An Open Letter to My Other Students

May 06, 2013

In a previous post, I wrote about what graduating music students need to be prepared for the road ahead. This post is dedicated to my other students, graduating college seniors who are not making music their careers.

Dear Students,

What a pleasure it has been to get to know you, and what a privilege to be a part of your time with the harp. You came to me with different harp backgrounds and...

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May 2013

May 06, 2013
In this issue:
Breaking News
Q and A with Anne Sullivan
Summer performances
Harp in the Mountains Festival I nsider Focus for May
Subscribe to the HarpMastery blog
Breaking News… Watch for the May/June issue of Harp Column Magazine, with part one of a two-part series dedicated to tuning, written by Anne...
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Practice around the Potholes with Preparation Points!

May 03, 2013

One of my favorite practice techniques came in handy with a student today.

The piece was “La Source” by Alphonse Hasselmans. The problem was the bar lines. Not just one bar line, most of them. The student was having difficulty getting from one measure to the next. Everything was fine at a slow tempo, but as soon as we tried to speed it up, the bar lines turned into...

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Do You Know This Harp Chord?

May 01, 2013

There is one particular chord that my students and I grapple with frequently. It is used more often in harp music than perhaps any other chord. Yet it still can be a source of difficulty. Until we stop and examine the chord: what it is, how it is used,  how to practice it.

The chord is a simple triad, or three-note chord, like C-E-G. What is different about this chord is the...

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Life after College: The 5 Essentials for Every New Music Graduate

Apr 29, 2013

Congratulations, new music graduate! You have your music degree at last. You are now officially prepared to commence life as a musician. Do you feel prepared?

I came across this thought-provoking story in the newspaper recently. Several recent graduates of Widener Law School are suing the school for false advertising. They are claiming that the school misrepresented the employment statistics...

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I was a Question on Jeopardy

Apr 26, 2013

I was a question on Jeopardy. Well, not exactly. Here’s the story.

The answer was, “Composer Lowell Liebermann wrote a Sonata for flute and this instrument, often heard at weddings.” The correct question: “What is a harp?”

So how do I figure in? My friend flutist Joan Sparks and I are the duo SPARX, and we commissioned the Sonata from Lowell Liebermann....

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Three Reasons Why Singing Will Improve Your Playing

Apr 24, 2013

If you can sing it, you can play it. Well, maybe not quite, but it is true that singing is the best way to develop some key musical skills.During the years I taught ear training at Curtis, I noticed a pattern. Among the students without perfect pitch, those who had choral experience almost always found ear training easier than the students who had never sung in a chorus.

One obvious...

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7 Ways to Eliminate Distraction and Get Focused

Apr 22, 2013


Distraction is one of my major problems, and I suspect I am not alone. When I was a young music student, I used distraction to help me avoid practicing (“Oops, I forgot to check my math homework!”). As an adult, I can sometimes be too distracted to focus on the practice I actually want to do.

Because practicing is a priority for me, I have learned...

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No Boring Scales Part 2

Apr 19, 2013

In Monday’s post, I wrote about ways to energize your scale practice. I received a number of comments and questions asking for more details. So I put together a quick video to demonstrate the techniques. I show you how you can use rhythmic motifs from any piece to practice your scales. In particular, I show you how to play scales in calypso and boogie woogie rhythm.





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Bored with Scales? 5 Variations to Keep You Motivated

Apr 15, 2013

Scales are the biggest proving ground of your technique and musicianship. While you may have been playing scales since you first started playing music, that doesn’t mean that scales are only for beginners.

Well-played scales demonstrate:

A thorough understanding of keys.
Technical facility and agility.
A repertoire of articulation and dynamics.

For us harpists, scales can seem rather dull...

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