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The “Why” of Note Reading

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If you are a monster sightreader and have perfect pitch, don’t read this article! Everyone else, read on…

After my last article on becoming a speedier reader, I received some interesting comments and questions, mostly about why and how we should be practicing reading notes. Let me try to address those issues here.

The “why” is all about connections. Here’s a story about connections, a tale of my first piano lessons. I was four years old, but that first book of John Thompson and the stickers my teacher put on each page as I completed it, are embedded in my memory. The book started with middle C and worked outward, adding notes up and down from middle C, one by one. The drills were disguised as little “pieces” with catchy names, and my teacher insisted on correct performance. That meant having the correct finger on the correct key in the best hand position my little hands could manage. And it meant...

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Last Minute Ways to Find More Summer Gigs- Five Things You Can Do Today!

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Summer is here and perhaps your calendar isn’t looking as full as you’d like it to be. There is still time to get more work this summer, if you take action now. Here are five suggestions to get you moving.

1. Try busking, harp-style. As long as there have been musicians, there have been buskers, musicians who play in public spaces for whatever tips people will throw into their cases. And while harpists, especially those of us who play large concert harps, are challenged with logistical issues, busking is still possible, and can be a great way to earn some extra cash and build a following. Train stations, public parks, downtown corners, even parking lots can be great locations to add a touch of music to the environment. Do be aware that some communities have restrictions on busking in public places, so check ahead of time with your municipality to see what the local regulations are.

2. Showcase yourself at bridal shops and...

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Big Picture vs. Little Picture Practice

aural skills practicing Jun 15, 2012

Sometimes we need a vacation to refresh our outlook on our work.  Last summer, I got the same benefit from someone else’s vacation.  That summer I was teaching Sara, an Italian harp student taking lessons from me while she was visiting relatives in Delaware, and she helped me rediscover some important truths about the way we practice.

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At home, Sara is expected to have her music for her weekly lesson memorized.  Yes, each week. Memorized.  And she is only a high school student. (Are you feeling like a lazy American yet?) When I was at Curtis, I knew pianists and violinists who were required to do the same thing, but it was easy to brush that off, telling myself that harpists are different. (Obviously, I’m one of those lazy Americans.)

My revelation came when Sara and I started to work on some new material in her lesson.  I watched her learn, just a measure or two at a time, a passage of a difficult piece of...

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Welcome to harpmastery.com!

Welcome to harpmastery.com, my new blog. This is the place where I hope to inspire your musicianship, strengthen your playing and help you discover new insights about the way you make music and play the harp

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Why am I doing this? Because over my years (okay, decades) of performing and teaching, I find I have a lot of knowledge to share. I used to think I was the only one interested in my ideas about music, music study and playing the harp, but other people seem to find my thoughts helpful, and I’m glad to find this way to pass them along.

Who am I anyway? I’m Anne Sullivan, and I have spent my life learning and loving the harp. I am a harp performer and teacher. Formerly, I taught music theory and ear training at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia for nineteen years. You can find out more on the “About” page.

Lately I have been developing online study courses for harpists to...

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