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					IHMP – Post-Class Skype Conference Call
September 11/12, 2009
(4:30 pm to 6:00 pm PDT)

Participating:
Ainslie Allison, Stella Benson, Wanda Chenoweth, Alice Freeman, Joanne Griffin, Beth Hunter,
Aprille Isham, Carl Johnson, Mona Johnson and Deb Kuykendall.

Introductions
   • Ainslie Allison is from Perth, Australia, plays a Fred (Australian-made) harp and works
      as a nurse.
   • Aprille Isham is from Manhattan Beach, California, is currently playing a Dusty Strings
      harp and is expecting a new carbon-fiber harp in early December. She plays monthly at a
      local care center.
   • Beth Hunter is from western North Carolina, plays a Heartland Harp and a Dusty Strings
      Allegro and plays healing music at a Hospice in Franklin Highlands and at an assisted
      living center.
   • Deb Kuykendall is from San Antonio, Texas and plays a Triplett Signature. Her double-
      strung Delight is supposed to be delivered next week. She plays at an assisted living
      center.
   • Stella Benson was excited about opening for Tina Tourin at a concert on October 10th.
      She will be playing her 33 string double-strung harp and is enjoying the challenges of
      relearning the best places to play chords. She’s working on revisions to one book and
      finishing another one.
   • Joanne Griffin is from Ottawa, Canada and is playing in a long term care center for
      veterans, oncology and hospice. She plays a 33 string harp which has been mounted on
      wheels by a local builder and also a double-strung. She is especially busy with
      preparations for the Northern Lights Harp Fest on October 2-4.
   • Mona and Carl Johnson are from Evanston, Illinois. Mona plays a Thormahlen Swan,
      but is not doing much healing harp right now. She performed at the Milwaukee Irish Fest
      in August and is ready for the Chicago Celtic Festival tomorrow. Carl has 15 harps,
      including ones made by Lyon and Healy, Thormahlen, and Stoney End. He has been a
      free-lance musician and harp teacher for fifteen years. He’s on the Board of Directors for
      the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen and invites everyone to the Harp
      Conference in St Louis, August 11-15, 2010.
   • Wanda Chenoweth is from East Lansing, Michigan and has been playing her
      Thormahlen Serenade in retirement homes.

The topic for this month was “Singing and Harping: How to Do Them Well at the Same Time”
and “ General Tips for Performances including How to Fake, Tuning, and What to Do When
You Break a String.”

Improvisation
   • It is very important to keep the tempo.
   • How to develop improvs:
          o First play the melody
          o Hum along with the melody
          o Then add words while playing the melody

September 11/12, 2009                                                          Page 1
             o Finally, add a harmony part on the harp in the left hand.

Keys: How do you know what key to play in while making something up?
   • Each key has a certain sound
   • When you want to hear a specific color, experiment with different keys
   • G major is a very common key to use

Singing: How do you think about vocal technique along with everything else?
   • Practice singing WITHOUT the harp first
   • Concentrate on breathing and just singing first
   • Then, add the accompaniment
   • It is important to sing the piece and play the left hand to get the rhythm right
   • Add the right hand last
   • Break the music up into sections, but concentrate on singing it alone first

Who sings with their harp already?
  • Not Stella, Alice very rarely
  • Deb doesn’t sing as a public service
  • Joanne will sing if pressed but only on a patient’s request
  • Wanda finds it helps in retirement homes if she sings along on the “oldies”
  • Aprille sings on occasion with her harp

Playing music with words
   • Try to sing along in your head while you are playing
   • Singing along helps with rhythm and makes the harp sound better
   • Think about playing the harp like you would sing a song
   • Awareness of the words, where you breathe and expression helps a lot

Recommended Books or Music?
   • Celtic music
   • Find a song you LOVE to sing (away from the harp) and start with that
   • Start with music that is very thin in texture so you can concentrate on singing the melody
   • Improvise in Ionian mode (C or G major) and tell a story with your words, putting the
     words with the music but not singing them
   • Talk in a natural way and match your speaking voice to your instrument

Faking in Performance
   • If you truly know what you are doing on an instrument, it makes everything easier when
      things go wrong (lose your place in the music, someone starts talking loudly, etc.)
   • Improvise until you get things back under control
   • Really helps to know your music, especially chord progressions (I, IV, V, I) so you can
      improvise in that pattern until you get back to your music

Tuning
   • Practice talking while tuning
   • You really should be able to tune by ear without having to dig out your electronic tuner
   • A good protocol is to tune a little and start playing

September 11/12, 2009                                                            Page 2
    •    If it still seems “off” then check your tuning again
    •    The old Irish harpers would always start with an improvisation moving up and down all
         the strings of their harps for checking tuning
    •    Tuning by ear is usually much more efficient than tuning with a machine

Carl and Mona demonstrated keeping the audience’s interest in a tune by alternating the male
and female singing parts with the ballad “Daily Growing” or “The Trees They Grow High.”
   • Singing is effective when you work with strong images

Dealing with a Broken String
   • Carl’s worst problem was in an orchestra when he had to continue counting rests while
      changing the string and tuning
   • Success is all about preparation
   • Have your strings organized and easily accessible (Alice keeps her string envelopes in a
      CD case – one string per sleeve)
   • Keep a set of old strings (that have been taking off the harp previously) for concert
      replacements since they are already stretched out for the most part
   • On stage, decide if you absolutely must replace the string or if you can continue without
      it
   • Talk about what you are doing if you decide to replace it
   • If you’re comfortable doing so, tell jokes. A few harp jokes can be found at
      http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/jokes/#harp
   • Be sure to stretch the string a lot when you replace it so it will settle in faster
   • Since knot slippage is an important factor, double what you usually tie for a knot
   • Gut strings are more difficult than nylon to tie knots without soaking the string briefly in
      boiling water – you may have to use a pliers to bend the string
   • Tune nylon strings up a whole step higher at first
   • Play out-of-tune notes very lightly
   • Keep your tuning key attached to your harp

Carl and Mona demonstrated “The Singing Bird”
   • This song has a very bright tone because it is in A major
   • Most harps sound brighter in sharp keys than they do in lots of flats (which is more
       mellow)

Carl’s Instructions for Tying a Harp String Knot
   • Take a piece of string
   • Bend the first inch and press the bend with a pliers so it is sharp (this will be the basis for
       your knot)
   • Put the sharp angle up and that will be your first loop
   • Now take a longer piece of string and make a second loop, put it over the first one and
       pull it tight
   • To prevent the knot from being pulled through the hole in the soundboard, take a 1-inch
       piece of a much thicker string and put it through exactly where that first inch is (right
       next to it) and pull it tight
   • Now turn the knot upside down and you will have two loose pieces of string sticking up
   • Make another loop and put it over those loose pieces of string and pull it tight

September 11/12, 2009                                                              Page 3
    •    This second loop helps keep the string stopper in place while you pull the string up into
         your harp (with only one loop that string piece tends to fall out of the knot)

Comments on what to charge for healing musician services

    •    A good ball-park figure for calculating a rate for your services is basing it on what people
         are getting for 1-hour harp lessons in your area.

Closing
       •     The next Skype chat will be on October 9/10 and we will be discussing what is
             important to include in presentations about healing music.
         •   Then there will be a book discussion (November 13/14) on The Mythic Harp by
             Sarajane Williams.
         •   The December Skype chat will discuss “Healing Music in the Holidays – or Should
             You Play Christmas Carols?”

Future Book Discussion List
   • This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel Levitin (a
      study about what happens in the brain when we listen to music)
   • The World in Six Songs by Daniel Levitin (how six specific forms of music played a
      pivotal role in creating human culture and society as we know it)
   • Body, Mind and Music: A Practical Guide to Musical Wholeness by Laurie Riley (a
      discussion of our cultural relationship with music, how the brain learns it, how we
      practice it, how we perform it, how we listen to it, how we teach it, and finally, how it is
      used in purposely therapeutic ways)
   • Making Music For The Joy Of It! by Stephanie Judy (a discussion of every aspect of
      making music, from the point of view of both student and teacher, especially the topic of
      performance anxiety)
   • Music and Soul Making: Music Therapy and Complexity Science by Barbara J. Crowe
      (explains why music therapy is effective)
   • No Time To Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chodran
      (comments on an eighth-century text by the Indian Buddhist sage Shantideva as a
      guidebook for developing bodhichitta, an awakened mind that expresses itself in
      compassionate action to alleviate suffering)

Web Site http://windandroses.com/ihmpmusic.htm

If I have misinterpreted anyone’s remarks, please let me know.

Respectfully submitted, Alice Freeman




September 11/12, 2009                                                               Page 4

				
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