A Priceless Meadow – My Debut CD Release!

“Do you have a CD?” That is a question that every musician loves to hear. It is lovely acknowledgement that someone likes and appreciates your work. What a great feeling!cover front

As a solo harpist, I think we probably get this question maybe even earlier than some other musicians. There is just something about the harp. But the thought of actually making a CD? AHHHHH!!!! And the process of actually DOING it? AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! It is alternatively – scary, fun, exhilarating, terrifying, frustrating, tedious, expensive, torturous, amazing and …… Bottom line. It is a lot of work and worth every second.

I am thrilled to announce that after almost three years of hard work, my debut CD is hitting the market. For many years as I played at hospice or performed at a restaurant I would get the question about a CD. I deferred for a long time. I didn’t think I was up to it. It is hard when you compare yourself to your idols and think “I could never match that so what do I have to offer?” But gradually, slowly, I decided that I did have something to say and I did have something to offer. I can’t compare myself to some of my idols and I’ll never be like them. I’m just me and that is fine.

So starts the process of making a CD – planning, picking songs, getting permissions, designing, making arrangements, recording. And repeat and REPEAT! I never thought it would take this long but it did and it really was worth it. Every delay actually turned into a blessing.

First, my long suffering husband. He bore the brunt of this process in many ways putting up with so many harp hauling duties, practice sessions, recording sessions and questions. He has spent a lot of time listening to me which he doesn’t mind as long as he’s drinking a beer (kidding! Sort of 🙂 ).  Man, he is a patient soul and I’m the luckiest woman in the world. One hint – part of the CD title is an ode to him. Additionally, he was my first sound engineer and together we spent a lot of time doing recordings.

After each recording session we would go home and I would review and edit everything. First, I had to learn the sound editing program Audacity and later I had to learn Adobe Audition. Challenges. Worth it. Eventually, I decided that I still wasn’t getting exactly the sound that I wanted in the spaces where we were recording so I called Darren Crisp. Darren has a fabulous studio here in Fayetteville and has done CD mastering for some of my friends including Candy Lee. Getting to record and work with Darren has definitely been a highlight for me.

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Picking songs – now there is a challenge! Trying to find the right mix of songs between things written for the harp, traditional, things you need to get permission to record, things you have to pay royalties on, things you’ve written. I admit that I feel a sense of failure that I didn’t include anything that I have written on this album. It is something that I have been working on but just haven’t quite been ready to share with the world. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I am honored that several wonderful people that I know were willing to share their talents with me. First, my friends RoJean Loucks and Carolyn Bame who both write the most beautiful songs specifically for lever harp. Narrowing down the options was the biggest challenges with their songs. I’m thrilled to play their songs and thankful for their shared gifts. Also, I was lucky to find a song that came from my parent’s church in Portland, Oregon. The song, “Come to Me”, was written by two members of the church for their choir. I think it is such a beautiful song for the choir and it was a challenge to bring it down to just a solo instrument. I hope they think I’ve done it justice. There were many songs that I worked on for some time that in the end didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. I had a really joyous time coming up with my own creative “mash-ups” of some traditional songs and I’m very proud of that work.

Designing… designing… Luckily, my friend, Rhonda Dillard, got me up and running in the design stage but eventually I had to learn Adobe Illustrator to work on the CD cover and other promotional materials. I’m still learning but I’ve made progress. The thing about this process… You are a musician but you end up being all these other things as well! A lot of hats. Since my soul will always be a photographer that is an easy part of the process for me. Dave and Sharon Thormahlen have given me great pieces of art to photograph and I love taking my harps and giving them a chance to shine in nature. The cover photo for the album was taken at Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas and I’ve been using that photo as my logo for a while. However, in the end, I did my final recording on my new harp which is the same model just a different color and a little bit bigger bass sound. I don’t think that is false advertising since they are so closely related.cover thanks

Now comes the marketing, press releases, release party and, hopefully, sales. Obviously, I hope for sales. It would be nice to think that all of those people that asked over the years will come back and buy a CD. It would be nice to recoup my production costs, pay for the harpmobile and be able to buy my husband a beer. Mostly, I hope that people will enjoy it. I think they will be happy to have it at Circle of Life Hospice where I volunteer. I will be glad that I have finally accomplished this challenge and I am proud of all the work that I have done. It was worth it!

Enjoy!

PS. The CD is available available for pre-order on my site if you want a physical CD. It will also be on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby soon too!

A Priceless Meadow CD

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Concert in Gulley Park

On Thursday, July 24th, I hosted a concert at the Pavilion in Gulley Park in Fayetteville. Although we had the threat of rain all day the evening turned out to be beautiful. My dear friend, and fellow harpist, Tammy Willicox came all the way from Miami, Oklahoma to surprise me!

Many of my neighbors and friends came, a few that had heard the KUAF interview, and even a few people who were just walking through the park and lucked into some music.

I played lots of requests and did a lot of movie themes which are a favorite of mine. Here a few photos from the evening.

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KUAF Interview

Recently, I was honored to be interviewed for the weekly Music Segment of Ozarks at Large on KUAF.

Christina Karnatz did a great job with the interview which aired on Friday, July 25, 2014. I talk about my early journey of learning to play the harp. On the Sunday recap show they aired my rendition of “Unchained Melody.”
Below are links to both segments.

Interview

Sunday show

Concerts on tap!

I’m heading out of my comfort zone and into Concerts! Most of my playing events have been as background for a fabulous party or helping the bride sail smoothly down the aisle. I’m not usually one to be front and center and actually giving a harp performance. Well, starting last night, and into the new year this is going to change.

Last night at our church we had a lovely Coffee House event in the fellowship hall and it was a nice chance to perform in front of small but appreciative audience. I also shared the stage with some other amazing local musicians and that alone was intimidating!

I’ve have five concerts scheduled so far through early next year. They are all on my calendar and I will talk about each as they get closer so be sure to stay tuned on social media.

First up. Next Thursday, the 31st at 7pm, I’m going to be doing a casual, fun, FREE, concert at the Gazebo in Gulley Park. Bring a blanket and enjoy the lovely harp tunes.

In October, I will be doing a concert sponsored by the Grand Avenue B&B in Carthage, Missouri as a fundraiser for a church group. This concert is also being held to coincide with the 48th Annual Maple Leaf Festival.

November is Hospice Awareness Month and time for Thanksgiving. There will be two concerts to celebrate and give thanks for the gift of hospice. Also, a time to remember those in our lives for whom we are thankful. Donations will be requested to continue the work of Circle of Life Hospice. One concert will be given on Thursday evening the 13th at the Springdale location and another on Sunday the 16th in the afternoon at Legacy Village in Bentonville.

February is for LOVE! In 2015  KUAF will be celebrating several milestones. Please join us in a pre-Valentine’s Day celebration on Thursday, February 5th,  to show some love for KUAF. Dessert and Wine from Beland Manor in Fort Smith will make this a perfectly LOVELY evening. Details and pricing will follow so stayed tuned.

I hope that I’ll see you at a concert soon.

Cheers, Beth

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New Harp Arrives!

My new harp is here!!!! Whoot, Whoot! Here is the unpacking..

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It left Oregon on Tuesday the 17th and arrived in Springdale on Monday the 23rd. They were supposed to deliver it on Tuesday the 24th but I couldn’t see it sitting up in the warehouse overnight so I went and picked it up. Dave and Sharon trust the shippers but you still hold your breath until it arrives safely.

It has been almost two months of waiting for it to arrive. This is really very fast in harp time but slow for an impatient person like me. If you missed it, you might want to go back and see the post about the early journey to my newest harp.

The new harp has a built in pick-up so it will connect better with my amp. It also has a larger sound box by 1″ and you can tell the difference. I’m still getting it tuned up but I took it on it’s first journey to hospice yesterday. I think it will be ready for the wedding at Thorncrown Chapel this weekend and it will be great to hear it in that lovely space.

I love the racing stripes!

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Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Last weekend I played my first wedding at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville. As a long time member, I’m particularly fond of this location. It is so beautiful!!!

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However, in full disclosure, I have to say that doing outdoor weddings is stressful. Arkansas is like many places where there is just no way to predict the weather. On any given day we could experience the whole spectrum of weather phenomenon – and we have! As you can imagine, my harp and my amp don’t like to be out in the rain and the heat can make it tough on your fingers and electronic equipment. The cold is very tough on the harp, too. If I agree to an outdoor wedding I REQUIRE that a Plan B be in place for the event. Playing at outdoor weddings is a challenge, I’ve got some great stories, but at a place like the Botanical Garden it is worth the risk.

Here are a few more photos from this weekend.

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It’s a Harptastic Social Life

Professional musicians are small business owners and therefore wear a lot of hats. On my list of things that I do is helping out the International Society of Folk Harpers  and Craftsmen. This a great group and I help on the magazine and also manage their Facebook Page. Doing social media for yourself or for groups is a challenge – trying to create interaction, doing something interesting, maybe something funny, trying not to do too much or too little. I think it is an easy challenge for our group because we do have a specific focus and are fairly like minded but I do think about it a lot and work at it.

Since it is my nature to take pictures, lately I’ve been on this kick of doing some Harp Art for the page. Here are a few of my latest samples. I have some great photo apps on my iPad that help out and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with them. Below is also a painting that I did for one of my musicians friends.

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Wedding Season and FAQ’s

Well, it is officially wedding season. I am happy to say that I am nicely booked for the next two months and looking forward to some beautiful weddings. I’ll be visiting some very familiar places like Pratt Place Barn and Thorncrown Chapel and new churches from Alma to Rogers.

One of my favorite parts of the wedding process is getting to meet with the bride… and groom … or Mom… or….. It is fun to put ideas together and come up with the perfect plan for each event. I like to be able to tell people that I worked over ten years as a wedding photographer, I have been a bride, brides-maid, mother-of-the-bride and have played the harp at dozens of weddings over the last few years. I’ve learned a thing or two about weddings along the way and I’m pretty easy to get along with. A compliment that always means a lot to me after an event is that someone was impressed by my professionalism as well as my music. That is my goal.

Since I know how weddings work I can often get by on very little information but I do need to know some details in advance. Minimally, how many parents and attendants and the dress code and color for the wedding. After that, I can pretty much wing anything but obviously the more information the better! It is worth it to spend a little time in advance to have everything go smoothly on the big day.

One thing that I did to help brides (and other event planners) was to come up with a list of Frequently Asked Questions. These are the things that I always ask and the things that often get asked of me about the harp. I hope that you can take a minute to review this list. FAQ’s. It is a good list to get you in a harp-tastic mood. 🙂

If your question isn’t on the list, be sure to let me know!

Here is a picture of the wedding at Pratt Place Barn.

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New Harps!!

The past two weeks have been a flurry of new harp activity.

First, I saw a deal on one of my Harplists for a Harpsicle that I just couldn’t pass up. I thought it would be handy to have around for students but would really be the one that I could use when we travel. Sometimes I don’t need a big harp but I still need something! I was very excited when it arrived. Here it is in the backyard…

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The same day the new Harpsicle arrived my Dusty 36S Bubinga, which I’ve had for sale for almost 2 years, sold and went out the door in about 24 hours! I was shocked that it fell in to place so quickly and it is a perfect fit for the new owner. I feel great that it went to a good home where it will be used and appreciated. I loved that harp but it ended up not being the perfect fit for me. So now I really need that new Harpsicle to use during lessons for the new month or so.

After the Dusty left, I immediately called Dave & Sharon Thormahlen and managed to get in at the perfect moment to order my second Ceili! It was very lucky to have these dominoes falling in place. I love that I can dream up my own perfect combination for the harp and Dave can make it! And it appears that Dave is working at blazing speed because I’ve already gotten these photos from Sharon of the harp in progress.

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The new harp is Chesnut with dark binding so it will be a contrast to my current Ceili.

In the middle of all that, my young student, Josie, received her first harp. Her Grandmother had it shipped to my house so that I could prepare it for her. I spent three days tuning it and had it in pretty good shape by the time she arrived. Her Grandmother arranged a little party for her at my house and they surprised her with the harp while she was here. I think she was pretty excited!

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It was fun having all the different harps in the house at once. So, of course, I took some pictures!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day (but it’s not just a Celtic Harp!)

As we finish basking in the glow of a Happy St. Patrick Day, I thought I would take this opportunity to clear up a few myths and misconceptions.

The harp is one of the earliest instruments known to man and it has grown and evolved over centuries. It is “native” to many different cultures and it comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes!!

The harp that I play is technically known as a “lever harp” but is often also called a “Celtic harp” or “folk harp”.  The main difference between this and the “pedal harp” or “classical harp” is the mechanism that is used to create sharps and flats or “accidentals”. It is also a little bit smaller than a pedal harp but it is still a harp and it still sounds AMAZING! The main harp that I use (the black one on the website) comes from my good friends in Corvallis, Oregon, Dave and Sharon Thormahlen. www.thorharp.com My Ceili (pronounced Kay-lee) 34 Harp was custom designed and is strung with fluorocarbon strings for a bright sound. I also have a beautiful Bubinga 36S from Dusty Strings in Seattle, Washington.

Recently, I received this questions from a fellow harp player who is just starting their musical journey. “The Ceili is always described as ideal for Irish music…. In your experience, is the Ceili well-suited for many types of music as well as Irish?  Is it basically as versatile as your Dusty”? (Read into this question also… “as versatile as a pedal harp”?)

It is a good question and one I’m often asked. I always say I play the lever harp (both the Ceili and Dusty are lever harps) and add in an “also known as” when needed. I think this it is a good time to help people understand about the different types of harps but I never just call it a “Celtic harp”. I play every single genre of music on my harp!! Why limit it? My harp doesn’t know it should only play Celtic music!!!

Along with that, a pedal harp doesn’t have to be gold and doesn’t have to only play classical music. I hate to say that lever harps have limitations compared to pedal harps but they do make some forms of music more challenging. It boils down to the skills and desires of the harpist not just the mechanical aspects of the harp.

There is a wide world of harps and harpists out there with many different types, styles and cultural reference points. Who is to say where the journey might lead and what music might be created? While I think about this, I’m going to have some tea in my favorite mug.

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Here is a classic pedal harp (not gold in this case).

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A cross strung harp.

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A Paraguayan Harp

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And a few early references to harps…

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