For December’s monthly meeting we decided to gather and play harps together rather than have a formal meeting or presentation. Pam hosted at her lovely new home in Hideout, UT and there was room for 5 harps and harpists to all sit together and play Christmas Carols from Sylvia Woods book, 50 Christmas Carols for All Harps and some other holiday music.
Playing together and sight reading is not only fun but good practice, especially for those of us who typically play by ear, memory and improvise a lot. We intend to do this more often in 2020.
A few days after the harp Circle, Pam and Heidi took this show on the road to the Memory Care Unit at The Ridge where we played for the resident’s Christmas lunch. This is an annual event for us and we always try and dress festively for the occasion. The residents love it and one staff member commented afterwards they discovered harp music was so much more calming during a meal than some other types of musical performances. We agree, of course.
Tamara was busy elsewhere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jbsUl5v7F8 and we missed her and our other members who couldn’t be with us this month but hope you all can make it in January 2020. Merry Christmas and a harpy new year to all. God bless us everyone!
I.Tamara Oswald presented on Harp Care and Maintenance
Some background on Tamara.
Tamara has been playing harp for more years than she appears old enough
to have accomplished. She began studying harp at the age of 7 after a year of
piano studies. At the age of 13 Tamara soloed with the Utah symphony and again
at age 14 and 16-once on piano. She received her degree in harp
performance at the University of Southern California under the direction of Susann
McDonald. Most of us are aware that Tamara is the principal harpist for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square and
tours all over the world with this group. She is also a member of the Oswald-Goeckeritz
duo with Jeannine Goeckeritz (see www.harpandflute.com). Together, they have played all over the US and in Europe
and have recorded a CD.called Chanson.
Tamara met her husband Dan in Zurich when her parents were called to
oversee the missionary work in
Switzerland for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her
husband Daniel is the honorary consul of Switzerland to Utah. They are the
proud parents of 6 children and 15 grandchildren. Tamara was certified by the Clinical Musician
Certification Program/Harp for Healing (CMCP) in 2017 and has been employed by
Brighton/Bristol Hospice since then.
Please visit her website www.harpandflute.com for more information.
In doing an online search for information on Tamara I also
found the following review of her work:
“The flowing style and graceful
virtuosity of Tamara
Oswald has been enjoyed by audiences across the world. She has
performed with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under the direction of such
renowned musicians as Christoph Eschenbach and M. Rstropovich, and as a soloist
with the Tuttlingen Jugend Orchestra in Germany. Nationally, she has performed
with the Pasadena, Long Beach and the Honolulu Symphonies, and as a soloist
with the Santa Monica Symphony, the University of Southern California,
University of Utah, the Orchestra at Temple Square, Utah Chamber Artists and
the Utah Symphony. She has been the recipient of esteemed musical awards from
the American Harp Society and has competed as a semi-finalist at both the
Israeli and Rome International Harp competitions.
was principal harp for Ballet West for 20 years. She continues to perform
regularly with the Utah Chamber Artists, now in their 29th year, and has also
been affiliated with the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Utah Chamber Festival, Salt
Lake Choral Artists, and the Park City Music Festival. She has had the
opportunity to perform with such luminaries as Julius Baker, Roberta Peters,
Robert Shaw, Dale Warland, Jubilant Sykes, and Ida Haendel.”
Peggy was kind enough to send us the link to listen to Tamara
accompany Sissel recently with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFe84U__kt8
Tamara prepared a handout for us all which we referred to
during her discussion. I will not copy the handout but will include some things
mentioned that I found new information or a good reminder:
Harp History from ancient to modern times. While harps are an
ancient instrument probably developed based on the bow and arrow, the modern
use of the harp as a solo instrument did not develop until the 1600s. There was
no way to adjust for sharps or flats until the 16 century when hooks were added
to create C# and F#. In the earliest days, the harp was used to accompany
songs, in groups with other instruments and voice. There wasn’t solo music for
the harp until the 1600s. Pedals were not developed until the 18th
The modern Troubador Harp was invented by Samual Pratt of
Utah in 1960. From both marriages of Sam and resulting children the Pratt
family have been influential in the modern lever harp movement., Carl Pratt
(801) 377-7082, Sam’s son, is an
excellent local harp builder and technician if your harp needs some work.
Pedal harp strings should be reserved for pedal harps and not
put on a lever harp except for the Lyon and Healey lever harps. They require too much tension and may break
the harp. When ordering replacement strings, you must specify the Harp maker,
string composition (gut, nylon, wire, fluorocarbon), octave and note. 1st
octave starts at the top and works down. (On a Troubador Harp, that would be E
to F). Be consistent with whatever the
harp maker recommends. A source for
string sets is D. Kolacny in Colorado
(303) 722-6081. Replace broken strings
as quickly as possible as too much pressure resulting from the broken string will
cause the neighbor strings to also break.
Dust covers are not required except for moving harps. Keep it exposed,, dust as needed and play it
daily. If storage is required of the
harp, the strings may be lowered a tone or so but don’t relax them completely.
Avoid knocking over the harp.
Cleaning: A slightly
damp cloth with a little mild soap will do (no detergents). Clean a small area
at a time and dry it. Avoid using too much water as it could get into the glued
joints. Black scuff marks can be removed
with a little benzene. If desired, a
commercial polish designed specifically for harps may be used. Polish is not really necessary though.
Tuning: Tamara demonstrated how she tunes her pedal harp for
playing in an orchestra starting with A. checking it with the 4th
note below (E) then the 5th below (D) then the 4th string
above A (D) and then the Octave (A to A) repeating this for every note even
when an electronic tuner is used. When
playing with the orchestra, Tamara tunes to 441 a bit higher as the stringed
instruments tend to sharpen as they are played. Woodwinds tend to flatten.
Tamara recommends tuning in Natural (C maj) although many orchestral harpists
tune in the flat position of the harp.
Replacing Strings: Tamara provided a diagram for knotting
harp strings and discussed situations where harp strings had broken in the
middle of her performances and how she dealt with that. Also how to look for potential breaking
points and changing weak looking strings before they break. Good idea to date
string packets when they are used in case of breakage right away. Most string companies will replace the string
if it breaks within the first week of use.
Dealing with pain:
resting an 80 lb. harp on your shoulder in an unnatural position, moving
harps, loading harps into cars is likely
going to result in pain as we age.
Tamara recommends practicing harp in the right size chair for your body
and the harp and using a chair with a good back on it, not a bench, at least
for practice. Only play for 45 minutes
at a time and then take a break,, stretch before and after playing. Tamara uses a pain relief cream product
called Real Time Pain Relief. There is Physical Therapy specifically designed
for harpists as well as ergonomic training to preserve the body.
II. We each presented and played some of our favorite holiday
Kris Watts played for us and shared sheet music she has
orchestrated for Silent Night. Pam and
Heidi played a duet of Pachabel’s Canon mashup with The First Noel, Kristen
played a piece she had composed for the upcoming funeral of a dear friend that
was contemplative and beautiful. She was
looking for feedback from the group which was provided. Tristan improvised and sang Away In the Manger, Tamara played a version of In the Bleak
Midwinter from Sunita Stanislow’s Christmas Eve book, Kinsey played Infant Holy,
Peggy helped Heidi play Jingle Bells using only a bass pattern and singing the
song to help her work on harp accompaniment for song. Thankfully the group sang while Peggy pointed
to the chords.
We closed the meeting and shared a light lunch potluck (always great food!) and
We agreed to not meet in December but have a casual harp
circle at Pam Archbolds house on a Saturday morning for those who can make
it. Next meeting will be in January.
Attendees: Kate, Heidi, Angela, Kristen, Laurel, Peggy,
Tamara, Chris and guest, Cindy Bowen
We each introduced ourselves, told where we got
certified (or are in process of
certification) and where we currently work.
Cindy is enrolled in the CMCP
program that Pam, Kate, and Tamara went through. Cindy will be added to
our email distribution list and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Watts shared with us her presentation that
she uses with Senior Centers, Sir Gwain and the Loathly Lady, a story of
chivalry, romance, honor, overcoming fear, and the answer to the ultimate
riddle, “What does a woman really want?” Chris uses storytelling, harp playing
and visual aids to facilitate the telling of this tale which was charming and
had us all engaged. Chris said that she
has a different presentation for almost every month. March would be Irish
stories, April Jewish stories, May Mothers Day stories, etc.
Chris asked us each to bring or play a happy
song. Everybody either discussed, sang
or played the harp for their piece:
I’ve Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor (Kate)
Oh What a Beautiful Morning (Heidi)
Wo Betyd thy Wearie Bodie –an Irish melody for
the wire strung harp c.1627 (Angela)
Kristen reminded us all that happy songs are
very personal and depending on the circumstances she has used What A Wonderful
World, Frere Jacques, You Are My Sunshine, There is Sunshine in my Soul Today
Dark Gaick of the Wandering Stream, a Scottish
piece from the 1800s for the wire strung harp was played by Laurel
Tamara played Petite Waltz combined with My Sun
and Shield. She recommended Lorinda Jones Harp Concert Book which is full of
popular happy pieces and Carolyn Bame’s book of waltzes which had the pieces
that she played for us.
Peggy played and sang: How Much is that Doggie in the Window.
Chris shared with us the lyrics and chords for I
Love You A Bushel and a Peck and The Whale.
Other topics of interest
Peggy is presenting on a panel at the Generations
2019 Conference April 16 on A Continuum of Music in Healthcare from Music
Listening to Music Therapy. The music Therapy track runs all day long and
anyone can register and attend that track for a fee. If you want to attend just
the panel presentation from 9:15 am to 10:30 email Peggy and you can attend
that session only, free as her
Peggy will be hosting our next UTHN meeting at her house in Orem April 24 (date and location to be confirmed later)
The UTHN is a professional development network of practicing Therapeutic Musicians living in Northern Utah. All members have graduated or are currently enrolled in a Therapeutic Music Certification program approved by the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians (NSBTM) Or Music Thanatologists. Visitors to our monthly meetings are always welcome. Please contact me if you would like more information about this organization.
“I believe things happen for a reason. I just don’t know what it is yet.” During a dark period of my life, crying in my therapist’s office, I actually uttered those words of hope. It surprised us both. That was over 10 years ago and I am only beginning to see the connections and purpose of events that guided me to the here and now, a far better place.
I attended a seminar this week focused on “How to deliver your message”. It was really a 3 hour introduction to a 3 day workshop the presenters wanted to sell to us. They offered some useful tips on how to really define our personal meaning of life. Everyone quotes Victor Frankl when delving into the domain of meaning of life (how can you not?) If you don’t have a life purpose, a calling, and recognize it, you’re survival odds during adversity, are not so good. Frankl watched this theory be proven time and time again at Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII. He survived because he knew his purpose was to tell the world the story of Auschwitz, lest the truth never be told. Over time he learned his life had greater purpose than just that one. He has helped millions of people find their true purpose and understand the value of that.
When you know your purpose, you can help other people find theirs. During the seminar one of the exercises we did was to work with a partner, the person sitting next to us who we had never met before. We each had 3 minutes to listen to the other tell us their life purpose without questions or interruption. When they stopped talking, we could only repeat the question, “What is your purpose?” as they peeled away the layers of their profession, their livelihood, their lifestyle, their goals, to get to the heart of “What is your purpose?” It was not an easy exercise, especially for my younger partner who really hadn’t thought about his life purpose. He told me about his company and how it provided a good lifestyle for him and his family and how he came to founding it and where he wanted to take it. But none of that really addressed his true purpose. I suspect that long after the seminar, he will be pondering the question and how to best address it. Because, when you find your purpose, or calling, invariably, you realize it isn’t about you at all. It’s about how you can serve others.
I can’t remember my exact words during the 3 minutes I had to talk but I’m pretty sure I focused on my perceived calling of playing harp for hospice patients to ease their transition from this life to the next. It didn’t occur to me until after the workshop that there might be a deeper layer, when I later made a connection between the seminar and an encounter I had with a woman earlier in the day at a long term care facility. Not all the residents at facilities where I play are in hospice or need to be, and over time I get to know some of the others. That day, I had finished playing for my patients and was preparing to leave so that I could get to the seminar on time, about an hour away in rain and commuter traffic, a bad combination for a timely arrival. There was a group of people visiting in the lobby area, patients and family members, where I paused to get organized before running to my car with harp, gig bag, stool and keys. A young woman in a wheelchair in the lobby stopped me and asked if I would play something for them before I left. Although I was in a hurry to leave I agreed. I played Somewhere Over the Rainbow followed by What A Wonderful World. When I finished, the young woman who had requested I play asked, “How long have you been playing the harp and why?” I told her, “Over 20 years and it’s my calling to do this work with hospice patients. It helps them relax and sometimes be better able to face what is next.”
She thought about that quietly for a moment and then said, “You know, I wonder about what my purpose is, especially after the accident now that I’m stuck in this chair. I think my calling may be about helping people cope with bullies. I get so upset when I read or hear about people being bullied I just want to do something to help them!” There was real passion in her voice, a good indicator for recognizing your purpose. Passion is an essential ingredient.
“Sounds like a good purpose”, I commented. We chatted a while longer and then I left because the rain had stopped momentarily. I did not know then that the seminar would focus on purpose. I thought it was about helping people be better public speakers. Actually it was both of those things. However, those two events in one day got me to think more about my purpose. Victor Frankl had a primary purpose that he credits helped him stay alive in the worst possible situation any human could endure. He went on to live a life where his purpose became greater as a psychiatrist and author who helped far more people than he could have imagined by sharing his story.
Another musician’s story that I find truly inspiring is that of George Flores, a quadriplegic former rock and roll performer who became a harp builder of some fame. If you aren’t familiar with George’s story, the following is a brief video about him. https://www.facebook.com/GeorgeHarps/videos/1195973339065/
Story telling is a powerful transformative tool of the universe with a wide ripple effect. So is the harp.