Sylvia Woods Harp Center 
October 2015 Newsletter
SylviaA Personal Note from Sylvia

First of all, I would like to apologize to any of you who had problems with my web site last week. On Thursday there was a breakdown at UltraDNS, a web content delivery service
that is somehow connected to my site.  I don't think my site totally crashed, but customers would get all the way to the check out page, and then everything in their cart would disappear!   How frustrating! I've been told that Netflix and Expedia web sties were totally down for several hours, so we were not alone!

Unfortunately, on Friday I discovered that a residual effect of the breakdown was that the tables that calculate the amount of shipping that customers were charged completely disappeared.  So random amounts were showing up.  I have checked all the orders that have come through, and no one was overcharged.  A few of you got a bargain on your shipping, so that is good!  As of now, I think (I hope) it is all fixed, except for Canada.  I have my IT guys working on that one.

So please accept my apologies if you've been frustrated with my web site recently.  Please give me another chance to earn back your trust!

Now, on to fun things!  Over 50 harpists entered our "Tips for Playing Outdoors" Contest. Some sent one idea, and others sent dozens. Thanks for all the entries! Congratulations to Sharon Brennan from Vero Beach, Florida, the winner of our $25 e-Gift Certificate!  I also decided to give out Honorable Mention $5 e-Gift Certificates to 6 other entries.  See the next three articles below for lots of wonderful suggestions for playing outside!

Sylvia Woods

P.S. This month's newsletter is chock full of so many cool things, it is VERY long.  When you open it, the bottom portion may be hidden. If you don't see the wonderful article by Megan Metheney, you don't have the whole newsletter! Be sure to click the link at the bottom of your page that says something like "download entire message" or "Message clipped: view entire message" to get it all.
ContestWinnerSharon Brennan's Winning Entry
Sharon Brennan
Sharon Brennan of Vero Beach, Florida is the winner of our Playing Outdoors Contest.  She has won a $25 e-Gift Certificate. Here's her submission.

Because I'm in a semitropical climate here,  I thought I'd contribute some of my tips for outdoor gigs. In addition to the heat and humidity challenge, I've been a full-time wheelchair user since around 1996, due to a spinal cord injury, so I've had to streamline and refine my outdoor strategy and equipment. A good friend, singer/harpist Skye Hurlburt, who has played over 5,000 senior living gigs with her harp-on-a-cart has provided much useful guidance, too.

1. Harp choice.  My first tip is to use the smallest harp that will work for the gig and use a very small, lightweight battery powered amp. Like Skye, I use the Roland Mobile Cube. 

2. Transporting stuff to the site. I use a small, folding aluminum cart with caster wheels to move my stuff to the site and hold my extra stuff. 

3. Music stand & music. If it's windy, I'll take a heavier music stand than usual which has base legs that will  extend flat out on the ground and I put my left foot on the nearest base leg.  I have most of my music on an iPad and also carry a small binder with plastic sheet protector pages of essential music. I take strips of velcro that I can use to lash the  binder to the stand and elastic bands on the sides of binder to tuck the outer edges of sheets into. All of the sheet music is of one or two-page arrangements with no page turns needed during playing. 
4. Dealing with heat. I wear a cooling neck wrap with a frozen insert, it works beautifully to keep me comfortable. There are many colors available and you can coordinate it with your gig clothing. If it is superwarm, you can get a freezable insert to put inside a hat, keep your head cool, too. I take a soft insulated lunch bag with a blue ice pack to carry extra frozen inserts plus a bottle of water in the cart.  
5. Umbrellas & Shade.  I have an adjustable umbrella arm that attaches to the back of my chair to hold a large umbrella.  If I need more shade, I have a beach umbrella that blends into the setting.  If I played a lot of outdoor gigs, I'd find a pop-up screen cabana that I could sit in, that had a built in floor so it couldn't blow away. I wear sunglasses if the light is bright.
6. Camouflage for the cart & amp.  I leave the amp (and extra stuff) in the cart, positioning it at optimum spot. I carry a solid dark-color water-resistant tablecloth to throw over the cart to make it blend into the background.  If it starts to rain, I can then grab the tablecloth to quickly throw over the harp. 
article1More Contest Results
Here are just a few of the many submissions from my "Tips for Playing Outdoors" Contest. The entries from the 6 customers who won Honorable Mention Awards of a $5 Harp Center Gift Certificate are written in blue.

When using printed music, many suggested putting the music in clear plastic sheet protectors.  A variety of clips were mentioned to hold the music, including clothes pins, hair clips, clear see-through music clips, and large rubber or elastic bands. 

Bonnie Walker:  Use magnets to hold your music in place on a solid metal music stand.

Maria Valentine: If I have only one piece that I haven't memorized, I make a short lead sheet and clip it to my skirt, or tape it securely onto the harp column, just for the duration of that piece.

Mary Keller: Figure out the wind direction, and set up your music stand so that the wind blows directly onto your open pages, essentially blowing your music onto the stand, not off of it!  And NEVER leave your harp freestanding.  Harps want to tip over, especially on lawns or in sand or fields. 

One great way to solve the problem of blowing music is to put your music on your iPad with ForScore. Check out the Reading Music on Your iPad page on my
Bluetooth AirTurn page turner
website for Janet Lanier's great YouTube videos on how to do this. I have all of my music for gigs on my iPad.  I'm also now selling a bluetooth foot switch to turn the pages on your iPad.  It is very cool and extremely helpful!

Alice Freeman: if you are outside and your iPad is in the sun with little or no shade, always bring along an insulated cover to put over the iPad while you are not playing. The iPad can overheat and it WILL shut down to protect itself, leaving you with a VERY BLANK screen!

Nelda Ethredge: If the bride throws you a curve at the last minute for a song you don't have. Look it up on and voila you have it with you.          

Other great websites for downloading music are
and  These sites are completely legal, and are often run by the music publishing companies. Sometimes one site may have the music you want, and another one doesn't.  The prices may also vary from site to site. These downloads will NOT be harp arrangements!  But you'll often have your choice of arrangements for piano/vocal/guitar, easy piano, guitar, etc, that you can then use to make your own harp arrangement.

I received lots of solutions to my problem of keeping my music stand from blowing over. Several of them featured containers of some kind to fill will water at the gig to make them heavy enough to steady the stand: milk jugs, the plastic bag from boxed wine, and childrens' swimming buoyancy aids.  Then there were a variety of tent stakes, screw in tent stakes, wrist or ankle weights, and lead plumbing pipe slipped over the legs to help secure the stand.

Three of you mentioned the Harp Desk and the iPad Holder made my MusicMakers that clamp directly to the front column of your harp.  I just spoke with Jerry Brown, the owner of MusicMakers about these amazing products. Currently they only work on harp models with square or rectangular front columns.  They won't work on the round columns of pedal harps.  They are currently working on a prototype that will work on columns that have a front t-brace, such as some models by Dusty Strings, Triplett, and Thormahlen.  They hope to have these available soon.

Of course, the best idea to prevent your music stand from blowing over, and your music from blowing away, is to memorize your music, which will eliminate both problems.  However, this is not always possible.


Suggestions included: check out the location BEFORE you accept the gig, require the wedding couple to provide a small platform and tent; take a pop-up tent with you, and take fiberglass panels or plywood to use for flooring. For cold weather, use fingerless gloves and hand warmers. Take battery-operated fans for hot weather.

Jackie Easterday: Drop an UNLIGHTED citronella votive candle into your harp to keep the mosquitoes away. And place a rubber car floor mat on the ground to keep your harp dry, and keep it from slipping on wet grass.
BridesMusician's Guide to Brides
Anne Roos
Harpist Anne Roos also sent in 20 wonderful suggestions for our Outdoors contest. Here are some of my favorites.

* Hauling shoes --- One pair of shoes for dirt, wet grass, mud, and sand, and then a change of shoes when you sit down to play.

* Large garbage bags and gallon-sized sandwich bags --- If it threatens or begins to rain or snow, I turn off the amp and bag it up. All other battery-operated and electrical equipment gets bagged up quickly, too, into sandwich bags and into my rolling backpack (including equalizers). The wooden harp gets bagged up quickly in its soft case, of course, too. Garbage bags are essential, especially if I can't get the misc. equipment into their cases fast enough.
* A roadie or assistant --- If you have a long ways to walk down the beach to the water's edge, or you need to hike across a meadow or to a secluded waterfall to perform, an assistant can help carry your equipment. If the wind is blowing crazy, an assistant can help turn sheet music pages and hold your market umbrella. An assistant can help to quickly bag up equipment if it starts to rain or snow. I hire high school students and community college students who are musicians and/or have high grade point averages (usually a sign that they will respect equipment and will behave maturely). I found the best ones through music stores and local houses of worship. Or if you have teenage children, put them to work (my hubby will sometimes assist me in exchange for taking him out to dinner).

* Carpet samples in neutral colors, so that you can see your strings easily (I prefer green, because it matches grass and makes the strings stand out) --- Get them at carpet stores, where they'll sell them for very little money or just give them to you for free. When they get dirty and show too much wear, you can afford to throw them out and get new ones. Don't go for shag, because it will collect beach sand.

* A battery-operated book light --- At dusk, or in the shade, a bit of extra light can go a long way to making it easier to see your strings and your sheet music.

* A folding chair of your choice --- I prefer folding chairs over harp benches for the outdoors, because if I am playing on an uneven surface, I can rely on the support of the back of the chair to keep my back straight.

In the end, never expect your clients or staff at a venue to provide you with any equipment or items you may need at a moment's notice. That includes playing outside and in unexpected conditions.

Instead of giving Anne a prize, I decided to feature her wonderful book, A Musicians Guide to Brides. This comprehensive 324 page book includes everything you need to know to become a successful wedding musician.  If you liked any of her suggestions, you'll love her book!

You'll also get insider advice from wedding planning professionals, suggested repertoire, comprehensive worksheets, and checklists that provide all you need to know to plan your business and performances. This is a must-have book for harpists, other musicians, and bands who want to keep their calendars full with high-paying wedding ceremonies and receptions.
  • The "Musician's Guide to Brides" provides practical advice on:
  • What it takes to play at weddings
    Musician's Guide to Brides
  • Creating a repertoire
  • Equipment needed
  • Writing a performance agreement
  • Creating promotional materials
  • Wedding advertising and internet ideas
  • Marketing your music by exhibiting at bridal fairs
  • Closing a sale when your customer is the bride
  • Working with the mother of the bride, the wedding coordinator, and booking agents
  • Bridal relations -- avoiding problems
  • What to do when the unexpected happens
  • Working with "Bridezillas" (and some hair-raising, true stories!)
thisMonthsSaleThis Month's Sale
It isn't quite Halloween yet, but in the past few weeks, many of  the stores started displaying their Christmas items.  That can only mean one thing . . . Christmas is coming!  Just like department stores, harp players have to start getting ready for Christmas several months ahead. 

So, in honor of the 12 Days of Christmas, 12 Select Christmas and Chanukah books, sheets, and PDFs are on sale this month
with the rudolph code.
This sale includes Bernard's Christmas by our featured arranger, Megan Metheney

Here's a short poem to get you in the mood.

'Twas two months before Christmas and all through the day
All the harpists were scrambling for something to play
For the Christmas Eve service, or parties and such.
They already had music . . . but never enough!

So off to the Harp Center website they flew
For old Christmas favorites and something that's new. 
They didn't forget all their friends who are Jews,
And added some music for Chanukah, too!

And with this month's sale they were ever so smart
And bought extra music to fill up their cart.
They bought solos and duos to play through the town.
And some of them bought TV's cute Charlie Brown!

Some ordered by PDF download, and they
Just printed it out and began right away.
Some ordered by mail. Though there's no time to waste
With Ms. Woods' fast service, these too, came "Poste haste."

Then they practiced their pieces; no time to delay.
And played lovely music on this Christmas Day. 
And they heard all exclaim as they played their last note
"Merry Christmas to all" . . .  And that's all that I wrote!  

To get the 15% discount on the 12 Christmas and Chanukah books, sheets, and PDFs shown below, enter the code word rudolph in the Promo Code box on your shopping cart page and click "Enter Code" by November 2, 2015. For more information, see the 15% Off section at the bottom of this newsletter.

P.S. Here's a cool hint about the Charlie Brown Christmas sheet music and PDF. Besides the beautiful piece "Christmas Time is Here", it also includes the bouncy "Linus and Lucy" theme.  A new "Peanuts Movie" hits theaters the first week of November,  so this song will become popular once again!  It is part of our sale this month, so get it while it is hot!
4 Holiday Favorites
Regular price: $13.45
15% off with rudolph code
Frosty the Snow Man; Silver Bells; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; Let it Snow! Let it Snow!  Let it Snow ! 
This festive book of 4 fun songs for the holidays includes 2 Sylvia Woods' arrangements of each piece: an easy version, and one that is more difficult.   
Charlie Brown Christmas
Regular price: $10.95
15% off with rudolph code
Sylvia Woods has made harp arrangements of two of the most beloved pieces from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" : Christmas Time Is Here and Linus and Lucy,
 both included in the same sheet music. They are playable on either lever or pedal harp.   
Mary Did You Know
Regular price: $7.95 and
15% off with rudolph code
This sheet music includes Sylvia's two complete arrangements of the popular contemporary Christian Christmas song, Mary, Did You Know?

That Night in Bethlehem
Regular price: $5.95
15% off with rudolph code
That Night in Bethlehem is the gorgeous traditional Irish Christmas carol Don Oíche úd i mBeithil. Sylvia has created a 4-verse arrangement playable on lever or pedal harp. 
Two Christmas Medleys
Regular price: $4.95
15% off with rudolph code
This sheet music contains two separate Christmas medleys from Sylvia's 3 Harps for Christmas CDs. Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker Suite with We Three Kings of Orient Are. AndAngelical Hymn and Twelfth Night Song. ---------------
Regular price: $10.95 and
15% off with rudolph code
This book contains Sylvia's multi-level arrangements of 11 popular songs for Chanukah. Even if you're not Jewish, if you play for parties during December you'll find this book very helpful.
The companion CD is also part of the 15% off sale.
Regular price: $25.00 or $4.00 for individual pieces
15% off with rudolph code
The 17 arrangements in this book are from Megan Metheney's album "Bernard's Christmas: Variations on Works by Bernard Andres." 
Christmas Jewels
Regular price: $20.00
15% off with rudolph code
This excellent PDF by Robin Fickle contains 25 traditional carols from around the world, including some that have not previously been arranged for the harp. 
Yuletide Treasure
Regular price: $19.95 and
15% off with rudolph code
This book is a collection of carols and tunes for the winter season from the British Isles arranged by Deborah Friou and Julia Lane. Included are arrangements from their Yuletide Treasure CD.
Christmas Day
Regular price: $16.00
15% off with rudolph code
Sunita Staneslow has arranged unusual Celtic Christmas carols with an improvisatory feel for lower intermediate to advanced harp players. 
Celtic Christmas
Regular price: $10.95
15% off with rudolph code
This wonderful book contains 21 transcriptions of selections from Kim's two Celtic Christmas CDs.  
Regular price: $12.95 and
15% off with rudolph code
Howard Blake composed this ethereal song for the beloved animated film "The Snowman" in 1982. Margot Krimmel has arranged three harp solos and a duet version in this book. 
arrangerMegan Metheney - Arranger of the Month
Megan Metheney is our featured arranger this month.  Here's what she has to say
Megan Metheney

about herself and her music.

GREEN...the color I want my music to be... like a living,organic thing that grows and evolves. A musician's work goes through periods of hot and cold, summer and winter. I want my music to be something that happily differs from day to day and season to season yet remains alive and green. 
I first saw the harp when a lady came to my grade school in Phoenix, Arizona to give a short concert and demonstration. She called two people out of the audience to join her on stage to try it out for themselves. She picked me! I found middle C. I played a glissando. It was a done deal. For the next year, my parents heard me talking about the harp harp harp harp and how I wanted to learn how to play the harp. It was burning inside me. Tears were shed. The harp found me like the magic wand found Harry Potter.
Now having played for over 25 years (my gracious parents gave in), the harp has become not only a passion but a profession. The music I play is a mix of jazz, folk, contemporary, and classical styles. I often work with songwriters, composers, dancers, visual artists, poets, and studio musicians. Our instrument is so unique, and I still feel like IT chooses me sometimes, like it wants me to find its resonance, its possibilities, and its magical voice not only by itself, but with other musicians and artists.
Green harp
I love the idea of "green" harp because it means that I can be myself from day to day and year to year, and allow my music to change and grow as I change and grow. For the past four years, I've been a full time mom. Now a mother of two girls, my time at the harp is very selective. When I get the luxury of tuning and sitting down to play, it's focused and juicy. I don't have time to take on every project that I want. I get to (have to) do only what truly gives me fulfillment.
Megan Metheney
Recently, I recorded an album of original compositions with vocalist/percussionist Rebekah West.  We "discovered" a tiny chapel with unreal acoustics and decided to create music there. We now perform regularly together, and are super excited to be planning a concert tour of the US next summer. This the first time that I've really set out to play "my own" compositions, and even sing with the harp.
Another recent project has been Bernard's Christmas. I've taken several pieces by the French harp composer Bernard Andres and mixed them together with some of my favorite carols from Christmas to create something that I think sounds like peanut butter and jelly. I've really enjoyed this project, and it has lately taken the form of not only arranging and recording, but publishing the arrangements.
I hold a BM in harp from the University of Arizona where I studied with jazz harpist Carrol McLaughlin and a MM from the University of Texas at Austin where I studied with Delaine Fedson. I also gained a Premiere Prix diploma from the music conservatory in Grasse, France. I cherish the memories of my first harp lessons at the age of 12 with Adrienne Bridgewater.
My formal education in harp has helped me lay a solid
Megan Metheney
foundation in technique, repertoire, and performance. I am reminded of Pablo Picasso and the crazy unique paintings and he created after he was "trained" to be an artist. Kind of "out there" but very interesting! But if you look at his early stuff... still life, portraits, fruit. He spent years going through the process of learning how to paint and figuring out how to put an image on canvas. It's so true for any artist: that time of learning technique, cranking out piece after piece, and analyzing the works of great artists is invaluable; it's a no-way-around-it investment of time and energy to enable us to create something unique and a little more "out there." I'm so thankful for my teachers, but I'm also grateful to have that training under my belt to be free to play/create as I desire and from deep within.
That learning process is never over. It changes, but it's never over. I still put on a pot of tea and do harp exercises. I still dissect a new piece hands separately. I still see my mentors for their ear and advice.
One thing that has helped the "Picasso process" in me is improvisation. To be able to explore and listen to spontaneous playing without judging myself is so healthy! I try to make it a part of each practice time.
 Improvisation is also integrated into lessons with my students. I have been teaching for about 15 years either privately or through schools. I served as director of one of the United States' largest public school harp programs in Odessa, Texas from 2008-2010, teaching harpists age 10-18. I am also a former faculty member at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and Odessa College. My approach to learning the harp is a mix of my own teachers' methods and the Suzuki method. I don't ever set out to create a professional harpist with a student, but encourage them to incorporate music and harpistry into their unique life, using music as a tool to master other human disciplines (concentration, coordination, social skills, listening, creativity, goal-setting, time management, and so much more). I currently teach from my private studio.
Megan Metheney
It was never my goal, but I live in beautiful Southern France. I arrived in Nice ten years ago to study under an inspiring harpist, Elisabeth Fontan-Binoche with the intention of staying for two months. A year later, I was still there, and sure enough, it was love that pulled me to stay longer. I met my husband at a café in a little village called Cabris where we currently live with our daughters. It's not always easy to live in a "foreign" country, but I feel very at home here. I enjoy the quality of life, the food, the language, the way French people appreciate art and music, the culture in general, and the four seasons of the Cote d'Azur.
Sylvia Woods Harp Center
  (800) 272-4277 or (818) 956-1363

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promocodes15% off select sale items when you use the code word:

Our newsletter promo codes are only redeemable on-line, and can only be used for the products featured in the sale section of this newsletter. They are not valid for phone or e-mail orders. This month's code word is rudolph and it is good for 15% off the12 Christmas and Chanukah music books, sheet music, and PDFs featured above.
Here's how to get your newsletter discount at 
#1. Put the items you want to purchase in your cart. 
#2. On the page where you view the items in your cart, type this month's code word rudolph in the "Promo Code" box, and click on "Enter Code."
The actual price of the featured sale products on this page will then automatically change to reflect the discount. You'll also see a note below the Promo Code box saying the name of the promo code you entered, and the percentage amount of the discount.  
REMEMBER:  you must enter the this month's code word rudolph in the Promo Code box
and click "Enter Code" on your shopping cart page by
November 2 to get the discount!
If you forget, or if you have trouble adding it to your order,
email us immediately .   

offer expires at the end of the day on 11/2/2015.