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Beginners' Boot Camp

boot camp

All Day Thursday with Debbie Brewin-Wilson & Carol Thompson

Congratulations! You have a harp! Now—what do you do with it? To help beginners get the most out of their Somerset experience, Debbie Brewin-Wilson and Carol Thompson will guide you through all the basics to get you successfully started on the road to Harpdom. This all-day workshop is especially geared for new players. Carol and Debbie enjoy helping beginners get off to a good start in order to build a solid foundation. This class will be dedicated to making sure that you have a firm grasp, so to speak, on how to learn the harp. You'll get the fundamentals plus a whole lot of confidence that you can play this instrument! Debbie and Carol will be team teaching and be able to give lots of one-on-one personal attention to guide each person along. You must register in advance for this all-day Thursday event.

Boot Camp Itinerary

10-11:30am: Getting Started

Let's get to work! Debbie and Carol will cover all those basic starters; from using electronic tuners and how to tune the harp (the best and fastest way!) and move on to sitting, posture and hand positions. If you started the harp on your own without a teacher, you might think you knew all this, but really, it's good to work it! Lots of warm-up and exercises with the right hand to maximize dexterity.

Lunch Break

1-2:30pm: Put Your Left Hand In

Get a solid grounding in chords and chord shapes and getting the best tone when plucking. Then it's on to some of the utility left-hand techniques like damping and learning how to "walk the bass." Debbie and Carol will also cover basic music theory (don't worry it's not hard!) like keys and the Circle of Fifths. It's a lot of fun practices and drills that'll sound really cool when everybody's playing.

3-4:30pm: Fingering, Placement & Putting It Together
When we said Boot Camp, we meant it. In this final segment, you'll learn a new tune and your coaches will emphasize placing, then playing! You'll get basic fingering concepts and how to connect phrases within the context of the tune you'll learn. Slow and steady is the pace.

Beginner harp bootcampWhew! You made it to the end of the day. Congratulations. Look ahead to the rest of the weekend and review the workshops below to reinforce what you learned Thursday and then look over the entire Beginners' Focus Area list to round out your Beginners' Immersion at Somerset!

Beginners’ Boost:
Friday and Saturday
9:30-11 am
Teacher: Debbie Brewin-Wilson

Debbie taught the beginner class for years at the annual Harpers Escape weekend and she's one of most supportive people on the planet--just what you need to get over being nervous and build a solid pathway to learning. For the extended Beginner's weekend, add the Harpers' Escape at Somerset, at the beginner level taught by Debbie all day Sunday.


Beginners' Focus Area

The Director's Cut: for the Beginner's Somerset Itinerary

I put together a Beginner's Itinerary for Somerset which can augment the fundamentals that you'll get in the Beginner Boot Camp. These are workshops I would recommend to my beginning harp students if this was their first Somerset experience and they needed to treat the whole weekend like harp boot camp. When I put the whole workshop schedule together I was mindful to make sure I had a Beginner program with key elements that could fit into a nice schedule for you. Of the 100+ workshops we're offering, many workshops are labeled for "any" level harper. I've judiciously pared down the big list of "Any" level workshops somewhat for you. Below is the list of the director's suggestions for a comprehensive and well-rounded focus for beginning harpers. These are all hands-on workshops.There are plenty of lectures and other special events you'll want to check out as wel for those times that your brain is just fried and too tired to play anymore in the day.


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Workshop Choices:

Time Workshop Presenter Level
Thurs. 10am-4:30pm Beginners Boot Camp Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
Thurs. 1-2:30pm Breton Music for Everyone Tristan LeGovic Beg-Int
Thurs. 1-2:30pm Youth Harp Program: Day 1 Meet & Greet Dominique Dodge Beg-Int
Fri. 9:30-11am Beginners Boost #1 Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
Fri. 10-11am I Always Wanted to Play the Harp Karen Peterson Beg.
Fri. 9:30-11am Wire-strung Harp 101 Ann Heymann Beg.
Fri. 9:30-11am Youth Harp Program: Day 2 Dominique Dodge Beg-Int
11am-7pm Exhibit Hall Open    
11:30am-1pm Lunchtime Concert    
Fri. 11:30am-12:15pm DIY harp maintenance 1: Knot Tying Liza Jensen Any
Fri. 12-1pm Harp Tasting: Small Event Any
Fri. 1:30-3pm Breakout Bass lines Sunita Staneslow Beg-Int
Fri. 1:30-3pm Music Reading 101 Robbin Gordon-Cartier Beg.
Fri. 1:30-3pm Playing in Memory Care Settings Jocelyn Obermeyer Any
Fri. 1:30-3pm Youth Harp Program: Ensemble I Dominique Dodge Beg-Int
Fri. 3:30-5pm Blues Basics for Beginners Martha Gallagher Beg-Int
Fri. 3:30-5pm Go Paperless: Digital Sheet Music Robbin Gordon-Cartier Any
Fri. 3:30-5pm Pick a Chord, Any Chord Sharon Thormahlen Beg.
Fri. 3:30-5pm Take My Advice: For Beginners Sunita Staneslow Beg.
Fri. 3:30-5pm Try the Tinwhistle Dennis Gormley Beg.
Fri. 3:30-5pm Venezuelan Folk Music 101 Eduardo Betancourt Beg-Int
Sat. 9:30-11am Beginners Boost #2 Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
Sat. 9:30-11am Build a Harp 1 Dennis Waring Any
Sat. 10-11am I Always Wanted to Play the Harp Robbin Gordon-Cartier Beg.
Sat. 9:30-11am Youth Harp Program: Day 3 Dominique Dodge Beg-Int
11am-6pm Exhibit Hall Open    
11:30am-1pm Lunchtime Concert    
Sat. 11:30am-12:15pm DIY harp maintenance 2: Tuning Liza Jensen Any
Sat. 12-1pm Harp Tasting: Large Event Any
Sat. 1:30-3pm Build a Harp 2 Dennis Waring Any
Sat. 1:30-3pm Memorization Magic Sharon Thormahlen Beg.
Sat. 1:30-3pm Music Reading 201 Robbin Gordon-Cartier Beg.
Sat. 1:30-3pm Our Day as a Therapeutic Musician Jocelyn Obermeyer Any
Sat. 1:30-3pm Youth Harp Program: Ensemble II Dominique Dodge Beg-Int
Sat. 3:30-5pm Harp Regulation & Maintenance Liza Jensen Any
Sat. 3:30-5pm Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy Sarajane Williams Any
Sat. 7:30-9:30pm Saturday Night Concert Event Any
Sat. 10pm Irish Session: Saturday Event Any
Sun. 9am-9pm Harpers' Escape at Somerset (beginner group) Debbie Brewin-Wilson Beg.
Sun. 9-10:30am Youth Harp Program: Day 4 Dominique Dodge Beg-Int
Sun. 11am-12pm Sunday morning concert Event Any

If you find a mistake in any of these schedules pages please let me know!


Updated 2/23/19
Workshop descriptions and schedules are subject to change.