I am pleased to announce the re-release of our CD set titled “Harp and Cello”. This is a 2 CD set that has music of the Psalms presented in 2 formats. The first CD is an instrumental only presentation with harp and cello harmonizing together in a delightful arrangement for beautiful background music. The second is the same music but has narration of the words of the Psalms recited by my wife, Shirley Rees. The CD set is a delightful combination of words and music creating a powerful listening experience.
The cellist, John Maskel, is a brilliant cello virtuoso and plays first cello position in several symphony orchestras in his area and I have had the privilege of playing with him on several occasions. When I proposed the recording project to John he jumped at the opportunity and was a key player in bringing the mix together.
I had prepared chord progression charts for each of the Psalms we recorded and John followed along on the first composition but then he came to me and asked if I would be willing to try letting him feel the music as I played the harp portion. We proceeded with that idea for the next composition and it went so well that we continued with that process throughout the remainder of the recording session.
My good friend Gene LeSage is the sound engineer and has helped Shirley and I record several of our albums. His technical ability and purity sustained this project through its development to make sure that it came across with boldness and sincerity.
Shirley’s skill in bringing the words of Scripture alive for her hearers also adds to the presentation of this CD. We have tried to interpret these Psalms according to the message that David has written into each of them. Someday, I want to ask him what he had in mind as he wrote these Psalms. Probably what is here is different than David played, yet I believe that there is something of the essence that he wrote into these works, in praise to God. It is our prayer that you are brought into the presence of Most High God as you listen and participate with the music of these Psalms.
I would like to announce the collaboration of The Music of the Psalms with a beautiful book written by Suzy Mulligan titled Dear Children, Love God. This is a special, 8×8 inch hardcover book, with a loving message for each one of us. It is a gentle reminder that above all else we are children of God, whose love for us is unconditional, healing, and timeless.
To compliment the experience of reading through the book, I have provided the harp music of Psalm 51, Psalm 91, and Psalm 103 to be played in the background. These three Psalms offer about 30 minutes of beautiful restful inspiring music to help set the atmosphere for reading these words of encouragement.
You can watch a video sampling the book and music by clicking on the video below:
I am also offering mp3 downloads of these Psalms on the Marketplace here on this website. Each song is a long play — about 10 minutes.
I am very pleased to be joining Suzy in this project and it is my hope and prayer that many will be blessed through it. The thoughts and Scriptures that Suzy has included in this book are timeless word treasures that will encourage and lift people onto a higher plane of vision to understand how intricately our Heavenly Father is involved in our lives and gather strength to walk through the experiences of their lives.
I want to thank Suzy for bringing me in on this project and I want to encourage you all to go to her website at www.dearchildrenlovegod.com and order this timeless treasure.
Frequently I am asked, “What is a good harp for beginners?” And, “What harp am I playing,” because they like its sound on my CD’s. In response to these questions I want to give you some guidelines and things to look for and take into consideration when buying your own harp.
I do have some favorites that I will tell you about, and also why I like them; and at the same time, I want to give you enough knowledge to choose a harp that will be a good choice even if it is not one of my favorites.
To start with, I currently have two harps. The larger of the two harps is the one I use for recording CDs and for traveling wherever I can drive by car or RV. It has 33 strings and full sharping levers which makes it very versatile and capable of playing with a broad range of other instruments in a wide range of major and minor keys. Since it is larger, and has a large sound box, it is capable of projecting a full resonant sound that carries very well. It is also lightweight, weighing 22 pounds making it easy to transport. It is a kit that comes from Music Makers out of Stillwater, Minnesota. Their website is:
It is my opinion that this is the best harp value for your money. It is a great combination of great sound, reasonable cost, and ease of transport.
The cost of this harp, without levers, is $2700 plus shipping, if I make it for you. I usually recommend not putting levers on at first so the beginning harpist can spend more time learning fingering and gaining confidence before adding the dimension of levers which allows the harpist to play in different keys. The levers can be added on later at a cost of approximately $500.
The other harp I have is a Harpsicle from Rees Harps in Rising Sun, Indiana. Their website is:
The model I have is called the Fullsicle which has a full set of sharping levers; one for each string. Without sharping levers it costs about $400, but with sharping levers, the price goes up to $850 and there is extra cost for shipping.
This is the harp I take with me on international trips. It can be carried on board aircraft and stored in the overhead bin of the airplane so you don’t have to risk checking it with the baggage handlers who will surely find a way to break something. This harp has a very good sound. Listen to its quality here:
I recommend this harp for someone getting started since it has good sound and its construction design is very strong yet it is lightweight and easy to transport. The cost is reasonable and once you have learned on it and graduate to a larger harp, you still have a travel harp. I have visited the Rees manufacturing facility several times and am quite impressed with their design, assembly and philosophy. (Even though we have the same last name we are not related… maybe distant cousins 🙂
There are many harp manufacturers available today. I would stay with those made in the USA or Europe. There are some coming out of Pakistan, China and elsewhere that I have seen that are inferior in construction and don’t have good string tension or sound. If you are looking at a harp with levers, make sure they are smooth in operation and the sound of the string stays consistent when the lever is engaged. Also make sure there is no warping, cracking or separation of the wood and glue joints.
If you want any guidance on a particular harp you are welcome to contact me using the form on the Contact page.
I really want to see more harps and harpists joining the ranks of playing calming harp music for their personal enjoyment and the enrichment of those who hear them. Let’s grow a “Calming Revolution”!
I keep talking about the positive effects of music on the physiology of our bodies – now some more scientific proof! Mamma Mia! Listening to Mozart lowers blood pressure…but ABBA has no impact!
Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in G Minor Lowered Blood Pressure
Relaxing to a soothing Mozart symphony can lower the blood pressure as much as cutting salt from the diet or exercising, a new study has shown. But for people concerned about their heart, it might be wise to stay clear of ABBA, which has no impact at all. Scientists in Germany played Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in g minor, dances by Johann Strauss, and songs by ABBA to 60 volunteers, monitoring their blood pressure before and after the experiment.
“The music of ABBA did not show any or only very small effects on blood pressure and heart rate.”~ Hans-Joachim Trappe
They found that Mozart lowered systolic blood pressure (the pressure in blood vessels when the heart beats) by 4.7 mm Hg, Strauss 3.7 mm Hg, but the Swedish pop group made no significant difference. Diastolic blood pressure (when the heart rests between beats) also fell by 2.1 mm Hg for Mozart and 2.9 mm Hg for Strauss. Previous studies have found that aerobic exercise such as cycling, running or brisk walking had a similar impact on lowering blood pressure. Reducing salt by 6 grams per day brings systolic blood pressure down by between 7 and 4 mm Hg.
ABBA Live At Wembley Arena Press Image
The lyrics in ABBA songs may have prevented the calming effect of music, say researchers. “It has been known for centuries that music has an effect on human beings. In antiquity, music was used to improve performance in athletes during the Olympic Games,” said lead author Hans-Joachim Trappe, of Ruhr University, Germany. “In our study, listening to classical music resulted in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. These drops in blood pressure were clearly expressed for the music of Mozart and Strauss. “The music of ABBA did not show any or only very small effects on blood pressure and heart rate. This may be due to emotional factors, but on the other hand, the use of spoken words may have a negative role.” The researchers concluded that to be of benefit, music must be: in a pleasant key, of skillful composition, have a consistent volume and rhythm, devoid of rousing sequences, have no lyrics, and have achieved a certain degree of fame and popularity.
Source: The research was published in the journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International.
I would like to share part of an article that was shared with me. It speaks about the individual song that is formed within the heart of each individual and finds unique expression through that one. So many times we think that our lives are wasted exercises, yet if we can gain the correct perspective, we can see these experiences as the orchestral parts to be played in our personal symphony. Each one is different and each one is sublime. Read and meditate!
Life’s difficult challenges aren’t interruptions. They’re what we need to compose our unique song.
Through it all he remained our hero, fought and won many battles on behalf of Israel and had his son Solomon build the Temple of Jerusalem. But the depth and heart of David remains most revealed in his poetry-turned-prayers called Psalms.
In the Psalms, King David moves me because of the intensity of his experience of life, because of his honesty, candidness, rawness, and courage to expose his frailties and fears. Because of his humility and yearning to be closer to His maker in the light and in the dark times, He was not embarrassed to be him. He was not shy about his feelings. He exposed himself and then gave it all back to God. Nothing he felt or experienced was wasted. All was used to connect back. All was sanctified through his actions.
I also love that he was a singer. It is written that the highest gate of prophecy is through song, sung with pure intentions.
Each one of us has a unique song that lies deep in our soul. It is the most pure type of music that stems from who we truly are, in all of our splendor and beauty, the one that reveals us completely, imperfections and all.
When we have a difficult challenge in life and experience some suffering, some of us view it as an interruption to life, a blip. But those troubles aren’t distractions – they’re precisely what create us. The pains and the uncomfortable parts of our story help craft our unique personality and character. The moments of distress create the peaks, dips, and special viewpoints we have; they create the flats, the sharps and the octaves of our song. Every experience of anguish is a note that we weave together to make a song that no one else can sing. And when we sing that song back to God through prayer, just as King David did, we fulfill the spiritual purpose for the suffering we were given.
This was part of King David’s greatness and the lesson he teaches to every one of us.
Suffering, pain, and turmoil are not intermission times in our lives; they create our intricacies, depletions, accents, and twists for a reason. When we are honest with our pain and lacks, and allow ourselves to laugh or cry or scream as a vehicle to come closer to our Maker, that’s part of our chorus. That’s part of our song that no one can sing but us. We can transform the darkness into sparks of light. When we turn pain into a vehicle for connection with the Almighty, we invest meaning into the suffering and make it holy. God doesn’t do that; that choice is in our domain.
King David became King David not despite his difficult life, but because of it. Can you imagine if he had a normal, steady, and balanced life full of everything he wanted and no struggles? He would not have become King David. He would not have written the Psalms to open up the Heavenly gates. He would not have become the spiritual hero that we aspire to be.
The world is our classroom. We face the tests that are given to us, to overcome a weakness and write new stanzas to our life’s song. And we can rely on God for His help and guidance. My kids recently lost their father. At the shiva I continuously heard from friends who lost parents at an early age that a hole remained with them for life. But they also gained a special connection to God that none of their friends seemingly felt. A double dose of God’s help and closeness in place of that parent, just as King David writes in his Psalms.
Would my kids have chosen that combination if asked? I don’t think so. But who chooses anything? When we stop fighting against why we have a certain life circumstance and accept the Divine plan, embracing what we do have and are here to do. That’s when we can finally make use of all the beautiful, awkward-like and seemingly off key notes we possess to compose the special song only our soul can sing.
Easier said than done. Trust me, I know. But time is so precious, and so are you.