Celtic Harp Page Reviews 2009
Reviews of All Things Harp-Related (Books, Music, CD's, Concerts, Magazines, etc.)
Welcome to our reviews section, revised and updated for 2009. While we can't guarantee that all material that gets submitted to the Celtic Harp Page will be reviewed, we're always happy to accept music and CD's for review (please read the guidelines below first!). For past reviews of various harp-related books, music, CD's, magazines, & music software, see our archives section below, or visit The Harp Blog.
If you would like to submit your own review of something harp-related, e-mail us with a short synopsis of the review, and/or the review in plain text in the body of the message. We would really prefer that you do not send attachments, but if you must please make sure that it's either in plain text, rich text, or Microsoft Word, and no more than 500 words long. More details on submitting reviews here; please read this before sending us stuff.
Sections: New & Current Reviews 2009 / Upcoming Reviews / Archives List
"Guest Reviews" are reviews by anyone other than the editor/webmaster (i.e. me.) - T.H.
Play the Harp Beautifully by Pamela Bruner
A Self-Teaching Book: Level 1
The first thing that struck me about this series, is that it contains the best clear pictures of good hand position and how to pluck that Iíve seen in any method book for lever harp players. Up until now, the only books that came close to being truly a teach-yourself method with this level of detail were aimed at wire-strung players (for whom, until recently, it was much harder to find a nearby teacher than it was for lever harpists). Most self-taught books have gaps in the learning process, where you could easily miss something or pick up bad habits without a teacher there to keep an eye on things; Pamís book fills in many of those gaps. And, since there really is no substitute for being able to watch a harp teacher demonstrate various aspects of harp technique, Pam has also put out a 2-DVD set, which covers both Level 1 and Level 2.
Level 1 starts with a general introduction to the harp and harp technique, which includes tuning, sitting with the harp, playing position and plucking. It then introduces notes A through E in the treble and bass clef, using simple exercises for each. The book then progresses much like a typical method book, with the added advantage that each step of the process is clearly illustrated with notes and pictures, and includes a summary of skills learned at the end of each chapter. By the end of the book, the student will be playing with both hands, and will have learned a good deal of basic musical theory along the way. At the back of the book, there are several helpful sections for beginners new to reading music: Reading Notes, The Musical Alphabet, Notation, Counting, Rests, and so on.
A Self-Teaching Book: Level 2
Level two starts with a review of harp basics, including good, clear pictures showing hand position while plucking. It then moves into several pages of interval exercises, followed by the first song, "All Through the Night". The arrangement draws directly on the preceding exercises, and gives both hands an equal workout.
As with the Level 1 book, "how to play" tutorials are included before each song, with space for personal notes at the end. The book includes good comprehensive sections on cross-overs & unders, glissandos, scale passages, rolled & 4-note chords, arpeggios, harmonics, sharping levers and lever flips, grace notes, pickups (all with exercises and pictures), as well as explanations of fingering and brackets, practicing tips, what to do if there are notes in the piece that go out of the range of your harp, tuning, changing a string (although the knot she uses looks weird, not the one Iím used to), counting 16th notes, accidentals, and a musical term review. The book ends with a "skills checklist" for each chapter covered.
The melodies used in Book 2 are mostly Celtic standards (Ash Grove, Danny Boy, etc.) & OíCarolan Tunes, although the occasional classical tune is included, like the Back Minuet on pg. 25. As an added bonus, all the songs used include lyrics, a definite plus for singers and potential harp-and-voice duets.
By the end of Level 2, the student will be able to play confidently with both hands, and will have accumulated a fair bit of music and technique theory along with way, without the need for additional theory and exercise books (although that said, having books that explore theory and harp exercises in more detail is never a bad idea).
You can find out more about Pamela's music by visiting www.pamelabrunermusic.com
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Upcoming Reviews 2009:
Pamela Bruner's 2-DVD Set: "Play the Harp Beautifully" (See the review of Pamela's books of the same title, above)
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Books, CD's and other materials (anything as long as it's harp related!) can be sent to the following address.
Important Note: Please do not mark your submission as "commerical sample" when mailing it, as this results in a hefty customs fee on our end. For one thing, it's not a commercial sample - the Celtic Harp Page doesn't sell things, or buy things. If you're unsure what to mark it as, try "gift" - much less likely to cause us grief at this end (we're really not keen on being surprised at the post office by high fees, especially for something we didn't order in the first place, i.e. unsolicited submissions).
Celtic Harp Page Reviews
IF you would like to submit your own review of something harp-related, e-mail us and let us know.
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Shorter reviews are preferable (concise paragraphs, including all relevant details such as full title, publishing info, contact info if appropriate, website links to the performer/artist in question, and so on). Sorry, we can't publish anonymous reviews. Also we ask that you keep your critiques civil and interesting (no pointless flames or gushing, we want to know why you liked or didn't like a certain thing). Maximum length: 500 words (preferably closer to 350 or so). Please avoid things like all-caps, extensive formatting, tables, and so on. We just need the basic text; it has to all be re-formatted for the web anyhow, so any formatting you put in we'll just have to take out again. We prefer submission to be sent as plain text included in the body of your e-mail message, but if necessary can accept small attachments in either plain text, rich text, or MS Word (PC/Windows versions only please). We don't want and won't open PDF files, Mac files, PageMaker, or any pictures whatsoever. Again: no pictures please! If you want we will happily link to another site where such pictures exist.