Somerset Harp Festival Online

New to Harping

Beginner's Boot Camp & Our Beginner Track

Beginner's Boot CampCongratulations! 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 even have some "warm-up" videos for you to go through before this all-day class on Thursday July 22. You must register in advance for this all-day Thursday event. Be sure to reply to your Registration Confirmation Email with your choice of Thursday workshop.

Boot Camp Itinerary

Beginner's Boot Camp on Zoom

10:00am-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.

1:00pm-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.

3:00pm-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.

Whew! 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 at 10am-11:30am
Teacher: Debbie Brewin-Wilson

Debbie taught the beginner class for years at the annual Harpers Escape weekend and she's one of most supportive teachers 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. I tailored this particular list for our LIVE ON ZOOM workshops so you can make the most of your time in workshops that you might actually be able to query the presenter. You are certainly welcome to get in over your head for the other 100 workshops which are on video: the beauty of that being that you can fast forward and rewind as much as you like and replay a video to your heart's content.

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 All Access subscription, you can spread out your exploration in the next few months.

Videos will be accessible until October 31. Learn at your own pace.

Beginner Workshop Suggestions

Time (ET zone) Workshop Presenter Level
7/22/2021 10am-4:30pm Beginners Boot Camp Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
7/22/2021 10-11:30am Breaking Bad. Habits! Christy-Lyn Marais Any
7/22/2021 1-2:30pm Practical Practice & Progress Christy-Lyn Marais Any
7/23/2021 10-11:30am Beginners Boost #1 Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
7/23/2021 11:30am-12:15pm DIY harp maintenance 1: Knot Tying Liza Jensen Any
7/23/2021 1-2:30pm Beautiful Tone Sunita Staneslow Any
7/23/2021 1-2:30pm Feminist Harpists & Domestic Rebellion in 19th Century Ireland Nancy Hurrell Any
7/23/2021 1-2:30pm Therapeutic Harp--Modes for Moods Christina Tourin Any
7/23/2021 3-4:30pm Blues Beginnings Deborah Henson-Conant Any
7/23/2021 3-4:30pm Figuring Out Fingering Sylvia Woods Any
7/24/2021 10-11:30am Beginners Boost #2 Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
7/24/2021 10-11:30am Rhythm Made Easy! Shelley Fairplay Beg
7/24/2021 11:30am-12:15pm DIY harp maintenance 2: Tuning Liza Jensen Any
7/24/2021 1-2:30pm Christmas in July Philip Boulding Any
7/24/2021 3-4:30pm Celtic Circle Play-Along Christina Tourin Any
7/24/2021 3-4:30pm Early Irish harp intro & demo Karen Loomis Any
7/24/2021 3-4:30pm Transposing Tips & Tricks Sylvia Woods Any
Sun. 10am-6pm Harpers' Escape at Somerset (beginner group): Sunday Add-on must register in advance Debbie Brewin-Wilson Beg.