Somerset Harp Festival Online

Video Archive

archive videos

Here is the listing of all the workshop videos we've kept online from our 2020 festival. In order to access these workshops you can add it to either your All-Access (which runs from July 5 to October 31) or a Limited-Time (running from July 12-July 31) for just $100. You can add the Archive to your subscription at anytime.

(click on any workshop to learn more about what it covers)

Get over the worry of how to accompany a singer, instrumentalist or ensemble. The harp can be used for rhythmic or harmonic support--learn how to step into a backing role and then step out for a solo. In this workshop, Lisa will help you create a toolbox of accompaniment options to keep at your disposal at anytime and feel ready to jump in and do your part. Besides creating chord charts and working from a lead sheet, you'll learn the secret of how to transpose and change key in an instant and how best to contribute to the whole. Guest artists will participate in this workshop. Sightreading not essential.

The Angular Harp dominated in Asia since before 1900 BC and was played across the whole continent under various names. The Japanese called it “Kugo.” Tomoko Sugawara will play a kugo replica in this Listening Room experience. Her Chinese and Japanese repertoire hails from the 9th and the 11th centuries and her Ottoman pieces were written seven centuries later. She'll also include Spanish pieces from the 13th century. This is a coffeehouse-style informal concert. Bring your favorite beverage and sit, relax and enjoy the music, up close and personal. This listening room is approximately 60 minutes.

Nowadays, Scottish harpers are just as likely to play jigs and reels as the fiddlers and pipers are, but in the "old" days this wasn't the case. Learn about the "old" harp repertoire and the harpers who played it. Take advantage of William Jackson's expertise in interpreting and arranging this music. The music will be taught by ear but sheet music is also provided as a downloadable PDF.

If you've never taken Sunita’s arpeggio workshop and want to get some new ideas for playing different types of arpeggios, this is the workout you're looking for! Sunita says she works with arpeggios like a sculptor. Learn cool things like how to take the same arpeggio and make it sound like a Spanish Guitar, or romantic or soothing. If you've taken her Arpeggios workshop before, you'll get even more out of this supercharged version. This workshop is targeted to players Intermediate level and beyond who want to learn how to creatively noodle! Learn how to sculpt beautiful phrases and play more musically. This is very hands-on.

Beginners who have never taken Sunita’s arpeggio workshops and want to get some new ideas for playing different types of arpeggios will have fun in this class. This is a no-pressure experience to get beginners really comfortable in using both hands to create the quintessential harp sound. This is very hands on and liberating because there is lots of looking at your harp and not at the paper.

There are hundreds of tunes and song out there waiting for you to include in your repertoire. But how do you take a simple melody and arrange it yourself? Aryeh says you start by rethinking left hand technique to be more like a “rhythm guitarist” than a pianist and use left hand chordal patterns to create variety in phrasing. Get some useful tips for creating and developing interesting and evocative arrangements by composing intros, bridges, and “outros” which add a personal and original dimension to any traditional tune. Aryeh will share some useful ideas to create movement, lift, phrasing and dynamics by using a couple of very easy tunes everyone can play and applying these ideas to show how they work. Some notation is used but people do not have to “sight-read.” Reading music helps, but it is not essential to getting something out of the workshop.

Dennis Waring of Waring Harps will guide you through the construction of their 19-string, corrugated cardboard and wood harp, built from their unique kit. In the first part you'll build the harp and in the second part you'll string it and tune it. Purchase the kits before the festival for the discounted price of $125+$50 shipping.

You can replay last year's Carolan Marathon featuring Grainne Hambly, Kim Robertson, Dominique Dodge, and Kathy DeAngelo in a celebration of Carolan's 350th birthday. We had over 150 in the room playing along on some of his most popular tunes.

We're still playing O'Carolan's music more than 350 years after he was born. These are simple, elegant melodies that are as popular today as then. Learn about Carolan's life and the times he lived in and some of his music in this hands-on workshop that will add 2 new pieces to your repertoire. Taught by ear with written music distributed at the end of the workshop. The festival will be having a Carolan Marathon as its special event Saturday night to mark Carolan's 350th birthday.

Take a trip in this workshop and find the many smaller countries that have a Celtic Connection with wonderfully vibrant music. Explore the music of lesser known Celtic nations like Cornwall, Galicia and Asturias. What gives their music their special flavor? Find out! There are other ample opportunities at the festival to explore the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland. Tunes will be taught by ear with music downloadable as a PDF.

Discover how the court music of the ancient Tang Dynasty (700-1000CE), which disappeared from China, survived in Japan as the Emperor’s court music, Gagaku. These manuscripts were taken to Japan, where they survived. Scholars have transcribed them into Western music notation and now some of these simple and beautiful pieces have been arranged for harp by Tomoko, who presented and performed them last year at Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Be part of the revival of this ancient music. Suitable workshop for beginners who can sight-read.

Known for her soulful Christmas recordings, Kim will share some secrets for arranging Christmas music. She'll cover classic and lesser-known carols and give you solid tips on choosing intros & chords patterns, substitute harmonies, creating medleys and other innovations that will breathe new life into standard carols. Sample tunes will be on lead sheets.

Here is an entertaining way to spice up your Christmas repertoire! Nicolas Carter has put a new twist on beloved North American traditional Christmas pieces so you can wake up your listeners with joyful rhythms and a delightful surprise to the ear. Nicolas makes all his workshops FUN, so he'll show you how to play "Joy to the World” as a Colombian Cumbia, a very popular Latin dance music style that will truly bring joy to the song.

What makes a new composition sound traditional? This is a comprehensive look at the structure of traditional music and the modes and rhythms used from Gaelic song, strathspeys to jigs and reels. Learn how to use a simple chord progression as the basis for developing melodic ideas and then expand these melodic ideas into a larger work.

Kim Robertson, Eduardo Betancourt, Ailie Robertson, Aryeh Frankfurter & Lisa Lynne

Dominique Dodge, Nicolas Carter, Grainne Hambly & William Jackson, Maeve Gilchrist

Sunita Staneslow, Robbin Gordon-Cartier, Joy Yu Hoffman

John Metras, Mairi Chaimbeul, Rachel Hair, Deborah Henson-Conant

Almost everybody loves the music of 17th century Irish composer Turlough O'Carolan. Take a cue from Kim's inventive experience, and find out how to add a modern twist to some of those pieces. Using a few of his well known and lesser known pieces, discover how to create intros, interludes, rhythmic motifs and alternative harmonies for making contemporary arrangements of these timeless melodies. Lead sheets will be used. A basic knowledge of chord structure helpful.

Fully explore the benefit of working with arpeggios as part of a comprehensive exercise and dexterity program. Delve deeply with Maeve and find how using them in different shapes will help stretch fingers and break muscle memory while increasing dexterity over the full range of your harp. By using unorthodox shapes and different inversions, arpeggios can be the most beneficial exercise that will help free up your hands and navigate your instrument more freely.

Learn some useful harp chords and progressions for therapeutic and other environments and how to create patterns for improvising in any key. Learn the how-tos of choosing or creating appropriate music for many situations.

Dive into the fascinating world of the chromatic cross-strung harp and learn about its history in its various forms. John will play musical examples showing how the instrument can play music of all styles with all the “juicy” chords that are often eliminated in lever harp playing. Hear about the pros and cons of this fascinating instrument and find resources to help you get started. All ability levels welcome.

Dive into the fascinating world of the chromatic cross-strung harp. In this second part of John’s introduction to the Cross-strung Harp, you will have the opportunity to learn how play melodies, chords and scales. Be sure to download the PDF for this workshop as you get ready to view this video.

Add some famous Cuban rhythmic styles to your repertoire. From the "Cha-cha-cha" to the "conga," Cuban rhythms are beloved around the world. Bring your harp to learn some very easy pieces. Easy printed music in the downloadable handout. You will also learn about the famous romantic Cuban "bolero" music style for a contrasting touch!

One of the most important musical skills you can develop is the ability to learn by ear. It allows you to really dig into the core of different styles by transcribing and learning from recordings of the musicians you love, to dive into playing situations where we might be unfamiliar with the music with more confidence, and get the music that’s in our heads onto our instruments. Màiri will share her top tips on techniques, tools and exercises for developing your ear, looking at hearing and identifying patterns and shapes, and getting out of your head when it all feels a bit much! Targeted to any level player who is inexperienced in learning by ear or wants to improve that skill.

Whatever your level as a therapeutic harper, you'll want to find out how a double-strung harp can be your best friend in therapy work. Based on her thousands of hours of experience using her double-strung in therapeutic work, Nan will treat you to a brief harp therapy session, share stories and demonstrate how the resonance possible with a double-strung harp can be doubly effective in healing. The ability to improvise easily is vital when doing therapeutic work and Nan will show you how effortless this is on a double-strung. In this demo you'll be given concrete suggestions of various double-strung techniques that are most useful in harp therapy. Handouts will be provided. Harps are not needed to enjoy this workshop.

Originating in the 12th and 13th century, French Estampie are finely crafted and timeless dances and music, meant to evoke a full range of scenarios: from an intimate dance of veils to an earthy and exquisite celebration of movement. In this workshop, Christa will show how the simple verse-refrain form of French Estampie make them easy to play and serve as a base to improvise. Sight-reading required but good ear learners will have no trouble picking up the refrains.

You'll find yourself transported to the dance-halls of Montreal to enjoy its vibrant French culture in this workshop with Ailie. Quebec has a rich tradition of achingly beautiful waltzes and airs, as well as wonderful dance tunes. Come and learn about the lyrical Quebecois tradition with its sweet melodic lines and rich accompaniment. Old and new compositions will be explored. You will leave with your fingers flying, your feet tapping, and your heart full of joie-de-vivre! Taught by ear with sheet music available as a downloadable PDF.

Explore the world of digital sheet music and how to make the switch from paper to tablet. Robbin will go over the basic starter pack and give tips and favorite shortcuts and enhancements to make going digital easy and helpful. Find out how liberating it is not dragging a case of music to a gig and having access to music that is not even in your paper library yet. You'll get all the pointers in getting started, including how to convert music you already have, organizing tips, best practices for using the tablet in practice and at gigs and so much more.

King Henry the VIII of England was a well known music lover and patron of the arts. In his personal psalter he is depicted playing a harp as his fool stands by. Many compositions attributed to him can be found in a manuscript named after him. You and Christa will be looking at these spare but lovely polyphonic pieces and enjoying how well they fit the harp, both as complete pieces to play alone or in consort with other harps. All harps are welcome. Sight-reading needed.

The bell-like sound of the harp of Ireland and highland Scotland was heard in great halls throughout the Gaelic world. Built to be strung with wire, the substantial frames of the few surviving historical instruments stand in silent testament to a rich, centuries long musical tradition. Karen will premier the results of her forensic analysis and study of Ireland's Hollybrook harp. This is an interactive online lecture where you'll have a chance to talk to Karen directly and ask questions about her research.

From the middle ages through the early modern period, the bell-like sound of the harp of Ireland and highland Scotland was heard in great halls throughout the Gaelic world. Built to be strung with wire, the substantial frames of the few surviving historical instruments stand in silent testament to a rich, centuries long musical tradition. Today, this type of harp is undergoing a revival, as musicians seek to recapture its lost sound. In this presentation, Karen will trace the history of this iconic instrument through the surviving harps. Hear how Karen's ground-breaking forensic analysis of the Queen Mary harp and other recent discoveries are reshaping our understanding of these ancient instruments and are making it possible to build new instruments that more closely follow the craftsmanship of the originals.

If you've ever said to yourself "I always wanted to play the harp" Robbin will answer Frequently Asked Questions in this workshop offered to our daily Visitors as a "get acquainted" session.

What is the Tropical music of Venezuela? The “Orquidea” rhythm created by Hugo Blanco composer of the song “Moliendo Cafe” uses 4/4 but it’s distinctive sounds can provide the perfect underpinnings for building your general improvising skills. Eduardo will have you doing some fun fingering exercises to achieve faster and clearer play that will free up some of your creativity to improvise. Play by ear musicians and sight-readers will be comfortable in this class.

Do you long to have fun and jam with other musicians! To hear people say to you "Wow, I never knew you could play THAT on a harp!" If so, then take this workshop! You'll learn the 3 essential musical roles in the Blues--and how to play them with only 2 hands! Learn one of the coolest, and most useful bass techniques at YOUR level of technical ability--a technique that's not just great for the Blues, but for lots of rhythmic music. Learn the wickedly simple harmonic structure of the 12-Bar Blues and why that simplicity is such a rich field for creative expression. Get the ultra-fun swing rhythm at the heart of the Blues--it's already deep inside your body.

Start your Irish dance repertoire, or build your current repertoire, with this workshop. Gráinne will teach a dance tune by ear and show you how to do the various stylistic ornamentations that give the music that lilting quality. Gráinne will also give you important tips on fingering that will help you play more quickly. While Irish music is all about the melody, you'll learn how to add an appropriate accompaniment.

Japanese folk tunes are sometimes a bit sad, but beautiful. Most of the Japanese favorites are about the seasons. In this workshop you will learn beautiful melodies and use easy chords to mark the seasons. Sakura is a traditional Japanese folk song depicting spring and autumn.

Most of the world's cultures include some kind of waltz in their dance repertoire. In this fun workshop, learn about the distinct characteristics of waltzes in Latin American music and how specific Latin harp techniques will make you sound like an entire band. Nicolas will teach the music "by ear." Nicolas will use the Paraguayan waltz Lena Luna. You can hear him play it on the video on his bio page. Bring a recording device to jog your memory later.

The Isle of Man is sandwiched in the middle of the Irish Sea between Scotland, England and Ireland, and its music has some similarities to its surrounding neighbours but also some unique qualities. Learn about how the music was revived and learn a sampling of this particular flavor of Celtic music! Tunes will be taught by ear, with music provided as a downloadable PDF.

The mysterious island in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man, is the smallest of the Celtic Nations, but in recent years has been making waves in the Celtic Music scene. The Claasagh (Manx Gaelic for harp) has been undergoing a recent revival on the island, so come help further the cause and learn some of the tunes from the island in the process! Add some Manx tunes to your repertoire. Tunes will be taught by ear, with music provided at the end of the workshop.

Cass brings to this class her 20 years of experience in ministering to those who are dying. Because not all music is created equal in this situation, playing in a hospice environment or other situations where a loved one is actively dying has a special dynamic that requires the utmost sensitivity. She will lead this workshop on the specifics for playing harp and/or singing at the deathbed through demonstration, discussion and group participation. Beginners should know simple chord structures.

Just as there are many recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies; there are many ways to learn how to read music. The key is finding the way that works the easiest and quickest for you. In this workshop Robbin will go over the many ways to learn the basics of note reading, drills for practicing reading and how to go from reading notes on the paper to playing notes on the harp.

Building on Music Reading 101, this workshop will incorporate reading chords, playing from lead sheets and recognizing patterns rather than reading the notes one by one. Robbin will help you work on sight reading skills and identifying key signatures to make note reading as easy as reading words in an article. Learning how to count out rhythms and note values is also covered.

You've heard of harp therapy and therapeutic music training programs, and you are interested in this field, but how does doing this work differ from a wedding gig, playing at church or a recital? Come and find out what therapeutic musicians do every day and what it's like. Discover what a fulfilling day can be and what special skills are needed. Come if you're interested in the topic. You don't know what you don't know.

If you want to perform, you DO want to play with fire! Regardless of whether you’re a Fledgling or a Professional, jumpstart your own path to playing with greater passion with this workshop from the fiery harp diva herself. Using her dramatic harp showpiece “Baroque Flamenco,” DHC will show you how to go from just "learning the notes" and “counting it out” to finding the core of a melody and playing it with a grace that transcends playing ability, then expand it as your skills increase. She’ll show you how your body can lead you to the 'character' that brings the music alive. This workshop will totally energize your morning and have you tapping in rhythm the rest of the day!

Edie will share her repertoire and programming tips on her work in Lifecare Communities which includes conducting Sing Alongs and Name That Tune games in Independent Living, Assisted Living and Dementia Units. This is a hands-on on how to play chords to accompany yourself singing along with the seniors you'll be playing for which is much easier than having to deal with both melody and harmony. Edie will show you various ways to play the chords—from simple one-hand accompaniment to somewhat more complex stuff, with focus mainly on I, IV, V chords. You'll be singing and playing some simple chordal accompaniment in no time! Participants for the whole workshop will receive a discount coupon for Edie’s Strike the Harp and Join the Chorus, a guide on using the harp as an instrument of accompaniment.

Every harp player needs to be aware of how their technique and body should work together to prevent injury and playing problems and facilitate the performance of difficult passages. With his medical background in the fields of Music Therapy and Sensory Motor Learning, Dr. Ortiz will help you focus on the right aspects of your technique and learn good habits. Prevention is the key and breaking bad habits may seem difficult but learning how your body works and responds to your playing technique is essential. Take this workshop if you've ever gotten up from the harp with sore hands, arms or shoulders!

Whether it's to share your music on the Internet or just to listen and learn about your own playing or needing a demo to promote yourself or wanting a final packaged CD to sell, this workshop will touch on all the basics of recording you and your harp. Aryeh will go over the basic essentials of creating a good recording for the harp as well as the stages of recording. Learn about tracking, mixing, mastering, and producing a final packaged CD, as well as options for selling digital downloads.

Rhythm and groove drive what makes music sing, and makes us feel good, and makes other musicians extra fun to play with. Màiri will show you exercises and tools for focusing on rhythm and groove in your playing. You’ll learn about syncopation, poly-rhythms, odd meters, using your metronome creatively and ways to split grooves between the hands.

Rhythm brings vitality and drive to music and can make the difference between an amateur and a professional. Maeve will focus on rhythm and how to incorporate it into warm-up and practice routines to strengthen all aspects of your playing. Learn about hand independence, poly-rhythms, syncopation, ostinato's and more!

In this workshop, Maeve will walk you through a well rounded practice session focusing on the warm up and how to incorporate metronome use right from the beginning. Combining rhythm, hand independence and finger exercises for a thorough and effective warmup, you'll realize that the most effective routine is one that YOU can create to fit your own level and challenge yourself. She'll then give examples of how to isolate problem parts of pieces or tunes and tackle them, using time in an effective way and saving the most enjoyable parts of playing to the very end of the practice session as a reward! Questions and group participation will be highly encouraged in this workshop in order for participants to get the most out of it that they possibly can. This will be a fun and highly useful workshop for any level of harpist.

The Shetland Islands, located between Scotland and Norway, have a rich Celtic and Scandinavian heritage. Come with Ailie and explore Shetland's rich music traditions and find out what makes for its distinctive sounds and techniques. Ailie will teach traditional and contemporary music from Shetland and explain what makes this area unique.

Learning to sing and play the harp at the same time is more than the mechanical aspect of what to do with your hands while your voice does its thing. Use the harp to unleash that path to your heart's voice. Accompaniment doesn't have to be complicated to support your singing. DHC will give you her favorite use-anywhere left-hand patterns and show you how you can adapt them to achieve a solid accompaniment roadmap to get your song where it's going!

Dance music was learned in Spain in the 17th century as a way of becoming familiar with the harp, guitar or keyboard. Pieces could be played simply at first, each being only a few measures long, but could also be expanded into compositions with infinite variations. Christa will teach some basic dance pieces and their chord accompaniment and then lead you through making up a few variations of your own. Reading ability required.

The "arpa llanera" and its music come from the plains of Venezuela and has distinctive rhythms that you'll want to try out. This is an introduction to playing in 3/4, 6/8 and 5/8 with some of the basic Latin techniques that will add a whole lot of flair to your repertoire.

Updated 12/31/2020 Workshop descriptions and schedules are subject to change. Refresh your browser to make sure you have the latest version of this page.