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Brien Engel -- Glass Harp Music

Brien Engel -- Glass Harp Music

STEM/STEAM value! Inspiration for young Makers! A unique and beautiful art form!

Brien Engel presents the Glass Harp — an instrument of 50 stemmed glasses, which he plays by rubbing his moistened fingers on their rims. This enchanting art form dates back to the 18th century, and Brien is one of

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Glass Harp Music


Program Description

During a Glass Harp assembly program, Brien plays music of different styles and periods on his instrument of stemware, and gives detailed demonstrations of the physics of sound to support units taught in the classroom. The program includes additional musical instruments made from everyday materials, such as water bowls, musical bottles, and musical saw.

Water-tuning is demonstrated with rice


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Program Detail

Program type: Assembly/Performance
Artistic Discipline: Music
Cultural Origin: American, European, Multicultural
Subject: Engineering, History, Math, Music, Science, Social Studies / History
Population Served Grade 1, Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9, Kindergarten, Pre-K, Teachers
Bilingual: No
Available dates:

Available year-round. Available for trips to Charlotte area when not touring in other regions, or performing locally (in Atlanta)

Available times:

No time restrictions; whenever best suits the school/ other venue.

Length of :Program 50 minutes
Space / technical requirements:

Cafeteria stage, or in front of stage, Gym, or Media Center. Will need two rectangular tables, two chairs. Artist has complete sound system.


Available for all venues: recital stages, libraries, school cafeterias, gyms, senior centers, etc.

Fees / Ticketing:

Same day/school: $520.00 single performance, $780.00 for two, $950.00 for three, all travel and touring costs included. Discounts for block booking (three or more days in area)


NC Standard Course of Study:

Readiness Anchor Standard for Reading

R3 – Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text
(Glasses of different sizes with different frequencies interact to form melodies and harmony in a musical piece as it unfolds)

Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects

RST.6-8.3 – Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements,
or performing technical tasks. (Assess by apparent mass of a glass its general pitch, measure water needed to slow vibration, learn what kind of pressure is needed to create music on a glass by way of friction)

Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6–12

WHST.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. (Using presented examples of home-engineered musical instruments)

NC Essential Standards:

From the Science Education, Physical Science 6-8 Standards:

6.P.1.1 – Explain the relationship among the rate of vibration, the medium through which vibrations travel, sound and hearing. (By clear demonstration of the spring-like nature of water glasses, as with strings or drum skins or any sound source, vibrating to generate sound waves that reach the ear)

7.P.1.2 – Explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces acting on an object (including friction, gravity and magnets). (Via clear object lessons in the catch-release quality of friction, in this case applied as a balanced force to create a standing wave in the glass)

From the Arts Education, Music K-8 Standards:

K.ML.3, 1.ML.3, 2.ML.3 (etc) – Create music using a variety of sound and notational sources. (Showing that glasses, handsaws, bottles, and other utilitarian items can also be musical instruments).

From the Social Studies, World History Standards:

WH.2.9 – Evaluate the achievements of ancient civilizations in terms of their enduring cultural impact. (Civilizations throughout history make use of available resources found immediately in nature or with utilitarian items to make music. Glass and glassware is a very significant contribution from ancient societies. Civilizations take and re-invent things from each other, e.g. water-tuned earthen bowls in India set the stage for European water-tuned glassware.)

Supporting Materials

Study Guide


Instructional Plan


NC Essential Standards for Music


Program Objectives, Curriculum Connections



Conducts educational programming for 2 or more years: Yes
Performs criminal background checks on staff with youth contact: Yes
Three letters of recommendation / references available: Yes
Provides study guides for teachers and or students: Yes
Connects to State and or Common Core Curriculum Standards: Yes
Provides tools to assess student learning (workshops and residencies): Yes
Provides scholarship and reduced fees: Yes
Conducts ongoing assessments of program quality: Yes



  • Four-minute showcase of Glass Harp Educational Performance


“It was a joy and an honor to meet you in person, Mr. Engel! I am so glad that you visited us at HVE! Every person that had the chance to hear you was extremely awed of your music presentation to us. Thank you for your follow-up resources. I watched your video and it is also a great teaching tool, shared with our science teacher.” Heather L. Johnson, Music Teacher, Hidden Valley ES, Charlotte, NC

“We THOROUGHLY enjoyed having you here yesterday.  Thank you being a part of our students’ musical experience!  I can’t wait to look over the follow-up materials and incorporate them into the next few weeks of our year.  I hope we have the chance to work together again!” Andrew Geocaris, Music Teacher, Rocky Mount ES, Marietta, GA

“One of the things you did that I particularly liked was to try to get the students to THINK about the concepts you were teaching… encouraging them to apply what they know and come up with the words to match the scientific principles you are illustrating helps them to remember what they’ve seen.” PTA Comments, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina

“Mr. Engel was simply outstanding. He intrigued our students with his talent, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. I recommend him highly for any school desiring a unique arts /science experience.” Charlene N. Herring, Principal, Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary Columbia, SC

“The glass harp sounds like a magical music box. Brien’s presentations were excellent in every way. Our students enjoyed his beautiful music and they learned about the science involved with the sounds that were produced. Mr. Engel skillfully tied in major academic areas making other connections with history, language, and music theory. He is a gifted entertainer and his music is delightful. I recommend him and his work highly and without any reservations!” Joanne P. Cox, Arts Enrichment coordinator Kittredge Magnet School, Atlanta, GA

Cancellation Policy

50% of program fee if school has to cancel, and program cannot be rescheduled, per ASC guidelines.