Somerset Harp Festival Online

Play by the Numbers! Sunday Add-On

with Deborah Henson-Conant

Supercharge Your Playing

Playing by the Numbers is the first step to breaking away from the notes on the page

close encountersRemember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? In that movie a series of numbers, played by a space ship, gave alien beings the ability to communicate without a common spoken language. Music was the key to those numbers. That was no arbitrary trick. Numbers are a universal language and music is the sound of numbers playing together.

Music by the numbers isn't just for aliens! Learning to play by numbers can help every one of us and learning to play by numbers can massively speed up music learning. In this workshop we'll be playing up a storm -- entirely by numbers -- and when we're done, you'll see all every piece you play with a new sense of how the numbers all fit together.

Play at the Level You're At Now and Take it to the Next Level

One of the beauties of playing by number is that it allows you to play the same piece across many skill levels. That means that when you learn a tune 'by the numbers' you can play it at a basic level when you're first learning and then develop and expand it over time without having to buy a whole new arrangement.

This is so powerful that it allows you to play it at the level you're at right now. You don't have to wait to play the tunes you love. As your skills expand you simply expand the piece you already play, again, by the numbers. Find out how to do it in this workshop.

Play by Numbers also helps your You'll get plenty of play-along practice with DHC in this workshop.

Have you ever heard one musician say to another: "Let's just vamp on 1-6-2-5" or "It's a basic 1-4-5"? They're using numbers to communicate about a chord progression. That lets them play together seamlessly. No sheet music necessary! By the end of this workshop you'll be communicating and playing in numbers, too.

Play by Numbers is the first step to breaking away from the notes on the page. Not only is it a shortcut to accompaniment and solo playing, learning to play by numbers is the first step towards expanding into all forms of improv, from meditation music to jazz.

There are four levels of numbers that can help you with music

  • The numbers that help you remember chord progression of a tune
  • The numbers that help you expand and alter chords
  • The numbers that help you keep the rhythm (the time signature and beat)
  • The numbers that help you remember melodies (and sometimes we use 'solfege' instead of numbers for this)
  • DHC will get you to look at all these numbers and show you how to focus most on how numbers give us incredible fluency in playing the chord progressions that make up the harmony of any tune.

    You’ll learn to do all these things in Playing by the Numbers. Knowing how to do it and actually doing it are two different things. It’s kinda like losing weight. Knowing how to do it doesn’t make the difference. Actually applying what you know over and over, especially when you can do it in a supportive environment with other people, is what makes things really happen. And that’s how you and DHC will be doing it in this workshop!

    The most important thing about this workshop is that you’ll go through the process over and over until it becomes second-nature, because that’s what’s going to liberate you from the notes on the page and empower you to truly create enriched and expanded music.

    About Deborah Henson-Conant

    Deborah Henson-Conant is a Grammy-Nominated Composer/Performer, creator of her own online school that teaches hundreds of harp players world wide improvisation, arrangement and performance techniques. She the author of the bimonthly column “Harpist Reinvented” for the Harp Column. She’s created and performed her own music and music-theater works in one-woman shows and with symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. She's released more than a dozen recordings including the Grammy-Nominated “Invention & Alchemy” (which we saw as part of an exclusive showing at last year's festival) of her original works with symphony orchestra. Her mentorship program “Harness Your Muse” coaches harpists in creating their own original shows and recordings. DHC has been doing full-day Sunday add-ons for the festival since 2015. We enjoy collaborating with her to extend our attendees experience at the festival.

    The Itinerary for Play by the Numbers

    Your afternoon with Deborah Henson-Conant will be "live on Zoom". This workshop will be recorded and available for replay later to just workshop participants.

    10-11:30am Session 1: with breaks.

    Noon: Somerset Concert & Lunch Break

    12-1pm Lunch Break: Go to the kitchen and grab your lunch. Talk a walk. Chill out. Don't forget to watch the Somerset Sunday concert. We're going to leave the Zoom Meeting open so that folks can come back to the meeting, have lunch together and chat. You also have time to drop into the new virtual Exhibit Hall and chat to vendors (a new feature on Somerset Online)

    1-2:30pm Session 2:

    2:45-4:15pm Session 3:

    4:30-5pm: Final Spring.

    What to Wear: Please dress comfortably and come ready to play.
    What to Bring:
    Recording device if you want to but no music stand needed! These sessions, however, will be recorded live as they happen and are available at a later date for replay.
    How do I Attend? Registrants will receive an email invitation to the Zoom meeting room that will admit you. Make sure you're in a comfortable space at home!

    Cost & Registration

    Play by the Numbers with Deborah Henson-Conant: Only $100 if you add it to your Somerset subscription before June 30. You must sign-up in advance for this event.

    Questions? Need more information?

    Call or email Kathy DeAngelo at 856-795-7637.

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