Somerset Folk Harp Festival
Somerset Folk Harp Festival

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Beginner's Boot Camp & Our Beginner Track

boot camp

All Day Thursday with Debbie Brewin-Wilson

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 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. Debbie enjoys 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 will be able to give lots of one-on-one personal attention to guide each person along.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this workshop and others will be held on Somerset Online. The Boot Camp will be held "live" via Zoom. The class is small and you will get plenty of attention. We'll even have some "warm-up" videos for you to go through before Thursday July 16. 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 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 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 coach 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 1 & 2:
Friday and Saturday
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. Her videos for these classes will be on Somerset Online and there you will be able to sign-up for 30-minute online personal coaching on Friday or Saturday. 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, including necessary workshops like how to change strings and maintain your harp. These are all hands-on workshops.There are plenty of lectures and other special events you'll want to check out as well for those times that your brain is just fried and too tired to play any more in the day. If there's a topic that you really want to explore and it's above your playing level, there's nothing to stop you from getting in over your head! If you're signing up for the full festival, you can spread out your exploration for the remainder of the year. Videos will be accessible until December 31. Learn at your own pace.

Workshop Choices

Beginner's Track Suggestions

Time Workshop Presenter Level
Thurs. 10am-4:30pm Beginners Boot Camp Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
Fri. 9:30-11am Beginners Boost #1 Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
Fri. 9:30-11am Chinese Music & Modes Joy Hoffman Beg.-Int.
Fri. 9:30-11am Swedish Music: 101 Aryeh Frankfurter Beg-Int
Fri. 11:30am-12:15pm DIY harp maintenance 1: Knot Tying Liza Jensen Any
Fri. 12-1pm Harp Tasting: Small (sorry, this has been cancelled this year) Event Any
Fri. 1:30-3pm Double-strung harp: First Steps Joy Hoffman Beg.
Fri. 1:30-3pm Music Reading 101 Robbin Gordon-Cartier Beg.
Fri. 1:30-3pm Simplify Your Music Sunita Staneslow Beg-Int
Fri. 1:30-3pm Venezuelan Folk Music 101 Eduardo Betancourt Beg-Int
Fri. 3:30-5pm Go Paperless with Digital Sheet Music Robbin Gordon-Cartier Any
Fri. 3:30-5pm Manx Music 101 Rachel Hair Beg.
Fri. 3:30-5pm Playing the Robert ap Huw manuscript Karen Loomis Beg-Int
Fri. 3:30-5pm Try the Tinwhistle Dennis Gormley Beg.
Sat. 9:30-11am Beginners Boost #2 Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
Sat. 9:30-11am Double-strung harp 201 Joy Hoffman Beg-Int
Sat. 11:30am-12:15pm DIY harp maintenance 2: Tuning Liza Jensen Any
Sat. 12-1pm Harp Tasting: Large (sorry this has been cancelled this year) Event Any
Sat. 1:30-3pm Arpeggios 101 Sunita Staneslow Beg
Sat. 1:30-3pm Music Reading 201 Robbin Gordon-Cartier Beg.
Sat. 3:30-5pm Chinese & Japanese Court Music Rediscovered Tomoko Sugawara Beg-Int
Sat. 3:30-5pm Harp Regulation & Maintenance Liza Jensen Any
Sun. 9-10:30am Arranging Traditional Music Aryeh Frankfurter Beg-Int
Sun. 9-10:30am Japanese Folk Songs Tomoko Sugawara Beg-Int
Sun. 9-10:30am Perform with Confidence Lisa Lynne Any
Sun. 9-10:30am Pick a Chord, Any Chord Sharon Thormahlen Beg.
Sun. 9am-9pm Harpers' Escape at Somerset (beginner group): Sunday Add-on must register in advance Debbie Brewin-Wilson Beg.

Do you have harps or music products to sell? Get a booth or table at the festival. Call Kathy 856-795-7637. Here's our rate card.

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