I've been playing a Suzuki Folkmaster for the last month or so. I've gotten to the point where I'm ready for an upgrade. The Folkmaster takes ALOT of breath; so much breath that you can hear my breath when playing at low or medium volume (maybe this is what people mean by leaky?) and the upper register sticks alot. It could be my playing, but I suspect it's the harp. I'm working through Winslow's Harmonica for Dummies, and the upper register songs are WAY more difficult to play then the middle register ones. Holes 8-10 just don't like me.
I've read way too much about harmonicas at this point, and have narrowed things down a bit. I was thinking originally of getting either a Suzuki Harpmaster or a Seydel Blues Session. The Suzuki Harpmaster would likely be similar to what I have now, but of playable quality. Having the Seydel would give me the opportunity to contrast several harmonica qualities with what I have (cover shape, intonation, bigger size, and recessed reedplates). Intuitively, I am more drawn to the Equal Temperament and traditional sandwich look of the Harpmaster, but as a newbie this is pure conjecture.
Clearly I'm already overthinking this. And then I see all this stuff about Easttop harmonicas. Now I'm wondering if one of their models would be better than the two listed above. Including Easttop's sub $35 models, my list now looks like this:
- Suzuki Harpmaster
- Seydel Blues Session
- Easttop T008k (riveted version)
- Easttop T008L (welded version)
- Easttop T008S (Welded w/ silver coverplates)
I realize that many are saying the T008k and T008L are the best for the money, but if we were to ignore the price difference, are they actually better than the Suzuki or Seydel?
Ugh. Paradox of choice. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that it will make little difference.
Suzanne Guldimann has a number of books out with decent arrangements for lap harp.
I had the same problem when I switched to a 26 from 36 string for busking purposes - I ended up rearranging a lot of my favourites by simply leaving out or transposing notes I didn't have, and with that much piano experience you can likely do the same, but it might be a bit exhausting to do while also learning harp technique.
Harpsicle themselves publishes a number of simple songbooks meant to fit on their harps, but I find they aren't particularly pleasant arrangements.
I'm about to leave on a three week trip so I can't dig through my sheet music now, but if you are still looking by then, remind me and I'll look through my collection for the ones that I know work!
Also, bad news, most dedicated harp sheet music is just as expensive or more so than the Sylvia Woods ones, due to the smaller target market than piano. In fact I've found the SW books to be quite helpful because often they contain "easier" and "advanced" versions of the same pieces, and the "beginner" ones tend to be geared toward fitting on smaller harps.
I plan to switch to a variation on this, based upon what I found in a big box of stuff from an old piano teacher -- photocopy sheet music onto one side of 8.5 x 11 cardstock, so you can lay them in a row with all pages of the song visible at once with no page turning.
Use archival quality book tape to tape the individual pages together, making "hinges".
Then you can fold the whole thing up accordian-style, and archive the sheet music originals someplace safe, like a filing cabinet.
This covers two concerns of mine, wearing out old sheet music (I have some that is over 100 years old), and having to stop and turn pages. As for where I store it, I outgrew the piano bench storage long ago. I use an old steamer trunk as a coffee table, and store the extra music in there.
- Spread loose sheets out on table in front of you
- Use adhesive tape to tape the sheets together
- Fold them up like a book
- Put three pieces of tape around the 'cover'
From here you can file them alphabetically or just leave them around - much easier to look for packages than for single sheets lying around everywhere!
Believe it or not, an easy one I like to bust out when I am around a piano (and it's late and we are all drunk) that for a beautiful and slow melody would be "Suicide is Painless". Theme song from M.A.S.H! Easy chords, recognizable melody that offers plenty of opportunities for variations and extensions.
Maybe don't sing the lyrics for them.
If you're willing to supplement melodic vocals with some arranging, Vienna Teng is great (Say Uncle and Between are two of my favorites).
The Dead Island theme is piano driven, with strings on top of it. With some creativity, you could make it work.
I've fiddled with a solo version. Same deal with the more popular themes from:
- The LOST soundtrack
- Life and Death
- No Place Like Home
Others have suggested I try Einaudi. Primavera is worth looking into. It isn't the slowest, but it's simple, and lends itself well to expressiveness.
Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte remains the prettiest piano piece ever fucking written. I know you said no classical, but there it is.
Also, a lot of Morricone would fit well here. Look at La Califfa and Gabriel's Oboe in particular.
I have a crapload of music in my house (method books and rep for nearly all wind instrument in addition to all of my piano stuff) so this is a very real problem for me.
I use binders with tabs for the majority of my stuff. I'll sort more recent stuff by genre. I've got lots of miscellaneous and several 3" binders full of game music.
It's easy to sort others by composers and time periods. If you sort it chronologically based on the composer's birth year you can get a nice little history reminder in addition to being able to find what you want.
I also keep a lot of stuff I need rarely in filing cabinets and and I have tons of books sorted by instrument on tons of bookshelves around the house.
I like what my grandmother does. Her piano bench opens up, which is where she keeps all her sheet music for all her instruments so it gets cluttered.
She takes the piece and sorts them into different groups like Christmas or favorites or Bach, whatever she knows she has a lot of. The rest that doesn't fit into a category goes into thin binders so the fir comfortably on my stand. The binders are also good when its a kid playing, the plastic protects the music from damage.
- I used to make copies of each page, then keep them loose in manila folders with the initialed names of the composers. This was nice, because I could lay out all four or five sheets of a rag in front of me and not have to turn pages in the middle. But it was easy to get the sheets mixed up, hard to sort through the folders to find pieces, and the individual sheets where sometimes too flimsy for the music desk.
- I recently bought a bunch of three ring binders, dividers, and sheet protectors--both single page and panoramic (two 8.5"x11") sheets. With that, I could pretty much keep everything organized and minimize pageturns. It was much better for organization, but I find that 1) when I open the pages, the sheet protectors I got were a bit too glossy and it can be hard to see the music 2) the music spreads out even more, so if I'm looking at the far right page, I don't have enough of my left hand in peripheral vision to hit jumps well.
- The binders are nice and I'll continue to use them, but I've also been looking for a solution to let me take music on trips. I've borrowed a friend's iPad and put a music reader (forScore) on it as well as lots of music in PDF format. Now the reader is right in front of me, keeping the keyboard and hands in better peripheral view, but the printed page is rather smaller and I'm forced to turn EVERY page (with a tap on the screen). So, to fix that, I could get a Bluetooth pedal system, but before I do that, I want to make sure that other aspects of the reader are working out for me.
I would also highly recommend getting an iPad, especially for things you're getting as PDFs from IMSLP.
If you're like me, there's probably a lot of stuff you download, look over and then don't touch for a good while. Heck, an iPad might save you money in ink and paper in the long run. I still print some stuff, but most of it I just keep cataloged in Dropbox so I can have access to it fairly quickly on my iPad.