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Influential Musicians: Sylvia Woods


Sylvia Woods is a renowned harpist, teacher, composer, and arranger who has gained an international reputation as one of the foremost Celtic harp players in the world. I had the chance to contact her on the mid 80's, and she has been my support and inspiration since then. She led my first steps on the harp with her amazing tutorial "Teach yourself to play the folk harp". But let me comment to you in brief about her compromises with the Harp World

Woods began selling and writing music for Celtic harps in the 1970s, when the instrument was not widely known in the United States, she owns and runs the "Sylvia Woods Harp Center" in Glendale, California, the largest harp store in the world, as well as a harp mail order catalog, Facebook page and website.

Woods toured with the famous scottish poet and musician Robin Williamson and His Merry Band in the 1970s and was featured on the group's three albums. Celtic harps were not readily available at the time, so Woods was often approached after concerts by people who were intrigued by her instrument, which she had purchased in Ireland.

In response to their multiple requests, Woods started selling harps and also began developing collaborative relationships with several instrument makers, encouraging them to build harps, and providing feedback on technical issues and user-friendly features.
Noting a lack of repertoire and resources for the folk harp, Woods began writing and arranging music specifically for folk (or lever) harp in 1978. Woods’ first book, "Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp", is perhaps the best-known tutor for lever harp, and has been the introduction to harp playing for thousands of musicians.

She has written and published over 35 books of harp arrangements, including the best-selling beginning harp book, “Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp.”

In 1980 Sylvia won the prestigious All-Ireland Harp Championship in Buncrana, County Donegal, Ireland. And in 2003 she appeared with the legendary Irish band, The Chieftains, on their California tour.

She was featured on the soundtrack of Dead Poets Society and Prancer, as well as other movie and TV soundtracks. She was also a guest performer on A Prairie Home Companion radio show three years in a row.
In the December 1999 Harp Column magazine, Sylvia, along with Harpo Marx and other luminaries, was named one of the 45 "Most Influential Harp Forces of the 20th Century".

In January 2003 Woods performed with the legendary Irish band The Chieftains for their five California concerts. Woods has performed on the soundtracks of several major motion pictures, including Dead Poets Society, Prancer, and Only the Lonely, under the direction of Academy Award winning composer Maurice Jarre.

In addition, Woods has performed on soundtracks for several PBS and commercial television shows.


On the year 1982 she launches her first solo album: "The Harp of Brandiswhiere" , Sylvia Woods’ highly acclaimed “Suite for Celtic Harp.” Her beautiful compositions musically present the story of Brandiswhiere, a legendary magical harper written along with her husband. Sylvia plays both nylon-strung and wire-strung Celtic harps, and is accompanied by acoustic instruments such as trumpets, flutes, cimbalom, celeste, bass and percussion. The music is all instrumental, with no singing or narration, allowing the instruments to weave a fine and intricate aural tapestry to illustrate the legend.


Sylvia Woods also has 2 CDs of Christmas music:
"Three Harps for Christmas" Volumes 1 (1985) and 2 (1989) Please feel free to visit her official site at : The Sylvia Woods Harp Center or join the Facebook page for special offers!
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