Somerset Harp Festival Online

Workshops T through Z

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(click on any workshop to read the full description)

Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy when you're practicing if your own toxic thoughts about your playing feeds your insecurity! Christy-Lyn supportive coaching on this topic will show you how to deal with those toxic thoughts. She'll help you double your practice effectiveness by changing the way you THINK during your practice time. Practicing thinking in a helpful way is just as important as practicing the music. Being kind to yourself as you progress is something that doesn’t come naturally; it has to be learned.

Join Robbin for an inspirational and motivational day of discussions with special guests and hands-on examples on teaching in the post-covid world. Whether you've been teaching for a while now or are just thinking about getting into this field, this Symposium has a comprehensive itinerary that will touch on key aspects of developing your skills and your business acumen in the online world. Come to get ideas. Come to share your ideas and experiences.

This workshop for all harps is a treasure trove of all the secrets for easier playing, leveraging Dr. Ortiz's knowledge of body dynamics and long career as one of the pre-eminent Latin harpists. If you want to learn to play better and faster and more comfortably, then knowing how to position your fingers for all the usual chord positions and more difficult configurations, is critical. There are many questions on fingering, focus and connecting that Alfredo will answer. For all harps. All levels.

Therapeutic harpists become familiar with many modes to use in their playing in different environments. In this workshop, Tina will share her research in the comparisons of the Eastern 5 Element modes put forth by the Shanghai Orchestra’s music for strokes, heart attacks, migraines and 5 element healing. Learn how those in our Western Greek modes can provide music to address depression, fear, lifelessness, anger, lack of structure and inflexibility by gently using the magic of the modes to address these issues. Find out and practice how you can balance a person’s energy. Guided melodies and improvisations will enhance music from both Eastern and Western cultures to bring forth the similarities. Sheet-music provided for sight-readers with beginner arrangements and chord charts included for “by ear” players.

Players of all levels who want to learn to improvise or expand their improvisation skills in a therapeutic setting will benefit from Tina's emphasis on playing by ear and understanding the structure of and quickly selecting the chords for accompanying the melodious modes. She will teach you to bring new sounds and how to match the mode of music to enhance a listener’s positive mood. Sight-readers and play-by-ear players will be comfortable in this workshop.

Although the historical harpers are long gone and can’t be here to show us how they played their instruments, they left behind visible wear showing where their hands and wrists (and feet and legs too!) rubbed against the soundbox, how they replaced strings, and even how they adjusted the position of the harp to play it. See for yourself, and inform your own explorations of playing style. This workshop will include demonstration and discussion of how to interpret the harpers’ wear marks. For more on Dr. Loomis' forensic analysis on early Irish harps, see her archived 2020 workshops.

Listen and talk to master uilleann piper, Jimmy O’Brien-Moran, one of the most highly respected traditional Irish musicians of his generation. Playing the neglected repertory he has recovered from old manuscript sources and archive recordings, hear Jimmy on historic pipes sets bequeathed to him by older masters. This relaxed, interview-style workshop will allow you to interact with, and question, an artist who exhibits a rare and authentic style of music-making within Gaelic traditions, about what is important in playing Irish music. Hearing the knowledge and ingrained style of a living master Irish musician will help you to make more authentic Gaelic music.

Do you have pieces that you want to play, but they are in the wrong key for your harp? Are there pieces that need bass strings that you don’t have on your harp? Are you (or someone else) going to sing along, but the music is pitched too high or low? Sylvia will teach you how to transpose the music to solve all these problems! “Transposing” means to change the key of a piece, shifting all of the notes either higher or lower than the original music. If this sounds hard and scary, don’t worry! Sylvia will make it very easy! Please download the handout before you come to the workshop and be sure to have a pencil handy.

We may never fully understand how the old Irish harpers played because the living tradition, transmitted orally, came to an end about 200 years ago. But we do have many pieces of the puzzle. New research in this field makes possible a deeper understanding of traditional performance practice and allows us to attempt to reconstruct this lost art. Sylvia's main area of interest is in traditional Irish harp fingering. She'll summarize her most recent work with an overview of her approach and exciting new insights into traditional fingering. This is a work in progress.

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.

We all make mistakes. The trick is covering them up and be able to continue playing. Of course, there are also many ways that you can learn to avoid mistakes in the first place and Sunita will talk about those. She'll give you the tricks that will help you past potential mishaps and also discuss the physical and mental pitfalls. You'll be able to raise questions in this live session.

There are a wide range of mysterious topics that come up in harp playing, including unusual techniques, harp specific symbols on music and notational challenges surrounding lever and pedal markings. This workshop with Shelley is intended for the more advanced sight-reader.

If you're new to the wire-strung harp or are considering getting one, this is an essential workshop for you with one of the world's leading experts and teachers of this instrument. Ann Heymann will discuss different types of wire-strung harps and how they might serve your musical needs and desires, and then cover basics of approaches and technique. You can’t become an expert in just one workshop, but this hands on overview is geared to all levels AND any harp is welcome for those who want to explore!

There's nothing quite like a wistful waltz to swirl your fingers around. Rachel has a nack of picking the most satisfying, feel-good tunes to teach. The waltzes she has chosen, from a variety of traditions, will be a wonderful addition to your repertoire and just perfect to play when your session needs a breather from the fast-paced jigs and reels. Tunes will be taught by ear, but music provided in advance.

Oh Danny Boy is based on a beautiful old Irish song, "Codladh an Óigfhir" [The Young Man’s Sleep], taken down by the young Edward Bunting from the harp playing of the aged Dennis O’Hampsay in 1795 or '96. Siobhan will start by deciphering the manuscript page, showing how to get historical fingerings, articulations and string-dampings to create subtleties of phrasing. She will teach how to add the old Irish style of sparse lower-hand that O’Hampsay himself might have used to accompany the melody. Time-permitting, she will also discuss Bunting’s enigmatic markings indicating melodic ornaments. In doing all that, we will unearth a more authentic Danny Boy for harpists!

We kick off our Youth Harp Program with a Meet & Greet session as part of our Thursday Specials. This is an optional part of the 4-day program. It's a get-acquaiinted session which includes a harp circle and an overview of what to expect during the rest of the weekend.

Learning Tunes and Songs. We’ll learn to sing songs and then transfer the melodies to the harp, building ear-learning skills along the way. Once the tunes are learned, we’ll use appropriate rhythms and harmonies to build a collaborative arrangement.

Learning Tunes and Songs. We’ll learn to sing songs and then transfer the melodies to the harp, building ear-learning skills along the way. Once the tunes are learned, we’ll use appropriate rhythms and harmonies to build a collaborative arrangement.

Final get-together and close out of our first youth harp program. Get answers to questions and/or issues regarding any topic related to harp. This will also be a time to help set new goals for playing, discuss new experiences, help students realize their potential and open up possibilities for the future. This is a wonderful opportunity for youth harpists to unite on issues they feel are relevant, exchange ideas.

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Updated 02/01/21 Workshop descriptions and schedules are subject to change. Refresh your browser to make sure you have the latest version of this page.