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Practicing Harp Happiness

#048: Three Questions Your Teacher Wishes You Would Ask

music and meaning Apr 18, 2022

A harp lesson is hard work, for both the student and the teacher. It’s a time to acknowledge progress and challenges, to take what’s going well to the next level and to find ways to make the rough patches smoother. It’s not a performance where your teacher will judge you on how well you play that day. And it’s not a cozy get together for tea and encouragement, although those could be part of a lesson too. A lesson is for learning.

As a student I always knew I had a good lesson when I left the lesson feeling a little mentally fatigued but energized, even excited, about the work we had done in the lesson and the progress I was ready to make in the coming week. It was similar to the feeling you might have after a massage; your body is tired and sore, but relaxed and happy at the same time.

As a teacher, my favorite lessons are the ones where we work the hardest. We may be working on one measure or one passage. We might be bringing more expression to a piece or...

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#046: Taking A Second Look at Salzedo’s Music

music and meaning Apr 04, 2022

What famous harpist has his 137th birthday this week? Carlos Salzedo, that’s who.

This harpist and musical innovator was born in Arcachon, France on April 6, 1885, and on today’s show I would like to introduce you to a side of his music you may not have encountered, including some music not only playable but even suitable for lever harp.

Before we get started, you will need to know a little of my own background. I was brought up in the Salzedo tradition. My teacher studied with Salzedo. I went to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; Salzedo had founded the harp department there, and I had my lessons in the Salzedo Room. And so Salzedo’s tonal language became part of my musical education from the very first. I learned Tango - my first harp recital piece - and Night Breeze, which I will play for you later today. I learned the Preludes Intimes and Song in the Night (Chanson dans la nuit). Then I went on to learn the Five Preludes and the Modern Study Etudes...

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#043: Three Irish Composers You Should Know (But Probably Don’t)

music and meaning Mar 14, 2022

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, a day which is important to many of us, not just because we’re Irish (my last name is Sullivan, after all)  or maybe just Irish for a day. As harpists many of us raise a glass on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the amazing legacy of the Irish harpers and to the modern day harpers who continue this rich tradition.

On today’s show we will pay tribute to another facet of Irish music with a tradition just as rich and as beautiful. I will share music by three influential Irish composers, not composers of traditional music but composers more linked to classical music: one who found his fame and fortune in the court of Queen Elizabeth the I of England, one who invented a musical form that became a staple of classical music composers, and one who is considered responsible for the resurgence in the 1960’s of the popularity of Irish traditional music. Three very different composers, all linked by a common heritage, a heritage I am proud to share. 

Links...

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#035: The Genetics of Musical Genre: Do You Have to Choose?

music and meaning Jan 17, 2022

If all music uses the same basic elements, why do musical styles sound so different? And why do some connect with us so powerfully and others leave us cold?

Some harpists love to experiment with diverse musical styles.Others prefer to stick with what they love. Today’s episode explores elements of musical style. Discover why your favorite music touches you, and learn how to connect with styles new to you. Musical adventures await!

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected]

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#032: My 2022 Harp Happiness List

music and meaning Dec 27, 2021

I’m going to get a little personal about harp happiness and it will probably surprise you.

On this last podcast of 2021 I share my favorite harp moments of the past year and my harp goals for 2022. They aren’t the type of goals you probably imagine. Yes, there are some achievement type goals but there are more esoteric ones too. I hope they may inspire you to decide on some 2022 harp happiness goals for yourself. Here’s to a Happy New Year for all!

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected]

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#030: Conquering Cantique de Noel: An Arpeggio Study

music and meaning Dec 13, 2021

If we harpists had to choose one technical skill to have sharp for the holidays, it would have to be smooth, even arpeggios.

Learn four different arpeggio styles and the best practice tips for each, revealed through four different harp arrangements of the beloved Christmas favorite, “O Holy Night.”  Whether the arpeggios go up, down or all around in your own favorite arrangement, you’ll discover the strategies you need to make them sparkle.

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected]

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#029: The Adult Harpist: 3 Reasons Starting Late Can Be An Advantage

music and meaning Dec 06, 2021

“If only I’d started years ago,” is a common refrain of many adult harp students. But adult students, even beginners, have significant advantages over younger ones.

Slower fingers and mental processes are part of aging but that doesn't mean that music and harp learning needs to be slower too. On this show, Anne reviews the “just for grown-ups” learning techniques which help her adult students experience faster and more rewarding progress.

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected]

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#025: Schubert, Bach or Gounod? Who Wrote Your Ave Maria?

music and meaning Nov 08, 2021

“Which Ave Maria?” I asked the bride. I could see the panic in her eyes. “You mean there’s more than one?”

Whether it’s for a wedding, a funeral or Christmas Eve, all of the Ave Maria settings are beloved favorites. On today’s show we’ll discuss the two most requested ones: their histories, similarities, differences, plus practice ideas and performance tips including my secrets for making those awkward rhythms smooth.

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode: 

Get involved in the show! Send your questions for future podcast episodes to me at [email protected]

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#011: Clair de lune [A Harpist's Guide]

music and meaning Aug 02, 2021

Some composers change music forever, Claude Debussy was one of those. 

Debussy is generally credited with the rise of the Impressionist movement in music. The Impressionists focused on the mood and atmosphere of music, conveying it through tone color and flow, rather than sharp musical detail. 

The paradox of this music is that, although it often seems outside of time even without a tempo or pulse, the very formlessness of it is written into the music. Following Debussy’s printed directions is often the easiest way to get the expression you want. You can and should approach this music in the same way you would begin a Bach or Mozart piece - but you need a little more information first.

On today’s show we will explore three features of Debussy’s Clair de lune. You will discover:

  • How Debussy uses them to create the moonlight mood of the piece. 
  • How they reveal Debussy’s intention for the piece.
  • The best practice techniques to employ so that you...
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#007: Music of Revolution [The Liberty Song]

music and meaning Jul 05, 2021

Music has the power to inspire, to encourage and to unite. No song reveals this more clearly than the one written by a Philadelphia lawyer in 1768.

“United we stand,” are words familiar to every American, but few of us know that they first appeared as lyrics of what was perhaps the first song of resistance in the colonists’ uprising against British taxation. 

This podcast episode is dedicated to the story behind this song of the American Revolution, once iconic and now much less familiar than its jeering British contemporary tune, “Yankee Doodle.”  With words by John Dickinson to a tune borrowed from an English opera, this song became a key player (pun intended) in the American quest for liberty.

No, it wasn’t a harp tune, but I will play it for you anyway and you can download my harp arrangement of it too!

Links to things I think you might be interested in that were mentioned in the podcast episode:  

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