Sylvia Woods Harp Center 
July 2016 Newsletter
SylviaA Personal Note from Sylvia

Thanks so much to all of you who submitted songs for last month's "Inappropriate Wedding Songs" contest.  A lot of you wrote to say how much fun you had thinking of ideas.  You'll see the results below.

And now, I have a new contest to announce.  I have several Skype students struggling to learn to read music, and others who definitely need to work on their rhythm.  I'm sure that there are iPhone apps that can help, but I don't know which ones to choose.  So here's where the contest comes in! 
Do you have music apps that you love and have found useful for yourself or for your students? 
Send your favorites to by July 31st, and include a few sentences about what the app does, who it is good for, and why you like it.  Also, please mention whether it is for iPhones or Androids.  Your suggested apps can be for students or professionals,  for kids or adults, and for any aspects of music. Please only submit apps that either you or your students have actually used and found helpful. 
Thanks for your submissions and for helping all of us become better players and teachers!

Aloha and Mahalo (thanks),

Sylvia Woods
arranger"Inappropriate" contest results
One of the interesting things I found while going through the submissions for our "Inappropriate Songs for Weddings" contest was this: one person's "inappropriate" wedding song is another person's "must-have" wedding song.  Several people included "A Thousand Years" on their list, because it was about vampires, and some others mentioned "Beauty and the Beast" because it was highly insulting to the groom.  But, the funny thing is that I'm playing two weddings in the next few weeks, and both of these pieces have been requested by both of the brides!

Out of the hundreds of "inappropriate" suggestions I received, here are my top-10 favorite titles, listed in alphabetical order.  The names in parentheses are the wonderful people who submitted these songs. They all won a $5 Harp Center e-Gift Certificate!

Another One Bites the Dust  by Queen (Maria Ambrose & Joanna Mell)
D-I-V-O-R-C-E  by Tammy Wynette (Marg Elson)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For  by U2 (Laurel Adams)
I'm Not in Love  (Maria Lynn Ambrose)
Me and Mrs Jones  (Rima Granados)
Please Release Me, Let Me Go  (Susan Hironaka)
Torn Between Two Lovers  by Mary MacGregory (Kathy Norton)
You Can't Always Get What You Want  by the Stones (Rima Granados & Laurel Adams)
You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille  by Kenny Rogers (Glenda Dennis)
Your Cheatin' Heart  by Hank Williams (Joanna Mell)

And I also loved Ray Pool's suggestion for a recessional: Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways, as sung to the hymn tune "Old 124th".

Here are some stories of pieces actually requested. These people also won a $5 e-Gift Certificate for their submissions.

The mother of the bride requested House of the Rising Sun for her entrance.  I asked her if she knew it was all about a whorehouse.  She blushed and said that she hadn't know that, and didn't want it. (Bette Vidrine)

I played the theme from the movie Jaws (the duh-da, duh-da music of the impending shark attack).  This was requested from the bride to be played as a "surprise" for the groom's entrance. It was an outdoor wedding next to a river. I thought it was rather disturbing for a wedding, but it got a good laugh! (Susan Bettinger)

When my nephew was married, the song that was playing as the mothers of the bride and groom went up on the stage to light candles was Send in the Clowns.  It was a pretty song, but it was very hard for me to keep a straight face. (Judith Mace)

At a wedding consultation, the groom asked for Darth Vader's Theme for the seating of the mothers.  He was obviously a "Star Wars" fan and felt that the music would be a great processional march (which actually, it would).  He didn't ask his future mother-in-law how she would feel about the connotation. (Julie Albertson)

Personally, I like it when recessionals are fun and happy, especially for more laid-back non-church weddings. We also need to remember that sometimes a song has a particular meaning for the couple, even if it seems strange to us. I once played the requested recessional Take Me Out to the Ball Game for a couple who met at a Dodgers game.  So I liked the following true stories, even though some will consider them "inappropriate!"

I'm from Kentucky so while living there, a bride and groom requested The Chicken Dance song be played as they walked back up the aisle. Of course I honored their request . . . even though it was really odd.  And yes, they did the motions. (Kathryn Lippman)

My niece and her fiancÚ embraced my suggestion that I play the Linus and Lucy theme (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) as her wedding processional. Her mother (my sister-in-law) was horrified. But everybody else loved it. (Henry Spiller)

I was asked to play the Bugs Bunny Show theme This is it! for the bridal processional. (Missy Saffelder)

The father of the bride requested Zip-a-dee-doo-dah for the recessional. (Jo Anderson)

There were such a lot of excellent submissions, I had trouble coming up with the grand prize winners.  So I decided to pick two that make a point that we all sometimes forget:  It is OK to say "no."  Just because someone asks us to play at their wedding, that doesn't mean we have to say "yes."  And, just because someone requests a certain piece for their wedding, it doesn't mean that we have to agree to play it.  The short word "No" may be hard to say, but sometimes it is a perfectly valid option.

The winners of the two Grand Prize $20 Harp Center Gift Certificates are Trista Hill and Diane Dunn. Here are the winning submissions.

     A Christian bride was marrying into a Jewish family. She thought it would be "funny" for me to play - without telling anyone we were doing it - the beginning of the Wagner's Bridal Chorus ("Here Comes the Bride") and then quickly go into another piece once his side of the family slid into understandable shock and horror. (Wagner was anti-Semitic and apparently Hitler's favorite composer). She thought it would be a hilarious surprise. For the first and last time in my wedding career, I refused her request - after all, this distasteful gesture done in this way would have been seen as entirely my fault and was a horrible way to begin a wedding, let alone a marriage. No thanks. - Trista Hill
     In the phone conversation prior to her appointment in my studio, the bride told me that she had her heart set on walking down the aisle to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance.  I thought it was a dreadful choice, but said nothing and purchased the piano sheet music.  I learned enough of it to play it for her appointment.  Needless to say, not only were the lyrics inappropriate, but the music sounded dreadful on the harp! 
     When the bride arrived for her appointment, I played "Bad Romance" so she could hear how it sounded on the harp.  She sat back and said, "Well, I don't like how that sounds at all!  Where are all the other instruments?  When I watched Lady Gaga sing it on her video, there was lots of other music in the background.  I know you are not going to sing, but there is a lot of stuff missing!  I want a harpist who can play it the way it sounds on Lady Gaga's video!"
     I began to explain that when a music video is produced in a sound studio there are many other instruments that are in the background that are not actually seen in the video, etc.  When I saw the look of complete disbelief on her face I quickly brought my explanation to a halt.  I realized that this bride was not my "just right client," and nothing I could say would educate her or enlighten her, nor could I encourage her to choose any other music.  I diplomatically said to her, "You know, Tiffany, I don't think I am the "just right harpist" for your wedding. I can't play Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" the way you hoped it would sound, so I want to encourage you to find another harpist."
- Diane Dunn

So, remember.  Just like Nancy Reagan told us in the 1980s . . . sometimes it is a good idea to "Just Say No!" 

Thanks again to everyone who entered this fun contest!  Sorry if you didn't win. 
thisMonthsSaleThis Month's Sale: PDFs by Robin Fickle
This month's sale features 5 PDFs by Robin Fickle. You can read all about her in her article below. Click on each product to see more information and a list of the songs in each PDF. To get the 15% discount on the PDFs shown below, enter the code word robin in the Promo Code box on your shopping cart page and click "Enter Code" by July 31, 2016. For more information, see the 15% Off section at the bottom of this newsletter.   
Renaissance Gems
Regular price: $25.00
15% off with robin code

This is an excellent collection of some of the most famous Renaissance compositions from England, France Flanders, Italy and Spain.   
Merrie Cavalier
Regular price: $25.00
15% off with robin code

This is a delightful collection of Renaissance tunes from England, France, Germany and Italy. 
Merry Jester
Regular price: $25.00
15% off with robin code

This cheerful Renaissance collection contains music composed by Renaissance notables such as King Henry VIII of England and Lorenzo the Magnificent de' Medici.
Christmas Jewels
Regular price: $25.00
15% off with robin code
This PDF by Robin Fickle contains 25 elegant traditional carols from around the world, including some that have not previously been arranged for the harp.     
Wedding Wishes
Regular price: $25.00
15% off with robin code

This is an excellent resource for the wedding ceremony as well as many other occasions. In addition to tastefully arranged classic wedding standards.

15 % on these PDFs with the
RobinOur Featured Arranger: Robin Fickle

Robin Fickle
Robin Fickle is our featured arranger this month.  Here's what she has to say about herself and her music.

My love affair with the harp began some years after graduate school. My only regret is that I was not introduced to the harp as a child. At last I had found my instrument. Or maybe the instrument had found me!

Music had always been a part of my life. At age 3 I was singing in the back seat of my parent's car. By age 5 I was taking piano lessons followed by teaching myself guitar at age 13.  Piano lessons rambled on and off for a few years until, as an adolescent, I got reasonably serious about it. That happened when my second piano teacher, an elderly lady from Germany, warned me that her piano teacher corrected her using corporeal punishment every time she made a mistake! Feeling threatened, I practiced. Then after singing for my high school graduation ceremony I promptly left for Europe to revel in all of the art and culture. Thereafter I fell totally in love with art history and traveling, a love affair from which I have never recovered. (When in Europe during the summer always look for me in your travels.)

During my undergraduate years at California State University, Fresno I took 3 semesters of advanced piano with a concert pianist, the late Philip Lorenz. But in performance I always followed  an extremely gifted young pianist who had already made her debut at a prestigious concert hall and who had a very large following. Convinced that I was not a Carnegie Hall performer, and without the ambition to be a piano teacher, I stopped my piano studies, quickly lost access to a piano and threw myself into art history.

After graduate school at the University of California at Santa Barbara with a specialization in medieval art, and with no full time job openings available, I moved to southern California where I taught art history at many different universities and colleges. I loved the flexibility and change in campus culture that adjunct work provided. But something was definitely missing! Music!

Around that time I went to a Renaissance Faire where I encountered a woman playing hammered dulcimer and another playing a Celtic harp. I was drawn to both instruments, but so undecided. Subsequently I attended a folk harp convention with my husband's hammered dulcimer in hand. As the instructor began his session, I got the overwhelming impression that I was in the wrong place! Embarrassed, I quickly grabbed the dulcimer and speedily ran to the harp booth! With the first plucked sounds of the Celtic harp tears were running down my cheeks. I knew that I had to take up the harp! But where?

The only harp I could find to rent was a Gothic harp. So I rented it for a month until I discovered that one was available through Sylvia Woods. After initial training for two years with Deborah Friou at Sylvia's studio and about 6 months of pedal harp with the late Suzanne Balderston, I completed several years of pedal harp study with JoAnn Turovsky, the Chair of the American Harp Society National Competitions.

Meanwhile I co-partnered with Sylvia Fellows and Allegra Hardulfi to found the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Society of Folk Harpers and Craftsmen. We called ourselves the "Happy Harpers" and that we were! I spent time teaching and leading at some of the "Happy Harpers" meetings. I wrote articles for the Folk Harp Journal, performed for harp gigs and gave harp lessons. But another passion also captured my heart during that season as a result of the creative upper division medieval art and humanities courses that I was teaching at universities. These courses included preparing the pageantry, ceremony and culinary delights of the medieval banquet. So to look the part I made very elaborate costumes some of which went on display at the Laguna Arts Museum. And, of course, no banquet can be held without the proper music. So I then began to seriously explore my new found passion, early music!

Robin Fickle harps
In order to perform early music I needed replicas of period instruments. So I assisted my husband in making some medieval instruments that included a plucked psaltery and a nearly exact replica of the very famous 16th century Gothic bray harp in the German National Museum in Nuremburg. Then together with the late Ethan James, the late Will Glenn and Suzanna Giordano we formed the early music performing group, Decameron. To further my training I traveled to the Bay Area to participate in workshops with the San Francisco Early Music Society and to the University of British Columbia at Vancouver to study medieval voice with Sequentia where, as a grand finale, we gave a concert of the music of Hildegard von Bingen, the Canticles of Ecstasy. Those experiences instilled within me a great love of early music.

My fascination for early music inspired me to publish 3 books of Renaissance music, Renaissance Gems, Renaissance Songes of the Merrie Cavalier and Renaissance Songes of the Merrie Jester. Many are famous lute pieces and a delight to play on harp! My greatest desire was to make this music accessible to ordinary players, not specialists.   And so I wrote these books for both Celtic harpers and pedal harpists. Many pieces have not previously been transcribed for harp prior to my publications.

My love of early music inspired me to greatly improvise upon very simple Sephardic, Andalusian and Greek tunes that I recorded long ago on my Mediterranean Journey CD. Many harpers have asked me for the written music but, unfortunately, many of the improvised passages are far too complex to score.

Robin Fickle Christmas
I so enjoy Christmas carols, particularly haunting ones, as well as carols not all that familiar. I published a book entitled Christmas Jewels for harpists who want to add a truly elegant touch to their holiday repertoire. These carols work beautifully together with the music from the Renaissance books.

My background as a classical harpist inspired me to publish a very thick book for freelance harpists called Wedding Wishes. I have included most classical wedding standards plus a selection of Renaissance music as well as early American colonial trumpet tunes for patriots, including an early American bridal processional!
Robin Fickle reception

I am currently living in Pennsylvania where I, for over 20 years, have taught harp and have performed for innumerable weddings, occasional local concerts, various restaurants and many private dinner parties. One such performance was on pedal harp in October 2013 at Arcadia University in honor of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. My passions are diverse but I do try to maintain some balance between harp performances, composing, traveling abroad and teaching art history.

As a performer I am completely addicted to harps. I own and love all 7 of them! Thank you, Sylvia, for the two of them that I bought from you! Each harp has a unique voice and special place in my heart. I really enjoy playing Impressionist music on my pedal harp and medieval music on my Gothic harp. And I especially love the mystically sensual tone of my Celtic harps. But as much as I love my harps I have to admit that don't particularly enjoy lugging them around. My husband, who sometimes plays harp "roadie" for me, always says after a performance: "Why didn't you take up the harmonica?" At this point I have to reply that: "I am already divided between art history, travel and music and I am especially divided between 3 different types of harp (forgetting entirely the piano, guitar and singing). And now you want me to add harmonica?" - Robin Fickle
promocodes15% off select sale items when you use the code word: robin

Our newsletter promo codes are only redeemable on-line, and can only be used for the 5 PDFs by Robin Fickle featured in the sale section of this newsletter. They are not valid for phone or e-mail orders. This month's code word is robin and it is good for 15% off the 5 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 flag 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 robin in the Promo Code box
and click "Enter Code" on your shopping cart page by July 31
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 7/31/2016.
Sylvia Woods Harp Center
  (800) 272-4277 or (818) 956-1363

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