When I first met Susan Haas at a vendor show a few years back, it truly was a find! Not only her hypnotizing notes floating off her harp… she makes playing look so effortless. She herself is such a genuine , calming , sweet woman. We became fast friends… someone I can sit, chat and drink coffee with for hours BUT to hear her play….!! She not only can transfix you with all her classic sounds , she also plays AMAZING pop and rock music on her harps!! It is quite mind blowing~! All the modern, sweet , loving lyrics of todays singers can be heard coming off the strings… as well as the beautiful melodies from the composers long gone… She and her music are so very comforting and special!
NAME of the business:
The Solo Harp
What do You specialize in:
I specialize in solo harp music, particularly adapting popular music on my otherwise classical instrument to provide a surprisingly upbeat, mainstream soundscape for weddings and corporate events.
How long have you been in Business:
I was surrounded by music growing up in a musical family so it’s hard to pin point my “start date”!
I played my first wedding on the harp the spring of my senior year of high school in a lovely gazebo in Dallas, TX when I was 17. I was taken with everything about it! The harp I play publicly has been mine since I was 17 and it was “born” a year before I was so we are attached like an old married couple. <3
I also teach piano and harp and keep an active music studio with several sizes of harps, two pianos, students of all ages and abilities, and two annual studio recitals. I have been teaching piano since I was 16.
What makes you want to do what you do? What is your “why”?:
Music made me do it! Seriously, I love music, in so many different styles and instruments. I’m still ga-ga about the harp and can get lost for hours playing and challenging myself to learn new styles and techniques. The ability to bring this amazing, resonant instrument into a public setting and provide a musical backdrop for the important moments in people’s lives is my “why”. For example, for a wedding, it’s never just “a gig”. I’m aware this is the biggest day in a couple’s life. My wholehearted intent is to make the music wonderfully beautiful and on target with their dream day requests.
In addition, I enjoy being part of the team of vendors present at the ceremony and working together to make everything as smooth as silk for the couple for their big day. If that involves getting down on my hands and knees to help pick up decor items to help “set the stage” for the ceremony, I’m all in. It’s a team effort. Frequently practicing alone and performing alone, it’s a treasured aspect to be connected with others in this ultimate goal of teamwork on a high stress day for the couple’s launch into married life. I think my reviews reflect this passion of mine to deliver what I promise.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still learning and growing! I hope to continue to take lessons online from others in the music industry to get savvy about home recording, mixing, producing and distributing recordings. I have at least 20 potential “albums” in me at any moment waiting to come out! (the younger set now asks, “what is an album”?!)
I’m also pursuing certification in a clinical music field called Therapeutic Music, not to be confused with Music Therapy. It’s fascinating to me how music, especially harp music, can be used to calm anxiety, relieve pain, stabilize vital signs and bring comfort in grief. I see myself playing on one of my smaller harps in NICU for tiny babies or in hospice settings, at both ends of life, for life.
Tell me a story: One that pops into your head…
So many stories, so little time. Each event I play for becomes my favorite. My most recent wedding was for a couple in their 70’s at The Edgewater in Seattle. They were so happy to have found each other. They hosted a lovely celebration for friends and family flying in from all over the country. The husband planned me as a “surprise” for his bride for the dinner reception, since she played the harp in her youth. He requested a playlist of her favorite songs, with specific titles at set times, including their entrance. I was over the moon to have the honor of being part of his romantic surprise. She was in tears in a happy way as they stood next to the harp as I played “In My Life” by the Beatles. As I’m not good at holding back emotion, my eyes were leaking a little, too.
If you didn’t do this what would you do instead and why:
I’d work in the travel industry. I may still do this because travel is a passion for me, much like music. I was a flight attendant for ten years and caught the travel bug young! In many ways, the travel industry resembles the event industry. There are many moving parts, and so much can pivot with any one detail out of place. Using the same customer service mindset, and attention to detail that I bring to each harp job, I’d enjoy simplifying and easing the stress of travel for the purpose of making someone’s day better in the airport or in the air. It’s all about making memories GOOD ones, instead of lousy ones!
The closest I’ve come to combining these two areas of passion has been my job at the Seattle Airport every holiday season. I get to play for over a week leading up to Christmas for weary holiday travelers within security. My harp music has been appreciated by TSA, the Port of Seattle officers and travelers from all over the world who enjoy the comfort it brings to the otherwise stressful holiday travel season. It’s my favorite gig ever and am so grateful I keep getting hired for it. This year I’ll be playing from 5 am to 5 pm, daily. Come say “hi”!( Dawn did last year! ) ❤️
What is your advice to marrying couples about their big day?
Hire professionals as much as possible so you can focus on each other, your marriage and your future together. You’re creating a caring union, not “doing a wedding”. The details will be in the pro’s hands and great memories will be made. Even if the power goes out, you’ll still be married and best of all, together!
What do you recommend for a smooth interaction with your business?
Visit my website and listen to the numerous recordings on the Playlist page or on my SoundCloud account. The more a couple thinks about their musical tastes and how they want the music to reflect the overall mood of the day, the better I can help them plan and position their playlist selections for their ceremony music. Like Burger King, special orders don’t upset me! I have a huge playlist already, but am always adding more titles. Bring me your requests. I will do all that I can to adapt the music if given enough time to research and transcribe it for the harp.
Do you have a mentor or inspiration?
One of the biggest set of shoes to fill in my life were those of my piano teacher, Frances Stuart. You can read articles about her published in the Dallas Morning News. My mother was a piano teacher and wisely chose her for me, starting at the age of 5. I was still with her before leaving for college, two lessons a week, all year round without a stop from Kindergarten. She was ever passionate about music, encouraging, positive and creative. She believed in me. Any time I said “I can’t” she said “You can’t YET, but you will!” When I was in high school she was suggesting music therapy as a field for me, before I had an inclination toward anything therapeutic. If I didn’t understand a certain rhythm, we left the piano bench and she and I danced it out, always smiling. She loved teaching and had a sheer joy about her. She had a musical geneology that hailed back to the European masters such as Beethoven, Liszt and the Schumanns. She passed that pedagogy on to me and thus my students. She taught until she was 95, a few days before she died. She was one amazing woman.
What is your favorite quote?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
What makes your business stand out from others?
I’ve adapted with the changing music world of iPod playlists and the digital music mindset of today.
Although I am classically trained, I am best known for playing mainstream music on the harp. I like the challenge of adapting songs, whether it is a Frank Sinatra favorite, a Foo Fighter’s song or a Bruno Mars’ tune.
I use a BOSE sound system which overcomes the stereotype of the quiet harpist in the corner. This is perfect for both corporate events and weddings. With tasteful amplification, my music is ambient, never overpowering, but certainly not lost. I have a quiet small generator I can take into the woods or a beach and use the same sound system far from any power outlet. Magical!
EXTRA EXTRA! Here’s an added little tid bit about Susan!
Did I mention I have a holiday CD called “The Road to Christmas”? It’s in a digital format for easy downloading or a physical CD in my store at www.soloharp.com/CD-store For multiple copies contact me directly and I’ll cut you a great deal. Dawnmarie Artistry did my hair and makeup for the CD cover photos! Woohoo.