Sylvia Woods Harp Center 
September 2017 Newsletter

A Personal Note from Sylvia

This September is a memorable one for me . . . for anniversaries. 

25 years ago, on September 11, 1992, Category 4 Hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai, Hawaii.   We were in California at the time, so we personally missed the hurricane. But our house in Hanalei was not so lucky: it sustained quite a bit of damage. I didn't have time to worry about the hurricane, however, because that same week we opened our first harp store in Glendale, California. Yes, September 1992 was a busy and eventful month!!!

In a few weeks, on September 30th, I'll be celebrating the 4th anniversary of my move to Hawaii.  I feel so happy and blessed to be able to live here, in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.

And now, on to the subject of this newsletter.  I always try to make these monthly newsletters uplifting, informational, and FUN! However, this issue includes an important and sobering warning for all harp players and teachers.  I hope you'll read the following article.  It could save you a lot of heartache . . . and lots of money!

To make up for the "downer" message of this issue, I've put a whopping 18 items in this month's sale!  Check out the big variety of sale items at the bottom of this newsletter.

I promise that the next issue will be back to its normal fun self. And don't forget . . . you can always read past issues on the  E-mail Newsletter page.

P.S.  My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
This article is extremely important as it concerns email scams that are targeting music teachers (of all instruments) and musicians.

It all started a few weeks ago when I received the following message from Sara Cutler, the Principal Harpist of the NYC Ballet Orchestra, Orchestra of St Lukes and the American Symphony Orchestra.

I received an email from a Ken Johnson at 3 days ago.  He said he got my name from your teachers' registry and that he was looking for a harp teacher for his 11 year old son for 3 weeks while his son was in NY.  From the wording in his emails, English is obviously not his first language.  After several emails back and forth, he informed me today he has sent me a check for $3800, $100 for me for the first lesson and the rest to be forwarded, by me, to his son's "caregiver"!  I'm realizing this is a new twist on the Nigerian prince scam and, if I were to do as he has asked, I'd be out the money and his check would eventually bounce.  I'm not sure what you can do, but maybe include a warning about this in your next newsletter?  I don't like to think of anyone in our harp community falling for this and I thought I should inform you. 
So, last weekend I sent an email to all of the teachers on my website's Harp Teacher List, warning them about this scam, and asking if they had received similar emails.  
So far I have received over 50 responses.  Most of the teachers said that they had been getting these scam emails for years, long before they were listed on my site.   Here are some of the replies.  They have some great hints for harpists and teachers to help them avoid being a victim of  these scams.    
Most of the examples below have to do with scams targeting teachers. But there are a variety of emails out there trying to scam musicians of all kinds.  I've heard of scammers sending huge checks to musicians to play for a wedding, asking them to send most of the money on somewhere else . . . e.g. "to pay the florist" etc.   
     Thanks so much for the scam alert. Over the last few years I have received many of those emails, both directly to my email and as contacts through my website. They are pretty easy to catch as usually it's a weird situation where they want lessons for a month for their son or something. My policy to never give my actual address until I have spoken to someone on the phone. Some of my students and their parents have English as their second language, so I don't assume it's a scam just based on that.  Anyway, thanks for the alert, and if you send out more info let people know to be wary of them trying to send you money or asking for your address before you speak or set up a lesson time. - Hope Cowan, Texas
      Yes. Being a teacher with an online website, or even just a member of a guild, or teachers' association, I get them regularly. I WISH I had new students, and always open and read the same weird request: only in the United States for a few weeks, foreign student, pays too much . . .   
- Laurel Gibson, Georgia    
      The scam you wrote about is not a surprise to me, unfortunately, as I have received similar scam emails at my university email addresses and from my freelancing website.   
- Grace Bauson , Virginia 
     Thanks for your warning email. I have had a steady run - maybe one every 3 or 4 months over the past couple of years, of vague persons who can't spell correctly, wanting short term lessons for their 'talented child' visiting N.Z. Most also request that I offer them hospitality or find suitable homes and schools for them to attend!! They always offer me large sums of money for lessons. They go in the delete box faster than lightning..  
- Cathie Harrop, New Zealand  
     Lori, a manager of a harp studio said that she had email correspondence from
"a man named John Coles who claimed his daughter is staying with her Grandmother while he is on business out of the country.  He asked where he should send a check for $3,000 and wanted us to send him a $2,600 cashier's check overseas."    
   Yes I have seen similar e-mail scams. Mostly they come through my craigslist ads. Since I stopped using craigslist they are not as common.
- Candace Coates, New York 
     I've received many similar emails in the past several years. The way the emails were worded, English was not their first language. This was my "red flag" indicator especially when they claimed to be educated in college or a University. Usually the email indicates that they are need of a harp teacher for their son/daughter who will be visiting in my area, or attending a college in my area, or vacationing near me and would like to continue with lessons. I never responded because if it was a legitimate request, they would give me phone number to contact and more information and not offer a huge amount of money upfront for a teacher without knowing who they are and what type of harps are offered in lessons and style of music taught. I don't teach pedal, where some requests came in for pedal harp teacher. Plus the fact that I give lessons out of my home, I am very reluctant to quickly give my address and any other information for identity theft and possible robbery of my home.  
     I have reported several of these emails as scam to my email provider and these emails have reduced by almost 50% since I did the report. Suggest to all your teachers to do the same and they should see a reduction as well.
     Also, you may want to add, never click to view or open if the subject of the email has your email address in it. This is always a scam of some kind and may contain a virus or tracking cookie.  
- Sherri Trometter, Pennsylvania
     When I get this kind of email I erase it. But the first one I got, was a let down. I even researched the name of the "doctor" who was bringing her child for lessons and the name checked out. However as I further communicated with the person, I figured that it was a scam because they couldn't tell me what city they were coming to for lessons and that they knew little or nothing about the harp.I was already into it so I told them they were going to have to send me a certified check overnight for a whole years worth of lessons as I don't take students for less than a year. (I thought why not play with their minds. They played with mine!)  They'd say I can't send certified check ... End of communication. - Reuben Correa, Minnesota 
Reuben emailed me again the next day with the following warning for ALL HARP PLAYERS (and other musicians).
     I just thought of another scam. The very first one that really made me wary of accepting jobs online. I received an email from a man who said that he was celebrating his 50th birthday.  He was from out of state, East coast. He was going to have a big bash with lots musical guests and press. He said he liked what he saw on my web site and songs that I composed and played, really playing to my ego. 
    He wanted to fly me and my harp out to his location for a couple of days, put me up in a hotel, rent a car, the works. So he told me to figure out what my fee would be, the cost of flying, and rental car, and hotel. And give his accountant the amount.   
     I'm thinking wouldn't it be easier to hire somebody on the East coast? It was not however, outside of the realm of my experience. Twice I had previously been invited to play at a signing of my new cd at a store on grounds of the Big Top Chautauqua in New York and do a concert and a live radio interview. I was also flown out to Pittsburgh to play at the merchandise Mart for week.
    He said he was away on business in Holland, so he would leave my financial transactions in his accountant's care. A telltale sign was that he didn't have a good command the the English language, and the story was sometimes inconsistent. I chalked that up to his working as an international person. So I did my research excitedly and totaled it up, padding it a little for unexpected expenses, and presented to accountant. I also MapQuested the location and it came up as an actual place. So I thanked my lucky stars.
     A few days later I received a whopping big check. It was $4,000.00 in excess of what I'd asked for. It was written on a Q-check.  I'd never heard of a Q-check before. I asked the bank about it and they said "international" businesses use them all the time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's an account with money in it. I have a policy that I don't spend any of it until the check has cleared. In this case it would take up to ten days.
     Suddenly I got all kind of emails, telling me that the accountant made a mistake and sent my fee along with the press fee and I had to send money back right a way. I calmly told them when the check cleared I would send the over-payment. That's when they went into high gear sending me all kinds of emails, letters, even phone calls. They escalated and were threatening me with legal action. And the story took a turn for the worse. The man's wife was in the hospital because she had complications giving birth and they needed the money right away to pay the hospital bill.
    The story became desperate and full of holes, I got a call from the man who said he was the accountant who said I was causing him to be fired because I wouldn't send the money via Western Union. I said I didn't have that kind of money and if the check was good you'll have your money in a few days. They said send $2,000.00 using Western Union and gave me a number.  
    It was the phone call that clued me into the feeling that it was a scam. It was an overseas call, of poor quality,  the person sounded African and I could hear other people laughing and egging him on. Giving words to say to me.
     A couple of days later the check bounced and I was out $35.00 for the NSF fee. I told the people to stop bothering me, the check bounced and I was going turn them in to the FBI. They made a few more feeble tries and then stopped.  
   It was such a traumatic experience for me. I was greatly depressed for a long time. I was embarrassed because I had to tell my friends it was all a big scam.
    I did contact law enforcement, and they said they get hundreds of complaints like this one and they couldn't possibly follow them all. They said I was smart that I had the presence of mind not to fall for their sob stories and threats. Some people are far more gullible, especially people who have that kind of money in the bank.
   I look for language use, spelling mistakes, inconsistent story lines, and greetings that say. "Dearest brother in Christ" . . .  things to that nature.
   I hope you can use my experiences to help other people, especially the upcoming new performers to set procedures and contacts in place for protecting themselves from the daily onslaught of scams.
- Reuben Correa, Minnesota  
In conclusion . . . criminals use a variety of email scams to try to get money out of musicians.  
Some of these emails may say "in your area" instead of your city, because they really don't know (or care) where you are.  Also, several harp teachers said that the email they received said "piano lessons" instead of "harp lessons", and other things that don't make sense.   
So . . . beware . . . and remember . . . if anyone sends you a lot of money and asks you to send part of it somewhere else . . . DO NOT DO IT!  It is a scam. 
And now . . . to end on two happier notes.   
#1. I heard from one teacher who had received and responded to the same email that Sara received.  She was expecting a check any day from Ken Johnson.  So, due to Sara's email warning, at least one harp teacher was saved from falling for this scam!   Thanks, Sara! 
#2. My favorite tongue-in-cheek response to my email was from Kelly Yousoufian of the Michigan Harp Center.  Here was her fun reply about the "son" who is supposed to get these harp lesson.  
   I have been getting these emails for a couple of years.  You'd think he would have learned to play by now!   ;)
Here is some scam information from official US government websites. Click on the links below for more information. (If you live outside the US, check with your government's fraud departments.)

FAKE CHECKS drive many types of scams - like those involving phony prize wins, fake jobs, mystery shoppers, online classified ad sales, and others. In a fake check scam, someone asks you to deposit a check - sometimes for several thousand dollars - and, when the funds seem to be available, wire the money to a third party. The scammers always have a good story to explain the overpayment - they're stuck out of the country, they need you to cover taxes or fees, you'll need to buy supplies, or something else. But when the bank discovers you've deposited a bad check, the scammer already has the money, and you're stuck paying the money back to the bank.
So don't deposit a check and wire money or send money back in any way. Banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take them weeks. If a check you deposit bounces - even after it seemed to clear - you're responsible for repaying the bank. Money orders and cashier's checks can be counterfeited, too.
Complaints from consumers help us detect patterns of fraud and abuse. The FTC would like to know about your complaint and the Complaint Assistant will help guide you.
Forward unwanted or deceptive messages to:
  • the Federal Trade Commission at Be sure to include the complete spam email.
  • your email provider. At the top of the message, state that you're complaining about being spammed. Some email services have buttons that allow you to mark messages as junk mail or report them spam.
  • the sender's email provider, if you can tell who it is. Most web mail providers and ISPs want to cut off spammers who abuse their system. Again, make sure to include the entire spam email and say that you're complaining about spam.
thisMonthsSaleThis month's sale
Last month, we featured music about animals. This month we're expanding the animal kingdom by featuring 18 books, PDFs, and sheets about birds.    
To get the 15% discount, enter the code word birds in the Promo Code box on your shopping cart page and click "Enter Code" by September 30, 2017. For more information, see the 15% Off section at the bottom of this newsletter.    
76 Disney Songs
arranged by Sylvia Woods
(including Feed the Birds)
15% off with birds code
arranged by Sylvia Woods
(including Lark in the Clear Air)

15% off with birds code
arranged by Sylvia Woods
(including Geese in the Bog)

15% off with birds code

Mostly Scottish #1
Mostly Scottish #1
arranged by Rachel Hair
(incl. Catherine's Hen Is Dead) 
15% off with birds code
On Eagles Wings
On Eagle's Wings
arranged by Angi Bemiss
15% off with birds code
Eye on the Sparrow
His Eye Is on the Sparrow
arranged by Brook Boddie
15% off with birds code

 Soaring Strings
by Kathryn Cater
15% off with birds code
The Nightingale
by Deborah Henson-Conant
15% off with birds code
Loucks Soul Dance
Soul Dance
by RoJean Loucks
(including Whippoorwill)
15% off with birds code

An Irish Tunebook
 An Irish Tunebook
arranged by Sue Richards
(including The Gentle Swan)
15% off with birds code
Homage to Yeats
Homage to Yeats
by Carol Wood
(including Wild Swans)
15% off with birds code
The Swan - Brundage
The Swan
by Saint-Saens, arranged
by Barbara Brundage 
15% off with birds code

Peaceful 1
 Music for a Peaceful Heart #1
by Lisa Lynne 
(including The Morning Dove)
15% off with birds code
Renaissance Gems
Renaissance Gems
arranged by Robin Fickle 
(including Of All the Birds That I Doe Knows)
15% off with birds code
Selected Pieces book
Selected Pieces for Harp and Flute
by Shawna Selline   
(including Sea Swallow)  
15% off with birds code

Trad Tunes Twist
 Traditional Tunes with a Twist
arranged by Verlene Schermer 
(including Mockingbird Song)
15% off with birds code
Highland Harp
Highland Harp
arranged by Kim Robertson 
(including If I Were a  
15% off with birds code
Small Tunes book
Small Tunes for Young Harpists
by Bonnie Goodrich
(incl. Flight of the Swallow) 
15% off with birds code

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

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 birds and it is good for 15% off the select "bird" 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 birds 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 birds 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 us immediately .   

offer expires at the end of the day on 9/30/2017.
Sylvia Woods Harp Center
  (808) 212-9525

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