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Giving Thanks Daily: A New Practice

Nov 23, 2020

I wanted to share this comment with you because it touched me deeply. 

"My harp happiness is that Ms. Anne Sullivan works so hard to keep harpists connected and encouraged during these very difficult times, including the Facebook posts and updates and Harp Mastery tips and guides. I don't know how to tell you how much of a difference that makes to many, whether we post back or not, except...

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Four “Smart” Finger Patterns You Must Know

Nov 16, 2020

I have an entire closet filled with music. It’s organized and filed in boxes, or at least most of it is. And four of those boxes are dedicated just to etudes and exercises. 

Considering the importance of technique, those three boxes aren’t a very big proportion of my music collection, but they are filled with the wisdom and advice of literally centuries of harpists. I have...

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Beyond the Bar Line: The Secret to Seamless Music

Nov 09, 2020

The bar line, that thin vertical line separating one measure from the next. It has several important functions but it can also be a hindrance to smooth, fluid playing.

Bar lines have been used in music since the 15th century as a simple way to visually indicate the meter of music. We know meter as a repeating pattern of strong and weak beats. ¾ time, for example, has a strong first beat...

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The Muse Within: Chasing Inspiration

Nov 02, 2020

I sit down to the piano regularly at nine-o'clock in the morning and Mesdames les Muses have learned to be on time for that rendezvous. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

In Greek mythology the nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of Memory) and they lived with Apollo on Mount Olympus. They were believed to be the source of all creative inspiration, particularly in the realms...

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4 Easy Ideas to Take Your Music Reading from Fumbling to Fluent

Oct 26, 2020

When I send out a poll or take an informal survey of a group of harpists, I always ask about their biggest challenge. I want to know what is the biggest obstacle in their path, the one thing that prevents them from playing the harp the way they want. 

Invariably, the number one answer is music reading skills.

The complaints range from “I just can’t learn bass clef,” to,...

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The Practice of Listening: Why It’s Essential for Every Musician

Oct 19, 2020

And if occasionally he'd ponder
what make Shakespeare and Beethoven great,
Him I could love till I die.
Lyrics from “My White Knight,” from The Music Man

One of the first musicals I fell in love with was The Music Man by Meredith Willson. My parents had the original cast album which featured Barbara Cook as Marian the librarian. Barbara Cook’s voice was warm, clear and agile and...

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Cracking the Code: The Better Way to Read Music

Oct 12, 2020

Did you ever have a secret decoder?

I’m remembering the scene in the movie "A Christmas Story” when Ralphie uses his secret decoder pin to decipher the message on the Little Orphan Annie radio show. Ralphie was sure that the secret decoder pin was his entry into the inner circle of Annie’s followers.

Those decoders worked on a very simple principle. When you knew the starting...

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If I Were Starting Over

Oct 05, 2020

First, you need to know I’ve been playing the harp a long time. A very long time, as in over half a century. So it’s been a very long time since I started the harp, and when I started I was very young.

Naturally, starting young had numerous advantages, among them a relationship with my harp that seems to be at a cellular level. But I do not believe that you must begin young to play...

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Are You Sitting Too High, Too Low or Just Right?

Sep 28, 2020

Every harpist has a seat preference. It may be a bench, a stool, a chair. Obviously comfort is key. But what are the factors that go into sitting comfortably at the harp?

There are a few clear requirements. Your seat needs to be flat and stable. A certain amount of cushion is nice, but too much will impede the abdominal support that is critical to sitting well at the harp. Naturally, your chair...

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Centering Yourself at the Harp: Where You Sit Makes a Difference

Sep 21, 2020

Let’s find your center.

No, this is not a post about meditation or focus or concentration. It’s about something much more practical: how you should center your body at the harp.

Maybe you’ve had an experience like this one. You watch a video of yourself playing the harp. It’s difficult enough to watch and listen to yourself but what makes it even worse is that something...

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