The autoharp is an instrument I never tire of hearing or strumming. Not that I am a musician by any means, I love music, but my natural talent is meager at best, and my inclination to make time for practice is weak. However, I have persisted in collecting several lovely instruments and wanting to play them in spite of myself.
On the site of Habitica, there are groups called Guilds. I joined a guild for people who were struggling. The premise of this group is to discover ONE SMALL THING we could do to move forward some dream that we’d felt was too overwhelming or difficult. I decided to work on my dream of playing the autoharp.
All the autoharps were in cases, put away. One was waiting for me to get around to restringing it to a two key AE configuration. So I made a list of steps to get that done. Accepting that I was unlikely to get it done myself, I decided to send it off to a luthier who does these things. But even THAT was tough.
So here was the list I made for Habitica. Pull autoharp out of the closet. Contact Luthier. Email details of what I needed done. Find address of the Luthier. Locate string set. Locate new bar set. Print three address labels (inside, outside, and other). Pack to ship. Take to UPS store. SHIP. As you can see, the steps are each small, each easy, but there were quite a lot of them(10)!
Practice happens when the instrument is easy to access. So I determined to find a place to safely have one or more instruments out.
I also needed to put them on stands. I found one stand, could not find the other stand, ended up buying two more stands. This was NOT a fast thing as I kept hoping to locate the missing stands.
Then I pulled an OS set up in BbFC out. I got the AE back from the Luthier. I pulled my Orthey chromatic out in its bag, and finally placed them at the head of my bed. Where they SAT.
Clearly, having them out was not enough to over-come whatever prevented me from practicing (mostly, time, “I ought to be doing…” and then I never practice).
So I added to Habitica a habit “touch the autoharp” and this was ALL I asked myself to do. It felt silly to walk past and touch the autoharp.
Next I added a habit “strum the autoharp” and again, for a month it felt quite silly to pass the autoharp, touch the strings and strum them in passing. But I did it and it felt good.
Third month, I added, “pick up the autoharp” to “touch the autoharp” and “strum the autoharp” AND I got credit for each autoharp I did this with– easy points, fast, and suddenly I was growing a HABIT of picking up and strumming on my autoharps every single day.
I added “tune an autoharp” and “play a tune” to my habits as well.
Current challenge to myself is to play the tune I chose on each autoharp, in different keys or the same keys, every day. I’ve been doing this for weeks now. I estimate that it has taken me 8 or 9 months to get to this point, however, this is more than in the previous eight years.
Nobody in the family can figure out the song yet. I figure, if I get good enough at playing that one song, somebody is eventually going to recognize it!!
Dear Lord, Thank You for music, for autoharps, for time to practice, and for the people who helped me see that I could take tiny tiny steps toward a dream. +Amen.