Do you panic when someone says “Improvise!”

Do you run out of ideas after the first few notes?

Do you wonder what you’re even supposed to be improvising ON?

Jazz is not a ‘style’ of music – it’s a way of thinking
that unlocks a structure for creative liberation.

There’s something very simple that every jazz player knows — and it can open the door to any style of improvisation from Blues and Jazz to Bedside Meditation – and that is the roadmap.

This is one of the first things you learn in “Jazz for Harps” – and you learn it from one of the most experienced and inventive harp improvisers on the planet.

There are 4 Quadrants to learning to Improvise – whether your play Jazz, Blues, Folk Music – or improvising for meditation.

Learning even the basics of jazz will infuse your playing with creative expression and expand your abilities to play all music.

There are 4 Quadrants to Learning Jazz and Improv: 

You’ll develop all 4 quadrants through “Jazz for Harps”:

  • Harmony – Jazz musicians are constantly expanding and altering chords.  “Hands on Harmony” shows you how and gives you exercises for learning this skill, that you will use forever to both play and understand music.
  • Rhythm – Instead of painstakingly reading rhythms, “Jazz Harp Warmups” combines fundamental rhythms and chord progressions so you can warm up with them every day, and get them into your bones!
  • The Roadmaps of the Tunes – In “Inside Jazz Tunes” you learn the foundational concept of the “Roadmap” that is at the heart of every single jazz tune, and that makes it possible for jazz players to play for hours from one single “chart”.
  • Improvisation – At the heart of all jazz is the ability to improvise.  “Summer Harp Jam” breaks the art of improvisation down to the fun part by using loads of  “call and response” play-alongs to take you out of your head and right into your HARP!

You will learn ALL of these in “Jazz for Harps”!

Got other things you’re doing this summer?
No worries!  “Jazz for Harps” is a flexible program
that fits with your schedule


Here’s How the Program Works

Schedule & Class Info

It’s a 12-Week Program — like a virtual Summer Music Camp for Harp Players — with FOUR quadrants that work together to give you a 360° jazz learning experience. It’s a very flexible program that gives you 24/7 access to all the training and 6 months access to all the material, so if you have travels scheduled for the summer, you won’t ‘miss’ any part of the program.  The one live/scheduled part of the program is the weekly chats, and if they aren’t convenient for you, you can send any questions you have in advance and then get the answers via replay.

Here’s how the training works:

1. “JAZZ HARP WARMUPS” open the day after Memorial Day and continue throughout the summer, expanding as you expand. They build and support your internal sense of rhythm, your comfort-level with playing rhythms and your ability to coordinate rhythm with chord progressions and melodies.  Each warmup is provided on 3 levels – Fledgling, Intermediate & Advanced – so you can strengthen your playing on your level.

2. “HANDS ON HARMONY” is available as soon as you register.  It gives you the fundamentals of harmony as they work in jazz – and this part of the program includes a series of video trainings that take you – at your own pace – through the 3 Pillars of Jazz Harmony:  Extension, Alteration & Substitution.  This series of video trainings and ‘harmony playing routines’ is available 24/7 throughout the summer to use both in BUILDING your harmony ability – and as a harmony referenceTo give you even more support there’s a live virtual “Hands on Harmony” retreat on Saturday June 9 which you can attend live or via replay.

3. “INSIDE JAZZ TUNES” is available to start when you’re ready and takes you inside the tunes of the standard jazz repertoire, section by section, so you learn how to approach playing the roadmap of each tune, and how to apply the rhythms and harmony you learn in the Warmups and “Hands on Harmony.” This “Roadmap” is actually a creative “Treasure Map” that unlocks the riches of each tune.  It’s the heart of any jazz tune, and the key to how jazz musicians can play for as long as they want from a single page of music.

  • Fledgling players learn how to read from a chord chart, adding simple rhythms and improvisation.
  • Intermediate players learn to expand that by extending the harmonies and adding more improv and rhythm.
  • Advanced players learn to also alter and substitute chords and have the option to explore how to apply these skills to additional tunes.  All 3 levels are available to all students, so while you focus on playing at YOUR level, you can access the other levels either for review or inspiration!

4. “SUMMER HARP JAM” starts in JULY.  This program focuses on play-along videos to get the art of improvisation deep into your hands. Traditionally, jazz improvisation is learned best by simply PLAYING WITH OTHERS – so I built Summer Harp Jam as an opportunity to get out of your head and to really PLAY. Each week focuses on a different progression – a series of chords you’ll see in a jazz tune – and on the many ways to improvise on it.

 5. “BLUES HARP-STYLE” – This year, for the first time students will have the chance to spend the summer “Inside Jazz Tunes” or shift to Blues, which is a specialized form of jazz.  Whichever you choose, you have access to both classes.

You Work at YOUR Level

In addition to the specific training levels in the “Jazz Harp Warmups” and “Inside Jazz Tunes”, the weekly live online chats in “Jazz for Harps” are segmented to provide time for focus on questions for each level.  You can attend all 3 levels of each chat or just attend the segment of the chat that’s focused on your level – and, of course, as in all my online chats, you can submit questions in advance if you can’t be there live, and always watch the chat later via replay.

Attend Online Chats Live or Via Replay (or both!)

YOU CAN CHOOSE TO ATTEND WHEN IT WORKS FOR YOUWhile my online chats are always lively with questions, ‘aha’s’ and takeaways, many people – like me – prefer to attend all chats via replay – or download the audio and listen while exercising or driving.

You Get Extended Access

EXTENDED ACCESS: I will be personally GUIDING the “Jazz for Harps” program throughout the summer, including weekly live online chats.  In addition to the summer program: the PDFs and audio files can be downloaded for your personal use and the classroom and materials are available for 6 months so you have plenty of time to review them.

You Get Personalized Input

Online information and training is great, and it’s wonderful to access when it works for you, and to be able to learn in your pyjamas BUT most people (like me!) need personalized guidance or coaching in how to apply any new learning to our specific situation.  And this is where the personalized input becomes so important.  When you hit a snag, when you want to take it further, when you want to know how to apply what you’re learning to a specific situation you have, having the option to ask a question and get a personal answer is THE key element to being able to apply what you learn.

  • WEEKLY CHATS:  The weekly chats extend through the whole summer. You can attend live, or via replay.  There’s a live online chat almost every weekend except when I’m on tour to a location without internet access.  They’re usually on Sundays at 4:30 pm EST.
  • FACEBOOK PAGE:  Through the course Facebook Page you get to ask question, which I usually answer within 48 hours (and sometimes much, much faster) either by writing an answer – or sometimes by just jumping on with a Facebook Live to SHOW you the answer from the HARP.
  • ASK A QUESTION FORM: There are times when the answer to one simple question will get you out of being stuck and into action – and this is when the “Ask a Question” form is incredibly helpful.  Those questions come right to me, and I generally answer them within 48 hours – and sometimes within minutes.

Together these give you a 360° experience of how jazz harp works on harps.

What students say about Deborah Henson-Conant  & Hip Harp Academy

Boosting my Confidence!

This course is helping to boost my confidence and I think this is directly related to exploring creativity through different activities…..and to help me take a fresh approach to practicing….to my relationship with my instruments….and to life in general. I love how the experience of each week builds…  

Pam Jeffreys

There's no other harpist in the world like this ...

There’s no other harpist in the world who is as adept at improv on both lever and pedal harp as DHC. That means that I get tips for both my lever harp and pedal harp playing by someone who’s an internationally-respected expert at both – and switching between the two helps me learn even more!

Margi Miller

Simple ... and Effective!

So simple and yet so effective. Thank you so much. I’m having a blast!

Emma Graham  (

Exponential Growth

A brilliant coach and teacher  … the growth is exponential.

Susan Boston

A sense of PLAY!

If I had only read about this course, I would have thought ‘I would love to take that some day when I’m good enough!’ … I’m so glad I took it now!

At the beginning, Deborah asked us what our personal goals were for the course.  I said I wanted to have a sense of play with the harp.  This has been the perfect course for me!” 

Rachel Schlafer-Parton

Never in my wildest dreams ...

I’ve played harp for nearly 50 years. I have a strict classical background & never in my wildest dreams thought I could improvise.  This makes it all come together in a way that I can relate to. 

(Sally Walstrum, Las Vegas)

Invest in Your Creative Freedom

Join me for 12 Weeks of Creative Learning & Play 

These FOUR quadrants of the program work TOGETHER to give you a 360° Improv Learning Experience.

ONLY the FIRST 25 PEOPLE WHO SIGN UP!!! (only 3 left!)  

BONUS ENROLLMENT in my first ever 4-Week “Jazz for Harps” Beta program.  This brand new 4-Week “JAZZ for HARPS” Beta program is normally only open to Hip Harp Academy FULL Yearlong Members – so jump in on this bonus now! This is a chance to take everything you learn in “Blues Harp-Style” and learn how to apply it to jazz tunes.

JAZZ HARP WARMUPS – this ALL NEW progressive warmup series takes you inside the progressions and rhythms you’ll see in jazz tunes and lets build and strengthen your jazz rhythms every day throughout the summer

HANDS ON HARMONY gives you the fundamentals of harmony as they work in jazz on the harp – and develops the 3 Pillars of Jazz Harmony:  Extension, Alteration & Substitution.   

INSIDE JAZZ TUNES – this ALL NEW part of the program dissects the ROADMAP of standard jazz tunes so you can learn them from the inside, phrase by phrase and then apply what you learn to any tune.

HARP JAM teaches you the art of using vamps to develop your improvisation skills. With Harp Jam (aka “Summer Harp Jam”) you play, play, PLAY to get maximum hands-on time to develop the fluency of melodic improvisation. Harp Jam is available year round as a ‘Go at Your Own Pace’ – and each summer I guide the course with live weekly online jams.

By the end of the class you’ll be playing set of exercises that keep your rhythm and harmony in shape, you’ll play with a deeper understanding of harmony and theory, a jazzier repertoire and skills and tricks to help you play with others.

Purchase includes access to all online materials for 6 months plus download of all PDFs & MP3s from the class to add to your digital library.

TOTAL VALUE: $1559 YOU PAY: $897

For 6 months access to the classes in this package for learning and review — PLUS  world-class training that you can’t get anywhere else on the planet from one of the world’s top Jazz-Harp experts.


Sign up for “Jazz for Harps”

 (Includes 6-Months Access to all classes in this program)

Your Investment: $897

Need a Payment Plan?
See the Payment Plan Options in the order form.

(credit card or PayPal)


Full  Year-Long Academy  Membership

Membership lasts  for One Year and includes ALL courses in the Year-Long Curriculum including ‘Jazz for Harps’

All Academy Classes for a Full Year: 

$1297 $997

(or see the 12-Pay Payment Plan option)

(credit card or PayPal)

Already a Current Member of Hip Harp Academy Full-Level?

This program is INCLUDED the year-long Hip Harp Academy curriculum — so if you’re a current member, get ready to jazz it up!  If your membership is ending – keep an eye out for the renewal info so you don’t miss this summer’s fun!

 If you’re NOT in the Academy and you want to make sure to get absolutely everything, including a full year of classes at Hip Harp Academy check out Hip Harp Academy Yearlong Membership Here or just register here.  Hip Harp Academy Full Yearlong Membership includes “Jazz for Harps” PLUS over a dozen other classes, including Hip Harp Toolkit / Arrange Yourself, Strings of Passion, Baroque Flamenco Beyond the Page PLUS any bonuses offered for single classes like this one.  If you have questions about how it works, just email using my Ask a Question Form.


Turn your summer into a creative adventure

That will expand your musical freedom forever

About the creator of this program, Deborah Henson-Conant:

 My name is Deborah Henson-Conant, I started playing the harp as young adult who didn’t read music, began with Classical music, but soon realized I needed more freedom – to improvise and express myself.  I now play shows with symphonies and on solo stages with the electric harp that was created for me by CAMAC Harps, the “DHC Light”. (You can read about that in my recent TEDx talk)

When I first started harp, there were maybe a handful of jazz harp players in the whole world and none were around where I lived. So I started asking other instrumentalists to teach me how they did it, and from there I developed my own way of understanding jazz and I discovered that effectively learning jazz on the harp is completely different than learning it on any other instrument.

Which is why I have created a program specifically for teaching jazz to harp players.

When I first started to try to play jazz on the harp, I chose tunes I had no idea were complicated.  I picked tunes I knew and I couldn’t play ‘em and so I thought I couldn’t play jazz.

Eventually I figured out that I was just choosing the wrong tunes — ones that had really bumpy roadmaps. I needed to start with tunes that were more smooth for the harp and then develop my ability to play more complicated things. And that’s why I created a “starter list” of jazz tunes for harpists so you don’t have to go thru that process I did.

So you can start developing a jazz repertoire more quickly  – instead of spending 2 years trying to ace one really complicated tune and play it perfectly – because that is not what jazz is about.

In “Jazz for Harps” we start with the tunes I WISH I’d started with – ones from the Starter List. Because once I got it, jazz opened up the world to me.

Once I started figuring out which tunes were more comfortable, I started playing with a bass player, then drums and then created the “Jazz Harp Trio” started recording and playing all over Boston, New England – eventually the world.

And when my band broke up I could play with other players because I knew the repertoire — basically every player I played with became another teacher – because I hired great players – and they taught me how to play.

One day the president of a jazz label saw me on TV and offered me a contract with one of the top jazz labels in the world, GRP records – Dave Grusin’s label, and I became one of a very small group – maybe 2 or 3 –  jazz harp players — who was touring internationally and recording on a major label – and by the way, I was the only woman instrumentalist on my label. So that was an incredible experience – because of jazz.

Eventually I started to integrate jazz with symphonic music, play with the Boston Pops – created concertos that other harpists now perform — all of this was based on my journey that STARTED with learning to play straight-ahead jazz tunes.

Because the principles and skills you learn in jazz will expand every part of your musical life.  And that  is why I love sharing what I’ve learned.

For me, jazz has given me the ability to improvise with people all over the world, to open for Ray Charles, to improvise with Bobby McFerrin, to read jazz charts, to create music with others.   It all started with jazz.

Jazz is a way of thinking and playing that opens you up.  And it starts with understanding the rhythms, the roadmaps of the tunes, the harmony, the improvisation. 

And these are the four foundations of Jazz for Harps. This is the program that I was looking for when I started – and now I have the joy of getting to share it with you.

As Featured In:

CBS News Sunday Morning Logo
NY Times Logo
Today Logo
PBS Logo


Frequently Asked Questions
A. You don’t need any special software or hardware. You can take the course on your computer or ipad. You’ll watch the course videos on line, and you can download the MP3 play-along files and PDFs. Even people who consider themselves completely non-tech-savvy are able to access and enjoy the course. Some people even say that one of the big benefits of the course is getting more comfortable with online tech formats! Here’s how the content is provided:

  • Pre-Recorded Video Trainings
  • MP3 versions of the trainings that you can download and listen to on your ipad, phone or computer
  • A Live Online Q&A Session – which you can attend live or via replay- and if you’re not attending live you can submit your questions in advance and watch the answers later in the video replay.

So even if your tech-savvy only goes so far as knowing how to link to a webpage, watch YouTube and download a file, you’ll be able to get all the class information. The truth is, there’s always a bit of a learning curve unless you’ve taken online courses before — but many people have told me that my online courses have given them the added benefit of learning to navigate the web in new and empowering ways — and that makes me very happy!

A. In “Jazz for Harps” there’s no official homework submissions, but you should plan to spend at least 4 hours a week on the program, and most importantly on PLAYING what you learn.

A. That’s pretty much up to you. You could just spend an hour a week if you just want to watch the videos and play along with them. OR, if you want to ‘get the most bang for their buck’ you can spend as much as an hour or more a day, watching the videos, downloading the materials and then putting it all into practice and playing with others!

Most people fall between those two extremes – and it’s totally fine how YOU want to use the program and how it fits into YOUR life right now. That’s also why you get access to the website for 6 months – so you can go back and review.

The most important thing you can do each week in any program of mine is to find one simple idea and put it directly into your playing at your level. If you do that ONE thing each week you’ll get more out of the program than reading and watching everything but not putting it into practice.

So if you don’t have much time one week, you can skim the videos, find your ‘nugget’ for the week, put it into practice and feel great that you’re getting something that will change your playing for the rest of your life!

A. That idea is really more of a mindset than a reality with my classes. I don’t expect people to get ‘everything’ when they take my classes. Learning jazz and improvisation is all about spiral learning, and that’s why many people decide to sign up for the full yearlong academy, and take it year after year, each time going deeper into the learning.

The first time through, if people feel they’re ‘falling behind,’ some just email me using the “Ask a Question” form and ask for coaching on how to catch up.

Since it’s never possible to get everything, ‘catching up’ is usually a matter of understanding that there are BASIC principles you can learn easily (and you can always ask me about them), principles you can practice in both your playing and your life.  If you get the basic principle of each module and accept that it’s never possible to get everything, then you can move forward and have fun at the level you’re at with what you HAVE learned.

You’ll get all the music you need from within the course. However, in “Jazz for Harps” some people may want to also buy the “Real Book” or an equivalent collection of standard jazz tune charts.

All my online programs (and even my offline programs!) are multi-level and for both lever and pedal harp and it works because I always start by teaching the underlying concept of what we’re doing. Each concept can be expressed in infinite ways, at infinite levels of ability – and part of the fun of each course is your collaboration with me in finding the ways to play them that you can play right now. There is no limit to how much you can simplify or expand a musical concept. For each thing I show you, I’ll always include a distilled/fundamental/simple version of it and ways to embellish and expand it. And if it’s either not simple enough … or not complex enough for you, then you can ask for a simplification or an embellishment — and that’s part of what I’ll do in the live Q&A sessions and part of what creates such a vibrant sense of involvement and ‘live-ness’ in the class. Summer Harp Jam is different than many of my others because this is SO focused on playing in the moment, and the live sessions will include a lot of time where I’m playing and you’re playing back to me BUT that doesn’t mean you need to play exactly what I’m playing each time! If you’re still a fledgling playing, you may only play the first note of what I play until you get comfortable to add more notes — and that’s why you’ll get to watch and play-along over and over. If you’re an advanced player, you may want to embellish the line I play when you play it back to me! And one of the incredible advantages of virtual ‘live’ events (like the play-along sessions) is that you won’t be disturbed by the playing of others and you won’t be comparing yourself to the playing of the others — everyone will be playing along ‘together’ … at completely different places on the planet!
Q: CAN I GET A TASTE-TEST?? I’VE NEVER BEEN IN AN ONLINE COURSE - Is there a way to just see how it works?
YES!  I created a special little course that you can take for free.  It’s called “HaRpy Birthday” and it’ll give you a taste of my teaching style (though this particular class is not particularly jazzy and it’s geared towards Intermediate or Fledgling players)  Just go to .That should get you a “Free Level” account at Hip Harp Academy. Then just look for the “HaRpy Birthday” icon and you can take that mini-class to see what it’s like to work with me online.

Q: WHAT TIME IS THE CLASS? Will I have to get up in the middle of the night!
No worries – you can take the whole Jazz for Harps program at your own pace.  Everything is recorded and many people prefer to never come to the live parts and just watch via replay or download the MP3s and just listen and play along. Any online chats, special events, online retreats or  ‘live jams’ are recorded and I try to get them online within 24 hours.  Most happen on the weekends (though we always query the class to make sure we’re holding events at the best times for students).

WHAT A GREAT QUESTION!  This program is focused on JAZZ – but there’s a style of jazz that I would call “contemplative jazz” – that uses the jazz harmonies and forms, but either greatly softens the rhythms, or is purely rubato.

I use Jazz concepts in many different ways myself: for traditional or standard jazz playing, in my original works – whether its solo works, with band, ensemble or symphony orchestra – and I also use jazz concepts for meditative styles of music.

That’s one of the greatest values of the LIVE component of the course.  If your specific goal is to use the concepts in meditative or therapeutic music, then you can get as much input as you like about that by asking specific questions about it in the live online chats, the facebook group page and the “Ask a Question” form.

That’s an excellent question about the video and how the course works with less robust internet connections.  Let me know if this answers that question:

  • The “training” part of the program – the part that’s always there when you get into the classroom – is embedded videos (plus PDF handouts, text and downloadable audio).
  • For every video, there’s also a downloadable mp3 . That means you can get the mp3 right onto your computer and then avoiding worrying about internet at all.
  • The LIVE weekly online Q&As or play-along events are all live-streamed.  Usually only about 25-30% of the people actually come live.  The rest prefer to wait until we post the replay, and either watch that online or just download the MP3 and play with that.  I’m not sure if they do that because of their internet connection or just because they prefer to be able to stop and start the videos at their own pace.

We can’t always count on internet, as great as it is. That’s why I record everything we do in the program and then add it to the classroom so people can watch at their own pace, or download the MP3s and the PDF play-sheets to have on their own computer or MP3 device.
A. YES! Depending on when you sign up there’s a payment plan that lets you split the payment (if you sign up outside of the normal registration period, the payment plan may not be available). To see whether or not there’s a payment plan and what it is, click the ordering link as if you’re going to order and you’ll see the payment plan outlined on the order form.

Come and Play Your Heart Out

In this Virtual Summer Camp Just for Harp Players

“Summer Harp Jam” 2017 starts in July and is part of the  “Hip Harp Academy” Curriculum. To register, sign up for “Hip Harp Academy” “FULL” OR Register for “Summer Harp Jam” a la carte

Join the FUN Now!

Summer Harp Jam 2018 Registration Opens Soon!

OPTION #1: Register for the FULL “Hip Harp Academy” Yearlong Membership

Sign up for the Full/Core ‘Hip Harp Academy’ Year-Long Curriculum. You’ll get full access to ‘Summer Harp Jam’ AND the full curriculum… over 10 different programs including “Hip Harp Toolkit / Arrange Yourself,” “Strings of Passion,” “Hands on Harmony,” “Blues Harp-Style” – you can see all the courses at


Pay in Full

For the full yearlong “Hip Harp Academy” Curriculum with over 10 guided courses INCLUDING “Summer Harp Jam”


12-Month Payment Plan

For the full yearlong Curriculum with over 10 guided courses INCLUDING “Summer Harp Jam”

OPTION #2:  “Summer Harp Jam” a la carte

Sign up for “Summer Harp Jam” only, at the 2016 single-class price!

  • OPTION 1:  Pay in Full (Click to see special price!)
  • OPTION 2: Payment Plan (Look for the payment plan just above the “Order Summary” section during checkout.)


Use my “Ask a Question” form to get a question to me and I’ll get back to you ASAP 

© Deborah Henson-Conant / ∙ Privacy

Get on the"First to Know" List for "Blues Harp-Style 2018"

Be the first to get discount and registration information when this course opens for enrollment.

YAY!  You're on the First-to-Know List for Blues HarpStyle!

Join the First-to-Know List!

You'll be first to know about specials, discounts and deadlines!

Yay! You'll be First to Know!