Sylvia Woods Harp Center 
February 2018 Newsletter
A Personal Note from Sylvia
Once again, I'm sending this email just under the wire at the end of the month.  My excuse for being so late is that I've been working hard on the 2 PDFs I'll be talking about below. I've finally finished them, so this newsletter is ready to go! 

Please note that the Disney PDF is only for people who have purchased my 76 Disney Songs book or PDF somewhere in the past.  But the Irish PDF is free for EVERYONE. 
Read on, and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Happy very end of February! 
unforgettable A bit of harp history from the past 40 years
It is hard to believe, but it has been 40 years since I wrote the Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp book way back in 1978. Wow! How time flies when you're having fun playing the harp! 

The entire Teach Yourself book is in the key of C (or A minor), with no sharping levers needed on any of the pieces. This is because sharping levers were pretty much non-existent when I wrote the book. The ones that did exist tended to be blades that you turned sideways to make the sharp. They were very inaccurate, and the strings sounded pretty bad when they were engaged. The early actual "levers" that you flipped up tended to gnaw away at the strings, causing excessive breakage. And, once again, they didn't sound very good either. A lot of harps didn't even have sharping blades or levers as an option at all!  You had no way of making sharps without actually re-tuning the strings.

In the late 1970s I was a member of the group Robin Williamson and His Merry Band. As with most Celtic bands, we played pretty much everything in the keys of G or D. So I actually tuned my F strings to F#s when I tuned them with my tuning key, so I didn't have to use the F levers at all. That way, the F#s always sounded good and in tune!

As the saying goes, "We've come a long way, baby" from those early days of the 1970s and 1980s. Lever harpists now have a variety of excellent, accurate, and easy-to-use levers to enhance their playing. At the risk of sounding like an "old-timer,"  you young whippersnappers have no idea how good you have it!  (Tee hee . . . I just couldn't resist that comment.)

Most of you are aware that there are 2 main ways that players tune their lever harps. 
With all of the levers down they tune:
#1. to the key of C . . . all naturals, like the white keys on the piano. Using this method you can play in the key of C and all sharp keys, but you cannot play any flat keys.
#2. to 3 flats. All B, E, and A strings are tuned to flat. Using this method you can play in keys from 3 flats up to 4 sharps. * (If you tune your harp this way, please see the footnote at the bottom of this article.)

Tuning video
If you have any questions about these two tuning methods, watch the video on my website called Tuning Your Lever Harp to C or Flat Keys that explains everything.

The tradition in Europe and the British Isles has generally been to tune to 3 flats. Here in the US people usually tuned to C in the early days. As the lever technology has improved, more and more people are using the 3-flat method.

Because of the 2 different ways of tuning, I always try to be very specific on my web site, telling you things like, "this book contains 5 pieces: 1 in the key of C, and 4 in flat keys." This explanation lets you know that you probably don't want to buy this book if you tune your harp to the key of C, because you'll only be able to play 1 piece.

Personally (and this is totally only personal preference), I always tune my harps to C. First of all, I find it easier for beginners to understand tuning and using their levers. Second, I find that flipping levers are much easier when tuned this way. A lever in the up, engaged position is always a sharp, and a lever in the down position is always a natural.
Whereas, when tuning to 3 flats, sometimes an up lever is a sharp and sometimes it is a natural. And a lever in the down position is sometimes a flat and sometimes a natural.

But, as I said, which tuning method you choose is really personal preference. A lot depends on what music you want to play, who arranged it, and if you'll be playing with other people. If your teacher tells you how they want you to tune your harp, always do what they say! 

You may be wondering why I'm discussing methods of tuning today. Read the next article, and you'll find out why!

*An important note on the correct way to tune if you tune your harp to 3 flats.
You should NEVER flip your levers up on the B, E, and A strings and then tune the strings to the natural notes. Instead, always flip ALL your levers down when tuning. There are several reasons for this. If you have high-quality levers, the lever mechanism is tightly holding the string where the sharping lever engages, ensuring that you get a clear tone.  If you tune a string with the lever engaged, you're over-tightening the top part of the string between the sharping lever and the bridge pin. And, you're trying to pull the string through the lever where it is supposed to be held. This causes extra strain on the string and on the lever. Also, since you're over-tuning the top part of the string, when you release the lever, the pitch will not be accurate. This is why harp technicians and harp makers tell you to always tune with your levers in the "down" or "disengaged" position.
flats New arrangements for lever harps tuned to flats
As I mentioned in the article above, I always tune my harp to the key of C. This is just my own personal preference. 

Although I have always known that some people tuned their harps to 3-flats, I never thought much about it in my early days of arranging harp music. Luckily, I was mostly arranging folk and religious pieces that didn't require many accidentals. It wasn't until I started arranging pop pieces, and wrote my 76 Disney Songs book in 1994, that I started to get comments from people saying that there were some pieces that they couldn't play, because I used A-sharp or E-sharp accidentals in the arrangements. Obviously, if your A string is tuned to A-flat, you can't use your lever to make an A-sharp.
Tuned to C icon

Once I was aware of this, in new books I started making 2 separate arrangements when necessary, to accommodate the two ways of tuning. In 1998 I started using these icons on the top of the pages to indicate which harp(s) each arrangement is for: lever harps tuned to C, lever harps tuned to flats, and pedal harps.
Tuned to flats icon

For example, there are 2 versions of each of these pieces in the Lennon & McCartney book:
Because  *  For No One  *  I'll Follow the Sun  *  I'm Happy Just to Dance with You  *  I'm Looking Through You  *  In My Life  *  This Boy  *  Yellow Submarine
Pedal icon
And three pieces even have an additional 3rd arrangement, strictly for pedal harps:
If I Fell  *  Michelle  *  Here, There and Everywhere

(My Lennon & McCartney book and PDF are part of this month's sale!  Hooray!)

This article continues in the next section below . . .
  disney New arrangements for 76 Disney Songs
Disney Cover Art
In the 24 years since I wrote my 76 Disney Songs book, I've only received a handful of complaints that some of the pieces were not playable on harps tuned to flats, but a recent email from a customer made me realize that I should see what I could do to fix this problem. I was quite surprised to discover that there are actually 19 pieces that had issues. They either need A# or E# accidentals that are impossible to play on lever harps tuned to flats.  

Someday My Prince Will Come  *  When You Wish Upon a Star  *  Baby Mine  *  Reluctant Dragon  *  Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo  *  I'm Late  *  Bella Notte  *  La La Lu  *  March of the Toys  *  Let's Get Together  *  Chim Chim Cher-ee  *  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious  *  Bare Necessities  *  The Aristocats  *  Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat  *  Scales and Arpeggios  * 
DuckTales  *  Meet Me Down on Main Street  *  There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

For the past month I've been transposing all of these songs into keys that work with harps tuned to flats. I have had to completely re-typeset them, so it has taken me a long time to get this project done. I'm happy to announce that I have completed this daunting task, and created a PDF including all 19 new arrangements.

If you have ever purchased 76 Disney Songs from anywhere, either as the printed book, or as a PDF download, you can get this new PDF FREE so you can play the pieces on your harp tuned to flats. Since all of these pieces are under copyright by Disney and I have to pay royalties on them, you will need to prove that you purchased the book or PDF.  
Here's all you need to do to get this free PDF  
if you tune your lever harp to flats.
#1. Buy a copy of 76 Disney Songs book or PDF now on my website (they are both part of our sale this month!). Then email asking to get the additional free PDF. Please put your name in the subject of the email.
#2. If you have purchased a copy of the book or PDF in the past, email me at asking for the additional free Disney PDF. (Please put your name in the subject line of the email.) If you purchased the book from me, let me know, and I'll try to find your order in my database. If I can't find your order, or if you purchased the book elsewhere, I'll send you an email asking you one trivia question. It will be something similar to "who wrote the music on page 86,"  or "what are the last 3 words of the lyrics on page 97," for example. The answer will be easy to find if you have your copy of the book close at hand. Once I receive your correct answer, I'll email the free PDF to you.

If you play pedal harp, or if your lever harp is tuned to the key of C, this PDF won't be useful to you. You can play the pieces as written in the original book. 
This article continues in the next section below . . .
  irish FREE Irish tunes for EVERYONE
Irish Melodies cover art
When I was checking the Disney arrangements that needed to be re-done, I also discovered that there were 2 pieces in my 50 Irish Melodies Book that used A# lever changes: Bendemeer's Stream and 'Tis the Last Rose of Summer.  I have made new arrangements of these pieces to accommodate harps tuned to flats. 

I created a PDF of these 2 pieces including both the original arrangements and also the new arrangements for flats.  So you can play the pieces no matter how you tune your harp!

EVERYONE can download this FREE PDF . . . even if you have never purchased the actual book! Just click on this link to get the free PDF  of these 2 well-known Irish tunes with arrangements for any type of harp or tuning!
NewPDFs Update on Carolan Songs and Airs book and CDs
Complete Carolan
Last month, I told you about Caitriona Rowsome's definitive harp book and CD set: The Complete Carolan Songs & Airs.

As I mentioned, I've had lots of problems getting this book, and I only had 15 copies in stock when I sent out the newsletter. 

I was shocked when it sold out in less than 2 hours! Plus, I now have 50 people on the waiting list for the next batch! This is the biggest response I've ever gotten for a product in my newsletters.

Five of the 15 lucky recipients have already written reviews of this book on my site. You can read their reviews on the product review page.

Currently I have another 70 copies on order. Once again, I have no idea when they will arrive. The estimate is "2 to 4 months." Not very helpful, but at least they are supposedly on their way to me.

So . . . I have about 50 people already on the waiting list . . . and I'm supposed to get 70 copies. Therefore, the next 20 people who email me at and ask to be put on the list for the upcoming shipment will be the next lucky ones! Don't wait. Email me NOW if you want to be put on the waiting list, and I'll let you know when the books arrive and tell you how to complete your order.

You can read all about this great book here: The Complete Carolan Songs & Airs.  
thisMonthsSaleThis month's sale
This month's sale features 3 of Sylvia's books and PDFs mentioned in the articles above. The code word is flats
To get the 15% discount on the products below, enter the code word flats in the Promo Code box on your shopping cart page and click "Enter Code" by March 12, 2018. For more information, see the 15% Off section at the bottom of this newsletter.    
by Sylvia Woods
15% off with flats code
Be sure to email me if you
tune your lever harp to flats.  
Lennon & McCartney

by Sylvia Woods
15% off with flats code
50 Irish Melodies
 by Sylvia Woods  
15% off with flats code

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

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 flats and it is good for 15% off the select books, sheets and PDFs in the sale section 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 flats 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 flats in the Promo Code box
and click "Enter Code" on your shopping cart page by March 12
to get the discount!
If you forget, or if you have trouble adding it to your order,
email Sylvia immediately.   

offer expires at the end of the day on 3/12/2018.
Sylvia Woods Harp Center
  (808) 212-9525

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