Harp and Soul, a tutorial by Mary Muckle

This post was written by Mary Muckle, and placed into the blog by Mary Radspinner. 

From Mary Muckle:  I grew up in a rural farming area outside of the then very small town of Whitby, Ontario, Canada. My first instrument was the piano, taught by Elaine Broughton the organist at our local church. Her passion, not unusual in an organist, was for the Baroque, so that from the beginning I had a firm foundation in contrapuntal music. Much later this foundation was useful to me in arranging ensembles for my harp students. In duets, especially, I wanted both harp parts to be melodically interesting, even independent in character, to encourage the interest of both players in the material.

As a child, I loved to sing. My earliest memories are of belting out “ Good Night Irene” and “ The Ballad of Davy Crockett” in back seat on family car trips. In later years, when I was a student at Berkeley, I sang in early music ensembles and in the University of California mass choir. A highlight of those times was performing for Igor Stravinsky in person his choral work, The Symphony of Psalms. I have still the signed front page of my choral score, framed on the wall of my harp studio.

Back in Canada, I completed a B. Ed. At the University of Toronto and began my professional life in Newfoundland as a music teacher, first in the public school system and later as a private piano teacher. I taught at St. Francis of Assisi School in Outer Cove, which like many maritime elementary schools at the time had a thriving ukulele program. I would spend my lunch hours tuning 25 ukeleles between quick bites of sandwich, for the after lunch classes. I experimented, with moderate success, in replacing broken strings with easily acquired inexpensive fishing line, instead of the expensive commercially purchased strings. My star ukulele player, Daryl Power, grew up to become the bass guitarist in the famous Canadian rock band “ Great Big Sea”. It was for my combined ukulele and recorder classes that I began to arrange ensemble music. This became a life-long interest, culminating in my book,” Harp and Soul – A Harp Ensemble Tutor”, published in 2023 by Afghan Press. This ensemble collection is the result of 25 years of teaching harp in private lessons, group classes and as a director of harp choirs in Ottawa, Canada.

While living in St. John’s Newfoundland, I collaborated as a singer with classical guitarist Eric West. Newfoundland’s island culture is rich in folklore. There are many published collections of Newfoundland folk music for example. For performance, Eric and I drew on the rich musical heritage and languages of the island. I was obsessed by learning and singing songs in Irish and Scots Gaelic. I was fortunate to have as mentor Dr. Allie O’Brien, scholar and farmer, whose grand-parents were fluent in Irish. When the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, edited by G. M. Story, was published in 1982, I wrote a children’s sleep learning song made up of unusual names of animals, gleaned from the dictionary. This song was one of many on a program for voice and guitar, and later a recording entitled “ Lullabies for a Global Village” made for CBC Radio, Newfoundland and Labrador. I was honoured when CBC Radio included my sleep learning song as part of their obituary for G.M. Story when he passed away.

During a family sabbatical year at Arizona State University in 1982, I began harpsichord studies, a passion that eventually led to my harp studies. My first harp teacher was Carla Furlong, in St. John’s. I continued with Katherine Ely in Victoria, B.C. and lastly with Sarah Davidson in Toronto.

The parent of one of my harp students was overhead to remark about me that teaching helped me to stay young. I think this is true for all teachers and performers. Hopefully I have many more creative endeavours to come. My next project is a collection of harp ensemble arrangements, drawing on the folk music of Newfoundland, Labrador and Nova Scotia.   Visit Mary Muckle’s website.

Harp and Soul Sample folkharp.com
Harp and Soul Sample folkharp.com
Harp and Soul Sample folkharp.com
Harp and Soul Sample folkharp.com

Downloadable Product Information

Here at Melody’s we offer a wide array of music books and accessories.  In the music book category, you may have a choice between PDFs (or MP3s) and paper books. If there is a choice, you are required to click either the paper version or PDF version before you can put an item into your cart. There should be no shipping charge for download music.  If there are physical products in your cart at the same time, your total will reflect shipping for those physical items.

Products that are download only will have a narrow blue banner toward the top of the description.   Products that are only available as physical/paper will not have a choice for you to make in order to add to your cart, nor will they have the narrow blue banner signifying download only.

After you check out, you are directed back to your receipt where you can download your music. Also, you will receive an email thanking you for your order with links that will take you to your downloads. Please add melodytradmusic@gmail.com to your approved e-mail list. If you do not receive an e-mail within a few minutes after you place your order, check your spam folder.

If you created an account with us, you can also find your downloads by going to “My Account” and clicking on the “Downloads” link.  We highly recommend that you create an account so that you can refer to your order history whenever you want.

Depending on your computer settings, when you click on your download link, 1 –  it may open automatically, 2 – it may go into your “downloads” folder, or 3 – your computer may prompt you to “save as”. 

If you have a problem with your downloads, please contact us at MelodyTradMusic@gmail.com  for assistance. Because our website contains so many titles, on occasion we have overlooked uploading a PDF here or there.  When you notify us of this, we make the correction immediately.  Please note that downloads are not “returnable.”


Depending on your computer settings, when you click on your download link, 1 –  it may open automatically, 2 – it may go into your “downloads” folder, or 3 – your computer may prompt you to “save as”.  If you can’t find your PDF, look in your “downloads” folder first.  The title of the PDF may not match the title of the book, so you may want to change the title to what you will remember. After you have located your download, please either remember that it is in your “downloads” folder, or better yet, move it to another folder on your computer with a name that you will remember.

Your respect of the copyright laws will help support the musicians and arrangers who created this music, and will encourage more harp music to be produced in the future. Please do not make multiple copies to pass on to others. You can help keep downloadable harp music viable and available by encouraging your students, friends, and relatives to purchase their own copies. Thank you for your assistance in this endeavor.


On our website, folkharp.com, we offer a wide selection of paper and download music. We were always in a quandary about publications having several parts, or that include sound files. After realizing that we can place multiple files into one folder and “zip” it up, we are now able to offer book + cd options.

What we do: sound files and the PDF book are placed into a folder and zipped. The zipped folder is inserted into the product on the back end of the web site.

What you receive: after you purchase, you receive a zipped folder. This is a folder that literally has a picture of a zipper on it, indicating there is more than one document in the folder.

What you do with it: Generally by double clicking on the folder, it automatically opens up. The challenge lies in whether or not you have a program that unzips these folders. If you do, it is as simple as double clicking and the contents are revealed. Alternately, you can right click on the folder, which brings up choices, one of which is “open with” – you then click on your unzip program.

If you don’t have a program to unzip your files you’ll have a challenge! Recently I bought a small laptop for my zoom lessons. This laptop did not come with winzip, or any other kind of program that unzips these folders. The computer kept wanting me to purchase winzip for $29.  I found another program that does a great job, and it is free. 7-zip unzips all my compressed (zipped) folders! It is open source and you can find out more here:https://www.7-zip.org/

We hope all this information is helpful to you.

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