Hip Harp Academy’s Summer Program
Where you learn to improvise with confidence using “Jazz for Harps” concepts

Summer of Improv!

Jazz isn’t just a ‘style’ of music.

It’s a way of THINKING that LIBERATES your creative spirit

Whether you play Folk, Celtic, Jazz, Blues, therapeutic music or meditation – improv liberates your creativity …

… and the basic concepts in Jazz unlock  improvisation in ANY style of music.

“The Summer of Improv” is the LIVE version of the “Jazz for Harps” program – a 12 week virtual summer camp for harpists that liberates you from the notes on the page, teaches you to jam with others, and jazzes up your harmonies.

It combines 4 great classes from Hip Harp Academy’s Learning Vault in harmony, rhythm, melodic improv and jazz – plus a bonus Blues class, live chats & playalongs.

It’s fun – it’s light! You can take ALL five classes, choose only the ones you want – or just drop in for the live class chats.

No matter how you do it, you get a SUMMER of IMPROV!

 When I saw the words: “Creating a Jazz Arrangement” I cringed. Not I!  But when I worked through this course, I found I COULD! Everything is so well explained step by step that it becomes natural.  And for those of us who think “we have no rhythm”, Jazz Warmups is the course – and it’s included in the package.  By the end of the warmups, you can actually feel the rhythm! (Margi Miller, Florida , USA)

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?

The Summer of IMPROV Liberates You
from the notes on the page
with the 4 Quadrants of Jazz


By the end of the summer, you’ll be adding jazzy chords to your playing, improvising from a lead sheet – restyling tunes to give them rhythm – or make them meditative. You’ll know how to play the Blues and you’ll know exactly what to do when someone says “Let’s Jam”! 

There are 4 Quadrants of Jazz:

1. Harmony

2. Rhythm

3. Roadmaps

4. Melodic Improvisation

 Jazz skills can be used to improvise on any piece – from classical tunes to folk or therapeutic – and of course, jazz tunes.

By the end of this program…

You’ll be able to play a jazz chart or ‘lead sheet’ at your level and be able to restyle it into a meditative piece if you’re using this class to develop therapy harp skills.

You’ll know how to enrich the harmony of any tune you play, how to add improvised intros and interludes – and you’ll have a library of jams so you’ll know what to do when someone says “Let’s Jam”! 

In the Bonus class “Blues: Harp-Style” you’ll learn to play a basic Blues, and if Blues is your passion, you’ll be able to develop a repertoire of Blues with the companion class “Blues by the Dozen.“

The Summer of Improv covers all four quadrants 
by combining 4 great classes
from the Hip Harp Academy Learning Vault.

HARMONY: “Hands on Harmony”

“HANDS on HARMONY” teaches HARMONY  specifically for harpists – using the way OUR instrument works – with lots of ‘hands-on’ examples so you can practice what you’re learning and literally get it ‘into your fingers.’ 

We’ll go over the three pillars of Jazz Harmony: extension, alteration, and substitution. You’ll learn to modify chords using the pillars starting with basic scales all the way to advanced jazz harmony.

RHYTHM: “Jazz Harp Warmups”

“JAZZ HARP WARMUPS” teaches RHYTHM through a series of warmups that develop fluency and coordination by combining progressions, rhythms, basslines, and comping patterns.

The warmups are designed to grow and support your internal sense of rhythm and allow you to become more comfortable in your ability to coordinate rhythm with chord progressions and melodies. 

By playing these warmups everyday, you’ll learn to FEEL rhythm naturally.

ROADMAPS: “Inside Jazz Tunes”

“INSIDE JAZZ TUNES” teaches you how to NAVIGATE the harmonic ROADMAPS of each tune.  This is the secret that all jazz players know, and it can open the door to any style of improvisation: the roadmap.

We’ll explore the structure of tunes in the standard jazz repertoire section by section. Then, you’ll learn how to apply the rhythm and harmony skills from the other quadrants to develop your improvisation skills on any tune, any melody, any roadmap.

The “Roadmap” is really more like a “Treasure Map” that unlocks the riches of each tune.

IMPROV: “Summer Harp Jam”

“SUMMER HARP JAM” teaches MELODIC IMPROV with playalong sessions so you learn while you play and play while you learn.

Traditionally, jazz improv is learned best by simply PLAYING WITH OTHERS – and this is your opportunity to get out of your head and really PLAY.

Using a call and response structure over a simple vamp, you get the chance to practice improvisation in small, bitesize segments– instead of trying to craft perfect full-scale improvisations. 

PLUS BONUS CLASS: “Blues: Harp-Style”

How the Program Works

It’s a 12-Week Program — like a virtual Summer Music Camp for Harp Players — that combines four classes from the Learning Vault that work together to give you a 360° improv experience. Here’s how that works:

  1. “JAZZ HARP WARMUPS” are available as soon as you register as a pre-recorded video series, expanding as you expand. Each warmup is provided on 3 levels – Fledgling, Intermediate & Advanced – so you can strengthen your playing on your level.
  2. “HANDS ON HARMONY” is a pre-recorded class with a live virtual retreat scheduled for mid-summer. 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 jazz harmony. It’s available 24/7 throughout the program to use both in BUILDING your harmony ability – and as a harmony reference
  3. “INSIDE JAZZ TUNES” starts mid-June and takes you inside the tunes of the standard jazz repertoire with optional assignments and LIVE masterclass chats. You’ll learn how to apply the rhythms and harmony you learn in the Warmups and “Hands on Harmony.”
  4.  “SUMMER HARP JAM” starts in July and is a laid-back weekly LIVE play-along jam session supported by pre-recorded trainings that you can watch in advance if you would like to prepare, or use as a review. Or just come live and have fun!

The program includes Live Weekly Masterclasses that combine coaching, feedback, and Q&A. There are two masterclasses each Monday to accommodate students in different time zones.

    You Work at YOUR Level

    • 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.

    “The Summer of Improv” is a flexible summer program
    Take as much or as little as you want
    and then review for a full six months

    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

    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

    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

    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)

    Simple … and Effective!

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

    Emma Graham  (GoldenHarp.co.uk)

    Invest in Your Creative Freedom

    Join me for A Summer 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 –  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.

    SUMMER 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.

    You ALSO get access to “Blues Harp-Style” PLUS “Blues by the Dozen” so have the FULL improv experience including the power of Blues.

    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.

    “Jazz for Harps” is included, along with dozens of other classes, along with coaching & community in the Yearly “Hip Harp Academy” Membership: 

    Your Investment: $1997

    (credit card or PayPal)
    Payment Plans Available

    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”. (You can read about that in my TEDx talk)

    When I first started harp, there were a handful of jazz harp players in the whole world. I got an NEA grant to study briefly with one of them: jazz harp legend Corky Hale, but near me in Boston, there was no-one teaching jazz harp. So I started asking other instrumentalists to teach me how they did it, and from there I developed my own way of understanding jazz.  I discovered that to learn jazz effectively on the harp completely different than learning it on any other instrument.

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

    When I first tried to try to play jazz on the harp, I chose tunes I thought were simple, tunes I knew and could play easily on the piano. I was shocked to discovered I simply couldn’t play them on the harp – so I thought I couldn’t play jazz.

    It was only later that I realized  I was choosing the wrong tunes to start with — ones with 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 tune. That’s why, years ago,  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. It’s not about proving how clever, complex and hip you are.  It’s not about knowing the exact notes in a complex chord. It’s about being able to freely improvise on the tunes you can play, and knowing how to do that both alone and with others.

    In “Jazz for Harps” we start with the tunes I WISH I’d started with – ones from the Starter List – because once I got how it worked, jazz opened up the world to me.  Not just the world of ‘jazz’, but the world of improv in general.

    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. 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. I became the only woman instrumentalist on that esteemed jazz label – and I became part of a very small group – maybe 2 or 3 –  jazz harp players — touring internationally and with a major record contract. That was an incredible experience – because I could play jazz.

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

    The principles and skills you learn in jazz will expand every part of your musical life. 

    That’s why I love sharing what I’ve learned.

    Jazz has given me the ability – and opportunity –  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. 

    It starts by understanding the rhythms, the roadmaps of the tunes, the harmony, the improvisation. 

    That’s why these are the four foundations of “Jazz for Harps.” This is the program that I was looking for when I started. It didn’t exist then – but now it does – and I have the joy of getting to share it with you.

    As Featured In:

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    Here’s Why JAZZ for HARPS Rocks

    THIS IS WHAT EVERYONE’S BEEN WAITING FOR! I originally created “Hip Harp Academy” to teach jazz – but I realized that, in order to be ready for jazz, most harpists needed a strong foundation of basic arrangement, improv and performance skills, along with some mindset training.

    I created all that in the Full-Level of “Hip Harp Academy.”  “Jazz for Harps” is the link between the basic skills in the Academy and the specialized skills you need for jazz.

    THIS PROGRAM IS THE MISSING LINK! I’ve been searching for a way to teach rhythm and melodic improv, and to give people a way to practice it over and over – because, while rhythm and improv are both a part of all my online courses, I don’t have a course that focuses JUST on those elements. When I had the brainstorm of building “Summer Harp Jam” I realized it’s the perfect way to learn both melodic improv AND rhythms at the same time!! Only instead of ‘learning,’ you’ll just jump in and play along with them, having fun from the beginning and getting more and more comfortable the more you do it … by PLAYING!

    YOU LEARN TO PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS! These jams play to the strength of OUR instrument! So many times when we want to play with other musicians – or when they show us cool patterns we can play on our own — they choose something that’s easy on their instrument but hard on ours! You sit there trying to play along and feeling like a fool, not realizing that the jam sequence is built to play to the strengths of a different instrument! The jams in THIS program are created so you can play to the strengths of OUR instrument (literally!) instead of trying to fit into jam patterns that are easy for OTHER instruments (Ha! Take that all you fast chromatic instruments!)

    IT SOOOOO MUCH FUN! Did I mention It’s really, really FUN — because you get to play ALONG with videos and audio files, so the program materials are like having an imaginary friend to play with! And when you share the jams with others, that imaginary friend becomes a real one!



    “SUMMER HARP JAM” MAKES YOU STRONGER: Like any good summer camp, the games, sport and environment make you stronger and healthier. And it’s the same with SHJ: it strengthens your hands, your coordination, your ear, and it also strengthens you as a LEADER with other musicians because YOU’LL be able to say “Let’s Jam ” and actually describe what you’ll all be jamming on!


    SPONTANEOUS JAMS! All the jams, progressions and sequences in this course can be played either solo (just you on your instrument) or with others – and once you know a bunch of jams, you can ‘set them up’ any time you’re around other people. Some of the jams are simple enough that you can just tell people the scale you’re using and they’ll be able to join right in for a spontaneous musical experience (and some can be played with non-musicians!)


    SECRET JAM SOCIETY! OK, it’s not really ‘secret’ but one of the cool things about learning the specific jams in this program is that you’ll have a shared “jam repertoire” with anyone else in the program. So if you meet at a harp festival, or rolling your harps down the street, you can create a spontaneous ensemble! Because you’ll know the same jams, when one of you starts playing, and the others will know what to do – even if you’ve never met before!!!! (It’s like having a game that everyone knows how to play so they don’t even need to speak the same language)

    YOU GET RHYTHM!! By the end of the course, you’ll be playing Latin rhythms, swing rhythms, at least one odd-meter rhythm (like 5/4 – the rhythm of “Take Five”) – and you’ll be improvising in all those rhythms even if you have no idea how to ‘read’ them on the page. How? You’ll be playing along with the jam-tracks – so you don’t have to get it perfect the first time! You just jump in the water of the playalong track and flail around the first time, and the more you do it, the more comfortable you get. And in the weekly Q&A sessions you can ask for specific help if you’re still having trouble with them.

    YOU CONNECT TO NEW FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD! This may sound crazy, but when I was in Paraguay in 2014 I saw a concert with about 50 harps. The audience loved the concert and when the master harpist ended the concert, the audience demanded more. It was clear the group hadn’t prepared for more music, but the master sat down and played a short melody. Then he turned to the 50 harps and they were all smiling and nodding. He started playing again and every one of the 50 harps joined in — and I realized that this was a tune they all knew, they’d all learned and they all could play it together – it was like a GAME that everyone knew the rules to, so as soon as someone ‘called the game’ everyone could just start playing. When I created “Summer Harp Jam” I kept imagining a moment where several harp players meet by accident with their harps – on the street or at a harp festival, and because they know the same jams they can just sit down and start playing together — really PLAYING — without music, without agenda — like a wonderful game. That made me so excited about the course! I just kept seeing this possibility for a ‘lingua franca’ that made it possible for people to spontaneously play together!

    YOU CAN USE THESE JAMS IN RESPONSIVE-PLAYING SITUATIONS – One of the things you’ll learn is how to style music differently. This is actually really easy, and really fun – for example, it’s easy to turn the Pacelbel Canon into a Samba (!) by ‘styling’ it with a Latin rhythm. By the same token, you’ll be able to take any of the jam sequences you learn and re-style them for more meditative or responsive playing – and yes, I’ll show you how!


    I’M YOUR JAMMIN’ CAMP COUNSELOR! You could take all the jam files you’ll get and just work on them on your own, and you’d be getting sooooo much by doing that – but each week I’ll be PLAYING them live in online sessions where you get to play back to me what I play – so you learn by doing – and they’re live so the people who attend live can ask questions and help me adjust what I’m doing to work for the students – so whether you attend live or watch via replay, you’ll get the benefit of that live interaction. also have time for. You’ll be able to send in your own questions even if you can’t make those live sessions so you’ll get the answers you need to help clarify anything YOU need clarified and have even more fun playing these musical games.

    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 HipHarpAcademy.com


    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 

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