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Method or Madness

Feb 29, 2016

“What method do you play?”

It’s part of the human condition to label, sort and divide. Classifying things makes them easier to understand.

We feel a bond with others that share our views. We form clubs and associations. We develop deep loyalties. We separate the sheep from the goats.

But labels can also cause misunderstanding and divisiveness. As a musician, no matter what...

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Do You Have a Harp Hero?

Feb 22, 2016

I need a hero.

A harpist’s life is not an easy one. I’m not complaining, mind you, just stating a fact.

The harp is a beautiful instrument, but one with lots of issues. Whether we are trying to tune it, play it or move it, we are not traveling an easy road.

Along my own harp road, I have encountered many people who have made my way much smoother, some simply by a thoughtful gesture,...

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Thinking Music in 3D

Feb 15, 2016

When you look at your music, is your vision bounded by the black dots, lines and spaces and the edges ofthe page?

Let’s get out of the flat two dimensional world of the printed page and look at music in 3D.

The Horizontal Dimension of Music 

Melody is horizontal dimension of music. It is the narrative voice of music. Melody tells a story, sings a song, or paints a picture.

Melody is...

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Your Metronome Speaks

Feb 08, 2016

You move that pile of music and there it is, underneath everything: your metronome. It stares mutely at you, reproachfully. You feel a brief pang of guilt, but you push it aside, telling yourself that the metronome is really too annoying and you’ll use it another time.

But your metronome is calling to you from under that pile of music. And if you would listen, you would hear it telling...

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The Mastery Trait

Feb 01, 2016


What is “mastery?”

Scenario 1

The team is about to lose. Time is running out and in a last desperate attempt to win, the quarterback throws the ball down the field. The receiver barely catches the ball; he is clutching it behind his back. He must hold on to the ball and get across the goal line. He hugs the ball to the back of his legs and leaps. Touchdown. Team wins....

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Heavenly Harmonics – A Guide

Jan 25, 2016


In the last post , we examined the acoustical principles of harmonics. We also discussed the number one rule for playing a beautiful bell-like harmonic: you must stop the string in the exact center.  Let’s go step by step through all four elements of playing a harmonic


Harmonics Step By Step
Step One: The Center

This is the “center of the string”...

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How to Play Heavenly Harmonics

Jan 18, 2016

This post is the first of a two-part series to help you understand harp harmonics, the science behind them and the tips you need to make yours ring beautifully.

There is no more beautiful sound than a harp harmonic, ringing with a silvery clarity. Philadelphia harpist Edna Phillips was fond of recounting how the famous conductor Stokowski raved about the bell-like tone of her harmonics. But if...

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What Do You NEED to Know?

Jan 11, 2016

Remember those high school classes you thought were a waste of time? Maybe you were one of those who struggled through geometry proofs. Or perhaps you scheduled a sick day when your biology teacher scheduled a frog dissection, or flung curses at Chaucer’s Middle English, joining the chorus of countless generations of students: When am I ever going to need to know this?

I’m certain...

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A Scale for the New Year

Jan 04, 2016

The New Year. New beginnings, New ideas, goals, hopes and dreams. All exciting and energizing.

I love the wonderful possibilities that a new year presents. Each year I look forward to setting goals and putting in place systems that will help keep me on track to achieve them.

I’ve used complicated systems and I’ve used simple ones, but I have found over time that I stay on track best...

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7 Surprising Facts about “O Holy Night”

Dec 21, 2015

Adolphe Adam, composer

Whether you know it as “O Holy Night” or “Cantique de Noël,” you probably either love it or hate it. You may find the music and words moving and inspiring, or you may just have heard one too many singers struggle through the high notes. Either way, I have a few facts that, while they might not change your mind about the song, are sure to give...

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