I relaxed a little, it was a huge amount of fun, and it drew me into the group in a way I've never experienced before. Jo playing in Dr. Loco's Common Ground Rockin Jalapeno Band, Westminster, MD

Without this quest, I might never have gotten up the courage to try this, so I'm very excited by this progress. After five days of "practice" soloing in front of just the instructors and staff, we took the Latin Band out in concert Friday evening, and I was a featured soloist doing improv on Latin music! Then on Saturday, the band performed at the American Music and Arts Festival, with solos there as well. This was a big stretch and a great experience for me.

Jo playing in Dr. Loco's Common Ground Rockin Jalapeno Band, Westminster, MD

14. Oberlin Scottish Arts School, Oberlin, OH

I spent June 28 - July 3 at the Oberlin Scottish Arts School. This was my fourth year there, and as always I spent time "jamming" with other harpers at the school in the evenings. (This is really good for stretching myself, since it makes me play on the fly, which is difficult for me.) This year was a little different, however, in that I got up the courage to do something I seldom do - sing in public. I do a couple of songs for some planned shows, where I've practiced extensively and steeled myself for it, but in this case I was out of practice, having just pulled the song out of mothballs. I sang it for only one person, but it was still a victory for me. (Especially since the person in question is an excellent singer, and that made it very terrifying.)

13. Germantown, MD

This was my first failed attempt. I've been waiting for this to happen, convinced it would at some point. Hopefully this will be the only one. On June 24, I needed to drop off my harp at a friend's home in Germantown, and thought I would stop at the Border's Books on the way there and get a smoothie for lunch and offer to play for a while. I talked to the cafè attendant and offered to play a few tunes, and she said no, but she didn't mind if I had the harp there as long as I kept it in the case. I was rather stunned by the disinterest, especially considering that I have played there for pay a number of times before. I then tried another location, a park nearby, but found there was no legal parking within 1000 feet of the park, so I gave up. It was a very disappointing day.

12. Falls Church, VA

My new friend was back in the hospital for the final part of his surgery, so I stopped by and played more harp music for him on June 11. It had begun as a rough day, and I'd been feeling unappreciated and depressed, but doing this really made me feel better and like what I do can be worthwhile. Besides feeling better myself, I felt I could see him visibly relax from the post-op pain, so I'd like to think it did him some good. His wife seemed very appreciative also, and his roommate listened in for the final piece.

11. Omega Drive, Rockville, MD

I had a job in downtown Washington, D.C. on May 28th, and stopped by my husband's office to join him for lunch on the way down. I got there early, and took out my harp and played for about 45 minutes in the lobby of his office building. It was around lunch-time, so lots of people were coming in and out for lunch. I had a lot of comments, and quite a few people took my fliers about Harping for Harmony at this performance. I played right where two office doors opened onto the hallway, and both offices opened the door at some point during my playing and thanked me profusely for playing. I was told it was "heavenly" and "wonderful," and one lady even said she called her husband to say "Guess what we have going on in the hallway?" Apparently he told her to send me over to his office when I was done... Jo playing at Omega Drive, Rockville, MD

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Revised 9/14/03.
Jo's Millennium Quest
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