Leith Glass – Traditional Tunes for Lever Harp

I am very pleased to announce that my book of traditional arrangements for lever harp ‘Leith Glass’ has just been published by MelBay. You can currently purchase an ebook directly from MelBay and hard copies will be available soon! Follow this link to purchase your copy: Leith Glass: Nine Traditional Tunes from Ireland, Scotland and England Arranged for Lever Harp

30745EB
At the end of the eighteenth century, Edward Bunting published a major work of Irish music called A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (1797). He followed this publication with two more collections in 1809 and 1840. Many of the tunes in these books came from the harpers he heard performing at the Belfast Harp Festival in 1792. In the first part of his 1840 collection, Bunting described the “natural key” of the harp used by the Irish harpers as leith glass or leithghlas. The Irish harpers tuned their instrument in this key, which we would recognize as G major because it had an F sharp.
Frances Thiele’s Leith Glass explores the musical possibilities and sounds achievable with a single tuning on the lever harp. The collection includes nine traditional tunes from Ireland, Scotland and England that together give a sense of the many musical colors that can be produced from the leith glass tuning if we think modally like the harpers of old. Suitable for intermediate lever harp players, the arrangements are all playable on a 34-string lever harp with sharping levers on F and C (C# is only required for one of the pieces with accidentals – “My Lagan Love”). The lowest note used is C, two octaves below middle C.

 

 

An Cruitire – The Harper

A couple of years ago I was doing some research at the Loreto College archives in Ballarat when I came across a very interesting book of harp music. Looking a bit like a homemade pamphlet, the tune book was titled An Cruitire (The Harper). All the text for the publication was in Gaelic but the cover, helpfully, had a wonderful drawing of a ‘traditional’ Irish harper on the front. The drawing depicted a male harper sitting on a medieval style stool with a small harp on his lap. The front pillar of the harp was rounded and the small section of the sound box that could be seen was covered in Celtic knotwork. The harper wore a tunic with a belt and had cross bandaged leggings. A circlet encompassed his head and the whole outfit was completed with a long cape that descended from his shoulder to the ground, gathering around his feet. I wondered where this stereotypical image came from, why it was used, who produced the book and what was it doing in the Loreto archive?

I had part of the answer in the reason why I was at the archive in the first place. The Irish Loreto nuns who established the school taught harp to their students in Ballarat. This tune book was most likely a source of repertoire for the students. The Loreto school was founded in the 1870s and instrumental lessons on harp were offered from this time. Initially only pedal harp was taught but later in the century lever harps started to appear in photographs of the music students indicating a shift in the instruments used and the repertoire played.

This change in instrumentation reflected the development of harp playing in Ireland. Traditional playing on wire harp had gradually declined from the eighteenth century onward, despite several attempts to resurrect the tradition with the Belfast Harp Festival and the establishment of the Irish harp societies in Dublin, Belfast and Drogheda. The invention of the single-action pedal harp and then, in the early nineteenth century, the double-action pedal harp and the huge popularity of this instrument meant that hardly anyone played the Irish harp anymore.  For most of this period popular Irish tunes were played on pedal harp encouraging a repertoire of classical theme and variations style interpretations of Irish music produced by harp players like Dussek, Chatterton and Bochsa.

By the 1890s there was a resurgence of interest in Irish traditional culture spurred on by a political movement for Irish independence. The Gaelic League published An Cruitire, a collection of Irish tunes arranged for harp by Owen Lloyd (Eogan Laoide), in 1903. Lloyd was a renowned Irish pedal harp performer but in the late nineteenth century he too had become interested in the resurgence of Irish traditions. He joined the Gaelic League, established in 1893 with the goal to revive Irish culture and language, and began giving concerts on the older style wire harp. Lloyd performed at many events for the League on his wire harp made by Francis Hewson, Dublin, and although the revival of traditional music was not a particular focus of the League’s activities, they nevertheless decided to publish his collection.

An Cruitire small
Front cover of An Cruitire (The Harper) by Eogan Laoide, 1903

The presence of An Cruitire in the archive at Loreto College indicates that the Irish nuns supported the return of interest in Irish culture. The Ballarat school was directed by the headquarters of the order in Rathfarnham where Mother Attracta Coffey (MAC) set the tone and course of harp instruction. MAC was an accomplished harpist and piano player and she produced several books of traditional tunes for Irish harp in addition to an Irish harp tutor book that were the core of harp teaching at many Loreto schools. She also seems to have instigated the purchase of several harps made by James McFall in Dublin for the school in Ballarat, which were used to teach this repertoire. Mary Louise O’Donnell has written a wonderful article about Owen Lloyd and the Gaelic League you can download and read here that gives some more background to Owen Lloyd’s activities with the League and the nationalistic movements of the early twentieth century. So much of the current repertoire we play on harp comes from this period and it is important to understand how the musical tradition of the ancient harpers was reinterpreted at this time to fit preconceived notions of ‘Irishness’. The image on the front cover of An Cruitire is representative of this stereotypical version of the past.

I have arranged one of the pieces from the book that you can download for free using the link below. I want to thank Mary so much for her work on Owen Lloyd. As the book is written in Gaelic, I spent many hours trying to translate the names of the pieces into English so I knew what they were. While some were easy others were a mystery, including the name of this piece. To my delight I found that Mary had given nearly all the names of the pieces in the version of An Cruitire that I found in the Loreto Archives in a footnote to her article. I can now confirm that the piece I have arranged with some small changes of my own is called ‘Carolan’s Planxty’! I hope you enjoy playing this lovely little piece from an historically very interesting collection of Irish harp music.

Carolan’s Planxty

Inspiring Possibilities For Teaching Beginner Harp Groups

Last year I had a rethink about how to teach the harp to beginners in groups. Over all the years I have been teaching (about 20!) the time it takes me to start a student off has reduced significantly. The key to this has been what I focus on with new students and the language I use when teaching them. My approach to music has also changed significantly over this time. My ideas about the role of music in the lives of my students and the things I value in music have either completely changed or developed. All of this has helped to make the creation of a new path for group teaching so much easier.

At the school where I teach the Music Department has shifted in the last couple of years to placing a high value on participation and inclusiveness. While I have always felt that it is possible for harp players to be active participants in just about any genre of music, I was not sure how possible this was for beginners. Given that relatively few musicians that play the harp, there has been a corresponding lack of school music teachers who are comfortable with the instrument. Sometimes this has been difficult and confronting. Many of my private students have been deliberately blocked from inclusion in ensembles in other schools, even when I have offered to support them by arranging music and speaking to their ensemble teachers. My reaction to this has been to encourage my own students to be actively involved in any musical activities they want to at the school where I teach.

We have a strong program of jazz and contemporary music as well as classical music. While my own background is in classical and folk music, having students involved in contemporary ensembles as well as more classical ones has revealed other learning possibilities. Of course, this is probably no surprise for contemporary musicians but I think it may be for the classical ones, especially for harpists. In Australia at least, it is very unusual for a harp player to learn harp through contemporary music only. The examination repertoire and basis of technique is overwhelmingly classical. There are more and more contemporary music harpists emerging on the music scene, but for teachers in schools knowing what to do with a harp player who wants to perform in a rock band is probably a bit of an issue.

Most harps in schools are lever not pedal harps. Even if a school has a pedal harp, the beginner student will not be playing it. For lever harp players the changing of levers for accidentals needs to be thought out and the highly chromatic nature of some contemporary music presents challenges for music teachers who have really no idea about the needs of harp students in this regard. The answer, however, is surprisingly straight forward.

Last year I started teaching small groups of primary age students from years 5 and 6. We started running small instrumental teaching groups as a way of getting students interested in music and allowing them to ‘try out’ instrumental music lessons without it costing too much for their parents. I started two groups of four students. Only a couple of these students had played any other instrument and had some ability to read music, the rest could not read music notation at all. This presented some issues in the group situation. I could teach them how to read music but I only had half an hour with them once a week and the focus of the lessons were on encouraging students to experience playing on their instrument as soon as possible.

In the past I tried to teach instrumental groups but found it difficult because I attempted to teach groups of students much as I would an individual student. In other words, my main focus was still on technique (hand position, placement, notation etc…). Inevitably the progress of the students was so varied that in the half hour lesson format one or two students would take up considerable amounts of my time while others received far less of my attention. I also found that students who progressed quicker had to slow down and sometimes this dampened their enthusiasm. While I have successfully taught groups of older students in much longer sessions of up to eighty minutes, the shorter lesson time and corresponding short attention span of my younger students demanded a new approach.

Coming back to teaching half an hour group lessons last year, I decided to incorporate some new ideas or at least give myself permission to try something different. The first step was to teach with more of an aural emphasis rather than using notation. To go with this, I emphasised rhythm and building rhythmic intuition and feel. I taught the group together, everybody at once and used imitation techniques regularly. I chunked the music that I wanted the students to learn, played it through so they could hear how the section went. I clapped the rhythm and they clapped it back to me. I sang the chunk with the rhythm and asked them to sing it back to me. Then I slowly took the students through the notes with the fingering using visual cues eg. Step motion, jumping up or down a few strings, using the black and red strings for orientation and looking for turnaround patterns.  If they got stuck I sang the notes to them – I did this a lot! I would ask them if the next note was higher or lower, if it was a big jump or a small jump and encouraged them to use trial and error to find the right notes themselves. I also sang the beat numbers and subdivisions with the rhythm and pitch instead of or in lieu of lyrics eg. 1 and a 2 and a 3, 4 etc.. (bit hard to explain this in writing). I encouraged the students to teach other and gave them time to work it out, to experiment, and then we did a lot of ‘I play and you copy’ in chunks until they got it. Did I mention I also tend to dance around in time with the music when I teach and generally try and keep things very upbeat and fun? I have a lap harp for that!

None of this is new for music teachers but I think it would be for most harp teachers. Often my harp students are asked to join in with the school band playing hip-hop, EDM, Soul or another equally groovy genre. Many harp players would baulk at this or say they can’t play that kind of music on the lever harp but I have found a way for my students to participate joyfully. I can usually find a couple of repetitive rifts in the music they can learn and with a bit of trickery around the issue of accidentals they can enjoy being part of large ensemble. The harp is perfect for holding down some of the bass lines. I have tried to encourage a ‘have a go’, ‘let’s see if we can find a way’ attitude that has been very successful. At the end of last year I was so proud to see two of my students playing in different contemporary bands in front of the whole school along with electric guitar players, drum kit players and singers. Without any help from me, they arranged a part for themselves and played along with everyone as if it was completely normal to see lever harp in a rock band. I made sure they were miked up so they could be heard and they just went for it. One of my students had only been learning harp for a year and was happily performing with two rap singers – I loved it!

 

 

 

 

 

When was the lever harp invented?

Recently I was asked to give a date for the invention of the lever harp. This is actually pretty hard to do precisely but I think we can go back as far as the eighteenth-century hook harp to find a forerunner to the type of lever harp we play now.

The hook harp followed on from other experiments in improving the chromatic ability of the harp. Earlier harp makers had built harps with a double or triple row of strings and even cross strung harps to create greater chromatic possibilities for harp players. The main issue with these instruments was that they were complex to play and difficult to tune. They were also expensive to make and maintain even though it was possible to play a full range of natural, sharp and flat notes.

Nevertheless, in the Baroque era the triple harp became quite popular and Handel even wrote his famous Harp Concerto in B flat for this instrument. There were triple harps played at Henry VIIIs court in the sixteenth century and the Welsh have continued a tradition of triple harp playing right up to the present day. Harps with a single row of strings, however, have endured more widely and for many musicians this is their preferred instrument. The persistent problem harp players have had to face though is how to deal with the increasingly chromatic nature of musical taste without having to double or triple the number of string we have!

The hook harp, with a single row of strings and U shaped ‘hooks’ fastened to the neck of the instrument, emerged as an attempt to solve the need to change the pitch of notes while playing. Invented about 1660 by harp makers from the Austrian Tyrol region, the metal levers or ‘hooks’ shortened the length of an adjacent string raising the pitch one semitone just like a modern lever.

132556
Hook Harp made by Martin Eggert, Germany, first half of the nineteenth century. Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments.

The main draw back with the hooks was that they required the player to have a free hand to move them, usually the left. This is no different to lever harps today but the hooks were much more unwieldy. Moving them into place was difficult to achieve quickly and efficiently. They also shifted the alignment of the string considerably making it even more difficult for the harp player to perform with accuracy and good sound production.

Interestingly, the hook harp did not immediately prompt innovation in the hooks themselves as they acted against the string but in a mechanism for moving them. As the hooks had to be operated by hand, the Bavarian harp maker Georg Hochbrucker came up with the idea to attach pedals to move them instead. This early pedal operated hook harp was the precursor of later pedal harps.

From about 1720 when Hochbrucker started making his pedal harps, the main focus of harp makers was on the improvement of the pedal harp, rather than the pursuit of a better lever harp mechanism. It wasn’t until the Irish harp maker John Egan started making his Portable Irish Harps at the beginning of the nineteenth century that lever harps like the ones we play today were made.

With the patronage of the Irish Harp Society and later King George IV, Egan was able to experiment and develop the chromatic mechanisms of both pedal and Irish harps. He offered his customers a range of different types of instruments including a small harp on which he replaced the ‘hooks’ of earlier instruments with ‘blades’. Egan began making these harps during the British Regency period from about 1818 onwards and they were sold to customers throughout Britain, even making their way to Australia. Egan’s harps inspired other harp makers, including the American Melville Clark who made the very popular Clark Irish Harp, and ensured the continued evolution of and enthusiasm for the small folk harp we see today.

egan_illustration
Egan, Charles. A New Series of Instructions Arranged Expressly for the Royal Portable Irish Harp (Dublin: John Egan, 1822)

 

 

A Toye – Giles Farnaby

I always find it interesting that many harpists think they are playing ‘medieval’ and Renaissance music but rarely are.  Most of the lever harp repertoire relies on more modern interpretations of older tunes. Of course there is nothing wrong with this. Music is an evolving culture that reflects broader social contexts and tastes. Some of the best folk music is enjoyable because it takes a new approach to a familiar tune. But then again I am an historian and I can’t help myself. I want to know what Renaissance music actually sounded like – well as much as we can know – not just contemporary interpretations of Renaissance music. I have to go back to look at some of the earliest versions of things I can find – not just to understand and revive interpretations lost – but also to inspire my own composing and arranging with new ideas.

Years ago on one of my regular library visits I ventured into the University of Melbourne Music Library and found the Fuller Maitland and Barclay Squire edition of The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. This two volume work originally published in 1899 includes 297 pieces, mainly English, composed in between 1560 and 1620. The pieces are from a manuscript collection that is now part of the University of Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum in the UK. Scholars believe the pieces were transcribed and compiled somewhere around the period 1610-1625. Most of the works are arranged for the virginals (an early keyboard instrument), although they could be played on other keyboard instruments of the time like the harpsichord or spinet.  Exactly who transcribed the pieces is a matter of academic conjecture but, as the Museum states, ‘This collection of compositions for keyboard instruments is widely regarded as the most important surviving manuscript of 16th and 17th century English music.’

Fitzwilliam Virginal Book

The original manuscript is very hard to understand though because modern notation was still in development. Deciphering the manuscript text is best left to the experts! The Fuller Maitland and Barclay Squire edition, however, makes these works much more accessible. Obviously none of the pieces were written for harp. They are often highly chromatic and need considerable adaption so we can play them on our instrument. Most modern arrangers of this music for harp tend to take a lot of the accidentals out of the pieces so they can be more easily played on levered instruments but I think this takes away too much of their Renaissance style and character. Instead I have arranged several pieces from the collection for lever harp and tried to keep their distinctive sixteenth century quality. OK, so yes, I am giving another modern interpretation of an older tune but hopefully, by going back to some of the earliest versions of the pieces, I haven’t lost too much of their original sound in doing so.

Today I would like to share with you one of these pieces – Giles Farnaby’s ‘A Toye’. This piece includes quite a lot of lever changes so it is really for the intermediate lever harp player. Farnaby (c.1560-1640) was a well-known English composer of the early modern period and a contemporary of other composers like Orlando Gibbons, William Byrd and John Bull. In this version of ‘A Toye’ I have notated the music without ornamentation. In the sixteenth century it was common for instrumentalists to add their own ornaments, particularly in repeated sections. Fuller Maitland and Barclay Squire include the markings for this ornamentation in their edition, although the exact ornament required at these points is open to much academic discussion. I will leave it to you to do your own research and add them in if you wish or just to play the piece as is, which is quite beautiful in its own right. Just click on the following link for the pdf. Feel free to play and share my arrangement with others. All I ask for is acknowledgement.

A Toye – Full Score

Crystal Harps and the Power of Steam

Recently I visited harp maker Bob Ballinger outside Melbourne. Bob invited me to see his new lathe on which he was making the front pillars of a batch of his latest lever harps. Little did I know that I was in for a real treat! After a life time of work as an industrial steam engine and steam turbine driver, Bob has the amazing ability to make almost anything from wood or metal. He also has a fascination with industrial history and the ‘old’ trade skills and crafts. When I visited Bob’s workshop I was delighted to find that the new lathe was being powered by a huge old steam engine fueled by a wood furnace. The steam plant runs belts that turn the lathe but not just any old lathe. No ….. Bob’s ‘new’ lathe in fact dates from the second half of the nineteenth century and was originally displayed in one of the Crystal Palace Exhibits in England after the Palace was moved to Sydenham Hill in 1852. Initially built for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London, the Crystal Palace building was dismantled and reassembled in Sydenham Hill so that exhibits could continue to be accessed up until the early twentieth century. Bob’s lathe is an example of the latest metal turning technology of its time built by Henry Milnes of Bradford and a prototype of a type of lathe that the Milnes company later put into production.

Bob’s harps have a rich resonant sound and he puts an enormous amount of care and thought into their production. Bob not only restored the lathe so he could use it to make harps but he also restored the steam plant that powers it, which he named The Infant Hercules. Both are a testament to his incredible engineering skills. How his Crystal Palace lathe came to Australia is a story that I am sure Bob will happily tell you and a lot more history besides. How many harps are made in the world with steam technology – well I think that would be almost none!! Here are some photos of Bob turning the front pillar of a harp, his steam plant and the Crystal Palace lathe:

The Chanter’s Tune

Sometimes a tune comes down through the folk harp repertoire in a simplified form. This is not to say that the tune doesn’t sound great but it does mean that an older form of the tune has sometimes been ‘lost’. Well when I say ‘sometimes’, I actually mean ‘often’ – as my research is steadily revealing! I really enjoy tracking harp tunes back to the earliest source I can find. As a music historian, I find it is the cultural context of the tunes that is just as interesting and revealing to me as playing the piece itself. The historical context also helps me to find my own interpretation of the pieces I play, which in turn informs my arrangements. In this blog I would like to share with you an arrangement I have done of The Chanter’s Tune.

I tracked this tune back to the third volume of Edward Bunting’s publication The Ancient Music of Ireland, arranged for pianoforte published in Dublin in 1840. Bunting claimed he collected the tune from E. Shannon in 1839 but the author and date of composition was unknown. This was one of the first tunes I learnt on folk harp and in Australia at least it is very popular. Today we usually play it in D Dorian mode, so the harp is in the key of C major but the tonic is D (the second scale degree). The tune is good for beginners because a D drone – either as a single note or a fifth – can be played in the bass through the whole piece underneath the melody. This gives the tune a strong regular beat in the bass on the first beat of the bar. As the piece is most often notated in simple quadruple time or 4/4, it often feels a bit like a march. Even when the piece is notated in cut common time, the repeated note on beats one and two at the beginning of the piece set a strong sense of two with the first half of each bar emphasized more than the second. The overall effect is one of weight and a regular rhythmic duple structure.

Returning to the version published by Bunting, however, there is a feeling of lightness with the staccato articulation and a feeling of three in the timing. The emphasis in the rhythmic structure is different and quite delightful. To me it echoes the preference in the early nineteenth century for the Classical music style and the continued influence of elements from the Baroque that was also seen in publications of folk music. Bunting notated his Chanter’s Tune in 2/4 time, which has the effect of halving the main note values to quavers instead of crotchets. This shortening of the note lengths keeps everything lighter and implies a faster tempo than the piece is often played when it is in simple quadruple time. A careful review of Bunting’s version also reveals that the first three notes in the bar are given a staccato articulation which keeps the first part of the bar, or one and a half beats, light and consistent in timbre. The second half of the bar (only a half beat) has a normal articulation making it feel smoother and warmer. This also gives weight to the last quaver in the bar making it feel like an upbeat into the next bar. This completely inverts the way The Chanter’s Tune is played today. Bunting notes that it should be played “A Little Slow and Distinctly” but gives a quaver equals 116 tempo marking, which is still quite fast normally but metronome markings could be variable in 1840!

The Chanter's Tune

Finally I want to make one more observation. While normally we would play the tune in Dorian mode, the Bunting version has more of a Mixolydian sensibility. The key signature has a B flat and the tonic is F but there is an E flat accidental in the melody line. Bunting didn’t like modes much and tried to put the tunes he collection into a major or minor key. I think it is more appropriate, however, that we think of Bunting’s version as being in F Mixolydian (F being the fifth scale degree of the foundation major key of B flat). Musicians think about Dorian mode as a minor mode because of its close association with a natural minor scale and Mixolydian as a major mode because of its close association with the major scale. As a result Bunting’s version is slightly more upbeat but it loses some of the ‘ancient’ feel of the Dorian mode. Well I think that is enough from me. I haven’t altered the tune very much from Bunting to keep it as true to his version as possible but I have made it a bit more playable and accessible for the upper beginner level harpist of today. Just click on the following link for the pdf. Feel free to play and share my arrangement with others. All I ask for is acknowledgement. See if you can hear the difference and let me know what you think!

The Chanter’s Tune simplified – Full Score

 

 

Demystifying Amplification for the Harp

Wondering how to amplify your harp for gigs? Well over the years I have pondered this question at length but recently I think I have found a way that sounds pretty good and is relatively easy to set-up. Originally I tried the oyster mic option with a quarter inch lead straight into an amp. A lot of people are happy with this option and although it is simple, I just didn’t think it sounded all that great. I also didn’t like the way I had to adhere the mic to the harp soundboard using a bit of putty like blue tack. The putty left a residue behind on my soundboard that was difficult to remove and after a while it started to lose its stickiness so the mic dropped on the floor regularly. (I ran out of putty so was starting to think I had to use blue tack on my harp!) A couple of years ago I bought the lever harp of my dreams and I wanted to find a mic option that didn’t damage the harp in any way. My harp is also very resonant and can easily sound muddy in the bass so I wanted an amplification system that gave me a nice clear, undistorted sound. After reading a lot of reviews and researching the alternatives I decided to buy a specialised harp microphone. I couldn’t try one out because being in Australia no one stocked harp microphones and I didn’t know anyone who already had one so I took a deep breath, hoped for the best and bought an AMT P43s (Applied Microphone Technology) online from the USA. It wasn’t the cheapest microphone to buy but I decided that as I was a professional musician I needed to spend a bit of money to get something I was happy with. They usually retail somewhere around $400 USD but I have seen them as low as $343 USD online if you shop around. AMT make microphones for many different acoustic instruments so I thought they would have a fair idea of what they were doing. I also knew from my studio recording experiences the importance of having a really top quality microphone.

In terms of your set up and actually using the mic you need to understand that it is a condenser microphone, which is very sensitive, but doesn’t have its own power source. Instead it needs ‘phantom power’. In other words, the mic needs to draw power from somewhere else. If you take the mic home, attach it to your harp and then plug it directly into your amp it won’t work! Unless, of course, your amp has a phantom power supply (which some do but most don’t). When I bought the mic I was thinking mainly of using it in festival performances and other situations where I could plug straight into a mixing desk with phantom power. Once I started using the mic though I discovered that I really liked the sound it produced and wanted to use the mic more. So I bought myself a small phantom power box that has XLR input and output sockets as well as a USB connection. With this little box I can plug my mic into the input socket and then connect to an amp using the output socket. Now I can use the AMT mic with my own portable amp for small gigs or plug directly into a mixing desk at larger ones. The USB connector also has the added bonus of allowing me to record using the mic by connecting straight from the phantom power box to my computer. The whole system works beautifully and is easy to set up and carry. Now I am thinking about trying a small mixing board instead of the phantom power box to give me more mixing capability than my amp allows when I work with a vocalist or another instrument. I am very happy with the AMT mic though, the sound is terrific and the clamp attachment means I don’t have to damage or alter my harp in any way to use it. I can also easily use the mic with any of my other harps if I want to.

To have a look at the mic go to:

http://www.appliedmicrophone.com/portfolio/amt-p43s/

On Teaching Harp in a School Environment

Recently I was asked to write an short article about teaching the harp in a school. An instrumental teacher working in a school environment has many more challenges and needs a greater range of skills than a private instrumental teacher but the experience can be wonderful. Having a talented group of instrumental teachers on staff is a huge asset for any school and having a harp teacher available to students increases the accessibility of the instrument enormously. Read more about what this is like from my perspective at http://eepurl.com/bUbKqb.

BRC101018-091-small

Green Wood: Solos for Lever Harp

Well I have finally finished my first book of original pieces for lever harp! Yay! The collection is called ‘Green Wood’ and is suitable for early to advanced beginners, although the last piece in the collection is really getting up to intermediate level. I have recorded myself playing the pieces in the book and put the audio up on Soundcloud so you can hear the pieces and decide if you want to learn them. You can also hear how I play them if you aren’t sure about something in the notation. If you search under my name in Soundcloud or under ‘Frangipani Harp’ you will find the pieces. The whole collection is available as a pdf download or I can send you a hard copy. Please contact me for details. I have also put information about the book on this site under ‘Compositions’ and watch out for my next collection coming soon for intermediate level players called ‘Sentience’.

Green Wood Cover Final