Album Release

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sunrise Breeze

So it all started with me commandeering my neighbor's wind chimes at around 6 AM.

Brought them to 3rd period, which is a 7th grade class. Turned out the lights. We closed our eyes and listened to me brushing the chimes. Lights are on. We figured out the pitches of the chimes. Each composed 3 measures using only those pitches. Put them together to form one piece. Added a base line. Loaded the notes into the computer. And


"Sunrise Breeze" for harp sextet (also playable as a solo). Enjoy!



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Small Chunks

From the classroom yesterday: "Ms. Metheney, why are you so smiley?"

We are working with the beauty of "small chunks" these days, still plugging away at the Permian Basin Harp Masterclass project. If you've got a large task in front of you (like learning a solo harp piece that you are totally unfamiliar with), our objective is: "Ok, guys. This week, your mission is to tackle the first two measures. Hands together. Memorized." Two measures are feasible and less daunting.

Then there are the small chunks within the small chunks. For example, first it's right hand alone until that's totally mastered. Then left hand. Then together.

And there are even small chunks within the small chunks of the small chunks. "This is a weird fingering that you've never done before. Let's do the first two notes like 20 times, then we'll add a note and do that twenty times.

I love how my students don't flinch anymore when I say, "Ok sweet. Do that 20 times and then call me back over." It's because they have found a feasible chunk!!

I'm sure the chunk methodology is applicable to the meaning of life somehow. Hmm... I will need a second cup of coffee for that one.

There is one student out of the 54 that believe their piece is too difficult. And there's one that thinks theirs is too easy. I think, slowly, that they will realize the possibilities within their own hands, both musically and technically.

May your day be filled with chunks,

Monday, January 11, 2010


Today was another good day. It's been quite a while since I took a Sunday completely off (I was told recently that "I have no life" and therefore decided to shape up), and today was a day that I forced myself not to look at my to-do list for work. Crazy! And I feel so refreshed. Harp practice. Clean sheets. Full fridge. Siesta. Phone calls to friends. I liked today.

On the school-front: something is in the air here... I feel like my students (especially the junior highers) are excited about harp. Their parents are excited that they are excited. I'm sitting back, watching people be excited.

There was a booster club meeting last Friday to discuss summer harp camps. It was a packed house, and there are many students that would like to raise the money to go on a harp retreat this year, both in-State and out-of-State. Sweet! They are gung-ho-ly taking responsibility for their playing and interest in harp.

Here is a pic from the OHS football banquet last Friday. I'm still reminded that I'm in West Texas when I see an event like this. No complaints! Just enjoying the observations.

And on the personal practice front: I'm working on "Otoño Porteño" by Astor Piazzolla, arranged by Argentine harpist Maria Luisa Rayan-Forero. I've never met Maria Luisa, but I feel like I walk through her head as I play through her transcription. Her arrangement is delightful. And Piazzolla on the harp... yes! Fan. Sometimes I wish I was a violinist or accordionist, but whatever. I'll take what I can get. My hope is that I can pull off the solo so that it's as in-your-face as it is with multiple instruments. My fingers are crossed, as it were. ... I can't imagine how amazing it would have been to play with this guy. Or heard him live. Intense emotion and energy. Mm- love it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A new year and new music to learn.

Greetings from Harpville. These past few days have probably been the most rewarding days of teaching for me since moving to Odessa. We are starting a new project: The Permian Basin Harp Masterclass. My kiddos were awarded a grant that will allow them to fly a harp clinician in from France to work with them on their playing. Each person will learn their own solo piece, and each piece must be written by a French composer.

Imagine thumbing through hundreds of French harp solos and finding one that suites a specific person. 53 times. That was Monday and Tuesday.

Today is Thursday, and I am amazed (shocked) at what has happened before my eyes. It's like watching a person who has their nose in a really good book that they "can't put down." They are eating up their new pieces note by note. Is this a dream?

The idea behind the PBHM is to advocate "musicality at any level." One can be expressive even as a very beginner with "simple" music. Complex pieces can be performed in a hollow manner. A complex piece that is not backed up by solid playing technique is bad news. We're steering clear of complex and going for simple, musical, beautiful artistry.

Something simple done well is beautiful. Something complex done passably is ambitious but... well, passable.

Each person has received a piece that they can learn and memorize in two months time (by the way, I feel like I've squeezed poor Bernard Andres completely dry). The goal: go from dots and lines on a page (written music) to carefully crafted musical artistry and expression. Mouthful.

One thing I hope not to forget that Elizabeth Fontan-Binoche said to me one day:
"The most important thing to teach a young harpist is
1. how to practice and
2. how to listen to themselves"

I'm trying to achieve these things in class with the repertoire as our aid. Such good times. Mm.