Sylvia Woods Harp Center 
April 2017 Newsletter

RedwoodsPaying it forward: a tribute to Judy Diaz
This story began in May 1991.  My friend Ellie Choate called to say that our wonderful first harp teacher, Marjorie Call, had passed away.  In lieu of flowers, Marjorie had a special request for any of her former students who were now teaching the harp. She asked that they give a free harp lesson to one of their students in her honor.  I was very moved by this request.

Judy Diaz
In Marjorie's honor, I gave a free lesson to my student Judy Diaz.

Last week I got word that Judy passed away from lung cancer on March 27th.  So, in Judy's honor, I am giving free lessons to two of my current Skype harp students.

I have taught a lot of people to play the harp. (Not to mention the tens of thousands who have learned through my books.)  Many of my students have gone on to record CDs, write books, give concerts, and make their living playing the harp.  And I am proud of each and every one of them.

However, Judy has always held a special place in my heart.  She bought a harp from me in 1985 . . . her first harp of at least 5 . . . and started taking lessons.

A few years later, she told me that her church, St. Wilfrid's Episcopal Church in Huntington Beach, California, had no music at the early 7:30 am service.  So she started playing there every Sunday.  She was allowed to play any music she'd like, and she found that it was a great way to keep motivated to practice, learn more music, and expand her repertoire. Judy continuing playing for the church for many years as a volunteer musician. The photo of Judy above was taken at the church in 1991. (Thanks to Judy's sister Jenny for the photo.)

One year Judy said she wanted even more motivation, and decided to give a concert for all of her friends.  So we worked on her set list, and she practiced like crazy. She gave the concert at her home, and I was extremely proud to be in attendance.  She did a fantastic job, and her friends loved hearing her play. If I recall correctly, it was on Saint Patrick's Day, which was also her birthday! 

Sadly, Judy contracted lung cancer.  After she went through chemotherapy she started taking her harp to the hospital to play for patients while they went through chemo. She told me that she knew what a stressful time that was for people, and she felt she could help ease their pain with her harp music.

As far as I know, Judy was never paid for any of her performances.  She believed that her music was a gift from God, and it was her duty and privilege to share it with the world.

She was also a strong believer in "paying it forward."  In January 2016 she emailed saying that she was too sick to continue to play the harp.  She wanted to give away her harps to people who would play them and give them good homes.  Yes, I said "give away," not "sell."  It just so happened that a few days before I had been in contact with an autoharp player, who also lived in Huntington Beach, who was interested in buying a harp. So I brought the two of them together.

Later that week Judy emailed:   "My Triplett Celtic harp has found a wonderful home with Dana Whitney. She only lives about 4 minutes from my house. I am happy for them both! Dana will make a contribution to the American Cancer Society. Thanks for helping me find a wonderful new owner for my harp where she will be well loved and cared for.  Love, Judy"

I wrote to Dana this past week asking how she was doing with the harp that Judy gave her.  Here is her reply.

Judy's husband, Arnold, called me hours after she died, Monday, March 27, as I had been alerted a week earlier that she wished for me to play her harp for her while she was in hospice care.  I began diligently practicing several songs, including "Far Away," the one song she had played for me on our only meeting in January 2016.  I had asked to come sooner, but Arnold was waiting for a "good day" for Judy, which never returned.

Today is her funeral, and I will be saying my final good-byes to her, but she will always be remembered by me as an incredibly generous woman, the musical angel in my life.  You share that role, too, Sylvia, as you gave Judy my phone number when she called you to say she wished to give her harp away.  The timing of this gift has been a God-thing in my mind.  I had always wanted to play a harp, and your name was given to me as the best person to call.  Within a matter of hours, you put Judy and me together, probably not knowing that she lived only about a mile away from me.  The rest is history.

Upon Judy's recommendation, I began my harp lessons from Joy Vargo, an amazingly good teacher who has become my friend as well.  Even though I play piano, autoharp and ukulele, it is playing Judy's harp that I look forward to each day as I awake and before I go to bed. The resonance of this 34 string Triplett harp is soothing to the soul and everything I had always hoped playing a harp would be.  I have enjoyed several opportunities to play at my bi-monthly music gatherings as well as private parties.  Although I am only a beginner, my goal is to play for hospice patients.  

Knowing how much I owe Judy for giving me her harp, I feel responsible for improving my skills and playing the best I can to honor Judy and her kind generosity. I am certain this lovely woman had a huge impact on many people with her music that she played in church every week.  Judy will be so missed by so many people.

Today I am humbled and honored to play in the foyer at her church as her friends and family enter for her funeral.  I am told they will recognize the harp as Judy's. Please pray that I am able to honor her today.

Gratefully yours,

I hope that this article inspires you, as both Marjorie Call and Judy Diaz have inspired me.  If so, please share your musical gifts with the world and "pay it forward" in whatever ways you can.  You don't have to be a professional, or even an advanced player . . . just go out there and play!

Dear, sweet Judy, I will miss you. But I know you are now playing with the angels in the heavenly choir.
ThronesHarps on TV update
Daria on Dusty
We have more harp-sightings on TV for you this month.

Daria, a 12-year-old girl from Romania, performed on the NBC show "Little Big Shots" on the April 4th episode.  She sang and played "A Thousand Years" on a 36-string Dusty Strings harp.

Daria on Camac
I did a YouTube search and found out that Daria was also on the March 23rd auditions for " Românii au talent," which I assume means "Romania's Got Talent."  She performed the same piece on a Camac lever harp.  And, she got 4 "da's" . . . or "yes's."  So it looks like she'll be on the show!  Click on the images to watch the videos.

Big Bang Theory

Big Bang Autoharp
And now, for more "Big Bang Theory" updates. 

In the last newsletter, I mentioned that my former employee Adedan had taught Mayim Bialik to play the harp in 3 episodes, and that recently she taught her to play the autoharp. Well, the autoharp episode aired on April 6.  Mayim strummed a few chords and sang "Soft Kitty" in English, German, and Mandarin. Well done, Aedan!

Big Bang harp case
The week before, in the March 30 episode,  Mayim's character Amy Farrah Fowler entered her apartment carrying a large black harp case.  (For those of you who have never seen the show, you need to know that they live in an apartment house where the elevator has been broken for over 10 years.)  As she wrangled the harp case through the door she said:  "You know, I like harp lessons, but I'm thinking of switching to elevator repair lessons."

Here's the behind-the-scenes-scoop.  Aedan rented them the harp case . . . without a harp.  They said all they needed was the case, because she wasn't going to be playing.  Who knows what they stuffed in the harp case . . . but it certainly wasn't a harp!

So, how many harps does Amy have?  I think the show's producers (or prop people, or "powers that be") think that "a harp is a harp" and that all harps look alike.  But she's had at least 3 harps, and now one autoharp.  First there's the Triplett harp that was supposedly in that black case, that she actually played in 3 previous episodes.  But look where my red arrow is pointing in the photo above, and you'll see part of a small harp the corner of her apartment. (OK, it is very hard to see in the photo, but take my word for it: it is a harp.) This "prop" harp has been in the background in many episodes over the last year or so, but it has never been picked up or played.

Big Bang Sicle
Also, Aedan's black Harpsicle showed up extremely briefly in "The Romance Resonance" episode (October 24, 2013).  Mayim never played it, but she walked through the scene wearing the harp for one whole second! (That's why the photo is so blurry. It was really quick!)

PLUS, look at the second Big Bang photo above, and you'll see that Amy also has a lyre on top of the bookcase by the door!  She is one musical lady.

Farmers Insurance
In last month's newsletter I said: "we're pretty sure that my Aedan rented them the harp for this commercial."

But then I received this email from Stephanie Bennett.
It was I who rented the N-30 harp for that insurance commercial. It was a few years ago and I don't remember the exact date or location, but I remember delivering it to a shopping mall and to that mall-photographer set.  

My apologies, Stephanie.  Thanks for setting the record straight.
ExtravaganzaOur Featured Composer and Arranger: Alfredo Ortiz
Alfredo promo
Alfredo Rolando Ortiz is our featured composer and arranger this month.  Here's what he has to say about himself and his music.

¡Mira amor! ¡Otro video de mis composiciones! (Look my love! Another video of my compositions!).

      Every few weeks I check with the words "harp Ortiz" and I always find one or more new videos of my compositions. Some are of large harp ensembles performing at UNESCO in Paris or harp ensembles in Italy or Indonesia while others are of little children, students and professional lever, pedal and folk harpists. Some feature ballet dancers, belly dancers or combinations of harp and a wide variety of instruments. If you search for "Habanera Gris," about 100 videos come up; "Danza de Luzma" no less than 30, and many for the exciting and FUN "Merengue Rojo" or the dramatic "Milonga Para Amar" and more.
       I was born in Cuba in 1946, and moved to Venezuela in 1958.  My harp journey started on a borrowed harp, just after turning 15, under very difficult economic circumstances of my family. It was the last day of classes at high school in December 1961. On stage kids sang, recited poems, and more. And, as it often happened, someone played the "arpa criolla" (traditional Venezuelan harp form the plains of that country and center instrument of Venezuela's national dance: the "joropo."). I recognized the player as one of my friends form playground time, Fernando Guerrero. After the event I told him I had been in love with that instrument since the first time I heard it on the radio, the very first day I arrived from Cuba by ship in 1958. Every day on television harpists would play beautiful instrumental pieces or accompanied singers in the traditional music styles from the plains. Fernando said: "Sure, I will teach you what I know but you need a harp."  
Alfredo 1964
As soon as I arrived home that day, I asked my parents for a harp.  But my mother brought me back to reality when she asked me if I remembered what happened to my piggy bank the week before . . . I had broken it to give my coins to my mother to buy milk for my little sister Rosy, who was only a little over one year old. We were living in a rented two-bedroom-one-bath apartment: my parents, my sisters Diana and Rosy, and about 10 Cuban refugees sleeping on the floor of the living room. I was being the typical self-centered teenager thinking of just me when I asked for the harp. I felt terribly sad and apologized for asking. But one of the refugees had a Venezuelan friend visiting and he overheard the conversations and said: "I have a harp at home just for decoration.  I will be happy to let him borrow my harp."  A few days later I walked about one mile with the light-weight harp to Fernando's home for the first of many lessons "by ear."  
      Having seen many Venezuelan harpists on TV I had also seen harpists form Chile and Paraguay in popular music shows on television. We had a very simple record player at home and almost all of the very few records we had were of harp music. I was mesmerized by the famous "Pájaro Campana," music symbol of the Paraguayan harp and was trying to learn it on my own but was failing miserably. Then they announced a free performance of a folk group form Paraguay at an amusement park near my home. I went, talked to the harpist who gave the name of a man who maybe could help me find a way to learn the Paraguayan harp. The man came to visit us with a harpist friend who was in Venezuela for a few days and we all had a wonderful concert at our humble apartment. On his way out we realized the man I had called was the Consul of Paraguay in Venezuela at the time and he gave me the phone number of a Paraguayan harpist who lived in Caracas then: Alberto Romero!!! I had seen him on TV and had his album and could not believe that he he lived just a few blocks away in a multi-million population city! The first night I met him he was teaching me for hours and invited me to return weekly. I was terribly embarrassed to explain to him that I had no money at all for lessons . . . he turned red, upset, and said to me in a strong voice: "Who is talking about money!! See you next week!!"  He knew about our economic situation and he never charged me for the lessons. That began in late 1962 and he was my teacher until I went to Medellin, Colombia, to attend medical school, in December of 1963.    
Alfredo Gold Record
     I began my medical studies in January 1964 and my first harp job was a wedding reception in the spring of 1964, where an executive of CODISCOS Recording Company was a guest. The following week I was signing my first recording contract. So, the harp paid my way through medical school until graduation in 1970. I recorded 28 albums for that company. Some of them still sell in Columbia on CDs.
Alfredo wedding
      I moved to California in early 1975 to pursue specialized studies in Music Therapy at Cal State Long Beach, and I began producing my own albums. (10 CDs are available on my website.) I married Luz Marina on March 20th, 1977. (We just had our 40th wedding anniversary!) I continued "harping" (performing 7 days a week) along with my medical career (5 days a week at Fairview State Hospital) until my wife became pregnant in 1978. Since then, I have dedicated my life only to my family and the harp (although years later I still diagnosed the appendicitis of both my daughters and a grandson when the doctors thought it was the stomach flu ☺).
      When I wrote my first book in 1979, Latin American Harps History, Music and Techniques, the printer (who was a friend) was worried about "who would buy it" . . . now in it's Second Printing of the Third Edition, it continues being a source of FUN for all harps, along my all of my other books. (See the sale section below.) 

Alfredo Edinburgh
      As a composer, I never dreamed that one day my music would be required study at conservatories and universities around the world. Eleven of them are included in the Harp Syllabus of the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music, used for harp exams in over one hundred countries.   
Alfredo anniversary
     I have always known that VARIETY is very important for us all as performers, to engage the audience (even your friends and family) and for your own FUN. My collections always have a wide variety, from the very romantic to the very exciting and many are inspired by the great loves of my life: My wife of 40 years, Luz Marina, our daughters, Luzma and Michelle, my love for nature . . . music composed to butterflies, rivers, waterfalls, the seashore, the mountains. Yes, I am a romantic and proud of it. ☺
       To finish I would like to share two rules I teach all my students: "Play the wrong notes nicely!" (Yes, we all play "those" but the ideal is to play them well!) and the second rule is that to learn those difficult parts or to correct any problems on any music you must practice "slowlier." Yes, I meant "slowlier." I know the word is "wrong" . . . but they "remember it!"
Alfredo grandson
      I invite you to explore all my music available from Sylvia's website to add "variety, romance, excitement and more FUN to your repertoire!"
      Happy harping!

Photos (from top):
#1. Alfredo today  #2. Alfredo in 1964  #3. Alfredo's gold record  #4. 1977 wedding  #5. 1987 Edinburgh Harp Festival  #6. 40th Anniversary 2017  #7. with grandson Eric 
thisMonthsSaleThis month's sale
This month's sale features PDFs and companion mp3s by Alfredo Ortiz.

To get the 15% discount, enter the code word alfredo in the Promo Code box on your shopping cart page and click "Enter Code" by April 24, 2017.
For more information, see the 15% Off section at the bottom of this newsletter.   
Niagara Moon
15% off with alfredo code
Cuban Dream
15% off with alfredo code

15% off with alfredo code

promocodes15% off select sale items when you use the code word: alfredo

Our newsletter promo codes are only redeemable on-line, and can only be used for the items featured in the sale section of this newsletter. They are not valid for phone or e-mail orders. This month's code word is alfredo and it is good for 15% off the Alfredo Ortiz PDFs and companion mp3s 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 alfredo 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 this month's code word alfredo in the Promo Code box
and click "Enter Code" on your shopping cart page by April 24
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 4/24/2017.
Sylvia Woods Harp Center
  (808) 212-9525

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