DHC’s Blog Post Overview

I use my blog for a lot of different projects.  Some are series, some are creative challenges, some are upcoming events and projects and some are just random thoughts.  Here are some of the series and repeating posts:

News To Blues – Ongoing Series


In these weekly posts, I give the news of what’s upcoming and what’s just happened in my life, singing and playing impromptu from my studio at the harp.  Singing the “News to Blues” started as a challenge from a friend – and now it’s become a weekly exploration of music, spontaneity and what happens when you repeat a creative idea

This is still a new series, and you can see the first 3 posts here:

  1. March 13, 2015
  2. March 20, 2015
  3. March 27, 2015

MY Baroque Flamenco – Ongoing Series


In this series, harp players of all ages from around the world share their own versions of my fiery harp showpiece, “Baroque Flamenco.”

“Baroque Flamenco” is one of the most widely played of my compositions. I published the solo work on three levels: Fledgling, Intermediate and Advanced, for both the pedal harp and the lever harp, so players of all ages and technical abilities perform it and make it their own.

I’ve also unofficially released concerto versions with both orchestra and chamber ensemble, so now harpists are playing it solo and in many different kinds of ensembles.  It’s really exciting to see all the many versions of the piece on YouTube.

In spring 2015  I began inviting players to feature their performances in a blog series called “MY Baroque Flamenco” in which they tell a bit about themselves, provide a video of their performance and then answer a series of questions about their experience with this piece they’ve made their own.

This is also a new blog series and you can see the first three posts here:

  1. Eleanor Turner’s “Baroque Flamenco”
  2. Ruth Lee’s “Baroque Flamenco”
  3. Ronja Ehrbar’s “Baroque Flamenco”

To apply to be part of the series fill out the application here

Blues Harp Style: Final “Beginning” Projects / 21-Part Series

BHS3-2015-Spring-FinalCollage-LoRes_v1One thing I do is create and teach learning programs online specifically for harp players.

The courses are generally goal-oriented, focused on learning a specific skill or style of music and almost always include working towards a “Final-Beginning Project.”

We call them Final ‘Beginning’ Projects because one of the tenets of the course (and all my courses) is the idea of imperfect completion – and the understanding that a ‘Final’ project is really just the beginning of a lifelong relationship with this music.

My Winter 2014/2015 “Blues HarpStyle” course was particularly prolific!  21 of the 50 people in the course submitted final “beginning” projects in which they created their own, often original, Blues inspired by what they learned in the course.

Click here to  see the overview of this series, with links to all the performances.



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You got Questions? I got Answers!

Wow!!  I’ve gotten a LOT of questions about “Baroque Flamenco Bootcamp!”  The course started yesterday. Registration closes Wednesday at midnight — so I want to answer those quickly!

The #1 question I’m getting is whether it’s possible to play this piece as a therapeutic or hospice piece.

And the answer is YES.  In fact, several people currently in the course specifically requested this so I’m adding a special module specifically about how to do that to this session of the course.  And here’s a quote I discovered on YouTube yesterday about this very thing:

“I took ‘Baroque Flamenco Bootcamp’ last Fall and …was astounded first of all that I could play something without sheet music covering my face.  I learned the little phrases one by one  (almost like a child learns his/her first words in a language) and then I started putting them together.

Finally I learned how to simplify the piece and play it in a whole different mode for hospice patients.  It’s months later and I’m now working to play it AND use some poetry, psalms, personal words with hospice patients …

This course is DEFINITELY worth stretching yourself into the unknown…”
Margi Miller (USA)

The #2 question is “What am I actually going to learn??”

Harpists playing Baroque Flamenco

Harpists (including DHC) playing Baroque Flamenco.

That’s a great question because, of course, you learn much more than just the piece itself.

I’m fascinated with structure and how a strong inner structure supports creative expression. That’s one theme of my whole life, and everything I do — so it’s also how I create my courses and how I, personally, like to learn.  I want to learn ideas and concepts that I can use over and over – and I want anything specific I learn to be a catalyst for broader learning that I can use over and over.

So by the end of the course you’ll be playing a specific piece, “Baroque Flamenco,” but what you’ll be learning is:

IMPROVISATION & COMPOSITION: We’ll use this piece to LEARN  how to distill and simplify a piece of music, how to get down to its ‘bones’ and then how to build it up from there. That teaches you some of the fundamentals of improvisation, and also of composition.

MEMORIZATION: You’ll learn to see the structure of the piece so you can ‘learn’ it instead of memorizing it note-for-note. Many people come out of the course being able to ‘memorize’ for the fist time.  They’re not really ‘memorizing’ – they simply understand how the piece works and so they’re able to recreate a version of it without worrying about the ‘note to note’ aspect.

STYLE & STRUCTURE: This piece is famous for being a fiery showpiece — but for years I played it as an introspective meditation. The structure was the same – the style was just different.  We’ll work on both styles in the course – so you learn about style and structure and where they meet and diverge.

#3 “What if I miss a class? What if I’m out of town for a few days? Will the lesson be up longer than just a day?”

Don’t worry — you don’t miss anything.  All the work is self-paced.  You’ll have 6 MONTHS of access to all the lessons.  You’ll also be able to download the PDFs and audio to your own computer – so you don’t need to rush or worry.

There’s only one live element that happens at a specific time — and that’s the weekly chat(well, except that yesterday I did something really fun and had a live ‘office hours experiment’ where students could just ‘drop in’ with questions,  but that was just for fun).  Usually about a third of students come to the weekly live chat. The rest submit any questions they have in advance and then watch the video replay later.

You could actually take the course any time of the year as a ‘home study,’ but I personally need to ask questions – and get answers -  in order to apply new learning, so that’s why I have the live element of the course.

#4: What if I can’t keep up?

We’ve got a bunch of ‘catch up’ days built in and I added a bonus integration week at the end to give everyone time to really digest the material.

My personal mission is that everyone will be have a playable-for-them version of the piece by the end of course and that’s why I’m there in the course with you – to help you create that if you run into problems.

Once you have your basic version and you understand how it ‘works,’ you can spend the rest of your life expanding and embellishing it – but you’ll HAVE your foundational version you can play right now.

But here’s a big thing.  Here’s the real truth:

A lot of the time people ‘can’t keep up’ because they don’t know how to change the
thing they’re trying to keep up with so it fits them.

They don’t even allow themselves that option.

That’s part of what I help students with – to stop trying to fit THEMSELVES into the PIECE and learn to adjust the piece to fit them – and so IT becomes something they can do, right now, exactly the way they are.

That seems counter-intuitive to highly driven people (like me … and probably like you!) because we want those new skills – we want to train ourselves to BE the kind of person who CAN do the thing we can’t do!

And then we get stuck in that loop – of striving to achieve and then just constantly living inside that striving.

What I learned is we need to achieve fluency, not some ideal of performance.  For me, fluency means two things:

Embracing imperfect completion and …

Simplifying and distilling ’til I have a version I can actually
perform. Right now. As I am.

Once we hit that point of fluency – even at very simple level of technical ability — and completely embrace it, we can finally actually perform as ourselves.

We become one with what we are doing.  And then … we begin to naturally evolve Once we’re finally moving at our own speed, with ourselves – we can apply new skills and techniques to this thing we can actually DO.

It blooms – and we bloom with it.

It stops being a ‘thing we achieved,’  and the piece becomes a life-long companion, ever-evolving and ever-open to helping us evolve.

(Sorry for going on about this – and I know it’s kind of esoteric – but this is really, truly what’s most important to me about the whole issue of trying to ‘keep up’ and ‘feeling behind’ and what this piece has given me in my life!)

#5: Why the heck should I pay $397 to learn the piece when I can just buy the sheet music for $17.95?

Aha!  I honestly thought the same thing when I wrote the sheet music!  I thought everyone and her sister would be able to just sit down and play Baroque Flamenco – and everyone would just be playing it — after all, it was all written out now.

Blllllleeeeep <== (Wrong answer Buzzer sound).

Boy was I wrong!  What happened instead was what so often happens – despite our best intentions — we hit a snag, we lose steam and we drift off. Then we feel like the piece is just something we ‘should have done and didn’t.”

So many people told me they bought the sheet music … and then just never played it.

This is totally normal!  It’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to simply be able to apply something new just because it’s written out!

Unless you have a teacher who knows the piece many people pay that $17.95 and just feel intimidated by the notes!

If they do end up playing it they don’t always know how to get the most out of it.  And certainly no idea how to adapt it, simplify it, embellish it, psych it out to make it easier to learn and memorize, and give character to the flamenco techniques, turn it into a meditative piece or make it their own.

This is exactly why I created the course!  I realized that I needed to combine the written-out music with video lessons and the ability to ask questions and get direct, personalized answers – because I want you playing this in a way that makes you totally shine – whether you are a professional concert harpist or a fledgling player.

(Actually, I  originally created the course for professional-level players who where preparing it for concert – then realized that all the same principles applied for playing the piece at any level.)

So, the thing is … that ends up coming down to a little more than $75 a week — to work with a master teacher (for the 4-week course and a bonus integration week).  And right now there’s a discount code, “SPECIAL” (all caps) that gets you $50 off — so that brings it to under $70 a week.

Would you pay that to work with a master-teacher, and to actually be able to end up playing the piece?

If you said yes, then the course is for you and you should go sign up right now!

If you said no, then this wouldn’t be the right course for you right now, and don’t click that link, whatever you do!

#6:  Can I take the course for free?

Well … actually  … you could!  People in my “Harness Your Muse” program get all my online courses for free the whole time they’re in the program, so if that’s something you want to investigate, check out HarnessYourMuse.com.

I hope that answers all your questions …
But if it doesn’t, use my “Ask A Question” form!

Class started yesterday, and registration closes tomorrow (Wednesday, 3/25/15), so you only have a few more hours before the doors close.  I hope you’ll join me on the inside of those doors!



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Final BEGINNING Projects for Blues HarpStyle

My online course for harpists, “Blues HarpStyle” recently ended and 21 of the 50 people in the course created Blues videos to complete the courseI’ll be posting each of these in this blog so scroll down to the bottom to see how you can link to each one of them.  And here’s a collage of all the people in the videos.


Each video in the blog series represents the beginning of a player’s Blues Journey after 5 weeks of learning the rudiments of Blues on the harp.

We call these Final BEGINNING Projects because I tell the students to focus on imperfect completion as a way to end one phase of learning and begin the next, rather than sliding into an endless pattern of trying to perfect something.

Each Final BEGINNING Project is based on the 12-bar Blues. If they don’t all sound like what you think of as ‘Blues’ that’s because they’re not meant to conform to tradition – but to take a traditional form and use to it explore an idea or a story- or just have fun.

Each video is under 2.5 minutes long – many as short as 90 seconds, and I encouraged students, when creating their Final-Beginning Projects, to make the songs about something. 

So you’ll see a “Store-room Blues” by Jade Barnaby, a “Sorry I Missed Your Party” by Harriet McKenna that’s gotta be the best “I’m sorry I couldn’t be at your Birthday Party” letters ever. Librarian Sally Walstrum wrote and performed her “Library Blues,, and Kathryn Kuba Dandurand, a therapeutic harpist who plays in hospitals created “A Bad Case of the Hospital Blues.”

There are many more – 21 in all – some of them with sets or costumes … or both.   And each player answered 5 questions about their process.  I hope these insights will help readers to experiment and embrace the bravery of sharing something new and imperfect yourself.

I hope you’ll enjoy the chance to see the beginning of someone’s journey.

Then go out and do something silly or beautiful or experimental or brave … and perfectly imperfect … and experience what it’s like to create a beginning for yourself.

Here are the project video links!

  1.  Emily Brecker Greenberg – “Breakout Blues
  2.  Nicole Mueller – “Those Bluesy Days
  3.  Kate Kunkel – “The Long Road Home
  4.  Diane Almond – “The Brush Tail Possum Blues
  5.  Sally Walstrum – “Come to the Library Blues
  6.  Annelies Kole – “Clean Up Blues
  7.  Frauke Haenel – “A Bluesy Song
  8.  Kathryn Kuba Dandurand – “A Bad Case of the Hospital Blues
  9.  Cath Connelly – “I Need Twelve Bar Blues
  10.  Charlene Elderkin – “The Crazy Co-op Customer Blues
  11.  Margi Miller – “Blues with a Friend
  12.  Margie Bekoff  – “Lap Cat Blues- Sharp Nails
  13.  Karen Goodin – “Tolly’s Winter Blues
  14.  Inge Wiekenkamp – “Rock Around the Clock
  15.  Harriet McKenna – “So Sorry for Missing Your Party
  16.  Kathy King – “Fairy Tale Princess Blues
  17.  Moira Paga – “Train of Life Blues
  18.  Joy Zahner – “Welcome to the Tropics
  19.  Jade Barnaby – “Storage Room Blues
  20.  Siwei Wong – “Blame it on the Boogie
  21.  Valérie Huart – “No Name Blues

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MY Baroque Flamenco … for YOU

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a composer.  I couldn’t read or write music, so I started performing as a way to ‘show’ people how to play my music.

Now I get to hear my music played by harpists all over the world.    But one piece in particular is one I still really have to show people how to play.  That’s my fiery show-stopper “Baroque Flamenco.”  Honestly, when I finally sat down to write that music out, I had to literally invent notation to try to notate what I play — since the piece uses the harp as a combination melodic and percussive instrument.

Even though it’s all painstakingly notated on the page – the best – and fastest – way to really get the piece is to have me break it down section by section, show what’s important (and what isn’t!) and explain how I came up with effects I did – and what they mean musically so people understand how to create them with their bodies.

So last year I developed a whole 4-week online course just to show harpists of all levels how to play this piece the way I envisioned and composed it, in 3 separate arrangements: one for advanced beginners, one for intermediate and one for advanced/professional.

The course teaches all three levels simultaneously and students dip in and out of all three levels as they want.  Teachers who will be teaching the piece take all three levels so they know how to teach it to their students.

I Look at the Bones

BFBC skeleton for blog

I break down the patterns one by one to show what I was thinking and what effect I was recreating, to explain what is repeating and what is changing so people can remember why and recreate instead of trying to memorize.

I break down the practice sessions to help students know where and why and how to focus.

And, because I think of the piece as a shape instead of as a sequence of notes, I made a drawing of that shape, so they can hold the whole piece in their minds at once the way I do.

One interesting thing about doing it that way is  that students can pick and choose different sections of the piece from the different arrangements – and they each put together a version that truly works for THEM – so everyone comes out playing something just a little bit (or a lot!) different.

The goal is for each person to find a version they can completely command so they can concentrate on performance values instead of the notes - and because the piece is inspired by marrying music to pure physical expression, the technical level of the ‘note playing’ is irrelevant – what’s important is the player’s ability to get the piece across physically.

So it’s a really fun course for me to teach – and thrilling, as the composer, to see so many people playing it -- and at the end each person in the course comes out playing their own unique arrangement.

Want to see the fire of Baroque Flamenco in Action?

Yesterday I started a new blog series called “MY Baroque Flamenco” with videos and mini-interviews from other harpists who’ve posted their versions of “Baroque Flamenco” on YouTube.

These are real players, from  professionals to amateurs, adults to children – and I’ll be featuring their stories of how they came to the piece and what they’ve learned to express of their own spirits through it.

You can see the first in the blog series here  and read about the course here.

Do YOU play the harp? Do you want to add the FIRE of Flamenco?

“Baroque Flamenco Bootcamp” starts in just 4 weeks.  Join NOW to get right into the classroom where you can get a headstart by downloading the music, starting on the warmups and getting into the Facebook group where you can ask questions right away – and I’ll start answering them!Pre-Register before midnight Feb. 23rd and get  THE BEST deal on the course (a whopping $150 off) if you use the code “PRE” (all caps).

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News To Blues – Fri. Mar. 27, 2015

This is the 3rd week I’ve given myself this challenge – to sing my news to Blues.  It was very hard to post this week’s video because:

A. It’s long (so feel free to stop at any point … but why am I saying that … of course you always stop when you want)

B. It went to a place I wasn’t expecting – one that was a lot more personal

C. I forgot to include the news!  So I added the news in bullet lists below.

It’s a challenge to just sit down and be myself in front of a camera and to allow whatever is to be, to allow the experience of imperfect completion, and to  share that experience, but I’m committed to that right now as a way to engage with some kind of personal choice in my struggle with perfectionism.

A disclaimer, by the way – I doubt that I really ‘invented’ the term ‘The Reiterative Model.’

And here’s the actual news about upcoming shows and courses:


  • 4/25/2015 – Franklin, MA – HipHarp at the Coffeehouse! – BUY TICKETS NOW
  • 5/15/2015 – Carlsbad, CA – HipHarp at the MoMM – BUY TICKETS NOW

Online Courses

For harpists:  “Baroque Flamenco Bootcamp” is now sold out.  My next course is a Beta-Version of “Hands on Harmony” tentatively scheduled for April 11. This is a one-day virtual retreat (with access to the replay afterwards if you miss it or want to review) – but please note that attendance is limited during the Beta tests.  Please join the “First to Know” list for notification about it – and other courses,  but please also know that that may not guarantee you a spot in this  Beta version.  The course will officially open later in 2015.

And about that rehearsal I mentioned in the video …

Here’s a selfie of Tim and I took in my studio with the music Wednesday night,  rehearsing the show-in-the-making, the “Dukorsky Syndrome” – I mentioned it in the video.  tim-and-dhc

Here’s what it actually looks like when we’re rehearsing.  I’m impersonating all the characters, singing their parts (which gets a little tough in the duets).  Doing it this way lets me come up with spontaneous changes based on what I think they’d ‘actually’ say or do or sing at a particular moment of the show.






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