Sylvia Woods Harp Center
September Newsletter
Welcome to our newly redesigned newsletter. For those of you who read the issues on your phones, our new format should be much easier to navigate. I hope you like our new look.

Gmail and a few other browsers are truncating my newsletters, causing readers to miss some sale items or articles. You should always see the “How to get the 15% discount” section near the bottom of the newsletter, and then a blue box with my contact information. If you’re missing these parts, click on “View Entire Message” or a similar notice at the bottom of your browser to see the remainder of the newsletter.
A Personal Note from Sylvia
I made a major boo-boo in last month's newsletter. I said that Hawaii was admitted as the 50th US state 40 years ago in 1959. Oops! 1959 was 60 years ago. My apologies for the mistake! That's what I get for working on the newsletter at midnight right before sending it, and after my excellent editors had already proofed it. The good news is that my mistake proved that many of you carefully read my newsletters! My thanks to Sue W., Sandi L., and Maureen P. for telling me about my mistake. 

I'm happy to announce that my Replacing a String on Your Harp video is listed as one of the "Top Ten YouTube Harp Videos of the Quarter" in the Fall 2019 issue of the Folk Harp Journal . If you're a subscriber, you can see the complete list on page 72. If you're not a subscriber, you should be! You can subscribe to the Folk Harp Journal here .
I'm excited that Deborah Henson-Conant is our featured artist / composer / arranger this month. I've known (and been in awe of) Deborah Henson-Conant for many years.

Deborah stayed with me when she performed at my store in 1998. In my kitchen, she saw this 1955 photo of my sister Sheryl and me in our Space Patrol outfits. She fell in love with the picture, so I sent her a copy that Christmas. And, as Deborah says, "You two have been pointing your ray guns at me from my studio wall ever since!"
Ray Gun photo
RayGun shrine
Here is the actual photo that Deborah sent me of part of her studio. I'm very proud to be part of her eclectic decor!

If you're not familiar with Deborah, do yourself a favor and spend some time watching her live concert videos on YouTube . I guarantee you'll become a huge fan and exclaim, "I didn't know the harp could do THAT!"

New PDFs on
Here are the new PDFs that I've added to my site this past month. They'll be great additions to your repertoire.


Kathy Bundock Moore - Elegy - a lovely harp solo

Sunita Staneslow - At the River - 4 sacred pieces: Shall We Gather at the River, Deep River, When Peace Like a River, and Down in the River to Pray


Aryeh Frankfurter - The Selkie and Captain O'Kane - two Celtic tunes for solo harp or harp with other instruments
Mary Radspinner - St. Brigid's Flame - Celtic and religious music for harp and two "C" instruments

Ellen Tepper - Sheep May Safely Graze by J. S. Bach for 4-part or 5-part harp ensemble


Mary Muckle - Huron Carol - traditional Canadian carol for harp and voice or melody instrument

Verlene Schermer - A Dozen Dowland Songs & Ayres - Renaissance songs for harp and voice

Our featured arranger: Deborah Henson-Conant
Deborah Henson-Conant -- known often as "DHC" -- is our featured arranger/composer this month. Here's what she has to say about herself and her music.

When I was seven, I learned to ride a bike and to play the ukulele. That set the scene for my life: music and movement were inextricably combined in my mind. 

My first public performance was a school assembly: sitting on stage, ten years old, with a baritone uke, looking out on a sea of faces. For the first time in school, I felt like I was where I should be: on stage.
That same year there was a tortured month of baffling weekly piano lessons that blew up one day when my teacher gave me yet another song about a happy rooster.
“Can’t anybody else already play this?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, of course,” she said. “All my students play it.”
“Doesn’t anyone play it well?” I asked.
“YES, many of them play it very well,” she said archly.
“Well, then why do you need me to play it?” I asked.
I wasn’t trying to be a jerk. I truly didn’t understand why I should play something other people were already playing perfectly well. That job was already being done. I should be doing something nobody else could do.

Piano lessons ended shortly after that, and so I asked my mother how chords worked. She showed me: major, minor, how to add a 7th, play the root with your left hand. It was pretty much like learning the rules to any other game -- except that, unlike other games, these rules made perfect sense to me.
From then on I played the piano hours a day, like kids today play video games. I gobbled my way through musicals, movie themes, and ballads from the piles of popular sheet music inside the piano bench. I ignored the written notes and played the chords and sang along from memory. This skill would come in very handy when I started playing the harp.

When I was 13, my mother became one of the first students at the newly formed North Carolina School of the Performing Arts. She had friends who played nearly every instrument, and all of them tried to teach me. I had five guitar lessons, one on jazz piano, two on flute . . . and six harp lessons. I came up with excuses for why I had to quit every one of them. When I told my mother that I had to quit playing harp because no boy would hold hands with me if I had calluses on my fingers, the writing was on the wall: I just didn’t like music lessons. I wanted to write stories with music and make up the music myself. So they left me alone, and I wrote and played, and played and wrote: Bossa Novas, ballads, folk songs, and musicals. I learned to extend chords, add jazzy rhythms, and include dramatic flourishes. Music became my first language. I couldn’t read or write actual notes, but that wasn’t a big problem. (Plenty of great musicians don’t read or write music.) If people wanted to play my music, I just taught it to them.

But in my early 20’s I started composing a BIG piece of music: a musical. I knew I could never remember the whole thing, so I had to bite the bullet and actually learn to read and write NOTES. So I enrolled in the local junior college, College of Marin, which had a great music department. As it turned out, they needed a harpist for the concert band. Remember those six harp lessons I had? With all that expertise, I became the harpist.
DHC with cellist
For the first time in my life, the discipline of learning notes began to fascinate me, thanks to my teacher, Linda Wood Rollo. I almost immediately started getting jobs in restaurants and events, and I needed them to pay for the used harp I bought. I discovered I could take the minimal amount of classical music I’d learned, combine it with improv patterns, and create enough repertoire to play for four hours a night. Even better, because most of it was improvised, I got to be creative all night. The method I developed then is what I now teach in my online class called "Hip Harp Toolkit" which starts September 24th!

From there I got interested in Jazz, fell in love with the lever harp, started a band, and began touring. I collaborated with the world’s cutting-edge harp company, CAMAC, to create my own signature instrument, the “DHC” harp . You can see the whole story of that journey in my TEDx talk .

The harp started me on a creative trajectory that was almost dreamlike. By the time I woke up, I had written countless pieces for the instrument:
  • one-woman musicals with harp as the sole accompaniment
  • chamber music
  • a full evening of music for harp and symphony orchestra
  • hundreds of solo harp pieces
I also
  • Became the first female jazz instrumentalist on the GRP jazz label,
  • Got to play one-on-one with musical greats like Mason Williams, Doc Severinsen, Steve Vai, Flora Purim and Aierto Moreira, Bobby McFerrin, and Marvin Hamlisch
  • Debuted with the Boston Pops, and premiered compositions with great symphonies around the world
  • Had my own PBS music special
  • Got a Grammy Nomination!
  • Have been featured on many national TV and radio shows including "CBS Sunday Morning," the "Today Show," and PBS "Weekend Edition"
  • Have now gotten to actually conduct my own concertos with stellar harp soloists -- which inspires me to write even more music for harp!

All because of the harp!
Marvin Hamlisch
Ray Charles & Seiji Ozawa
Keith Lockhart
Keith Lockhart
I’ve written dozens of pieces for harp and symphony orchestra, and notating the harp parts are what breaks me every time. The harp is THE hardest instrument to notate –- especially the expanded and unusual techniques like strumming, slapping, and bending used in Blues and Flamenco-inspired music. The harp has the capacity for nuances, flourishes, and techniques that are difficult to note with software like Finale -- but oh, do they sound wonderful!
I'm so proud that my music is played around the world. Nearly every day, another new performance of  Baroque Flamenco New Blues , or  The Nightingale  is posted on YouTube, and I share them on my blog.  You can see Baroque Flamenco performances here . I also love that my concertos, chamber ensemble, and orchestra versions are empowering harpists around the world.
I promised myself to write music that was empowering, liberating, and inspiring. Every harp player who plays it can inspire their audiences, and hear, "Wow, I didn't know the harp could do THAT!" 

I also know what it’s like to be an adult beginner and want beautiful, fun pieces to play. And so, in all my newer arrangements, I try to include at least three versions of each piece: for advanced beginners, intermediate and professionals. I also make sure that at least one of those is playable on lever harp.

I work with many harpists who perform my music, and harpists who long to liberate themselves from the notes on the page. I realized I should pass along more than just the notes. I need to share my entire way of learning and approaching music.

In 2014 I started the Harness Your Muse mentorship program and Hip Harp Academy . Through my online school, I teach other harpists the art of improvisation and liberate them from the notes on the page. They learn the skills I used long ago when I took the art of improv and developed a tiny repertoire of music into full-blown arrangements and improvisations. Visit  to learn more!
Oh … and remember when I said I love music and motion? Last year I got to do something I’ve always wanted to: ride on a bike while playing the harp. I rode the "HarpBike" 12 miles during the 25th Anniversary of the Minuteman Bikeway in Massachusetts. You can see it here on my blog , and in the picture at the right. Just one more harp dream come true!

What are your harp dreams?

Deborah has a special offer for Sylvia Woods Harp Center customers! Take a FREE Mini-Class with Deborah and learn to create your own instant arrangement of the Happy Birthday song. This fun class is for fledgling players to advanced. You'll find it at .
This month's sale
This month's sale features PDFs composed or arranged by Deborah Henson-Conant. The code word is Deborah .   
To get the 15% discount on the products below, enter the code word Deborah in the Promo Code box on your shopping cart page and click "Enter Code" by September 30, 2019. For more information, see the "How to get the 15% discount" section at the bottom of this newsletter.
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
(for pedal harp)
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
(for pedal harp)
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
(for duet or ensemble)
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with Deborah code
How to get the 15% discount
15% off select sale items when you use the code word Deborah

Our newsletter promo codes are redeemable online and are only valid for the items featured in the sale section of this newsletter. They are not valid for phone or email orders. This month's code word is Deborah , and it is valid for 15% off the select PDFs in the sale section above. Just because an item is mentioned somewhere in this newsletter doesn't mean that it is on sale. It must be in the sale section.  
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 Deborah 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 Deborah in the Promo Code box and click "Enter Code" on your shopping cart page by September 30 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 9/30/2019.
Sylvia Woods Harp Center
Princeville, Hawaii
(808) 212-9525