Yankee Dixie Johnnie arr. Rees-Rohrbacher

July 3, 2016

Of course I’m a little late in mentioning this excellent duet arrangement of three songs closely associated with American History:  Yankee Doodle, Dixie, and When Johnny Comes Marching Home.

Darhon Rees-Rohrbacher, a gifted arranger of harp duet music, wrote harp duo parts for these three songs a few years back.  The book was recently made available as a PDF download. Continue reading

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The Heartfelt Music of Fran McGaughey


Frn with harp on beachFran’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

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Simple accompaniments for quick tunes

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

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Harp Exercise to strengthen finger independence

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!

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The Harp in Blues History & What makes Blues sound like the Blues

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

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Gustav Holst and the Jupiter Theme

Gustav Holst

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

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Award-Winning Film “The Harpist”

Dear Harpists,
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

PS – Meg’s website is www.megrobinsonmusic.com/

Oh – and one more thing. You can read an interview with Meg on my good friend Sylvia Woods’ Continue reading

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Rocky Mountain Springs Harp Program

JULY 3-24, 2016

Link: http://www.rmsharp.org/

Three Weeks of Intensive Harp Study
​and Personal Development


Continue reading

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Houston Summer Harp Festival

Here’s a link to the Houston Summer Harp Festival

This year’s theme:

“Dancing with My Harp”
Sponsored by Houston Baptist University’s School of Music
7502 Fondren Road in Houston, TX 77074-3298

July 11 –  July 16, 2016
Registration Deadline: June 13, 2016
Scholarship Deadline: June 1, 2016
Applicants will be accepted after June 13 if openings are available.

Ensemble Lists: (most music available at Melody’s) Continue reading

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Gulf Coast Harpers Recital Announced

Save the date!!!

The Gulf Coast Harpers Association will host a recital on Sunday, June 12 at 4 pm at the Houston Heights Woman’s Club, 1846 Harvard St., Houston, TX 77008.

This recital will be open to anyone who would like to play: students of all ages, professionals, ensembles, harp with other instruments, any kind of harp!!

Please plan to participate, and encourage your students to play as well.

We will have printed programs, so please let me know what you’ll be playing by June 1.

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