Perhaps the worst part of my job is the winter-time conflict between staying warm and looking professional, flawlessly groomed, elegant… harpist-like.
The harpist’s gig prep is not a simple waltz from car to performance venue. It involved warming up the car ahead of time, carting out the harp, loading the music stand, bench and gig bag, and then reversing the process upon arrival. And then packing everything back into the car after the gig, and then into the house again.
Comfort dictates I wear many layers of wool sweaters underneath my normal outdoor coat/hat/mittens combo. Professionalism dictates that I wear something sleek and non-lumpy.”
And you know what? It’s totally possible to rock this process with effective and sly harpist tactics. Read on for tips that will preserve both your image and the feeling in your limbs regardless of how many degrees below zero it is outside.
1. Wear the boots and change into your nice shoes at the venue. Really, just do.
2. Always wear mittens. Your hands are important – be prepared to scrape off your windshield before and after a gig!
3. Store attractive finger-less gloves in your gig back in case your hands are cold at a gig, especially if you think you might be stationed next to the door. Practice with finger-less gloves at home when your hands are cold too!
4. Last-ditch tactic, run your hands under hot water to warm them up.
5. Cashmere sweaters or shrugs are expensive, but so warm, classy and hardly ever wrinkle! I own a red one and a dark blue one, and occasionally wear them under a long-sleeved black suit coat if I’m playing for an all-black event.
6. A floor length black skirt effectively hides comfy flannel pants, or long underwear (no one will know!)
7. Smartwool socks as tall as you can find them or tights instead of regular nylons (usually both!)
8. A long-sleeved black shirt with a scoop neckline easily provides an extra layer underneath formal wear without being visible.
9. Practice ahead of time so you can leave your gig bag in the car (and the cover on your harp) between Saturday night and Sunday morning gigs. I needn’t mention that the harp needs to come indoors overnight. Unless you have a heated garage… in which case I’m envious.
10. Invest in two harp chairs so you can leave one in the car between gigs.
11. Gotta’ love that remote start. Saves you an extra trip or two through the great (frigid) outdoors every gig!
Did I miss anything? Comment below if you have tips to add to this list. Also, if you enjoyed this article, you might like Tips for Winter Practicing.
Stephanie Claussen is a professional harpist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She performs on her harp throughout Minnesota in various concerts, recitals, and collaborations with other musicians. Sign up for her e-mail newsletter receive important announcements and notifications of upcoming performances.