Fran’s Music is from the heart. Each composition and arrangement is written for a person, or to comfort, or for that special feeling necessary for the moment.
I asked Fran (Eleanor) McGaughey to tell us a little about herself and how she comes to write her music. We think you’ll find her story delightful. And from the heart.
“I came to composing and arranging harp music from several directions.
In 1935, I was born into a home with a mother who played classical music and in the little West Texas churches where my father was the “preacher.” We were poor as church mice. Perhaps we were church mice. Continue reading →
Playing with others, especially at a fast tempo, can be daunting for any musician. Some of the reasons for this feeling of helplessness can be attributed to:
you usually play alone – you don’t know the melody well – you might not know the chords – you might not have chord knowledge – you try to play too much – you try to play “it all” – you don’t know where the chords change, etc. Continue reading →
Of all the finger dexterity exercises I have done over the past forty plus years of playing the harp, the exercise on this you tube video (provided) has helped me the most. It requires a great deal of coordination, and you may find yourself sticking your tongue out and making funny faces in an effort to make your fingers stay or play. These exercises also work the brain. You are attempting to command one or more fingers to “stay” on a string while playing the others, and that finger just doesn’t want to. So after you master this ability to isolate each finger, you have developed strength, dexterity, and coordination and you have linked your fingers to your brain in a way for which most other professions would not have a use. This helps you to achieve different timbers when playing – your softs are softer, your louds are rounder, you have more control of how your instrument speaks. It also helps with your sight reading, because the object of that is just getting from the beginning to the end and not stopping. With increased dexterity, you can concentrate more on what you’re reading. It’s almost like a pianist who knows scales backwards and forwards – once you identify the key, your hands just let go and know what to do. Try this exercise with one hand, then the other, and then both. Happy Harping!
The Harp in Blues History from Learn How to Play Blues on your Harp by I. Mac Perry
As the hot Dixieland combos of the Roaring Twenties began to peak out (they had replaced the 30-year reign of Ragtime), they were taken over by Big Band Swing, an era that lasted from about 1930 to 1945 when Bebop became popular. The Swing Era introduced written charts (music) and the need for a broader fuller sound that included the orchestra harp. At this stage, the harp was used only as a secondary instrument and was heard mostly playing flurries of glissandos and arpeggios. Continue reading →
Gustav Holst, (1874-1934) born in Cheltenham, England, is probably best known for his Planets Suite.As a child, he loved the piano and practiced it for hours, but did not like the violin, the instrument his father chose for him. He had neuritis in his hands, which made practicing a pain (literally.)
His first job was in 1893 as organist in a small village. An aspiring composer, this experience helped him understand the inner workings of vocal music.
Gustav’s grandfather (Gustavus) was a harpist! His father (Adolph) was an organist and choir director. His mother, Clara, was a singer. She died when Gustav was only 8. His stepmother, Mary Thorley Stone, was a pianist. Continue reading →
You might enjoy the award-winning short film, “The Harpist”. It features music by Meg Robinson, one of the artists in our publishing company. I am playing one of Meg’s songs and have credit at the end. Fame at last!
Here’s the link:https://vimeo.com/162869234Best Wishes for an excellent summer!Mary R