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A Harpist’s Summer Reading List

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Summer reading is a great opportunity to explore new things – new ideas, harpists, people and places, different ways to think about the topics that interest you most. With your mind at its most relaxed, new discoveries can quickly take hold, leading you to new creativity and inspiration.

“You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things, the books you read and the people you meet.” – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

Below I list five books that I think are great summer reading. Some of them you may know well, but are definitely worth re-reading. Others may intrigue you. I certainly hope there is at least one that piques your interest. All of these books are available on Amazon, or wherever you choose to shop. Happy reading!

1. A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond. This novel will appeal to younger readers, around age 11 and up, although I first enjoyed it as an adult. This is a story of American children living in Wales who, through a magical harp tuning key, explore the sixth century world of the famous bard, Taliesin. Mystery, ancient legends and the Welsh countryside create an unforgettable atmosphere in this 1997 Newberry Honor Book. Read this enthusiastic review.

2. The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey. When Timothy Gallwey wrote his landmark book, The Inner Game of Tennis, people in every sort of endeavor realized his insights were applicable across a wide range of activities. He offered a program tennis players could put into action to help them overcome self-doubt, fear and the kind of negative thinking that can sabotage a player’s best efforts. Barry Green, former principal bassist of the Cincinnati Symphony, applied those same insights to musicians, and this book is now required reading for any aspiring performer.

My favorite endorsement for this book comes from Simon Horsey who writes, “I had one student who wasn’t really a reader and struck a deal with him that reading a chapter of this book would count for a practice session a week. After 2 weeks he brought the book back having read it from cover to cover. Needless to say that his playing had improved immensely.”

3. Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques by Michael Michalko.Even the website for this book is entertaining. I spent a half hour on the website, clicking through the exercises and thought experiments, trying to think like a genius. I was not especially successful, but it was challenging fun.  The book is exactly what it says, a handbook of techniques and tools to help you learn how to use creative thinking to resolve problems, discover opportunities or negotiate tricky situations. Michael Michalko’s website.

4. Félicité de Genlis:Motherhood in the Margins by Bonnie Arden Robb. Bonnie Robb is an Associate Professor of Foreign Language and Literatures at the University of Delaware.Disclosure notice: I also teach at the University of Delaware. What’s more, I had the privilege to work with Bonnie in a very small harp-related way when she was working on the book. Readers of biography and those who are familiar with Madame de Genlis will appreciate this unique perspective on the life and career of this controversial woman. While the focus of the book is on the maternal aspects of her life, harpists will be fascinated by her practice habits, her teaching methods and her career counseling. If you ever wished you could play with your little finger, you may envy Madame de Genlis her technique!

5. Harpo Speaks! by Harpo Marx with Rowland Barber. If you haven’t read it yet, you must. Enough said.

What are you reading this summer?

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