Wednesday Sing!

Every Wednesday Dusty Strings Music Store hosts a singing session. Starting next month, I’ll be taking over leading the session! This is a casual group of all ages, mostly people on their lunch breaks and we sing songs from the Great American Songbook, folk traditions, popular favorites from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and the occasional show tune.

Wednesday Sing is from 12:00-1pm every week. I’ll be leading on harp. $5 donation. See you there!

Monica Schley, CCM


04 2017

Teaching at Dusty Strings Music Store and More

This new year has made a lot of noise so far, off to a gallop and a cock-a-doodle-doo, both globally and personally. My most recent news: I am teaching at Dusty Strings Music Store!

Two years ago, I set off to adopt a five-fold business plan that addressed these areas of work: performing; recording; weddings & private events; teaching; and healing. All five areas of my business plan are in full swing.

Performing – This winter I am performing these concerts in Seattle:

FEB. 3 @ The Skylark Cafe
Solo Harp+Voice – 9pm
FEB. 17 @ University of Maryland (tour to Baltimore/D.C. area)
with Ahamefule Oluo’s critically acclaimed show, “Now I’m Fine”
FEB 24 @ Seattle City Hall
Healing Harp Tones – 12:00pm – 1:00pm (lunchtime concert)
FEB 24 @ Olympic Sculpture Park
Art Encounter w/Paige Barnes – 7pm
MAR 15 @ Stone Way Cafe
w/ The Daphnes – 6-8pm

Recording- Working on mixing the last tracks of my upcoming album, Braids of Kabuya, and ideas like this keep coming:

Teaching- I am SUPER pleased to announce that I am now teaching private harp lessons at Dusty Strings Music Store in Seattle (Fremont). Not only does Dusty Strings make the finest lever harps in North America, but they have a newly renovated music school. Its pretty awesome and inspiring. People who work there are nice. Please check it out! I teach on Thursdays.

Healing- This month, I celebrated my 1st year anniversary playing therapeutic harp music for Providence Hospice patients. It is a gift to play music for people who are so appreciative.

…and now… back to work!

Five-Step Pep Talk

This post was originally published at Pyragraph and is reposted here with kind permission.

Half of success is attitude, right? You’ve got your skills honed, now how about addressing that glass-is-half-empty perspective? You know it’s not going to get you anywhere. This here is your five-step pep talk to get the jobs done—and get more jobs too.

1. Have self-confidence and follow through.

If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either. Do your work with conviction and authenticity, and what is more, be true to your word. You don’t have to be a perfectionist, you just have to do what you say you are going to do. As Thom Yorke sings, “You can try the best you can. The best you can is good enough.”

2. Flexibility.

Stretch your skill set out. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If someone asks you to do work at a thing you’re not really proficient at, just let them know that this is new, but you are willing to try. If it’s paid work, let your client know, and perhaps offer them a discount. It generally makes people happy to know they are saving money. You may find yourself using this new skill again.

3. Diversity.

Break through old patterns. Get a piece of paper and two different colored pens. Write down a list of all of the types of venues you are playing at (or jobs you have, or galleries you’re showing at, or what have you). Then, with another color pen, write down the “dream” gigs you want. Research whom to contact at those “dream” places and do that outreach. Introduce and market yourself,  even if it seems like a total stretch. You wrote it down on your list, didn’t you? If you’re not prepared for this step, do what it takes to get ready first, and then make contact. Use your skill from #1 and just do it.

4. Keep it fresh.

Don’t get stuck doing the same old tricks. Learn new tunes; write new pieces; make new products that veer away from your familiar styles. Try this: Think ahead for a target season or theme and create new work with a subject in mind. Give yourself an assignment, like: I must write a waltz.

5. Have patience and diligence.

Take time to put your name/product/work out there. Persevere. Just one or two times may not get the attention of the person you are trying to reach. Follow up (and perhaps find another name at the same venue). Be patient with the outcome, but also persistent, and don’t worry about if you fail or not.

“I think you have to try and fail, because failure gets you closer to what you’re good at.” —Louis C.K.

Stay strong. Carry a BrusselSword.

Stay strong. Carry a BrusselSword.


12 2016

Christmas Harp Music

‘Tis the Season! I have Christmas harp music for sale, my CD Harp Carols.

Album Cover design by Luara Moore

Album Cover design by Luara Moore


“Harp Carols” is a collection of ancient noels on solo harp and features clarinetist Rosalyn DeRoos on the last song. Except for two pieces, all songs are traditional Christmas carols. “Harp Carols” celebrates Europe’s music of 15th Century – 19th Century holiday season and will transport you to a place of Old World calm during this winter’s busiest month. Also included are an improvisation on Gabriel Faure’s “Pavane,” and “Journey to the Magi,” an original tune a la Alice Coltrane with influence by the T.S. Eliot poem.

I will be playing a seasonal concert in Seattle area this year! The concert will be one of healing and meditation featuring harp solos and duets, honoring the quietude of the winter solstice and the light within each one of us during this dark season.

I’ll be performing live December 23rd, 2016 at:
Healing Harp Tones, a harp concert in duet with Monica Schley & Motter Snell.
Interfaith Community Sanctuary
1763 NW 62nd St
Seattle, WA 98107

Download “Harp Carols” here for $7 or purchase the disc for $12 on Bandcamp.

Here I am, playing ‘Carol of the Bells,’ a Ukrainian folk song, circa 15th Century

Special Request Wedding Songs

I like learning new songs. Many brides request special songs for their ceremony and I’m always happy to accommodate.

That said, I have a pretty large repertoire already, with songs that are tested and true. You can read my most popularly played wedding songs here: Music Songlist. Its a good place to start from if you’re not sure what kind of music you’d like to have at your wedding.


In general, I would say that a wedding ceremony has three main songs, in addition to prelude and postlude music. There are some variations:

– Processional
– Interlude (optional)
– Recessional

– Processional
– Bridal Entrance
– Interlude (optional)
– Recessional

…and for the very simple event:
– Processional
– Recessional

If a couple has special requests, I do my best to make that happen. Here’s an example of some songs I’ve learned particular situations, like weddings and holiday parties:

A Thousand Years – Christina Perri
Falling Slowly – from the movie, Once (Glen Hansard)
Flower Duet – Leo Delibes
Hotel California – The Eagles
In My Life – The Beatles
Lovesong – The Cure
No Surprises – Radiohead
Skinny Love – Bon Iver
Sweet Child O’Mine – Guns N’Roses
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Annie Lennox
Take On Me – Aha
Witchy Woman – The Eagles
When You Wish Upon A Star – Disney

harp + violin duets

harp + violin duets


11 2016

Poetry & Essay Bibliography

Autumn means organization, or at least to some people it does! My harp students know that when they come over to my studio, they will invariably see piles of yellow legal pads, music books, sheets of poems, pencils, postcards, to-do lists, headphones, and manila legal files stuffed with more of the same on and surrounding my desk. New studies show, though, that might not be such a bad thing for a creative type like me.

Virtually, things are much cleaner for me. I’ve just compiled a concise bibliography of selected publications and posted them to my website (Recordings & Writing). Its an organized list of selected poems and essays I’ve written, available in one easy to find place – imagine that!

on a clean day, you can see forever

on a clean day, you can see forever


09 2016

The Daphnes EP

My trio, The Daphnes, has just released a self-titled EP on Bandcamp. Please listen. Its cheap to buy!


This summer, we have played at Seattle’s hippest historic hotel, The Sorrento; and the modern glass exhibit at Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden & Glass.

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @MonicaSchley and come hear our next live show!

The Daphnes @Chihuly Garden & Glass

The Daphnes @Chihuly Garden & Glass


I Quit My Day Job A Year Ago

This post was originally published at Pyragraph and is reposted here with kind permission.


Backstage in NYC

A year ago I quit my day job. It was easy to make the announcement and write the first part of my story, because I was excited! However, writing this follow-up has been a lot more challenging.

A little background: The day-job I quit was part-time. It was secure and it complimented my creative career as a musician and poet. So, I was conflicted about leaving. However, I knew that if I stayed any longer, I would never take the chance to see what was behind the other door—the door that led to working on music and writing exclusively, the door that led to me working as a freelancer and calling my own shots. I was miserable with the thought of never knowing what that would feel like.

For various reasons, the clock was ticking. If I was going to jump, it had to be now.

How did I prepare for this? I talked to other full-time musicians and I crafted a business plan. Then, I seriously talked my five-fold business plan over with at least a dozen people, as well as a representative at Seattle Small Business Association. I got green lights. I created an active teaching studio. Also, I became a Certified Clinical Musician (someone who plays particular therapeutic styles of music at the bedside of the sick and dying). The plan was that the day job hours would be taken over by therapeutic work, more or less. Since putting my plan into practice, I still think it’s solid in theory, but several factors beyond my control caused a certain amount of failure.

An important nuance I’ve had to take note of is seasonal fluctuations in work. I have wedding gigs in the summer, but not many students. This past year has shown moments of good fortune—touring with amazing musicians to New York with the successful show, Now I’m Fine—contrasted by disappointments when efforts don’t pay off—I did an intense two-day trade show for state healthcare workers expecting to drum up new clinical music work, but got empty leads, which left me physically and mentally drained.

There have been lots of challenges this first year on my own, but they’ve only pushed me to try something new and get comfortable with making mistakes when they happen.

New things I’ve tried this year and succeeded at:

  • Recording original tunes in studio and at home (in progress)
  • Making a music video
  • Bartered harp lessons for other needed services
  • Led healing harp tones guided meditation workshop

Fallen short:

  • Getting 3-5 therapeutic music accounts (I’ve succeeded so far at only gaining two)
  • Rejected grants

Future goals:

  • Skype harp lessons
  • Self-publishing a multi-instrument album
  • Leading more group workshops
  • More therapeutic music accounts

In one year’s time, I’d say I’m not as rosey-eyed, that is, I may not have taken into account how the highs and lows are much more extreme, which can be more exciting and more scary. Yet still, I’m optimistic by nature, so I always have that working to my advantage. I am very comfortable with turning down offers that are not respectable or reciprocal. I also happen to live in a wealthy city, where there are many resources for artists and people who will pay for artistic services.

My choice to work freelance has really been about my need to fulfill a dream. In his poem, “Harlem,” Langston Hughes asks:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?

I knew my dreams would lose their strength, or worse yet, cease to exist, if I didn’t answer to their calling. That is what this career choice has been about, because working in the arts is more than just “making a living,” it’s a lifestyle. I like seeing where the mystery unfolds, even if it’s a little terrifying. It’s my path and I own it.

La Vie En Rose

Edith Piaf made La Vie En Rose one of the most memorable French songs of the 20th Century. This is my solo harp version. Enjoy!

Wedding Music in Seattle: Top 6 Seattle Wedding Musicians

harp-for-weddingsPeak season for weddings starts in June and wedding ceremony locations in WA State are abundant. Having lived in Seattle for 15 years, I have many favorite locations to play wedding ceremony music. I also planned my own wedding here in 2008. As a wedding harpist, I have a solid tool kit for how to work as a wedding musician. My opinions on wedding ceremony music and wedding reception music come from nearly 20 years of experience.

Although my first (humble!) opinion would be to consider harp music for your ceremony, harp may not be what you are looking for. I know and play with a diverse and talented community of musicians in Seattle. I’d like to recommend some other wedding musicians to you in this article. If you are looking for quality wedding ceremony music or wedding reception music, this article highlights my favorite Seattle musicians for your day!

Wedding Ceremony Music and Wedding Reception Music Recommendations

1429004677_10537974_383542475103625_5414674626190059505_o1) Vocal Band, The Lonely Coast – Friends (Valerie Holt & Anne Mathews) perform sublime close-harmony duets. They sing lullabies, folk and traditional music from Europe and the Americas. They have been blending voices for over a decade and it shows! If you want singing at your wedding that is heartfelt and unique, The Lonely Coast will be one of your most memorable investments. In addition to many private events, they have sung on public stages in the King County Library System, outdoor festivals and beyond.

Wedding Ceremony Music by Josh Rawlings

2) Pianist, Josh Rawlings – This co-owner of J&J Music is a highly talented pianist and good friend. He and I have played harp & piano duets at The Sorrento Hotel and Overlake Country Club to name a few venues. Josh has toured with Alan Stone and is an Earshot Golden Ear Award recipient. If that was not enough, he received a Grammy for playing on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “the Heist.”

wedding music with Jason Parker 3) Trumpeter, Jason Parker – The other half of J&J Music, Jason is an excellent jazz player and band leader. I’ve known Jason through the Seattle music community for several years, and he’s always wearing a smile. He is the band leader of The Jason Parker Quartet, which has recently won “Best Wedding Bands” in KING 5’s “Best Of Western Washington” poll in 2015, and was nominated in 2013 and 2014 at #3. See the many testimonials he and his ensemble has received playing for people’s wedding day.

wedding band with Shane Peck4) Cover Band, The NinesMy friend Shane Peck is the drummer for The Nines. He is an exceptional musician! For a few years, we played in a band together called Pretty Abandoned. Currently, Shane plays in several bands; his main wedding band is The Nines. The Nines are the 2015 WINNER “Best Reception Band” in Seattle Bride Magazine. This band puts on great public and private shows. On their website, they share a tremendously diverse songlist, a FAQ page, and past client reviews.

Cellist Maria5) Cellist, Maria Scherer Wilson – Maria and I have a harp & cello duo. We have played for many weddings together in the Seattle area. Additionally, we regularly work together on other improvisational, experimental and chamber performances, such as Ahamefule Oluo’s comedy/musical show, Now I’m Fine. Maria has also worked with artists such as Florence Henderson, Jody Watley, Eyvind Kang, Jherek Bischoff, and Cat Power and she plays in other chamber combinations for weddings.

6) Guitarist, Julian Catford, has pWedding Music by Julian Catforderformed in Mallorca, Spain, Scotland, Tahiti, and Mexico. He has accompanied Rosemary Clooney and Cab Calloway! As one of Seattle’s top guitarists, his specializes in playing classical, Spanish, Brazilian, gypsy jazz and swing and flamenco music. I met Julian while working at the Musicians Association of Seattle where we are both members, and we’ve both participated as vendors for many years at the Seattle Wedding Show. Julian is recipient of the Wedding Wire Couples Choice Award in 2014.

About the author:
Monica Schley, CCMHarpist Monica Schley is a classically-trained musician, specializing in new music, chamber, improvisation, avant-garde, jazz and rock. She has collaborated as a composer and performer for several multi-media public shows and has worked with artists such as Butch Morris, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Jherek Bischoff, Secret Chiefs 3, Eyvand Kang, Christina Vantzou, Hey Marsailles, and Kanye West. Currently, she composes, sings and performs in her modern chamber pop trio, The Daphnes and is a Certified Clinical Musician, playing harp in hospitals and hospice. Her poetry has appeared over a dozen literary magazines and her chapbook “Black Eden: Nocturnes” (Pudding House Press) was published in 2010. She is a contributing writer at She has received support from the Espy Foundation. Monica has played for over 350 weddings.


02 2016