Monday, April 25, 2011

You Don’t Need to Spend as Much as Kate and Will

Kate and Will's royal wedding is fast approaching, and it is sure to be an extravagant affair. But most of us are on a budget when we're planning a wedding. You can still afford all kinds of frills, including live wedding music, for your dream wedding.

Timing is everything! Choose a date, time or season that is less popular for tying the knot. Here are a few ways to time your wedding to save money:

• Choose any day except Saturday, the most popular day to tie the knot. You might even qualify for a midweek discount!

• Be a “morning person”--If you are getting married in a public location (such as a park), you'll get more privacy. Plus, you'll save money on the bar tab, because people won't drink as much in the morning hours.  

• Avoid holidays--Most wedding service providers charge extra to work on holidays, or they may not be available at all.

• Gravitate to the off-season--Check which months are the most popular at your chosen wedding site and then select a different month to get married. You might qualify for discounts, plus your favorite wedding services are more apt to be available for you.

• Decide early, then relax--Book your wedding services as early as you can. You'll get everything you want, plus you may avoid yearly cost-of-living increases that they may pass on to you closer to your wedding date.

• Stick to your wedding day agenda--Don't allow your wedding day events to run late, because overtime costs from each wedding service provider can add up to an astronomical sum.


• Shave off some time--Trimming your guest list, reducing the size of your bridal party, reducing the number of courses served at your reception, serving a buffet or fixed menu at your reception, and holding the ceremony and reception in the same location can reduce the length of your wedding festivities and reduce your overall costs.

You'll find many more useful tips in my book, "The Bride's Guide to Musicians: Live Wedding Music Made Easy and Affordable", published by Hal Leonard books and available at my website with free shipping for a limited time only. It is also available in a kindle edition on

Visiting Thin Places with a Video of Ireland's Mystical Sites

Mindie Burgoyne writes about travel and places that have a mystical quality. They may be haunted places or places that seem to touch the eternal world in some way--"thin places". She hosts tours to Ireland and other haunted, mystical places. You can read more at her wonderful Thin Places blog.

In this beautiful video Mindie posted on Easter Sunday, you get to do some armchair traveling to Ireland's mystical sacred sites, while listening to my version of "Craigieburn Wood", a Scottish Air by Robert Burns, from my A Light in the Forest CD.

Visit Mindie's Blog to see the list of these lovely locations.

And for more about Celtic traditions and Celtic traditional music, check out the newest post by my talented harpist friend, Eliseo Mauas Pinto. Find out about the "Queen Mary" harp in the latest post of his Celtic Sprite blog.
The Queen Mary Harp

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is Live Music Too Much Trouble?

Posted on the Event Planner's Guide Book Blog, here is Part I of my suggestions for Event Planners (and Brides, too!)...

Sometimes your clients want live music and entertainment at their wedding or event, but do you prefer to book a DJ or have them go with the iPod stereo? Are musicians too much trouble to hire? Is it difficult to find just the right musician? Are you concerned about their professionalism?

Don't give up! Here are some great reasons to consider live music and entertainment for your clients' weddings, parties, and corporate events...

Go to the Event Planner's Guide Book Blog for the rest of the article....Thank you, Kim Sullivan, for posting this article.

Also, those of you who are a members of the Event Planner's Association can receive a 25% discount on my book, "The Bride's Guide to Musicians: Live Wedding Music Made Easy and Affordable", published by Hal Leonard Books. Simply go to the blog for details.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to Get Your Music Played on NPR

I'll start this post by stating that I have absolutely no idea how to get your music played on NPR, or for that matter, on any national or syndicated radio services. It's a mystery to me.

So a few weeks ago, I was listening to the new podcast, "How to Do Everything", where they answer questions from listeners on their very entertaining show. They've answered everything from "How do you keep your macaroons from sticking to the pan?" to "How do you cure the hiccups?" (the latter involving a method I'm sure you haven't heard about). The hosts ask folks to email them with questions so that they have fodder for their future episodes.

Since this show is hosted by the producers of the fabulously funny NPR radio show and podcast, "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!", out of a bit of desperation, I wrote the following email to them:

"I'm stumped. How do I get my music played on NPR? I've tried, sent it to all the links on NPR sites, and to no avail. Do you know anyone else who can play 'Stairway to Heaven' on the Celtic harp

Amazingly, I heard back from Ian Chillag, one of the hosts, who asked me to send along an mp3 of my song. He liked it enough to include it in Episode 7: OMG, Cobra, Pandora. Ian was kind enough to send this glowing testimonial along to me:

"Anne plays what is without a doubt the finest Celtic harp version of 'Stairway to Heaven' ever made." 

Not that he's heard any other versions on the Celtic harp, but then I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially from a host from a "sort-of-NPR" podcast, which is what he called his show.

But the hosts never did answer my question, "How do I get my music on NPR?"

So, here are my theories:

1. You have to be newsworthy. Really really newsworthy. If Willie Nelson released a CD collaboration with Justin Bieber, that would be really really newsworthy, even if it might not be something you want to listen to. And I'd bet that NPR would want to interview either or both artists, just because they are already famous and doing something newfangled.

2. You have to be selling a bazillion CDs, have a bazillion downloads on YouTube, have a bazillion ratings from the latest TV reality show you've been on, have a bazillion fantastic reviews in popular magazines like "The Rolling Stone", suddenly made a bazillian dollars selling your song on iTunes. In other words, somehow, you are rich in fame by some quantitive factor.

3. The host fell in love with you and your music. Some the musicians receive very in-depth interviews and are featured performing live on NPR. They tend to be touring musicians, but other than that, I can discern no other common denominator. So, maybe the host of the show, or the producers, simply fell in love with them. Okay. I can buy that. Maybe this is how I got lucky with the hosts of "How to Do Everything" (or perhaps Ian is just a kind person and wanted to help me out. Thank you again, Ian!)

4. Maybe some hosts don't take unsolicited music. In other words, they don't want to hear from the artist, just their representative (publicist, manager, etc.). I often wonder about this.

5. Some shows only consider playing certain genres of music. Usually, you can tell that this is what they do...Like Marc Gunn's great Irish and Celtic Music Podcast--It's pretty obvious what kinds of music he'll be interested in playing. But for the general NPR shows, do they really consider all types of music all the time?

There is such a thing as payola, an illegal practice. Of course, NPR sticks by the letter of the law. However, there are many Internet radio stations that call it "paid advertising" to play music that people pay to have played. But do the announcers reveal to the listeners that the musicians have paid to have their music played? Where is the line? What is the rule for podcasts?

I'm just curious and really don't want to open up a can of worms about all of this. I'd just like to know if NPR, or other radio shows for that matter, publish how they go about deciding which musicians to interview and what music to play (yes, some do this, but many many do not). Then, I'd know how and where to submit my music.

What I learned is that you just need to ask. And don't stop asking! Some host or producer may just say, "Yes," for reasons totally unbeknownst to you :-)

I'm interested in your feedback and thoughts....

A Bit of Irish Harp History

From Guest Blogger and wonderful Celtic harpist, Eliseo Mauas Pinto, here is a brief history of the Celtic harp. This is an excerpt from his article, "Why the "Trinity Harp" is also known as the "Brian Boru's Harp?":

The "Brian Boru" harp, now at Trinity College, Dublin, bears the coat of arms of the O'Neills but although there are many theories about its ownership through the centuries, none can be substantiated, with no verifiable evidence remaining to indicate the harp's original owner, or subsequent owners over the next two to three hundred years until it passed to Henry McMahon, of Co. Clare, and finally to The Rt. Hon. William Conyngham, who presented it to Trinity College in Dublin in 1760.

Throughout its history the harp was in the possession of of many people some of which were kings.

Related Harps

The Trinity College harp is currently displayed in the long room at Trinity College Dublin. It is an early Irish harp or wire strung cláirseach. It is dated to the 14th or 15th century and along with the Queen Mary Harp and the Lamont Harp, is one of the only three surviving medieval Gaelic harps.

Related to the Trinity College Harp, there are two greatest medieval harps of Scotland, the "Queen Mary" and the "Lamont" harps. Both kept in the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.
Both “low headed” Celtic harps date from the 15th Century, and each is from a single piece of wood, possibly hornbeam, hollowed out from the back. The Lamont harp, which is unadorned, is the larger harp at 37 ½ “, with 32 wire strings.The Queen Mary is ornately carved with intricate designs, including griffins, a lion, a dragon and a unicorn, almost 31” high, with 30 wire strings. 

The Trinity College harp is the national symbol of Ireland, being depicted on national heraldry, Euro coins and Irish currency. A left-facing image of this instrument was used as the national symbol of Ireland from 1922, and was specifically granted to the State by the Chief Herald of Ireland in 1945.

A right-facing image was registered as a trade mark for Guinness in 1862, and was first used on their labels in 1876.

All three surviving Gaelic harps (the others are the Lamont Harp and the Queen Mary Harp) are considered to have been made in Argyll in South-West Scotland sometime in the 14th-15th century.