The Summer improv adventure
that gives you freedom as you play
Summer Harp Jam teaches you Improvisation While You Play …
Liberating you from the notes on the page and expanding your creativity as you play along.
2023 SUMMER HARP JAM is the perfect Summer Playalong
Join now to jump right into the online trainings
and enjoy them day or night at your own pace!
“Summer Harp Jam” is an 8-Week creative improv program where you learn “short-form” jams & vamps – short harmonic progressions that inspire improvisation without having to prepare or learn a extended ‘improv form’. Each class includes play-along video & audio to strengthen your improvisation and rhythm skills while you’re playing.
There’s no homework, no stress, no final projects. It’s all about ‘jamming’: learning to improvise over short-form ‘vamps’ or repeated accompaniment patterns that you can use as stand-along improvs for solo harp or with others – AND that you can use to turn any piece into an opportunity for improvisation.
This is also a GREAT program for people who want to start playing with loopers because you can use any of the jam patterns as a loop.
Read on to learn more or register right now
Unleash the JOY of being able to just sit down and PLAY
How can some musicians just sit down and improvise, making up melodies seemingly out of thin air?
How do they know what to play?
Are they just more ‘creative’ than others …
or do they have skills that anyone could learn?
Watch this video from the inaugural year of “Summer Harp Jam” to hear what my inspiration for creating the program was. Now in 2023 there’s more you can learn, more musical games you can play with – and still the same kick-back-and-just-PLAY as when I first created the program.
Don’t think you have any improvisation and rhythm skills?
You WILL after Summer Harp Jam
I thought the ability to improvise was something I was born with — but that’s because I forgot how I’d learned it. I forgot because it was so fun to learn, that I thought I was just playing games as a child.
Now I know that those ‘games’ I played with my mother were teaching me musical skills I’d use my whole life.
And this summer I want to teach them to you.
“Summer Harp Jam” is an 8-Week creative improv program with Deborah Henson-Conant that’s exclusively for harp players – lever or pedal, from fledgling to professional – and gives you a treasure chest of jams, vamps and play-alongs that strengthen your improvisation and rhythm skills while you’re having FUN! (It actually lasts longer than 8 weeks because of the additional chats to support your learning).
A JAM is a simple musical structure that gives you a foundation for improvising without having to prepare or learn a pre-defined arrangement. The jam sequences we’ll learn can be as simple as two chords and a rhythm that you can use as a solo player — or as involved as a song that you lead with sections where everyone gets to play.
What’s a Playalong Improv Adventure?
In “Summer Harp Jam” there’s a huge focus on PLAYING, including play-along-videos, and a minimum of “training videos.” Instead of me telling you how to do something, I’ll be showing you – mostly in the playalong videos — and you’ll be playing it right back to me.
Then you’ll get to take those ideas and play with them even more, because each week you’ll also get play-along files and cheat-sheets. And of course that live session is videotaped so you can watch it and play-along over and over. So you can play Play PLAY as much as you want!!
This is not a homework-oriented class. It’s all about PLAYING! And you’re playing ALONG almost all the time with other people – or with yourself.
You’ll get lots and lots and LOTS of focused play-time and there’s no way to get ‘behind’ – because everything’s videotaped, you can download all the audio-playback files and the PDF cheat-sheets and you’ll have at least 6 months after the course ends to access all the course videos and download the playback files and cheat-sheets to take with you on your phone or MP3 player.
You’ll find you can sit down for five minutes … and just keep playing and playing and playing.
“If I had only read about this course, I would have thought ‘I would love to take that someday when I’m good enough … I’m so glad I took it now
It has been the perfect course for me. 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.”
Invest in Your Creative Freedom
SUMMER HARP JAM expands your repertoire, and teaches you improv while you’re playing up a warm summer storm.
By the end of the summer you’ll have a set of exercises to keep your rhythm and harmony in shape, a deeper understanding of harmony and theory, creative ways to expand your repertoire – and skills to help you play with others.
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.
“Summer Harp Jam” 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
Come and Play Your Heart Out
In this Virtual Summer Camp Just for Harp Players
“Summer Harp Jam” 2019 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 2019
Pre-Registration Is Open Now
(Claim your space! Early Classroom Entry)
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”, “Sing & Play Harp,” “Jazz for Harps” and more — you can see all the courses at HipHarpAcademy.com
For the full yearlong “Hip Harp Academy” Curriculum with over 10 courses INCLUDING “Summer Harp Jam”
If it’s so easy to just PLAY – why can’t I just sit down and do it?
Why do I need “Summer Harp Jam”?
Knowing WHAT to jam on is an important part of making it easy and setting up the situation so you can have fun – whether you’re playing alone or with others.
If you’re playing with other, knowing how to explain the jam to them is an important part of making it work — so that’s why you get a script (yes – a short script you can read) for explaining each jam, so you’ll be able to quickly show-and-tell others, and play it together – whether they’re harpists or other musicians.
Part of the beauty of jamming is that each person has a part to play – and everyone gets to create the part they play based on their current level of ability, even if that means playing a few choice bass notes, or a chord on the downbeat.
That’s one of the beauties of being an adult learner.
As an adult, you can learn how to take responsibility for your own learning – how to chunk things down, and how to do them at a fundamental level until you’re fluent there — and then continue to add complexity or embellishment.
And that’s one of the things I’ll show you over and over in Summer Harp Jam: how to play each jam at a fundamental level, and how to expand and embellish it to fit your technical abilities as they develop from doing the jams themselves.
That means you can always choose whether to kick back and play at a fundamental level, or challenge yourself to a higher level of complexity … or switch back and forth.
“I play almost daily at the hospital or hospice, and put all of this into practcie immediately, so it really sinks in.”
Betsy Scott Chapman
Summer Harp Jam is for YOU if …
Summer Harp Jam is for anyone who plays the HARP (pedal or lever) at any level and who wants to develop their improvisation and rhythm skills with FUN musical Jams you can learn on your own and share with other musicians. Summer Harp Jam is for YOU if …
- You want to be able to just sit down and PLAY your instrument – without opening your sheet music – and have a treasure chest of ideas to pull out and play with
- You want to be able to play with other people – and want to know how to suggest what to play
- You want ideas for “Interludes” between the tunes you already play
- You want to do responsive playing in situations from jams to hospice playing
- You want to get more comfortable playing with rhythms like Samba, Bossa, Swing (and even some exotic rhythms like 5/8 – yes, we’ll do that, too!)
- You want FUN ways to practice right-hand improvisation and left-hand patterns
“I could see right away in week One that fears about my harping level were unnecessary; my level simply didn’t matter.
Deborah’s information is carefully structured so that anyone at any level can work with the concepts … and the concepts I learned have become integral to my harping experience, like a kind of ‘harping code.'”
Blythe Tait (Australia)
Summer Harp Jam is NOT for you if …
- You want a course with homework (you’ll be able to get that in my Fall “Hip Harp Toolkit” course – and this summer program will be a great, relaxed precursor for that course!)
- You want to learn how to play a specific piece of music
- You want to improvise ‘like somebody else’ – there are certain teachers who can show you very specific stylistic improvisation styles – but I’m not one of them! My forte is showing you how to feel more comfortable with the art of imperfect play, which is THE essential step towards finding your own creative voice!
About the creator of this program, Deborah Henson-Conant:
Hi, I’m Deborah Henson-Conant, and I’ve been composing, arranging and creating shows since I was a kid. 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”.
But I started on the ukulele, playing and singing with my mom.
And guess what? I use a many of the same improvisation games and skills she taught me in my work today, both as a performer and as a coach.
My mom taught me how to play WITH music …
and now I want to teach you!
When I was a little girl, my mother wasn’t trying to teach me to be a musician, she was just trying to show me how music ‘works’ so that I could play with it on my own — the same way she taught me everything else.
She was a Campfire Girl, so she knew a gazillion songs – and a lot of those songs were “Call and Response” songs — songs where one person sings and the other person sings the same thing. Without knowing it, I was learning a powerful tool for passing on melodic invention and rhythmic power. And I just thought I was playing games!
Those same games are the foundation of this course. I’ve taken that concept to use in the training videos – so you can play along with everything I’m teaching you.
And because I learned all this as a very little girl – and I still do it today – one of the things I learned is that these games are not about technical skill. Like most of the things I love, they’re things you can do at a very simple level – and then embellish and expand for the rest of your life.
In other words, it’s not a matter of technical skill, but of jumping in and playing simply until your skills start to grow.
I realized that PLAYING – the way we do as children – is a powerful tool for learning as musicians. So I built this entire program on the idea of playing with very simple ideas – the kinds you could explain or show in a few minutes – and getting more and more comfortable with them until they start to bloom in your hands.
As Featured In:
Here’s what you get in Summer Harp Jam!
- 8 weeks of pure playing fun, that you can enjoy together with the class or at your own pace (5 weeks full of new jams and improv techniques, 1 week of review & 2 weeks of glorious kick-back-and-glide time to play and ask questions!)
- CHEAT-SHEETS for every jam that include the scales you’ll use, the basic jam sequence, a simple bass pattern or accompaniment pattern to use (if you’re playing alone or with friends) and a place for you to keep the ‘riffs’ and ideas you discover
- Weekly PLAY-BACK-TO-ME VIDEOS where I’ll set up the jam groove, then I’ll play on camera and leave space for you to play back to me. This is one of the most fun ways you can learn to become fluent with melodic improvising – and you can watch over and over, playing what I play at first and then responding with your own ‘answer’ to my musical line.
- PLAYALONG MP3’s for every jam in 3 different tempos (slow / med / fast) so you can kickback and play along, putting into play everything you learned in the Play-Back-to-Me videos – or just making up your own melodic lines!
- A SCRIPT for each jam so you can put it into words and explain to others how you can jam together on it
- Access to the “Hip Harp Academy” Facebook group where you can communicate with other harpists, meet and greet online … on OFFLINE so you can jam together and share jamming tips you discover
- You’ll get to download all the MP3s and PDF materials and keep them on your computer and you can come back to the classroom for up to 3 months after the class is over to review the videos, add comments and keep on interacting with your classmates.
“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, NV)
Here’s what you’ll be able to do by the end:
- Just sit down and play! You’ll be able to choose from over 2 dozen different sequences, progressions and vamps that you can improvise melodies on – either as standalone jams, or between pieces you already play as interludes
- Play basic Latin & Swing rhythms as part of a simple jam sequence
- ‘Re-style’ jams so you can use them in meditative or responsive settings like hospice or hospital
- Have the courage to say “Let’s Jam!” to another musician — and then be able to describe exactly how the jam works so that you can play together.
- Play from any of the two dozen Jam “cheat-sheets” that outline the scales and accompaniment for each jam
- Say “Let’s Jam!” to a friend who’s NOT a musician — and suggest some really fun things they can do to play along with you — like, how to accompany you on pots and pans if you’re in the kitchen
- Use the audio file of each play-along jam so you can review and replay it as many times as you want, hearing my cues and descriptions
- Play along with the “Naked” play-along audio files for each jam (you’ll get them in 3 different tempos – so you can play at the tempo that works for you) These are GREAT! They’re each 5 minutes long, and they let you kick back and just experiment with each jam over and over and over
- Give yourself relaxing play-alone improv time
- Use your music stand for drying your underwear … since you won’t need it to hold your sheet music!
“I just realized that I can play a really gorgeous improv and nobody will know how simple it is! And I can do all kinds of things with my right hand that sound great with the 1-6-2-5.”
Nell Morris (Georgia, USA)
Here’s how it works week-to-week:
I debuted “Summer Harp Jam” last summer – and it was so jam-packed with fun ideas and play-alongs that I’ve expanded it this year.
– Once a Week we have a live online Play-along and Chat (it’s usually on Mondays at 4:30 pm EDT – except when I’m touring). Usually about a quarter of the students attend the session live and the rest watch later via replay.
– In the classroom you’ll be able to download “Naked Play-along Tracks” – MP3 files you can put on your computer, ipod or ipad. Each is about 5 minutes long and they’ll give you the underlying rhythm and harmony of the sequence so you can just kick back and experiment improvising using the ideas I’ve shown you in the Play-Along session – or making up your own.
– You’ll also get to download a “cheat-sheet” for each jam that outlines the way you’ll tune your harp, the basic jam, and ideas to play with
– You’ll get 2-3 new jams during each class, usually all based on the same underlying progression – so you learn one pattern and then you do lots and lots and LOTS of different things with it! There’s always at least one rubato version for playing in meditative or bedside situations and one with a cool rhythm.
– Between sessions you can review the play-along video as many times as you want and download the “Naked Play-along Tracks” (they’re kind of like Karaoke tracks!) to play them over and over as you practice and explore the ideas you learned.
– You get warmups and prep pages for each week if you’re the kind of person who likes to prepare. Plus you’ll get all the extra rhythms and variations all outlined in a go-at-your-own-pace activity roster. So if you want to prepare for the weekly jams – you can do that – because a new module opens each week filled with activities and little ‘jam-lets’ you can play along with.
In fact, there’s waaaaay more in the Summer Jam camphouse than you can possibly do in one summer – but that’s no problem, because you get access to the virtual camp for at least 6 months if you want to go back to it!
Summer Harp Jam is for just kicking back and PLAYING ALONG in all the jams.
No homework, no pressure — it’s A VIRTUAL SUMMER CAMP FOR HARP PLAYERS!
And YES, you can always play at YOUR level – whatever that is – because I’ll always show you ways to simplify (for fledgling players) and embellish (for advanced players) so you can just have FUN.
“You made it so simple for me that it clicked in my head and was adding a lot of extra notes on my own which gave me more confidence. Maybe I can improvise after all!
Ellen Jordan (Arkansas, USA)
Here’s Why Summer Harp Jam Rocks
THIS IS WHAT EVERYONE’S BEEN ASKING ME FOR! Everyone has been asking me to help them learn to just sit down and PLAY, and every time I create playalong videos everyone loves it! So I decided to build a whole 6-week course that’s ALL playalong – so that by the end you’ll be able to just sit down and jam – whether you’re playing in a wild rhythm jam, or a quiet responsive jam sequence at a bedside.
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 adventure, 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’ ADVENTURE GUIDE! 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: WHAT SOFTWARE DO I NEED FOR THE COURSE?
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!
Each week the course information is provided in three formats and there’s always a “low-tech version” so you’ll able to access the basic course materials without interactive software (like a live-stream webinar) because I’ll be videotaping each lesson and providing PDF outlines for you to follow.
Here’s how it’s provided:
- A play-along webinar that you can attend live or watch later via video
- Audio versions of the trainings that you can download and listen to on your ipod or computer
- PDF “cheat-sheets” of each jam as a beginning for any notes you take yourself?- Special “Naked Jam Tracks”
- MP3s of the underlying jam sequence that you can put on your computer, ipod or ipad and play-along with
- A Live Q&A Session – at the end of the play-along webinar, I’ll answer any questions you have – 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 — and online chats and masterclasses will never be as high-fidelity as being there live — but many people have actually 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!
Q. WILL I HAVE TO DO HOMEWORK?
Q. HOW MUCH TIME WILL I SPEND ON THE PROGRAM EACH WEEK?
A. That’s pretty much up to you. You could just spend an hour a week if you just want to watch the play-along video and play along with it. 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 classroom for 6 months – so you can go back and review. And it’s why you get to download the audio files: so you can keep playing along as long as you want.
The most important thing you can do each week 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 play-along video, 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!
On a practical level, it would probably take you about 2 hours a week to just go through the play-long video and download the audio files and PDFs so you have them for future use.
And you don’t have to do it all at once! I’ll break each week into 2-3 different jams and you can work on them one at a time. One very cool thing about this course website is that you can ‘check off’ each activity as you do it (an ‘activity’ is a video or a page, or a discussion) so that when you go back, you can see exactly where you left off. So it should be easy to log in once a day for 10-15 minutes and go through one or two ‘activities’ each time.
You won’t ‘get it all the first time’ – and that’s not important! These jams are like games that you’ll be able to play for the rest of your life. What’s important to me for “Summer Harp Jam 2016” is that you find at least a few that you really love, and you have FUN playing them!
Q. WHAT IF I CAN’T KEEP UP?
And remember: people will take different things from the program. Sometimes I get one ‘elegant idea’ from an online program that gives me all the knowledge and power I need to shift to the next creative level – and that’s what’s really important. Sometimes I need to practice an hour a day and really engage online in order to feel I’ve gotten what I need from the course.
I wanted to structure this program so that regardless of how you like to learn and play, you’ll be able to get what you need from it.
Q. DO YOU PROVIDE MUSIC TO GO WITH THE COURSE, OR DO I NEED TO PROVIDE MY OWN?
Q. HOW DOES IT WORK WITH THE DIFFERENT PLAYING LEVELS ALL IN ONE COURSE?
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?
Q: WHAT TIME IS THE CLASS? Will I have to get up in the middle of the night!
The ‘live jams’ are recorded and I try to get them online within 24 hours. If people want to dig in and spend more time, there’s a plenty of additional warm-up material that opens weekly.
Here’s what the Schedule looks like each week:
> TUESDAYS: A new “Jam Sequence” opens and you can do the warmups if you want
> SUNDAYS (usually at 2pm EDT): Live Jam & Chat! (You can attend live or watch the recording later.)
> MONDAYS: The Live Jam Replay is available along with downloadable PDF “play-sheet” and the MP3.
> ANY TIME: Students can connect via the private Facebook Group and ask me questions via the Facebook Group and/or my “Ask a Question” form and access all the training materials, warmups and jam replays
Usually about 30% of the students come to the weekly live jams. The rest prefer the replay, so they can do it on their own time.
Q: WILL THE STYLE YOU’RE TEACHING BE MORE ‘JAZZY’ RATHER THAN FOLKY OR HYMN-LIKE?
We take one basic progression each week and learn all the things you can do with it: how to use it for intros, endings, interludes, improvs, meditation, bedside playing, how to break it apart to play with others.
And yes – you can ABSOLUTELY jam with Hymns and folk songs – and you’d learn a lot about how to do that in Summer Harp Jam. It would be fairly easy to expand what you learn to Hymns or the progressions in folk songs – and what’s SO GREAT about taking this program LIVE is that, if you have a special kind of music you want to explore – you can ask me how to do that in the Jam-Chats.
What I’ve done in Summer Harp Jam is to choose progressions that are so short that people can literally learn them in 30 seconds, so that everyone can focus on how to have FUN with them instead of worrying about how to read or remember them. And I’ve chosen some of the most useful progressions I know, chord sequences that show up over and over again in lots of pieces.
So you won’t be learning ‘songs’ per se in Harp Jam – you’ll learn progressions you can use with songs.
If you want to take a look at a little warmup version of “Summer Harp Jam” to get a sense of how it works, here’s an online “Webinar” training from last year that you can watch. Let me know what you think!
Q: IS THE MATERIAL IN SUMMER HARP JAM UNIQUE TO THIS COURSE? If I’ve taken your other courses is this NEW material?
If you’ve been in my courses you’ve probably experienced at least a little bit of “call and response” where I set up a background accompaniment on my looper and then I play little melodies and you play them back to me.
Every time I do that people LOVE it and ask for more – so Summer Harp Jam is based entirely on “Call and Response” – on JAMMING together – because it’s such a fun and effective and freeing way to learn to improvise and to simply have FUN playing your instrument.
Each week you learn a new sequence – which takes about 30 seconds. Then you learn a whole bunch of things you can do with it – from creating intros, endings and interludes with it – to creating full improvs. You learn different bass patterns you can use with it, scales you can use with it, and various ways of creating rhythms with it like Waltz and Latin rhythms – as well as how to use it in responsive and contemplative settings like hospice or meditation.
The course is not sequential. If you miss a week, you can just jump into the next week and it’s not a big deal. That’s because the activities are all based on a set of chord sequences – a different progression each week.
And you can learn as little or as much of that as you want – because the JAM part of the program is the real heart of it: each week we have an online JAM where I set up the progression with my looper, and then we play! I play a riff and you play it back to me, I play a riff and you play it back. It’s basically the way I learned to play as a kid: call & response. It’s incredibly fun and you don’t need to play exactly what I play because nobody can hear each other and it’s not about ‘getting better at copying’ – it’s about getting comfortable improvising and learning the kinds of musical gestures and scales work for you and are most fun.
I love it because 95% of it is “learning by playing” – and because everyone can keep what they’re doing as simple as they want – or make as complex as they want based on their own level and how much time they want to spend in the class (er … I mean camp!)
Q: MY INTERNET ISN’T GREAT. HOW MUCH SUMMER CAMP IS VIDEO AND HOW MUCH IS LIVE STREAMING?
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 “static” part of the program – the part that’s already there when you get into the classroom – is embedded videos (plus PDF handouts, text and downloadable audio). The video content includes both “warmup” or “prep” videos PLUS last-year’s live-stream jams chunked into segments that are based on content.
- What that means is that I took the original jams I created live, and then edited them ‘bite-sized’ chunks. I also created extra videos last year when people had specific questions. All of that is available as soon as I open each module. Most of those are 5-10 minutes long. The longest seems to be about 15 minutes.
- For every video on the page, there’s also a downloadable mp3 at the bottom of the page. That means you can get the mp3 right onto your computer and then avoiding worrying about internet at all. I try to be careful when I ‘show’ things on the video to also name the notes, since even when people can see the video, it’s not always close or clear enough to be useful.
- Also, the focus of this particular program is “call-and-response” where I play something and you play it back, so most people find it most useful to just put the audio on, and play along based on the prompts I give. This program is unique in that way (although I’m starting to use that technique more in other courses because people love it so much – and it’s fun for me as well).
- One of the great things about taking this class is that you get access to the weekly Academy Chat Sessions. The down-side of this class that we rarely run it ‘live’ so if you come to the chats, we’re likely to be going over material from the classes that are currently in session. You’re welcome to be there, but it won’t be the same as when everyone is chatting about the same class. On the other hand, it’s a wonderful sneak peek into what it’s like to be in the full Academy!
Q: WHAT IF MY INTERNET IS OUT?
Q: WILL I LEARN TO IMPROVISE IN “SUMMER HARP JAM”?
To make that easy and fun, the whole program is based on small chord sequences. These are sequences you’ll find in lots and lots of music once you know how to look for them. You’ll learn to use them for solo harp or to jam with others — and how to use them to create on-the-spot intros, interludes, endings and improvisations. You learn to do it in rhythmic styles or rubato — lots of people end up using these little sequences for contemplative or therapeutic improvisation.