It’s October, the time of year when upcoming college auditions are weighing heavily on the hearts of music students. It’s a stressful time with so many questions that seem impossible to answer and so much preparation to be done. I routinely give my students four points to remember to guide them through these rough waters with the least amount of turmoil possible. And even if you aren’t preparing for college auditions, keeping these four points in mind will help your everyday music making too.
1. Decide what you want. We could talk about goals or career decisions, but really it’s simpler than that, and easier too. What do you WANT? An education, to study with a famous teacher, an urban environment, a friendly campus? Whatever it is that you want, there are multiple possibilities for you to choose from. There is no one perfect place, that if you aren’t accepted...
As the weeks rush toward the busy holiday season, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. So many performances, so much music to learn, so little time to relax. At times like this it’s easy to feel…well, grumpy.
But feeling grumpy does not help you make beautiful music.
So before the grumpiness takes hold, take action. Follow these seven steps, and enjoy the busy times!
First, a couple of basic rules:
1. Eat right and get enough sleep. This same advice that our mothers always gave us is really the best way to avoid stress and burnout. When your schedule won’t accommodate a sit-down, home-cooked meal, try packing some power snacks like cheese, nuts, fruit or veggies so you can avoid the fast food trap. And there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep when it comes to restoring your energy, spirits and stamina.
2. Move it! If you can make time for exercise, that is ideal. A regular routine, whether it’s yoga at home or weight training...
Three German Carols arranged for harp by Anne Sullivan
Designed with a harpist’s busy December in mind! The carols are short (and NO lever or pedal changes!) but they can easily be played as a set if you need something longer.
These carols are ideal for students. My students are often so busy that it is hard to think of adding holiday music to their practice load. But these carols make it easy. The intermediate level gives a more accomplished student something they can learn and perform quickly, and gives the less advanced student something with just enough challenge to help them grow.
Three German Carols includes:
Kling, Glöckchen (“Ring, Little Bell”), is a favorite Christmas carol of German children. The lyrics were written in the 19th century and set to a traditional German folk tune. I have included two versions of this carol arrangement. One has no lever or pedal changes, but the melody has been slightly altered to allow this. The other version has the...
Away in a Manger
Two Famous Tunes
Arranged for lever or pedal harp by Anne Sullivan
Like many Christmas carols, the text to “Away in a Manger” has been set to music by multiple composers. These two famous tunes are often identified as “the English one” and “the German one,” but interestingly both were written by American composers.
William Kirkpatrick, a Pennsylvania native, was trained in Philadelphia and worked at various times as a composer, carpenter, military Fife-Major, and church organist. His tune “Cradle Song” was written in 1895 for a musical production called “Around the World with Christmas.” This is the “English” tune for “Away in a Manger,” commonly identified in hymnals as the tune “Kirkpatrick.”
The “German” tune for “Away in a Manger” was said to be an original melody by Martin Luther. In recent years, this has been viewed as a 19thcentury...
Here’s a challenge Sherlock Holmes would enjoy:
Take the members of a professional orchestra. Put them in civilian clothes, no tails or black gowns. Line them up. Now try to guess which instrument each plays. There are the telltale calluses, marks, fingernails, etc., that you could use to identify the masters of particular instruments. But aside from those features, the stereotypical images may steer you wrong.
Not all trombone players are barrel-chested men, nor are all flutists dainty, well-manicured ladies. The truth is, all different physical types of people play each instrument.
We tend to think that masters of a specialized skill, like world-class musicians, are “built” for their instruments....
If your left hand slows you down when the chords show up, then this video is for you. Work through these patterns and watch the transformation in your sightreading and music learning. And it will help your improvisation too!
And you can receive your own copy of a PDF of the exercises I demonstrate here by subscribing to Harpmastery. Just click the link below!
When is music big-R “Romantic” and when is it only little-r “romantic?”
Much harp music sounds “romantic” in the little-r sense of the word: beautiful, lush, expressive. But in musical academia, big-R “Romantic music” is something more. And since we play so much music that is little-r and big-R romantic, the topic seems worthy of a little discussion.
First, it helps to understand the what, when and who of the Romantic era: the composers, time frame and characteristics that represented a new outlook on musical expression. Then we will look at how you can make the most of the Romantic music you play.
The Romantic era in music covers most of the nineteenth century and the early years of the the twentieth, roughly 1815 – 1910. Beethoven is often recognized as the first Romantic composer, but there are dozens more whose names are familiar to you: Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Schubert,...