Songs to Walk Down the Aisle To - A Harpist's Wedding Planning Tips

Welcome back! Today I want to write about song selections for the most important part of the ceremony - your walk down the aisle! Some people feel that they must stick to the classic choices, but that is simply not the case. Your wedding musician should be able to learn almost anything from any genre. And if you have hired a harpist, don't feel that they can only play classical music. The harp is much more versatile than you might think! That being said, there is something lovely about the classics at weddings, so I will start with a few of those selections for your entrance.

The ever popular Canon in D by Pachelbel is a soothing way to make your entrance, while Here Comes the Bride signifies to everyone in the room of your arrival! A few other options include Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Clair De Lune, and the theme from the movie The Ludlows. 

If you are a more modern bride, some great options are At Last as performed by Etta James, or Rather Be by Elle Hollis. With pop music, it is usually the lyrics that stick out, so it is best if you choose a song with clear and memorable melodies when you want an instrumentalist to play it. A Thousand Years by Christina Perri is an excellent choice as is Marry Me by Train. 

Feel free to ask your wedding harpist about learning songs for your entrance. Most are completely willing and happy to learn more repertoire and to make your day even more special. 

I hope this has inspired some thoughts on your song choices for your wedding day! Remember to really take the time to figure out what you love and want played at your wedding. 

How to Find and Hire a Wedding Musician - A Harpist's Wedding Planning Tips

Welcome to A Harpist's Wedding Planning Tips! This is a new series on my blog that will hopefully help clarify any confusion you might have when looking for a musician (or multiple musicians) for one of the biggest days of your life! I though I would start with the very beginning : how to find and hire a wedding musician. 

I would recommend booking wedding musicians about 6 months prior to your wedding day. Sometimes they are booked years in advance, and while they might be available a month before your wedding, you don't want to risk it. Though there are many ways to find a musician for your wedding, I think the best way to discover one is by word of mouth, from people that you trust. Ask your wedding planner, friends who have recently been hitched (and had a GREAT experience with their wedding vendors of the musical variety), church musicians (you may not want an organ, but they may know of a great string quartet).

Aside from these 'in real life' options, there is always the Internet. This might help you if you are looking for something unique or extremely specific (for example, bagpipes, or brazilian accordion .... ?) I would highly recommend Gig Salad to start your digital search, or the wonderful Google of course!

I will write an entry on things to look for in a wedding vendor soon, but make sure they are serious about playing music for weddings. That's probably the biggest tip - if they love playing for weddings, they will love playing for yours.

Once you have a few musicians lined up that you like, I would encourage you to go see them perform live. Sometimes they have a calendar on their website, but if not, you can always email and ask when their next live performance is. Alternatively, you could ask to meet them in person for a free consultation/meet and greet. Professionally speaking, most vendors require some type of deposit and a contract (red flags should pop up if your vendor doesn't)! 

I hope these tips help you get started in planning your dream wedding! 

~Michelle

Babies and Harps!

I recently had the great pleasure of introducing the harp to a local Kindermusik baby class! It's not common for me to play for such a young audience, but they were so very attentive (and as you can see below, extremely interested in the harp! ) 

Such an up close and personal audience member!  

Such an up close and personal audience member!  

Holding on to those harp strings! 

Holding on to those harp strings! 

Certainly an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon!  

CEO Awards Event at Umstead Hotel & Spa

Things have been so busy lately, and couldn't be happier about it! Last Friday I was playing at the Umstead Hotel for the CEO Awards reception. There were so many beautiful dresses, and the weather was just perfect! 

The following day, I was extremely excited to debut my jazz trio for a joint 60th birthday party celebration! 

Down East Folk Festival

Friday, March 18th I will be performing a set of Celtic music for the Down East Folk Festival in New Bern, NC! I'm so excited to be playing for a music festival, and am having tons of fun putting my set together and re-arranging some of my older celtic repertoire. My set will be from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm and is completely free! 

Hope you all have a great time planning your St. Patrick's Day events!

~Michelle

Wedding at Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Here are some pictures from a beautiful occasion at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens! Arrived early enough that we were able to take some video, more information on that soon! I'm currently working on moderato videos and recordings for you all :) 




Raleigh Second on List of Top Music Cities in America (that aren't Nashville...)

A great link someone posted on Facebook! I was surprised that Raleigh has bene named the 2nd best :) Not only has Raleigh been included in this list, but so has Asheville - the only other place in North Carolina that I have lived. So excited to move back to Raleigh and see how the music scenes have blossomed! 

"What Your Favorite Music Reveals About Your Brain"

A really interesting article on how your taste in music and personalities are more interlinked than we may have thought! 

Although people’s music choices fluctuate over time, we’ve discovered a person’s empathy levels and thinking style predict what kind of music they like,” writes Greenberg, who’s studying to get his Ph.D. at Cambridge’s Department of Psychology. “In fact, their cognitive style—whether they’re strong on empathy or strong on systems—can be a better predictor of what music they like than their personality.”

Graduation Day!

I can hardly believe that my Master's Degree is finished! I graduated with a merit (in the UK that's 2nd best!!) Here are a couple of pictures from the amazing day (which also happened to be my birthday!)


MA Final Recital in Jazz Performance ... a Success!

Yesterday was my final recital in jazz performance! I don't think I have ever felt so great after a gig before. I was so lucky my aunt came to watch and I had some friends/family watching from Concert Window. Though it was a bit terrifying at one point the only face in the audience I could see were those of the adjudicators! 

It was an amazing afternoon, and I hope I'll be able to play there again. The bass player and drummer were superb. I think trio is the way to go for jazz harp now - it's a bit more intimate. I have to say, I much preferred playing my clarsach in the hall. It rang out beautifully :) I have to wait until July 2nd to receive my final grade, though! Hopefully I'll have some pictures coming up online soon! 

Thank you everyone who tuned in (live or via Concert Window), to anyone who has helped me move my harp(s), and helped me improve musically. A huge thank you to my parents for their generous support and constant encouragement! I can't believe I will soon have a master's degree!! 

The Kora

Last night I went to go see Kora (Africain harp!) player, Seckou Keita at RWCMD. It was so neat to see the instrument played live 

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He spoke about the history of the kora and some of Africa's history - I wish I had been taught a lot more about that and other cultures in school! In other news, the RWCMD Jazz Festival Weekender starts tonight! Hope you all enjoy the great weekend ahead :) 

Final Recital for MA in Jazz Performance

I can't believe it - I have almost finished my Master's Degree in Jazz Performance! My last official assignment is my final recital performance, which is a week today! It is a part of the RWCMD's Amser Jazz Time Weekend Festival. There's going to be so much music going on, so if you are in Cardiff I would highly recommend visiting this website for more information. Darius Brubeck, John Taylor, and Get The Blessing will also be performing that weekend - be sure not to miss them! 

My recital is going to be the 17th of May at 3 pm (UK Time) in the Dora Stoutzker Hall at RWCMD - but if you are not in Cardiff, I am going live streaming, again! Click here for more information. Concert Window makes it so easy :) A special note - the concert is completely free to watch online and in public, but if you tip $30, I'll give you a one hour harp lesson (saves you $15!) If we are not in the same location, I will happily teach you via Skype! 

I'm very excited to be playing with two great musicians, and will be sharing my interpretation of celtic and jazz music for the first time in public. Hope to see you all there or online!

~Michelle

Edinburgh Harp Festival 2015

I had such a great week at the Edinburgh Harp Festival! I learned a lot of music, was inspired to compose, and met some great people. It's always interesting when a group of harpists get together. I was also able to help out at the jazzharp.org foundation booth - it's easy to sell CD's when you love the music!

I'm excited to share with you all what I learned - I'll be hosting a Concert Window House concert sometime this summer to do so! More information on that soon. 

Hope you all have had a lovely April! 

The Long Winter ...

is nearly over! We haven't had it as bad in the U.K. as you all in America have, though. It's been fairly mild. The past few months I've been spending in my practice room (to avoid the rain as much as possible) and am excited to show what I've been working on! This Friday I'll be performing at RWCMD's Jazz Time starting at 5:30 pm! The set is going to be all jazz tunes that I've been learning by ear, and I'll even be playing a little bit of percussion on the harp! If you're in the area, I'd love for you to stop by and check it out.

Also, my E.P. is finally beginning to turning into a reality. We'll be recording late this month, and I can't wait! I've had a great time designing the liner notes and working on the arrangements :) More information on that as the date comes closer.