My Summer Job: Playing and Teaching at a Music Festival

Each summer my family and I travel to Greensboro, North Carolina, where we spend five weeks teaching and playing at Eastern Music Festival, an immersive music festival for high school and college students. My husband is also a faculty member and player at the festival, and this year our 17 year old daughter joined the staff as an Administrative Assistant. I have been on the faculty for 24 years; my husband has been here for 16.

Trying to move a family of three people plus three cats to a different state for the summer can be a bit challenging, so over the years we have figured out ways to make our lives easier. We live in a furnished apartment while we are here, but we still need to bring things like bedding, silverware, coffee pot, etc. We bought extras of those things and we keep them in storage up here during the year, so we don’t have to load down the car with that stuff. We just pick it up from the storage room when we arrive. The biggest thing we were able to cut out of our move was my harp. The festival borrows a concert grand harp – the same make and model as my personal one and the one I play on with The Florida Orchestra – from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. I simply maintain it and change the strings as needed, and we return it to UNCG when the festival is over. This way their harp is used and played on during the summer and not sitting in a storage room, and I don’t have to take up most of the available space in our van with my harp. Below is a photo of the case the harp gets moved in (with husband for scale, lol), and another photo of the door open with the harp inside. The harp is wrapped up in a big, padded cover, and the inside of the case is lined with foam blocks to further protect the instrument.


This year I had to change several strings right away. Strings don’t last forever; after a while they lose their tone and pitch, and they will eventually break. As you can see in the photo below, I’ve put a half dozen new strings on, which will really improve the sound of the harp. I will cut off the extra tops of the strings when I’m done to make it look better.

I am busy practicing all the music I will bet performing this summer at the festival: orchestral works like Scheherazade, Mahler 5, Debussy’s La Mer, Bolero, and many more, as well as chamber music in smaller ensembles.

Stay tuned for more!


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