Ray Pool

Welcome to my website.

Greetings to harpists and harp devotees. I hope you’ll enjoy looking through my website to see photos of my workshop travels and the contents of publications I have prepared for harpists of every level.

I have played the pedal harp professionally for nearly all of my adult life. I enjoyed many wonderful performance opportunities playing in orchestras, Broadway shows and hotels in New York City. About fifteen years ago I became interested in the lever harp, too. This is a fascinating instrument that is very accessible. If you have an interest in taking up the harp, please get acquainted with this less expensive but very versatile instrument. I have used the lever harp to perform in solo concerts, restaurants, churches and even hospitals. The power of the harp is great. It both soothes and excites.

A special page has been added that contains video clips of my performances of various arrangements from my collections as well as samples of the first two lines of the piece being performed. This page will grow as more entries are made. Please click on “Video” in the upper menu bar and select a title from the column on the left. A two-line music sample from the published arrangement also appears.

My most recent publications include opportunities for learning and performance at every level:

Carols from Around the World” is a new series of holiday music. There are currently two volumes – the most recent addition in the fall of 2011. Each book contains traditional carols from five different countries arranged for harp solo. These arrangements are playable on either lever or pedal harp without exception. There are few harmonic adjustments required but, when they do occur, pedal or lever movements are clearly indicated.

Each collection also includes a set of ten leadsheets at the back. Additional instruments can play along with either the melody or chords as desired. Rehearsal letters, repeat signs and multi-measure rests for interludes are all provided. This provides flexible notation for many more performance opportunities.

You can see medleys of selected carols at these locations on YouTube:

Volume 1
Volume 2

Ballads by Burns” is a collection of six melodies with lyrics by the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. The year 2009 brings about the celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth in 1759. These timeless songs are still popular today. The arrangements are playable on lever and pedal harp, alike. This collection was favorably reviewed in the September/October issue of “The Harp Column.”

Beginners to music should look into “1, 2, 3 - Play!” If you can sing a tune, this book will help you bring your own inner music to life. It is a great stepping stone to learning to read music, too – on any instrument, not just the harp. If you already read music but need reinforcement in ear training, this book will provide success and build confidence in a skill that you, unwittingly, already possess.

The Treble Harpist” is the next step, particularly for adult learners. It establishes or reinforces note reading, develops recognition of rhythmic patterns and builds harp technique through a gradually increasing range of notes. It is written on a single staff. The notes for the right hand have stems pointing up. The notes for the left hand have stems pointing down. This notation makes it possible to write arrangements only in the treble clef using just a few ledger lines above and below the staff.

Many people want to learn to play from a fake book on the harp. This is a style of notation that provides (1) a melody line (2) chord symbols above the staff and, when applicable (3) lyrics below the staff. This method of musical shorthand is used in virtually every genre. My collection “Anthology” provides fifty familiar melodies in what I call “enhanced lead sheet notation.” There is a second note added – below the melody line. It indicates the positioning of the left thumb for an accompanimental chord inversion. This collection is perfect for those who want to play in harp therapy situations. Simple harmonic structure supports a recognizable melody.

Many people want to play in church. I have two fake books of hymn tunes. “Hymns & Harmony” is a collection of one hundred hymn tunes edited for pedal and lever harp simultaneously. The hymns are drawn from six denominations of Christian worship: (1) Roman Catholic (2) Episcopal (3) Presbyterian (4) Methodist (5) Congregational and (6) Lutheran. This has been a resource for harpists for more than ten years. I have given workshops on its contents from coast to coast. It has served many people very well.

Another fake book of the same nature is “Come, Come Ye Saints.” Its repertoire is taken from public domain selections in the hymnal (1985) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There is no other resource like it for harpists. It is edited for pedal and lever harp alike.

In the midst of all my traveling and publishing, I have also enjoyed private teaching. I have adult learners of many levels. If a person needs to start from the very beginning, that’s just what we do. I also have had very successful relationships with musicians of great skill on other instruments who want to add the harp to their life. I teach in my apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But I enjoy working with harpists from around the world. I have given lessons to visitors from Taiwan, The United Kingdom, Australia and on a regular basis to someone from Bermuda. What a pleasure it is to share the harp with friends from around the world.

Thanks for stopping by. Please feel free to drop a line if you have a question or comment.

Best wishes to all,
Ray Pool

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Contact Ray Pool at rpoolnyc@gmail.com

Updated: 3/23/2010