NEWSFLASH from CYBERSPACE: An amazing noodling breakthrough occurred during Deborah Henson-Conant’s Virtual “Hands on Harmony” Beta Retreat earlier this month! After giving the standard “Just start noodling,” direction during a play-along session the Grammy-Nominated harp virtuoso actually explained a simple approach to the mysterious noodling process!
Register for “Hands on Harmony” NOW to get the reduced BETA Rate for this Sunday’s Online Retreat! Then come Live or learn at your own pace via the Replay (or both!) – just make sure to register by Saturday Midnight – even if you’re not coming live – because after Sunday the price goes up to $197!
If you don’t know what noodling is, it’s the fine art of playing “anything you want” in a way that makes it sound more or less like music – and it’s used a lot in harp playing, especially when you’re trying to integrate your right hand into a left-hand accompaniment or bass pattern you’re just learning.
All joking aside, learning to noodle is the first step to getting comfortable with the art of melodic improvisation and it’s one of those things everyone seems to tell you to do – especially on the harp – but nobody actually breaks down for you.
I was guilty of that myself until my 2nd Beta test retreat for “Hands on Harmony,” earlier this month when I gave the students a cool harmonic progression to practice, suggested they noodle over it with their right hands and they said – “Wait! But HOW do we noodle??”
This is one of the things that I love about the live online workshop experience: it’s easy for students in the class to ask questions immediately, in the moment by typing them into the chat window – nobody has to worry about raising their hands or interrupting. And because my courses always include students of varying technical levels and shyness, there’s always someone who’s brave enough to ask the question that most people think is too basic to ask.
And THAT’S when things get really interesting!!
I adore those questions because they force me to really break things apart even more than I already do — and to figure out how to explain something I previously took for granted. And that is one of my all-time favorite things to do because it gives ME a deeper understanding of what I’m teaching.
The other great thing about the live virtual workshop setting is that, at times like these, everyone on line – harpists from all over the world – become a spontaneous mastermind and their input and questions bring me way more clarity than I would have sitting alone and creating a curriculum by myself.
As it turns out, that question pretty much stumped me. I had an answer I’ve use for years: you use the same building blocks of melody whether you’re composing, improvising or noodling around, and those building blocks include scales, leaps of a 3rd or more, repeated notes and sequences, to start with.
“Great,” the students said “but when, where and how do we use them?” And that’s when I realized that we could take the very same notes we were using to build the bass pattern, and re-use them as fenceposts for the noodling.
Without having to learn or remember anything new, players could take exactly the same information they’d already learned and just use it differently.
It was a moment of collective revelation and liberation.
But don’t take my word for it – register NOW for the FINAL Virtual Beta Test “Hands on Harmony” Retreat THIS SUNDAY from 10AM to 6PM EDT. Can’t make it live? See below!
Can’t make it to the LIVE event? Sign up anyway! At least half the students take the course at their own pace via replay — and if you sign up before midnight Sat. May 30, you still get the BETA team price of $139 (after this weekend it goes up to $197!) PLUS … as soon as you register you get immediate access to replays of Beta Retreats 1 & 2, so you can jump right in and start playing.