Celebrate December with Me

Here are my timeless Holiday treats that I love sharing!  Each year the list grows: Gifts ideas, Holiday medleys created by students, “The Gift and The Giving” – a story to get you in the right mindset for a wonderful holiday month…  and of course – my music, that you can download or listen to.

So this year I’m putting them all in one place! Hope you like and share these!

A Round to SingSeason of Celebration – a Round to sing!  This is a round, once you learn it, you can sing it together with your friends and family.

Each new voice starts at the beginning of a new line. To end it, repeat the last line until everyone has caught up – or just keep singing it as many times as you want.  Enjoy! See more and learn the Round HERE.


The Gift Download CollectionThe Gift – Holiday Download Collection DOWNLOAD my 15-song Holiday Music compilation! You can also listen to sound clips and find out little know facts about this holiday collection! Facts like:  This is my best friend’s all-time favorite album of mine. Or another fact: The entire album is improvised based on the basic melodies of these tunes and several weeks of playing around with them in my studio. Find out more, listen to clips, AND download the album (or buy the CD)  HERE.

Season of Celebration PosterI Found Christmas for You! – I was talking with one of the musicians I coach, when she asked me if I’d ever considered playing a holiday program and I said that, in fact, I’d written two holiday suites I really love – for harp and string orchestra, called “Season of Celebration.”

But I’d totally forgotten about them!  You can read more about them and listen to them played with NESE, New England Strings Ensemble, HERE.

Holiday Medleys Created by my students!

Two years ago my course Hip Harp Toolkit had a special Holiday music theme.

The original goal was to complete the medley by Christmas to share as a Holiday gift for friends and family, but as the holiday madness kicked in some students decided instead to create…


AND finally … Some stories & thoughts to get you in the Holiday Spirit!

The Gift and the Giving
I’m struck by the difference between the experience of creating — and the experience of sharing what we create – the gift and the giving… READ MORE…

Chappy – Mherry – Chooray!
When I was 12 I wanted to send my grandparents a Hannukah card.  I’d never celebrated the holiday, since only half my family was Jewish and that half – my mother – was a big Christmas decoration fan… READ MORE…

The Guessing Gift
It’s Christmas Eve-ish and I’m about to head to the hardware store and costume shop, my favorite last-minute shopping destinations. But before I do, I want to tell you about a Christmas tradition I may or may not indulge in this year… READ MORE…

Hope you enjoy these!


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Holiday Music is Here … whether you like it or not

Holiday music was the reason I became a harpist … but maybe not for the reason
holiday-music-is-here-whether-you-like-it-or-not-v2you think.

I could be pretty snobby about what I sang when I was a young adult, and when my college chorus was singing a Christmas song I didn’t like, I figured out THE BEST way to avoid having to sing.

I noticed that the music said “Optional Harp or Piano Accompaniment” – and since I’d had a whopping six harp lessons as a kid, I asked the conductor, “If I can learn to play this on the harp, can I play instead of singing.”

“Oh sure,” she snickered, “Sure. If you can learn to play this on the harp, you don’t have to sing.”

Then she showed me the harp that was stashed in the band closet, and I worked like a dog (by the way, I did once have a dog who worked like a dog – but that’s another story).  I learned that music.  And more importantly, I didn’t have to SING one note of it.

But after that concert, the band director came to me and said, “You know, we need a harpist in the band.  How about we pay for your lessons and you become the harpist.”

Ahhhh … if only all my other efforts at avoidance worked out so well.

Our lives never go in a straight line, do they? You think you’re finished and you’ve just begun.  You try to walk away from one thing only to realize you’ve walked smack-dab into something you’ll build your life on.

I never realized the harp would take me around the world, give me a Grammy-Nomination, lead to performances with major symphonies, to playing with some of the world’s greatest musicians, innovating a new kind of harp that’s been named for me, writing concertos and chamber music for the instrument.

All I was trying to do was AVOID singing a Christmas song I didn’t like (and by the way, I still don’t like it).

How about you?  

Has avoidance ever turned  you towards a lifelong passion you might never have considered?  Has it given you anything else?  I’d love to know. Let me know in the comments below.

And while you’re thinking about it go download my Holiday Album, “The Gift, ” and check out “O Tannenbaum” – that’s a song I’d been avoiding my whole life – and then I thought, Hmmmm …. I wonder if I could create a version I’d love.  And I did.  Now that’s my favorite cut on the album.




Are YOU avoiding learning Holiday Music for the upcoming Holidays?  Come to my Instant Harp Holiday Repertoire Expander Webinar and learn to Hack the Holiday Music you love on harp!   Sat. Dec. 3, 2016 at 2:30 pm (registration includes a replay link if you miss it live)

>> Register free for the Holiday Repertoire Expander Webinar <<


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Buy “The Gift” – Holiday Harp MP3 Collection

Listen   •   Buy the Download Collection  •  Read Fun Facts


15 Fantasies On Carols From Around The World
Improvised by Deborah Henson-Conant on Harp




Listen to short Excerpts

(if you only see a few excerpts in the play-widget below, it’s because Soundcloud is filling in the clips)


Fun Facts about this Album

  • This is my best friend’s all-time favorite album of mine
  • The entire album is completely improvised (so please don’t ask for the harp manuscript!) – based on the basic melodies of these tunes and weeks of playing around with them in my studio.
  • Many of these carols I’ve known for years – but some were completely new to me.
  • This was recorded all on solo harp, no overdubs. I recorded it before I’d transitioned to the lever harp, so it’s all played on a classic concert harp – but it doesn’t all sound Classical by a long shot
  • After recording this album, I created symphonic versions of some of these arrangements that I’ve played in Holiday Programs with ensembles from community orchestras to professional symphonies like the St. Louis Symphony.
  • My original impulse was to see how much fun I could have with holiday tunes. I surprised myself by how much fun I was having and, in the middle of the project, decided to challenge myself by reharmonizing my – ’til then – least-favorite carol, “O Tannenbaum” (“Oh Christmas Tree”) The result? I completely fell in love with the tune.
  • The cover design was a mandala I created one day when I sat down and decided I would try to learn to draw mandalas. It may be one of the simplest mandalas ever created – kind of like a haiku mandala
  • This album was recorded in 1995
  • I’d LOVE your comments below so please do leave some!
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Thanksgiving at the Burnt Food Museum


As you may or may not know, I am the curator and founder of the Burnt Food Museum at BurntFoodMuseum.com – and this is one of my favorite stories anyone has sent me about burnt food – and it’s Thanksgiving themed:

“I put a turkey into the oven on ultra-low (low temp overnight is my usual way of doing this, makes it very tender and moist) and promptly went into early labor.

I spent six days in the hospital flat on my back until they got it stopped, was sent home with orders to stay in bed until I was supposed to have the baby, and walked in to find what appeared to be a perfect (though blackened) paper-maiche’ model of a roast turkey, still cooking away.

When we tried to throw it out it was perfectly mummified and crumbled to the touch. Even the bones, which appeared to be modeled out of a crumbly powder-like substance, possibly cornstarch. We decided that this piece would have more artistic meaning if it was of an ephemeral nature, and threw it out. (S. 7/29/03) (from the Testimonials Page at BurntFoodMuseum.com)

And finally …

Two of my favorite Thanksgiving stories from the Burnt Food Museum:

1. Well, It’s Done (oh, drat, I just realized this is about a chicken. Well, I’m sharing it anyway) by culinary artiste Susan Schlesinger (image above)
2. Deep Fried Disaster – a mono-image photo story by Dorothy Owen (and, really, one image says it all) (actually, it says too much)

Me, I plan to play Soothing Digestive Music via Facebook Live Thanksgiving Day eve.  So tune into my Facebook Channel and make sure you’ve signed up to get reminders … just in case you find yourself in a post-prandial food stupor that makes it easy to forget … um … er … everything.  This blog post tells you how you can get Facebook to send you notifications of my Facebook Live sessions.

Happy Thanksgiving …

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Thanksgiving, Structure, Music & Kaleidoscoping

Years ago when I first started playing the harp, I played in dining rooms in posh hotels – the kinds of places I would never go to eat myself. I’ve never been a holiday-focused celebrant, so I always volunteered to work – meaning, to play – on holidays like Thanksgiving – the way harpists all over the U.S. played in dining rooms today.


And I loved knowing my playing was actually useful in aiding people’s digestion and their experience of the meal. Like I was collaborating with the chef, the wait-staff, the architect who designed the room, the farmer who grew the food – to create this dining experience.

And the digestion.


People were hearing, but not listening, and it was a rich environment for me to develop confidence in playing and especially in improvising. Once I got over the fear of the Classical Police in my head, I started improvising on EVERYTHING – musicals, jazz tunes, classical themes – and it created a foundation for everything I did afterwards on my harp.


It also helped me develop an understanding of musical structure, and how you can take a melodic theme and apply a musical structure to it – and come up with a different musical experience each time.


Kind of like a kaleidoscope, where the contraption – the structure – stays the same, and so do the internal elements – like the notes, or the confetti inside the kaleidoscope – but the way they work on each other creates something different each time ….

[Long pause … ]


[4 hours later]

And here, my friends, is where I stopped this small missive and wondered “Hmmm … how does a kaleidoscope work, and could I create a kaleidoscope image of my instrument, or my hands … and how would I do that?”

Which led me to this video tutorial: Make Your Own Kaleidoscope in Adobe Photoshop (thank you Helen Bradley)


Which is how I ended up with these images. Look at them closely and you’ll see they’re all kaleidoscopic versions of snippets from my website’s header image.


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Crisis of Conviction

I’ve been promoting the art of celebration through a single song lately – and last night I had a crisis of conviction.

There’s so much uncertainty about what’s really happening here in the U.S. after the recent election, I found myself thinking “Why the @!!!! am I asking people to CELEBRATE?”

And why – right now – am I focusing so much on teaching harp players how to create their own simple arrangements of ONE PARTICULAR simple, silly celebration song – the “Birthday Song”? You know, “Happy Birthday to you …”  How is that even relevant to most people right now??”

And, I mean, I’m REALLY focused on this song:

This is how focused:  I have 2 events all happening now, both free, about playing Happy Birthday, or how to ‘hack’ the arrangement (i.e. make it your own) and then sharing it with the people you love.

And YES – if you play the harp, I really want you to sign for both of these!

  1. A FREE harp-only webinar this Sunday called “How to HACK the Happy Birthday Song,” (REGISTER NOW)
  2. A whole FREE training called “HaRpy Birthday” (REGISTER NOW)


But … WHY?  Why do I CARE about this? 

Why should ANYONE care about the “Birthday Song”?  It’s a silly song everyone knows.  The words are repetitive.  The whole thing is only 4 lines long. Nobody even ever sings it WELL, or cares whether it’s sung well.

And then it hit me: THAT’S WHY.

It's a chance to focus on enhancing the moment of connection Click To Tweet

1. It’s a silly song everyone knows.

Training people how to improvise and create an arrangement of this song is a chance to go back to something you KNOW and learn to be creative with it.  A chance to focus on how to enhance the moment of connection instead of how brilliant the underlying content is … to use its very simplicity as an opportunity to explore your own creative options … to know how to TAKE that opportunity for creativity and connection.  And to COMMIT to taking that opportunity.

It's a chance to give the words meaning Click To Tweet

2.The words are repetitive. 

It’s not about the cleverness of the words.  It’s about the CONNECTION they offer.  It’s about making them meaningful because of how you say them, how you play them and simply that you play them and say them.

It’s about accepting – about embracing – that most words of connection ARE repetitive.  Like “I love you,” like “Tell me more,” like “Where does it hurt?,” like “You mean so much to me” – like “Happy Birthday.”

A chance to take baby-steps in creative expression Click To Tweet

3. The whole thing is only 4 lines long

It’s short.  It gives you the chance to be creative in a very small arena, to take baby-steps in creative expression – especially if you’re a musician who’s been stuck to the notes on the page.

It’s a chance to learn skills in miniature that you’ll be able to apply to other songs:  like how to create an introduction, how to get people to start singing, how to accompany singers or other instruments, how to play if nobody is singing, how to adapt it if the celebration is gentle, or bittersweet – like in a hospice … and how to make it flamboyant, like at a party.  How to stall for time creatively if the cake isn’t coming out, how to redeem yourself with an easy, flashy ending even if you stumble through the melody.

This one silly little song gives you the power of a shared musical experience in microcosm. And you don’t need to be an expert musician to make it a completely compelling and memorable experience.

This one silly song gives you the power of shared musical experience in microcosm. Click To Tweet

4. Nobody even ever sings it WELL, or cares whether it’s sung well.


Because it’s about CONNECTION … not PERFECTION.

Every opportunity to sing this song, or play it is a chance to make human connection – and to remember the value and beauty and power of simple human connection.

Instead of treating this song ho-hum like something you just need to get through, you can really MAKE something out of it, elevate it.  Remind yourself that you can do this with every human connection, every song, every opportunity.

In this tiny way you make a way for people to create community, to raise their voices TOGETHER about something they can all believe in: having a happy birthday.   Wishing someone else a happy birthday.

This simple song is about valuing every VOICE, because it’s not an art song, it’s not a ‘look at how great I can sing’ song  – it’s a celebration song, a connection song – it’s a song about the listener, not about the singer.

It’s about saying “I’m happy YOU were born,” and “YOU are dear to me.”

So Why do I Care?  And why should you?

Because right now – more than ever – we need ways to CONNECT.  We need to feel that, no matter what, we are glad we were born, we’re glad each of us was born, we can raise our voices together and we do all have something we can all believe in: the fact that we’re alive, that we were born, that we each do have a birthday.

We’re here. We’re here together.  For this moment in time and space.  And we can take each moment as an opportunity for human connection and creative expression … or we can just let it pass.

I say let’s make that connection and create as much as we can with it.

If you play the harp, I’ll show you how I do it in this one little song and then celebrate YOU and share that with your world.   It’s all free.  As free as you were the day you were born:

  1. Sign up for this Sunday’s “How to HACK the Happy Birthday Song,” Webinar (or the replay if you missed it)
  2. Take the free FREE “HaRpy Birthday” Training

Then go play your heart out.



Posted in Birthdays, Coaching, Teaching, Students & Learning, Harping & Harpists, Harps | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1974-1988 Music School to Jazz Harp Trio (Chronology 2)

I started writing an outline of my life a few years ago for a TV producer who asked for an overview of my life.  Like a lot of the content I’ve created, it’s waited patiently on a shelf.  Last week was my birthday,  and I made a commitment to myself: this is the year the shelves are coming down.

Am I chronicling everything? Absolutely not.  But writing this I see the movement, the trajectory.  In my day-to-day thoughts, I can get fixated on the moments and places where I’m still stuck.  As I read this, I start to see the overall movement – and ‘right now’ starts to feel like a long conversation that’s just starting to get to a most interesting point.

1974-1988  Music School to Jazz Harp Trio

(To start at the beginning, start with this post: 1953 – 1974 Birth to Illiteracy)

The next year, I enrolled in the music program at my local Junior College (College of Marin), learned to read and write music – very slowly – and a year into my studies, when I was 22, I heard the college needed a harpist for the band.  Did anyone know how to play? My six lessons when I was 12 made me the top candidate.

OK, the story’s a little more complicated than that – but that’s the jist.

At 22, three things changed that made me see the harp differently:  my brain was ready for the structure of practice, I found a teacher, Linda Wood, who suggested I compose my own music – and I discovered that as a harp-player, I could make money to produce my musicals.  So harp became very interesting to me.


Making the harp pay.

I also discovered that the way I could play music, by reading chords and improvising, was an incredibly fast way to develop repertoire.  I could basically create an inexhaustible repertoire on the spot – and once I got over the notion that it was a heinous cheat to do it that way, this skill suddenly gave me a way to make a living as a musician – and explore the art of improvisation at every moment.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was setting myself up to create a rich foundation that I would later use to play jazz – and now, when I create programs to prepare other harpists for jazz, I start them the same way.

For the next 12 years I lived a triple-life: by night I played harp,  by day I studied music at U.C. Berkeley, getting a foundation that would help me compose the musicals, operettas, song-cycles and even the symphony pieces I’d later get a Grammy nomination for – and anywhere I could find time, I created and performed anything that combined music and story.

And the first piece I finished was the 2-person operetta/musical that had sent me back to school, “Dream of Waking” (later called “The Golden Cage”).


With the full cast of “Dream of Waking” (aka Golden Cage) – Robert Sicular and Wendy (er … forgot her last name). I suspect they didn’t get along well. I sure look happy … they look a little grumpy, don’t they?

The music and drama departments at U.C. Berkeley mounted a joint production of the piece, and afterwards, director Michael Jayson – a friend from my days at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes – suggested we self-produce it at a little theater in Berkeley – so we did.

On the street one day, I found a tiny pamphlet put out by the S.F. Mime troupe that described how to write a press release to get an audience to your show.  So that was the beginning of producing and promoting my own work – something I still do today, albeit with a lot more help.

The audience came.  We got good reviews.  But that little pamphlet didn’t say what to do next.  I didn’t know how to build off that success.

So instead, I wrote another musical, this time a one-person musical, called “The Letter,”  collaborating with my friend Gunnar Madsen and I also created a harp & cello duo with my best friend, Celeste.


With my first band “Harp & Cello” with my best friend, Celeste. Living the rock-n-roll dream. (Photo by Evvy Eisen)

During this time, I was learning the harp.  At first I was keen to become a ‘real musician’ and I was grateful to my teacher for pointing me towards jobs with orchestras where, as a harpist, I’d sit in the back, count endless measures while the rest of the orchestra played, and then jump in with something I could barely wrap my fingers around. This is typically what an orchestral harp player does since most composers don’t really know what a harp CAN do.

Since my reading was still rudimentary, I’d get the orchestral scores from the library, learn the whole piece and plot out exactly where I’d be coming in, and basically memorize it.  Since my playing was still rudimentary, but I’d been composing all my life,  I would look at what the other musicians were playing during any passages for the harp, and rewrite my part (forgive me Tchaikovsky).  I’d think, “Well, hey, the cellos are playing that left-hand line, they don’t need ME to do it.  I”ll just double up on this right-hand line instead – it looks way more important.”

I would rationalize this, in part by telling myself that Tchaikovsky was probably very busy at the time and didn’t have time to really think the harp part through.  So I’d just do it for him.

I also decided that this was a very bad place for the harpist: at the back of the orchestra.  I thought it would be much better to be in front of the orchestra, or in the midst of a chamber ensemble where each instrument had a more individualized voice.

That image would become a huge part of my life later on – but for the moment I started writing a series of works for chamber ensemble, both as a musical adventure, but also as a way to spend time with people I loved: my aunt Gloria, and my best friend Celeste.  Gloria is a soprano living in NYC and Celeste is a cellist, so all the work I wrote between 1981 and 1985 had soprano and cello at the center of it – writing not so much for chamber ensemble, as for Gloria, Celeste and me – adding other players as needed.

With my lifelong muse, my aunt, Gloria Hodes. Can you tell I adore her?

With my lifelong muse, my aunt, Gloria Hodes. Can you tell I adore her?

That included three concert works for soprano and chamber ensemble that we premiered in NYC (two of which were recently performed in a project called “Mythic Woman” at Boston University).  

They all focused on taking mythic stories and retelling them from inside the woman’s head.  In “Persephone Lost,” a one-woman opera for cello, harp, clarinet & soprano, I told the story of Persephone’s abduction to the underworld  as told from her mother, Demeter’s standpoint.  In “Songs of the Pyre” a 5-movement song cycle for harp, cello, piano and soprano,  I told the story of a woman convicted of witchcraft.  In a series of folk song for harp, cello and soprano, I retold three European folk songs I’d heard my mother sing – but from the standpoint of the woman in the story – not just what happened, but why she did what she did.

Through all this I played ‘background’ harp to support myself and my projects.  I played harp in dining rooms, in restaurant lobbies, with strolling violin groups, and until I left for New York, Celeste and I continued to play weddings and parties in the S.F. Bay Area.

I moved to NYC, then to Boston, following my boyfriend, Lawrence, who was in medical school at Harvard.  Everywhere I played, I’d go to the piano-bar on my break and watch the jazz pianists.


The Jazz Harp Trio at a private gig – looks like it’s at the Ritz Carlton in Boston. Bob Stoloff on drums, flute and wicked good scat vocals, me on harp and Peter Kontrimas on bass.

I began to understand that the improv skills I’d learned as a kid, and that I’d used to ‘cheat’ my way into a harp repertoire,  were the foundation of Jazz. I’d suspected it before, when a friend introduced me to Chick Corea – and told me that kind of music was impossible to play on the harp – which was exactly the kind of thing that made me want to do it.  And when I fell in love with a jazz bass player named Peter Kontrimas in the Boston area, we started a duo and he became my full-time jazz teacher.  With no minced words, he showed me how to stop walking all over his bass lines, how to crisply comp for his solos, and how to start soloing in a jazz

He helped me understand the predictability of jazz forms and I began to realize that it was the very predictability of jazz form and musical roles that allowed jazz players to have such profound freedom within that structure, and to be able to communicate freely and impulsively ‘over’ it.

I was starting to understand the interplay of structure of freedom that would become the foundation of all the teaching in my Hip Harp Academy I created years later.

Peter also taught me how to listen to jazz – not like a composer – but to let it get way below the skin.  In 1986, we added a drummer to the group, became the “Jazz Harp Trio” and started performing around Boston.

I hired a publicist, started spending as much time sending out press releases as practicing, and the band became a regular at the local jazz clubs, got well-reviewed in the paper, and made two recordings.

It was time to hit the big-time  …

… so we broke up.

And I was back at square one.

Previous & Next in this Series (Subscribe to this blog to get notification when they’re published):

Next in the series:

  • 1988 – 1995  Solo Career, Record Contract & I Create an Orchestral Show – including Charlie Rose, Joan Rivers, Scott Simon and International Adventures
  • 1995 – 2000 Boston Pops To Baby Blue
  • 2000 – 2004  The Fringe To Cinderella Story #2
  • 2005 – 2010 “Invention & Alchemy” To Salt Lake City
  • 2010 – 2016 Online Connection, Touring with Steve Vai & the Birth of Mentorship and Community

Nov. 11 – Dec. 11 is my birthday month.  I’m celebrating with a bunch of adventures.  Here are two I want to share with you:

FOR HARP PLAYERS:  My “HaRpy Birthday” Video-Sharing Contest Challenge and FREE training.

FOR EVERYONE: The song I wrote myself for my 40th birthday (yup, it was a tough one), called “Congratulations, You Made it this Far” – including a link to download the song for free.  Enjoy!

Posted in Memoire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

1953-1974 Birth to Illiteracy (Chronology 1)

After half-a-century, of being a musician, here’s how I see success: 

Success is like how I imagine surfing – though I’ve never surfed. You get out there with your board.  You wait for a wave and when it comes, you paddle like mad. If you catch it, you ride as far as you can, or you crash.  If you don’t crash, you have a wild, exhilarating ride … which deposits you back at the shore.

If you want to keep going, you have to start all over again: paddle back beyond the breakers, and wait for the next wave, so you can do it all over again.

Today is my birthday, 2016.  I started writing this outline of my life a few years ago.  Like a lot of the content I’ve created, it’s waited patiently on a shelf.  This is the year the shelves are coming down.

1953-1974  Birth to Illiteracy

 ina-dhc-popbeads-sunglasss-chronology-850x831  I moved every year of my life as a kid.  By the time I reached High School, I’d been to ten different schools in three states and two countries.  For awhile I thought maybe my stepfather Larry was a spy, but I think he and my mother just liked to move.

The story goes that my parents, Ina & Burt, courted by singing to each other so singing was my first language.  I heard it before I was born.  But I only saw my parents together once, when I was around 20, in the audience at my first concert playing the harp.

dhc-little-near-stream-chronology-lores-800x792_v1My parents had divorced when I was 2, my mother remarried when I was 6.  Between 2 and 6 my mother and I lived with relatives, both hers and my Dad’s:  one set were Jewish, the other Christian – one half Russian immigrants, the other half many-generationed Swedish farmers.  The one thing every single house had in common was a piano. That was my constant.  I played music like kids today play computer games.  Every story I made up, every fantasy, had a soundtrack I played myself.ina-dhc-smms-for-chronology

At 7, my mother taught me to play the ukulele.  At 10, she taught me how to “fake” music on the piano by improvising from the written chords.  Neither of us knew she was showing me the fundamentals of jazz improvisation – a skill that would change my life 15 years later.

I improvised on the piano constantly.  So at 11, my parents offered me piano lessons.  I hated them.   At 12, they offered guitar lessons.  I avoided them.  At 12-and-a-half, they offered harp lessons.  After six of them, I refused to go with the lame excuse that if I had calluses on my fingers nobody would hold hands with me.

dhc-bucky-deer-ears_chronology-lores_v1That’s when they realized I didn’t like lessons.  I didn’t want to learn pieces that other people could already play spectacularly.  It seemed like that job was already covered.  I wanted to create new music – music with stories.  So my parents gave up on lessons and left me alone with the piano to make up stories with music.

I wrote songs all through High School in Los Angeles, dropped out two weeks before graduation and moved to Northern California, where I joined a dance-and-theater collective in Marin County called the “Dance Palace,” wrote music and acted in the plays – and worked part-time as a medical secretary for the local doctor’s office.


At the piano – around age 17 or 18. One of my favorite photos of me ever – by Evvy Eisen.

When I was 19, I started writing my first full-length musical.  That’s when I realized I had a problem:  I’d learned to improvise, I could make up stories with music, I could invent music — but I’d never learned to read or write music.   I was musically illiterate.  I sat at the piano, in my little house on Tomales Bay, seeing the huge gulf between where I was and where I wanted to be, and I knew I had to bridge that gap to go on. I had to learn how to read and write music.

Coming Next in this Series (Subscribe to this blog to get notification when they’re published):

  • 1974 – 1988  Music School to Jazz Harp Trio
  • 1988 – 1995  Solo Career, Record Contract & I Create an Orchestral Show – including Charlie Rose, Joan Rivers, Scott Simon and International Adventures
  • 1995 – 2000 Boston Pops To Baby Blue
  • 2000 – 2004  The Fringe To Cinderella Story #2
  • 2005 – 2010 “Invention & Alchemy” To Salt Lake City
  • 2010 – 2016 Online Connection, Touring with Steve Vai & the Birth of Mentorship and Community

Nov. 11 – Dec. 11 is my birthday month.  I’m celebrating with a bunch of adventures.  Here are two I want to share with you:

FOR HARP PLAYERS:  My “HaRpy Birthday” Contest Challenge and FREE training.

FOR EVERYONE: The song I wrote myself for my 40th birthday (yup, it was a tough one), called “Congratulations, You Made it this Far” – is someone else in your life having a birthday?  Share it with them.

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Congratulations, You Made it This Far!

Ever had a birthday when you wish the Birthday Fairy would go visit someone else? I have! And 20 years ago I wrote this song especially for those birthdays.  And since my birthday TODAY, I made this post to share all the ways you can celebrate with me and enjoy this song!

And if you are a harpist CLICK HERE to learn about the HaRpy Birthday  Showcase Contest that starts today, Nov. 11, 2016!!!

I hope this page has everything you need to listen to it, learn it,  sing it, play it on piano, and share it with others! At the bottom of the page I’ve even shared the lyrics in FRENCH!  Can you tell I really love this song?



Download the Lyrics (Free)

DOWNLOAD the MP3 (Free)

Download the MP3 (Free)


Download Piano/Vocal Sheet Music ($6.50)
or …
(See a sample of one page of the sheet Music)

congrats_giftwrap_197-miniDOWNLOAD GIFTWRAP (Free)

(Print them yourself into a color printer – or print in Black-and-White and color them yourself.  And here’s my tutorial on how to wrap a whole CD with just this piece of giftwrap.  I made this tutorial for my holiday giftwrap, but it works with the Congratulations gift-wrap, too!)

Legal-size Congratulations Gift-wrap (8.5 x 14)


congrats-hat-leah-197h(Print them on a regular printer – color or black-and-white – then color them,  put them together yourself and wear them)

Letter-size Congratulations Hat (8.5 x 11)

Legal-size Congratulations Hat (8.5 x 14)

Ledger-size Congratulations Hat (11 x 17)

Buy the song on CD or DVD at CDBaby

You can also buy the song “Congratulations,
You Made It This Far” on my CDs & DVDs at CDBaby.com:

congrats-on-altered-egoAltered Ego CD (Solo CD – Piano & Vocals)

This is the version you can hear above in the little audio player.  My favorite moment is when I kick the Birthday Fairy out!  (Special thanks to Larry Luddecke at Straight-Up Music who coached me on my gospel piano-playing!)

Invention & Alchemy CD invention-and-alchemy-cd-with-congrats(with symphony)

This is a version with full string section from my Grammy-Nominated 2006 release. My brother was in the audience and I was singing it directly to him.


invention-and-alchemy-dvd-with-congratsInvention & Alchemy DVD (on video with symphony)

This is the same version as the CD above, but including the video.  This is the program that appeared on PBS stations around the US in 2006-2008.



Want to sing it in French?

Thanks to Will Robichaux in Thibodaux, LA you can now sing this song in French via his 2011 translation.

Here is the verse:

” Félicitations pour tout c’ que t’as fait,

Félicitations pour tout ce que tu es,

Quand tu désespères, ne perds pas courage,

Pour moi, tu es l’étoile montante,

Félicitations – voilà c’ que je chante!”

Phonetic spelling attempt

” Fayleeseetahsyawn poohr toose kuh tah fay

Fayleeseetahsyawn poohr too suh kuh tu ay

Kawn tu dayzayspair, nuh pair pah koo rahdge

Poohr mwa tu es laytwahl mohntahnt

Fayleeseetahsyawn – vwalah skuh dzuh chahnt”

Literal translation:

Congratulations for everything thing you’ve done,

Congratulations for everything you are

When you’re feeling down, don’t lose courage,

To me you are the rising star!

Congratulations – that’s what I’m singing about

Merci beaucoup, Will!

Posted in Birthdays, Composing, Recordings | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Hip Harp Academy 2016-2017 Schedule

My new Hip Harp Academy just opened a week ago and in all the hubbub of connecting with new students, I’d never outlined the schedule for the first class or the full year curriculum.  Talk about an oversight!

So for students already in the program at the “Full” level and above – and for those looking forward to joining when the next course begins, here’s the schedule – subject to change, of course – like everything in the Universe.

GENERAL WEEKLY Schedule for Courses:

This is the schedule that we follow for all the courses, except during off-weeks between courses:

  • Monday at MIDNIGHT – HOMEWORK DUE: Homework submissions (if you’re submitting homework) are due by day’s end
  • Tuesday: NEW MODULES OPEN – New Modules Open in the morning (but they’re often open on Monday – just check to see if they’re already available if you’re ready to move on)
  • Sunday – Q&A Chat (this schedule will vary, alternating between 2 or 3 times to make it easier for more of the International members to attend)

Current Course Schedule

“Hip Harp Toolkit & Arrange Yourself”


My personal goal for students in this course is to become FLUENT at any technical level of this structure by winter holiday season so they can put the concepts into play either on a professional level (i.e. using the concepts at gigs, or in therapeutic situations) or an amateur level (i.e. playing with/for friends, making musical holiday greetings cards, etc.) OR by playing with others – depending on what level they’re at and what their personal goals are.

Being able to sit down and PLAY melodies that people know without having to stress about them, and without having to ‘learn’ an arrangement for each of them creates a huge opportunity for connection, and the experience of  empowerment – not just empowering the player, but empowering the shared experience of playing WITH or FOR others —  which, to me, is one of the most important reasons for playing music.

In this course we learn all the basic concepts in the first 4 weeks.  After that it’s all about implementation (and advanced concepts for those who want them).  I’m restructuring the course this year, to focus even more on implementation, so there may be some changes in the following schedule, in part based on student’s goals — but this is the currently planned schedule:

[Phase 1] Basic Training  (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)

Week 1 (Oct. 24) – Build an Arrangement Structure

Week 2 (Oct. 31) – Build a Mini-Repertoire
[EXTRA: Review “Creating Conducive Conditions” and “Mindset” modules]

Week 3 (Nov. 7) – Adding Down from Top and Up from the Bottom (Left Hand Patterns & Right Hand Shapes)

Week 4 (Nov. 14) – Mozart’s Mother teaches us about the Cadenza

[Phase 2] Integration, Review, Catch-Up & Holiday Recess  (NOV. 21 – 28)

Week 5 (Nov. 21) This is a moment to stop, breathe, review and get ready to implement.  The biggest revelations in my courses come when people take the concepts and put them into play, while still having access to me for questions, especially questions like:  “How do I apply this to [the specific thing I want to do]” or all the questions that come up when people actually sit down and start DOING it.  This week coincides with the U.S.. “Thanksgiving” holiday so it’s a chance to either review, catch up, take a breath or share what you’ve learned with family and friends.

[Phase 3] The Sharing Project & Final “Beginning” Project Preparation  (Nov. 28 – Dec 31)

Week 6 (Nov. 28) – This module outlines ways to SHARE what you’ve learned (by creating musical greeting cards, promoting house concerts, presenting online mini-concerts) and outlines the Final “Beginning” Project.

One of my personal goals in offering this course at this time of year is to prepare you to USE what you’ve learned in the upcoming holiday season. That’s true for professional who can put the concepts into play in concerts or parties, therapeutic harpists who may be asked to play a whole variety of holiday tunes (tunes you may not even know!) – and impassioned amateurs who want to play for their families or communities.

I also want people work on their final “beginning” projects early on so they understand that this program isn’t about creating one UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING arrangement – but about learning to create spontaneous arrangements of ANY simple melody at a moment’s notice by learning to choose the arrangement tools that really work for YOU — and then putting them into play over and over in many different tunes.

[Phase 4] Review & Expansion  (Dec. 5 – Dec. 16)

For advanced students, or those who’ve taken the course before, these are more advanced concepts.  For those who are taking it for the first time or still working on the basic concepts, this is a time to find their personal ‘sweet spot’ — the tools that really work for them, and then focus on creating fluency with those.

Week 7 (Dec. 5) – Exploring Melodic Improv

Week 8 (Dec. 12) – Modulating Medleys

Week 9 (Dec. 19) – Final “Beginning” Projects are Due

hha-logo-ish-thing-for-email_v2Academy Schedule of Classes for 2016-2017

One of my goals in creating a full-year curriculum is to be able to focus on applying and implementing what you learn. That’s why I’m restructuring some of the courses, focusing on getting the BASICS into the first few weeks of each course, and then include more review and more implementation.  – still with my guidance, so that people can ask questions.  That allows people to

I also know that you are all passionate, you all want to get the most out of the programs … AND I know that life often intervenes.  That’s why I re-created the school as a year-long program, with a cost that’s the same as what my ONE flagship course used to cost. That way you can breathe easier, not worry if you don’t take every single class or watch every single module or do every single homework assignment.

You may not even WANT to take every one of the courses, so I’ll be offering some one-day alternative courses that let you taste different styles or develop different skills.

The important thing to me is that you  apply what you learn, because that’s what develops your FLUENCY at your own technical level. The power of expression is not about technical prowess – but in how comfortable you can become at expressing yourSELF as you truly are right now.

There are the currently-scheduled courses in the order I’m planning to present them.  As you know, the Universe is always in a state of flux – and this is the Inaugural year of the Academy, so this schedule may shift – but this is the plan!

  • Oct 24 – Dec. 19:  Hip Harp Toolkit (including “Arrange Yourself”) – Learn to create impromptu arrangements and entire repertoires from simple tunes and the “DHC Method” of expanding them only ’til they work for YOU
  • Jan. 7 – Feb. 27:  Strings of Passion – a brand new course in creative expression that takes you on the journey from the moment of creative impulse to the exultation of creative liftoff – with a workbook full of creative exercises
  • Mar. 11 – Mar. 31: Hands on Harmony – Theory and harmony foundation from a harpist’s perspective!
  • Apr. 1 – May 14: Blues Harp-Style – Learn a low-down Blues, a Boogie-Woogie Bassline and even a slow and luscious blues you can play in therapeutic situations
  • May 20 – May 31: “Blues by the Dozen” – a 12-day Blues Challenge to play a new Blues Melody each day and post your rendition by the next morning, using the techniques you learned in “Blues HarpStyle”
  • June One-Offs: One-day “Beyond the Page” courses like “New Blues Beyond the Page” and “Season of the Night Beyond the Page” and Quick-Technique Courses like “Loopers” and “Amplification” and an all-day Virtual “Hands on Harmony” retreat
  • Jul. 5 – Aug. 21: Summer Harp Jam – Learn to jam alone or with others in this playalong virtual Summer Camp for Harpists – no homework, no stress – this is all about having fun and playing along in the moment (this is also a GREAT program for people who want to start playing with loopers.  Many of the jams you’ll learn in the course can be used with a looper pedal).
  • Sept. 5 – Oct. 5:  Baroque Flamenco Beyond the Page – You’ll learn to play one of the pieces that won me a Grammy Nomination – and take it beyond the page so you can perform it at your own level – simplified for fledgling players – and full of bells and whistles for advanced.   PLUS you’ll learn to play it in its original form, as a fiery showpiece, or adapt it to be a contemplative fantasia when you learn to take it beyond the page

Learn more at HipHarpAcademy.com

Got questions?  Use the “Ask a Question” form to get them to my doorstep in the ether!

Not a Member of Hip Harp Academy, yet?  

Get a free taste of the training, and join at the Free-Level by downloading my “HaRpy Birthday” training that teaches you to create your own version of this oh-so-useful tune.

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Join me on Facebook LIVE!

I’ve been doing a bunch of Facebook Live events, I’ll be doing more and I’d love to have you join me.  They’re a mix of musical visits to my studio, impromptu songs where I sing people’s names or make songs out of their comments – and sessions where I’m showing harp techniques. Part of what makes them fun is that they’re unpredictable.  I just do them when I do them.  So …

Facebook Live SreenshotTake these quick steps to make sure you don’t miss my Facebook LIVE Events:

  1. Go to my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HipHarp
  2. Click the LIKE button if you haven’t already done that
  3. The text on the button will change to “liked” once you’ve liked the page
  4. Hover over the “LIKED” until a drop-down appears
  5. In the drop down, under NOTIFICATIONS, check off  “On (Live Videos)”

Here’s what that looks like:

fb-like-for-fbliveWhile you’re there, Check off “See First” as well!  When you do that, you’ll see ALL my posts in your feed. If you leave it on “default” then Facebook decides what you see – which means you may miss some of my most fun posts.

My #FacebookLive videos are mix of visits to my studio, impromptu songs & harp technique sessions Click To Tweet

Secret Facebook Tip of the Day!

Have you ever wanted to share a Facebook post somewhere other than Facebook but couldn’t find the link?  Put your cursor on the video, and then right-click (conroe-click on mac) on the video. You’ll see an option that says “show video URL”, click that. Then copy the code that shows up in the pop-up window.

A big shoutout to Lissa at WebPresenceAcademy.com  for THIS Secret Facebook Tip!

To see some of the most popular videos I’ve done so far: CLICK HERE  to see me play Baroque Flamenco, talk about my Hip Harp Academy, and even sing lullabies to a viewer who needed to go to sleep! And CLICK HERE for another when it was late and I was tired and spent some time by myself singing & playing before anyone noticed I was there!

If you enjoy them, please leave a comment and share with your friends.

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Left Hand LIBERATION for HARP PLAYERS – A Free Live Webinar Oct. 23rd with Deborah Henson-Conant

left-hand-liberation-webinar2-fbeventboostDo you play the harp?

Do you long to liberate yourself from the notes on the page and truly express yourSELF with your instrument?

Well, it all starts down in the bass!  When you can liberate your left hand, you have the foundation to creatively support any melody, singer, instrumentalist – or your own improvisation – and I will show you how!

Join me on Sunday, Oct. 23rd at 2pm EDT for a LIVE FREE WEBINAR where I show you my #1 Go-To Left Hand Pattern and some of the amazing things you can do once you have it in your hands!

>> Register right now for Free<<

Registration includes a REPLAY link in case you can’t make it live


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10 Reasons ‘Hip Harp Academy’ Fall Programs ROCK!!!

Two of my most popular online programs for HARP PLAYERS start on MONDAY at “Hip Harp Academy” 


“Arrange Yourself” is a 6-week course that teaches you to create your own on-the-spot arrangements from any simple tune – and “Hip Harp Toolkit” adds bonus modules to that curriculum to help you DO all kinds of fun things WITH those arrangements – like create video-greeting-cards, mini-repertoires or even your own concerts.   


On Oct. 24th I’ll be personally guiding the very first “HIP HARP ACADEMY” students through these programs and – if you play the harp – JOIN ME NOW! Register for my brand new “Hip Harp ACADEMY” – the yearlong membership program that combines ALL my online harp courses and you’ll get these two programs PLUS a year of additional courses, creative challenges and personal training from me!

The Academy gives you a full YEAR of immersion in the “DHC Method”  – the  method that teaches you to break free from the notes on the page and express yourSELF with your instrument at technical ability you have right now, this very minute. ‘FULL LEVEL’ membership gives you a full year of access to all my online courses plus sharing challenges and lots of live chats and interaction (see them all at HipHarpAcademy.com).   VIP LEVEL adds on personalized video feedback as well.

10-reasons-hha-arms-wideIT ALL STARTS WITH “Hip Harp Toolkit” and “Arrange Yourself” on Mon. Oct. 24th!

Now here are just 10 reasons why these programs ROCK!!!

number-yellow-red-1YOU GET MY SECRET FORMULA! It’s the formula at the HEART of most of the music we hear from jazz to classical sonatas! You’ve heard it thousands of times – but it’s secret because it gets so altered that you don’t hear as a basic structure.

So I’ve distilled it (Mwaaaa-haha!!) it into a BASIC 5-Part Formula that YOU can use over and over and over – to turn any simple melody into a improvised arrangement of any length and any complexity!

number-yellow-red-2YOU LEARN to play the GAME inside the MUSIC! Most musicians are stuck playing what’s written on the printed page, because they don’t know how music works as a game.  But once you learn my formula, each time you play a tune, it can be completely different!  Music becomes a game!  An the joy come when you pay WITH music instead of having to play the music you’re handed!

number-yellow-red-3IT’S LIKE AN ANTI-NERVOUS PILL!! Face it, the scariest part of playing for other people is the first few seconds!  So imagine what it would be like to have a wonderful, simple, INTRODUCTION that makes your audience “oooo and ah” and gives you time to get your musical bearings?  It’s like taking an anti-nervous pill!

number-yellow-red-4 IT SOOOOO MUCH FUN! Did I mention It’s really, really FUN — because you get to just let go of worrying about the notes you’re playing and truly just play WITH the music!


number-yellow-red-5YOU PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS! Because we use a formula, it can be applied to any simple tune, at any level (have I said that enough?).  That means that instead of YOU trying to fit yourself into a written arrangement, you can build an improvised arrangement to take advantage of YOUR strengths – whatever they are.

number-yellow-red-6IF YOU SIGN UP FOR THE ACADEMY AT THE VIP LEVEL, YOU GET PERSONALIZED – and highly POSITIVE – FEEDBACK FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many students say that watching the feedback is one of the most valuable parts of the course and the most confidence-building.  And that’s not just mindless cheerleader. The kind of feedback I give you is the same kind I use with my professional-level colleagues to develop new material. We learned that ‘critiques’ are counterproductive – so my feedback always starts with what IS working because that’s the hardest thing for people to see in their own work!

number-yellow-red-7YOU CAN ASK ME ANYTHING! You have three different ways to get my personal coaching:  The live chats, the Facebook Group and the “Ask a Question” Form.  And, yes — you can ask me ANYTHING.  Now … will I answer absolutely anything?  Well, so far I haven’t gotten many questions I didn’t answer!

number-yellow-red-8YOUR ARRANGEMENTS GROW WITH YOU!  Imagine playing a tune you love, getting it in your fingers, hearing people hum along … and then hearing it DEVELOP, as you develop over the years!  Imagine hearing it change and grow as your skills grow.    Imagine that it gets easier when you’re tired, so you don’t have to work so hard!  Imagine it gets flashier when you want to impress people.  THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS when you learn to create spontaneous arrangements because they change as YOU change!

number-yellow-red-9YOU GET TO PLAY LIKE YOU!! Forget “Beginner,” “Intermediate” and “Advanced” – the truth is that each person plays at their own personal level, with their own strengths and their own challenges.  So I help you tailor the material to YOUR technical level whether you’re a professional who wants to create a flashy set of musical variations, OR a fledgling who wants to be able to sit down and have FUN!

number-yellow-red-10YOU GET TO PLAY WITH A SKELETON! OK, maybe that sounds scary, but skeletons are our foundation – they’re what hold us up and give us a strong internal structure! That’s what my 5-part formula becomes once you internalize it: a strong skeleton for every arrangement you play!  And once you have that skeleton, you can start adding anything to it that you want – from musical embellishments to stories, spoken word, dancing … to your favorite food! (Um … well, I’m not totally sure about the food part)


number-yellow-red-11WE GET TO DO THIS TOGETHER! Sure, you could take all the videos, handouts and audio files from this course and work on them on your own and you’d be getting soooooo much that way – BUT if you sign up for Hip Harp Academy NOW you’ll be able to take this course interactively – with me personally leading you through it! I’ll be WITH you each week, answering your questions through the Facebook Group, the “Ask a Question” form and the weekly chats, sharing new tips and hints – and LOVING having this adventure with you!!

So what are you waiting for??




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Dream Journeys – Kathy King – Mentorship Project

Kathy King is a member of my Harness Your Muse Mentorship 2016.

kathy-king-dream-posterI first met Kathy King in one of my online courses for harpists at Hip Harp Academy She described herself as a beginning harp player, but I started noticing something unusual about her final projects: she was dressing up in costume. kathyking-bfbp-finalproject-imageShe didn’t stop there.  In her 2nd or 3rd online course with me, she turned in a final project called “Fairytale Blues” about a princess who wanted to be baa-a-d – which she performed in costume and character.   Using a lot of singing and some simple harp techniques she created something that was really fun both to perform and to watch.

king-kathy-princess-enlargedI realized that, while she was a beginner harpist she was far from a beginning performer.

she was a beginning harp player - but far from a beginning performer Click To Tweet

I love working with people who are already expert at one thing and helping them find a way to connect that expertise to the harp, so they can share what they’re already great at in a new way by adding harp to it – so it’s been a real joy to work with Kathy this year in “Harness Your Muse” to develop her first-ever show with harp and voice.

The theme of Kathy’s show is a return to the land of second-chances where people’s forgotten dreams have a chance to come true.  And Kathy is LIVING this story.

a return to the land of 2nd chances where forgotten dreams get to come true Click To Tweet

This is a theme that’s resonant throughout my “Harness Your Muse” mentorship, particularly for the members who’ve had full lives in one field and are either returning to the harp, or like Kathy, are daring to start the harp after developing a whole other career.

One of the things I love about the vast range of ages and technical abilities in the members in my “Harness Your Muse” mentoriship is that it’s highlights the fact that artistic challenges are universal, and that finding our own creative voice takes a deep commitment regardless of our skills, abilities, age or experience.

What’s especially moving to me is that each artist in the group brings their unique revelations of that commitment and their own journey to their work.

Kathy’s show “Dream Journeys” is a perfect example of that – and if you’re anywhere near Hartford Connecticut on Oct. 22, I encourage you to go.  Watch the show, enjoy the journey, and ask questions – because your own dream journey may just be waiting for the touch of a string – and a little direction to start.

Here are the Basics of Kathy’s Upcoming Show

WHAT: Kathy King’s “Dream Journeys” – from Broadway to childhood favorites, to the Blues – a fun and uplifting concert with harp and voice
WHEN:  Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 ~ 7:30PM
WHERE:  Trinity Lutheran Church, 20 Meadowlark Road, Vernon, CT
TIX: $12 in advance, $15 cash only at the door
INFO & TIXhttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/dream-journeys-tickets-27609068467

ABOUT KATHY KING:  Kathy grew up with a deep love of musical theatre and singing. A physical therapist for over 30 years, she is now also both a Certified Music Practitioner and Reiki Master. Over the past 30 years, in addition to her healing work, she’s sung in choral groups, toured New England coffeehouses as a Christian solo artist, engaged in community theatre productions, and continues to direct her church choir.

Kathy is passionate about combining music with healing in as many ways as possible – and though she’s been both a musician and healer for most of her life, the harp is a new passion – one she’s fallen completely in love with. Just as the harp has opened Kathy to a new world of musical expression, she’s using it to bring her audience on her own musical journey to the land of second chances.

And finally … this is me half-way home from NYC last weekend, when I stopped at Rein’s Deli and stumbled on Kathy’s Poster up on the wall.


Do you have a creative project that’s longing to bloom in your life?  Apply for “Harness Your Muse” – even just going through the application process can bring you huge clarity – click on the “Apply Now” image at HarnessYourMuse.com.

Posted in Coaching, Teaching, Students & Learning, Harping & Harpists, [HYMM] Harness Your Muse | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Garbage Man | Birthday | SousChef | Red Sweater Facebook Live

Having fun with Facebook Live! Today I jumped on and suddenly there were LOTS of people asking me to play all kinds of things like my “Garbageman” or “Blues” or “Happy Birthday.”  Fun!

So I played the version of “Happy Birthday” that’s in my new FREE “HaRpy Birthday” Training – because this is EXACTLY what it’s for!!!  That moment when someone says “It’s my Birthday!” and you’re like, well hey, I have a harp, let me play “Happy Birthday” so everyone can sing! (If you play the harp, register to get that FREE HaRpy Birthday mini-training here: https://pr205.isrefer.com/go/HBF/DHC/).

(Also check out yesterday’s Facebook Live –  It’s gotten over 2,000 hits since yesterday and it was really fun – I was playing “Rhythm Changes” on a lever harp with a backing track from YouTube)

This is all part of my BRAND NEW Hip Harp Academy (http://www.HipHarpAcademy.com).  Registration opens next week – but if you play the harp you can get on the First-to-Know list by clicking this image below and signing up for the free “HaRpy Birthday” training.

Are you a harpist?  Then read this:

Are you ready to play with freedom and creativity? If you play the harp, I’ve developed a fun way for you to use the skills you already have to create a fun arrangement of Happy Birthday in a completely new way – to wow your friends and family (and impress yourself!) at the next birthday celebration!

Sign up to get The “HaRpy Birthday” mini-training here (it’s totally free) PLUS you’ll get on my “First-to-Know” list for the “Hip Harp Academy” AND get a sneak peek into the Academy online campus

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Rhythm Changes Experiment on Facebook Live

Today I was working with an advanced student in my mentorship program, showing different ideas for playing “Rhythm Changes” with harp, playing along with a backing track – and it was so much fun I wanted to show you what I was doing.

“Rhythm Changes” is the name for a whole category of jazz tunes that are based on the underlying harmonic ‘changes’ in the tune “I Got Rhythm.”  Not every jazz player knows every jazz tune, so playing “Rhythm Changes” is one way that jazz players can be nearly 100% certain that everyone will know the tune they’re playing.

Here’s the Facebook live video.  I think you can get to the comments somehow below the video, but if not, leave me comments here at the blog.

This is all part of my BRAND NEW Hip Harp Academy (http://www.HipHarpAcademy.com). So if you play the harp, make sure to get on the First to Know list at that link – and download a FREE training (don’t worry, the FREE training is for all levels from Adv. Beginners to Intermediate — the video above is pretty advanced).

By the way, the student I was working with is a pedal-harpist but I’m doing this on the lever harp in part because it’s fun, in part because my studio is in the attic (and my pedal harps are 2 floors down) – and in part because it’s easier for students to SEE when I’m bending or shifting note on the lever harp. ENJOY!!!


Are you a harpist?  Then read this:

Are you ready to play with freedom and creativity? If you play the harp, I’ve developed a fun way for you to use the skills you already have to create a fun arrangement of Happy Birthday in a completely new way – to wow your friends and family (and impress yourself!) at the next birthday celebration!

Sign up to get The “HaRpy Birthday” mini-training here (it’s totally free) PLUS you’ll get on my “First-to-Know” list for the “Hip Harp Academy” AND get a sneak peek into the Academy online campus

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My First Facebook Live!

My first Facebook Live! I had so much fun playing harp, answering questions AND I got to share my fun new FREEBIE just for HARP (“HaRpy Birthday Mini-Training) players https://pr205.isrefer.com/go/HBF/DHC/ – and I got to talk about my brand new Hip Harp Academy (http://www.HipHarpAcademy.com)


Are you ready to play with freedom and creativity?   If you play the harp, I’ve developed a fun way for you to use the skills you already have to create a fun arrangement of Happy Birthday in a completely new way – to wow your friends and family (and impress yourself!) at the next birthday celebration!

Sign up to get The “HaRpy Birthday” mini-training here (it’s totally free) PLUS you’ll get on my “First-to-Know” list for the “Hip Harp Academy” AND get a sneak peek into the Academy online campus


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Protected: Webinar Replay – Incrowd Only! Oct. 2, 2016

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Protected: Golden Cage Files (Oct. 8, 2016)

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An Endless Song ~ Ted Jones ~ A Labyrinth Story

My Harness Your Muse Mentorship program is all about creating new works of art that bring people’s stories and passions together with their music.

Ted Jones is one of the newest members of the group.  When Ted joined last summer, he told me there was ‘something’ he needed to express with his harp, but he wasn’t clear exactly what that was.

He’s a wonderful singer, a seasoned actor and has a strong, relaxed harp-playing style, so I assumed that he’d create a kind of one-man show over the year.

But Ted’s creative life changed on June 12, 2016 when he learned about the events at the Pulse nightclub.  Within hours he’d emailed me telling me how important it was that his work acknowledge that event and provide support and healing for people.

He started talking about labyrinths and healing and journeys — and then it all started to take shape.jones-teddy-labyrinth-journeypathcloth

Within weeks he’d painted a beautiful cloth labyrinth (see the design above) – a kind of portable pilgrimage,  When he came to the “Harness Your Muse” summer retreat, he brought the cloth in a huge duffel bag,  unfurled it and led the whole group through kind ceremony-performance, with himself as the Labyrinth Keeper, singing and speaking from the harp.  Then he led us through his Labyrinth, playing us through our journey.

Within two months he’d created “An Endless Song,” a completely new program, a way to use his harp to create a pilgrimage of healing and of new beginnings.  I got to experience it first-hand — the sense of group meditation and support, and the beauty of walking through one man’s painted garden.  (Here he is about to lead us all through the experience)

ted-labyrinthBelow he’s ‘clearing’ the labyrinth with beautiful silk flags

jones-teddy-labyrinth-flags-bostonBelow you can see people walking through the labyrinth, each in their own world, on a tiny pilgrimage – yet all together.

jones-teddy-labyrinth-walk-playing-bostonWe all want to reach out, to create something, to do something.  For Ted, what happened at Pulse led to a way of reaching both in to his music and out to help other people.

This Thursday Ted is being interviewed as part of the “Healing with Music” summit. Learn more and connect to the event at AnEndlessSong.com/AngelWalk/ – Ted’s new website – he’ll have more information there on the day of the interview.

Do you have a project that’s filling your soul, and you need support and direction to bring it into the world?  Applications for 2017 “Harness Your Muse” are available now at HarnessYourMuse.com.


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