Somerset Harp Festival Online
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New to Harping?

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. We have a wide range of workshops especially geared for new players.

Debbie enjoys helping beginners get off to a good start in order to build a solid foundation. Her workshops 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. In addition to our 'live' workshops (in-person and simultaneously online) with Debbie, we are making a number of her previous Somerset Online introduction videos available to our subcribers.

Pending the status of the pandemic, Debbie's workshops will be held 'live' in-person in Parsippany and simultaneously broadcast on zoom for online-only attendees. These workshops will be small and you will get plenty of attention. We'll even have those "warm-up" videos for you to go through beginning on July 1.


Beginner's Itinerary Starter Kit

Beginner's Boot Camp on Zoom

Friday 10-11:30am: Beginner's Basics
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.

Friday 3-4:30pm: Beginner's Chord Basics
Get a solid grounding in chords and chord shapes and getting the best tone when plucking. If you're having trouble getting your hands to cooperate with forming chord shapes, Debbie will demystify chord structures and reinforce the harp fundamentals you’ll need to become more fluent in playing chords. She'll show you how to play your favorite tunes using a “lead sheet” , which is just music that displays a chord letter rather than using the bass clef for the left hand.

Saturday 10-11:30am: Beginner's Coordination Basics
Feeling that you can play one hand or the other but not both at the same time? This is common for beginning players. Debbie will review some of the basics to lay the groundwork, then focus on pointers, to help you get both hands working together. She’ll teach a tune to reinforce good playing technique with both hands, while reviewing chord structures at the same time.

Beginner's Boost Video Series

Beginner's Boot Camp on Zoom You'll have a chance to take Debbie's Beginner Boost series workshops beginning July 1, when Somerset Online opens up. This will give you a 3-week headstart on our beginner-level workshops 'live' on festival weekend, July 21-24. Go at your own pace and in your own good time! Stop and start the videos as needed where you need to really work on a concept.

  • Beginner's Boost 1: Sitting at the Harp: Debbie gets you off to a good start with some solid foundation in learning how to position and sit at the harp and how to work on hand position. Review these "basics" videos as often as needed to establish good habits. Video 3 from the 2020 series.
  • Beginner's Boost 1: Using a Tuner: If you've just gotten your harp and want to start building a solid foundation for learning and playing it, the first step is actually learning how to tune it! Debbie explains how to use a tuner to do that. Video 2 from the 2020 series.
  • Beginner's Boost 1: Exercises 1: If you've just started to play the harp, this video workshop is from a series Debbie created for the Beginners' Boot Camp in 2020. If you already know how to tune the harp, sit at the harp and your basic hand positions, start this video! Now start learning the notes and how to pluck! Thumbs up! Get comfortable with the instrument and yourself! Music-reading ability is not necessary. Video 4 from the 2020 Series.
  • Beginner's Boost 1: Exercises 2: If you've just started to play the harp, this video workshop is from a series Debbie created for the Beginners' Boot Camp in 2020. This segment continues on from Beginner's Boost Exercises 1 and here you're learning how to position and playing using more fingers. Practice plucking and playing scales. Thumbs up! Use both hands and practice cross-overs.Music-reading ability is not necessary. Video 5 from the 2020 Series.
  • Beginner's Boost #2: Cookie Cutters: We've brought back 3 videos from Debbie's Beginners Boost 2 series. View these videos and refer back to them when you need to before our 'live' festival and your sessions with Debbie. In this segment, Debbie gets to showing you 3-finger chords, starting with triads, and explains how these chord patterns easily translate to every key. Learn to place, then play. Placing is important.
  • Beginner's Boost #2: Finger Conventions: We've brought back 3 videos from Debbie's Beginners Boost 2 series. View these videos and refer back to them when you need to before our 'live' festival and your sessions with Debbie. In this segment, Shapes of chords, Debbie calls them cookie cutters, become all-important and once you learn the shapes it will make your playing clean and beautiful. Consistency is key. Place, then play, is the harp mantra. Learn which finger to play for which intervals.
  • Beginner's Boost #2: Octave Patterns: We've brought back 3 videos from Debbie's Beginners Boost 2 series. View these videos and refer back to them when you need to before our 'live' festival and your sessions with Debbie. In this segment, you'll learn the most common "big" chord patterns or "cookie cutters" as Debbie calls them. Be sure to place, then play! Thumbs up!

Beginner's 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 Boost video series with Debbie Brewin-Wilson and her 'live' workshops on festival weekend. 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-SITE and 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 200 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) "Live" Workshops Presenter Level
7/22/2022 10-11:30am Art of Noodling Deborah Henson-Conant Any
7/22/2022 10-11:30am Beginner's Basics Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
7/22/2022 11am-6pm THE EXHIBIT HALL IS OPEN!
7/22/2022 11:30am-12:15pm DIY harp maintenance 1: Knot Tying Liza Jensen Any
7/22/2022 12-1pm Small Harp Tasting
7/22/2022 1-2:30pm Improv for Introverts Kim Robertson Any
7/22/2022 1-2:30pm Strathspeys Starter Kit Rachel Hair Beg.
7/22/2022 1-2:30pm Therapeutic Harping in Today’s World and Beyond Edie Elkan Any
7/22/2022 3-4:30pm Beginner's Chord Basics Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
7/22/2022 3-4:30pm Ergonomics 101 Jen Narkevicius Any
7/22/2022 3-4:30pm Renaissance Dance Class Nancy Hurrell Any
7/23/2022 10-11:30am Beginner's Coordination Basics Debbie Brewin-Wilson Nov.-Beg
7/23/2022 10-11:30am Selecting the right harp for you Jen Narkevicius Any
7/22/2022 11am-6pm THE EXHIBIT HALL IS OPEN!
7/22/2022 12-1pm Large Harp Tasting
7/23/2022 1-2:30pm Creating Dreamy Music for the Bedside Edie Elkan Any
7/23/2022 1-2:30pm Musical Cartoons Deborah Henson-Conant Any
7/23/2022 3-4:30pm DIY harp maintenance 2: Tuning Liza Jensen Any
7/24/2022 10-11:30am Two-Hand Teamwork Kim Robertson Any
Time (ET zone) Second Weekend "Live" Workshops Presenter Level
7/30/2022 10-11:30am Creative Beginner Sunita Staneslow Beg.
7/31/2022 10-11:30am Finetune Your Phrasing Sunita Staneslow Any

 

 

 

 


Updated 4/29/22 Workshop descriptions and schedules are subject to change. Refresh your browser to make sure you have the latest version of this page.