Practice Trophy Display


The students earned a medal for 500 minutes of practice in the month of May and a trophy for 1000 minutes of practice, with larger trophies for 1500, 2000, or 2500 minutes.

This entry was posted on June 10, 2015.

Studio Recital 4:00 June 7, 2015

These students played on the 4:00 recital which was short in length but long in talent!

Harp Recital
Sunday, June 7, 2015, 4:00 p.m.
Reston, Virginia

The old pond/A frog jumps in/The sound of water………………………………… McDonald-Wood

Barcarolle……………………………………………………………………………...Marcel Grandjany

Katherine Nelson

Charlie and the Windmill………………………………………………………………. Isabelle Frouvelle

Snowflake Fairies…………………………………………………………………………… Bonnie Mohr

Macey McIntosh

Carnaval……………………………………………………………………………….. Isabelle Frouvelle

Mountain Stream……………………………………………………………………………. Skaila Kanga

Charlie Goes on a Long Run…………………………………………………………… Isabelle Frouvelle

Victoria Tozeva

Sinueux the Serpent……………………………………………………………………… Isabelle Frouvelle

Marelle No. 11……………………………………………………………………………… Bernard Andrès

Leland McIntosh

Glissando Waltz……………………………………………………………………………….. W. A. Mozart

Reverie……………………………………………………………………………….. Alphonse Hasselmans

Nadia Thompson

Gigue………………………………………………………………………………………. Bernard Andrès

Olivia Tilley

Clair de lune………………………………………………………………………………. Claude Debussy

Shirley Burt

This entry was posted on June 10, 2015.


These students played at the 2:00 recital and proudly display their hard-earned trophies and medals awarded for practice minutes in the month of May.

The Program:
Harp Recital
Sunday, June 7, 2015, 2:00 p.m.

Reston, Virginia

Charlie in the Woods………………………………………………………… Isabelle Frouvelle

Charlie Lost in the Woods………………………………………………….. Isabelle Frouvelle

Night Falls………………………………………………………………………. Isabelle Frouvelle

Charlie Finds His Way Home………………………………………………. Isabelle Frouvelle

Lottie Parrish

Sound the Trumpets……………………………………………………………….. Skaila Kanga

The Anvil………………………………………………………………………. Marcel Grandjany

A Feast Fit for a King…………………………………………………………. Isabelle Frouvelle

Kelsey Kwan

Lullaby for Violet………………………………………………………………. Jane Weidensaul

Sinueux the Serpent…………………………………………………………. Isabelle Frouvelle

Lea Kung

The Keys of Heaven………………………………………………………….. English Folk Song

Barbara Allen……………………………………………………………………….. English Ballad

Spooky City…………………………………………………………………………… Skaila Kanga

Olivia Li

El Número Uno………………………………………………………………… Jane Weidensaul

Daffodil Dance………………………………………………………………………. Skaila Kanga

Riding Sunflower………………………………………………………………….. Kathryn Cater

Elisabeth King

A Feast Fit for a King…………………………………………………………. Isabelle Frouvelle

Midnight Stars…………………………………………………………………. Jane Weidensaul

Glissando Waltz………………………………………………………………… Jeanne Chenette

Natalee Cannon

Being chased/The firefly/Hides in the moon………………………….. McDonald-Wood

Jade Temple……………………………………………………………………. Nancy Gustavson

Annette Wright

Steady Rain……………………………………………………………………… Jeanne Chenette

Max Stratmann

Muscade………………………………………………………………………….. Bernard Andrès

“Sarabande” from Violin Partita #1………………………………………. Bach-Grandjany

Helen Lim

Sarabande…………………………………………………………………………….. G. F. Handel

Fire Dance………………………………………………………………………….. David Watkins

Amy Lim

Studio Recitals June 7, 2015
June 10, 2015

Mary Duplantier on the Millennium Stage, May 18, 2015

Mary Duplantier is a junior in high school and joined my studio three years ago when her family moved to this area. She had previously studied for about eight year.

Mary is Principal Harp in the American Youth Philharmonic, the top youth orchestra in the area. A select chamber ensemble was chosen to perform on the Millennium Stage. Mary is playing the Debussy Danses sacrée et profane, which is second on the program at 14:15.

http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/videos/?id=M6311&type=A

This entry was posted on May 19, 2015.

Kai-Lan Olson on the Millennium Stage, May 13, 2015


One of my finest students, Kai-Lan Olson, is a junior in high school and began her harp studies with me about six years ago. She is a participant in the Youth Fellowship Program of the National Symphony Orchestra. Through this program the students get weekly lessons, ensemble coaching sessions, and opportunities for side-by-side with the NSO–all on full scholarship. It is a very competitive application process.

Kai-Lan has thrived, playing the Dussek Trio in the fall semester, the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique in side-by-side, and here, in her second Millennium Stage performance of the year, she plays the Pescetti Sonata in c minor, Tournier Jazz Band, and the Persichetti Serenade #10 for Flute and Harp.

http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/videos/?id=M6306&type=A

This entry was posted on May 14, 2015.

Master Classes with French harpist, Isabelle Frouvelle, April 24, 2015

Last October I met Isabelle Frouvelle during her visit to Washington, D.C. She shared her beginning teaching materials, “Play the Harp with Charlie the Kitten” and “Les amis de Gribouille.” These materials are carefully put together and match my teaching sequence. They have been a big hit in my studio!

Isabelle returned to D.C. in April and I invited her to present a master class for my students. We had two sessions. The advanced students played prepared solos. Isabelle gave thoughtful and constructive critique to each student.

• An-Ya Olson — Fantasie by Saint Saëns
• Kai-Lan Olson — Jazz Band by Marcel Tournier
• Mary Duplantier — Danses sacrée et profane by Debussy

The younger students attended the second hour, playing excerpts from “Play the Harp with Charlie the Kitten” and “Les Amis de Gribouille.” Isabelle congratulated each student on her progress at the harp and explained the thoughts behind the pieces. She finished the class by autographing their books.

This entry was posted on April 25, 2015.


Belt Exams March 2015
I have struggled throughout my teaching career with the question of the best way to develop excellent technique in my students. Like most teachers, I started by teaching the way I was taught. But I had a myriad of teachers as my father was in the Army and we moved a lot, requiring frequent change of instructor, method and so on. Most of my early teachers used the Grossi Method, followed by the Pozzoli and Bochsa Etudes. Some of my teachers, including Marjorie Tyre, with whom I studied in college, felt exercises and etudes were a waste of time and students could develop technique strictly through their repertoire.

I began with that approach: no etudes or exercises, but simply well-chosen repertoire. I felt this was only moderately successful so I went back to Grossi, Pozzoli, and Bochsa op. 318. For a time I had the students who progressed past these etudes do the more advanced Bochsa Etudes op. 34, but came to the conclusion that these etudes were not as productive as the earlier ones. At that point it was preferable for students to spend their practice hours on repertoire.

To encourage students to actually practice the etudes, for a number of years I devoted the March studio recital to etudes. I tried to “sell” it by telling students they would not have to memorize the etudes (I require memory of all repertoire on studio recitals), and could also play a duet or other chamber piece on the program. I had good success with this, but many students only practiced the one etude a year.

Last year the scheduling simply didn’t work. Too many students were doing competitions or other high-stakes performances in March and didn’t have time to polish an etude, so I dropped the etude recital, but told them I would still require some sort of technique exam.

Although I am a firm supporter of the ASTA-CAP program, chaired the committee which wrote the harp curriculum, and am currently the harp representative on the committee, I have not had my studio do the exams in recent years. This has been mostly a problem of logistics and scheduling. But I thought I would simply take the technical requirements out of the ASTA-CAP curriculum and have my students play those scales and arpeggios for an examiner.

As I began preparing, I expanded the concept considerably and decided to award belts for harp technique, as in martial arts, with white belt corresponding to the preliminary level and black belt to the highest level. I took the ASTA-CAP technical requirements and expanded them considerably, adding snippets of exercises on slides, muffles, pedals, harmonics and so on. The upper levels required standard orchestra excerpts.

The first set of exams, in May 2014, was a great success. I hired Adriana Horne, principal harpist with the National Symphony Orchestra, to evaluate about 25 of my students. She took time with each one, turning the event into a series of mini-master classes. I scheduled the students in groups by the hour, so that all could participate regardless of other commitments during the day. Each group had to remain for the hour to benefit from the instruction given to the other students. The levels were mixed in each hour.

In the fall I asked the students if they preferred the belt exams for technical development or the etude recital. The response was unanimous. They preferred the belts. So this year I continued the program, making some adjustments in the requirements after the trial run last year. Nadia Pessoa, harpist with the Army Band, evaluated the students and it was a good experience for everyone. They are all eager to begin the next belt, which is very encouraging!

I am not yet ready to publish the materials, as they still need some tweaking. Also I had an 11th grader complete the black belt so I need to come up with a second degree black belt! Basically each level increases the metronome marking for the scales and adds more complex chords and arpeggios. The white belts do not use the metronome, but beginning with the yellow belt they must use the metronome with the scales. The yellow belt requires the eighth note subdivision with the scale. This is tough for the 7 and 8 year olds, but it is a wonderful way to get them accustomed to the metronome before applying it to their pieces.

The orange belt also requires subdivisions in triplets and many of them find this difficult as well. The purple belt requires the 16th note subdivision. At this point they can easily subdivide and the skill transfers easily to their repertoire. Then it is just a matter of moving the fingers faster at each level, and in a greater variety of keys. The upper belts require scales of 2 against 3 and 3 against 4. Again, tough skills, but once these skills are mastered in the scales there is no stumbling block when the complex rhythms show up in the repertoire.

In the six weeks leading up to the belt exams, a good third to half of each lesson was devoted to mastering the required technical skills. Now I am only spending five or ten minutes on one or two elements of their previous belt, or the next one, and devoting more lesson time to the repertoire.

So, have Grossi, Bochsa, and Pozzoli been discontinued? Of course not! I still think the Grossi exercises are terrific for developing standard finger patterns and reinforcing reading skills. And all of the intermediate technique is covered in Bochsa and Pozzoli. But, I have more success getting the students to master the belts than their etudes, and there has been a gain in the technical mastery of my students which is apparent in performances of their repertoire. The belts are here to stay!

This entry was posted on April 11, 2015.

Studio Recital April 6, 2014

It must be spring, because we just had a studio recital! I have a pretty even split between lever and pedal students right now and they all played brilliantly, demonstrating lots of musicality and technical polish. Enjoy the photos!

Pedal harp students

Lever Harp students



All students

Recital Program

This entry was posted on April 6, 2014.

“Etudes and Ensembles” March 17, 2013

My apologies for the almost four-month hiatus in posts. I will try to "catch up" and post programs and comments from events since March 2013.

On St. Patrick's Day I split my studio into two groups and each student performed an etude plus a piece with another musician. Some of the beginners did not play an etude, but most students did.

This recital serves several functions: I am a strong advocate of the study of standard etudes, but most of my students are not convinced of the value. With the recital I know that they will learn at least one etude thoroughly!

The ensembles are important and I believe reinforce the primary objective of music study: to be able to share beauty through sound with other people. The middle and high school students often want to perform with their friends and I encourage that. Several of the groups also performed at other studio recitals or in retirement or nursing homes.

Another value of this recital is that I don't require memory. My students perform solos in studio recitals in November and in June, as well as for many competitions and festivals in the community, and I expect solo performances to be thoroughly memorized. But this recital does not require memory and so the atmosphere is a little more relaxed, and those students who don't have strong memorization skills have a chance to shine.

Here are the programs from March 17, 2013:

This entry was posted on June 30, 2013.

Katie Buckley, Harpist with the Iceland Symphony

As part of the Nordic Cool 2013, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra performed in the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center. The Washington Post gave a favorable review.

On Sunday, the harpist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Katie Buckley, gave a master class for my students. Her comments were insightful and very kind. We enjoyed hearing all about the culture and life in Iceland!

The master class program:

Amy Lim: Rossini Sonata
An-Ya Olson: Gershwin Prelude #2
Helen Lim: Corelli Giga
Kai-Lan Olson: Glière Impromptu
Elise Kolle: Bach-Grandjany #6
Kelsi Gray: Grandjany Fantasie–introduction, theme, and first variation (four pages)
Francesca Savoia: Prokofiev Prelude in C
The students played beautifully and I was proud of each of them!


Photo taken following the Master Class

On Tuesday evening Katie Buckley and percussionist Frank Aarnink, together forming "Duo Harpverk" performed a collection of contemporary works of Iceland composers on the Millennium Stage. Here is a link to their performance.


Duo Harpverk

This entry was posted on March 7, 2013.

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