Tudy McLain

Harp, Flute, Pennywhistle

Equally at home in the worlds of both pedal and folk harp, Susan McLain (or Tudy as she is commonly known) excels with two types of students. “The first type of student is the one who needs help boosting their confidence level. The second type is the intermediate to advanced student who wants to break into the world of performance.” Tudy also teaches Irish flute and pennywhistle, and started Dusty Strings Music School’s Irish Music Ensemble.

For Tudy, having fun is the most important thing when playing music. Whether playing for your own enjoyment or in front of others, the goal is to have music in your life forever. “Free yourself from feeling hassled, harried, arthritic, timid, or ‘untalented’. There is no pressure in my teaching style. Practice when or if you can. Our emphasis in lessons will be on tone production and developing technique to find a magical quality in your sound.”

Tudy has performed and recorded Celtic and concert harp music with Beth Kollé, Michael MacBean, Laurie Riley, and many others. She’s taught at the International Folk Harp Conference and the Vashon Island Harp Camp and has performed at over 3,000 weddings. She is a past principal harpist with the Seattle Philharmonic and founder of Greensleeves Harp Music.

Specialties: Celtic, Irish, Salzedo

Levels: All

Ages: 5+

Rates: $55 for 30 min, $65 for 45 min, $75 for one hour

Availability: Tuesday, Thursday

Online/In-Person: Online only

Website: greensleevesharp.com

Three musical notes showed Tudy McLain her life's path

Equally at home in the worlds of pedal and folk harp, Irish flute and pennywhistle, Dusty Strings Music School teacher Tudy McLain always has fun and interesting stories to share.

When were you first introduced to the harp and what got you “hooked”?

I got hooked accidently when my best friend ordered an LP of Alan Stivell, a Breton harpist from France in 1974, called "Renaissance of the Celtic Harp."  After three notes, I knew my life's path. While I couldn't find an Irish harp for a few more years, I began my studies of the pennywhistle and Irish flute, inspired by this LP. My first teachers were Nick Vorhees and Stuart Williams in Seattle. A musical life unraveled for me like thread from a spool.

What is one of your most memorable experiences as a performer?

After playing harp at 3000+ weddings, there are many memorable moments, but one in particular comes to mind. I was at Bastyr Chapel, all set to start the wedding prelude. I used the priest's private lavatory behind the alter. The door lock broke off and I couldn't get out. I yelled and banged for about 10 minutes before I was discovered. The wedding was held up as a locksmith had to be called to let me out!

Do you have any good practice tips for folk harp, pedal harp, and flute and pennywhistle players, or musicians in general?

My tip to my students is to make practicing a celebration. Set out flowers and a glass of wine, or make a fancy cocktail to sip. Or a steamy pot of tea with goodies. And remember, "comparison is the theft of joy!" Savor each note and don't hanker after signs of progress.

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