This blog is one of a series. Each includes a student’s final project from my online course “Hip Harp Toolkit,” along with  their answers to five questions.  You can I started “noodling” with three Christmas songs.  My personal challenge was to figure out how to intertwine them into a cohesive presentation using what we have learned from this course.  Out of the messing around came a formed composition, which has only changed a little from its first presentation in an earlier MOD homework.  In DHC’s feedback to me, she talked a lot about the difference between impromptu arranging and composing.  The funny thing here is that I think this started out as impromptu arranging and became composing!

DHC talked a lot about the difference between impromptu arranging and composing. Click To Tweet

This is my fourth course with DHC and each one has pushed me beyond what I ever thought I could do.  It was a LOT of hard work but totally worth the effort.  Learning the “template” for playing a song makes it possible to play songs ( often without music) as a soloist or in a group.  I now listen differently to what other performers do – the structures they use and how they improvise and modulate.

2.  What freedoms and blocks did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

The FREEDOM involved in performing is a huge struggle for me.  I get “tight” when I play as a soloist and when I make a video.  My technique is way behind what I hear in my head – causing me frustration.  DHC has encouraged us to play to our strengths, which has been helpful.  Accepting imperfection has been a tremendous help.  Encouraging us to express ourselves despite making “mistakes” has been freeing.  In fact, some of the “mistakes” end up sounding great!

DHC has encouraged us to play to our strengths and accept imperfection. Click To Tweet

3.  What challenges did you meet to connect with your own freedom of expression in this project?

One of the biggest challenges for me has been technology.  I have learned from many of my more advanced classmates about what I need to develop (in terms of editing, movie-making, loopers etc.) and where to use what I learn.  DHC has been extremely encouraging in so many ways:  accepting my weaknesses and playing to my strengths; trying experimental things despite being exposed and vulnerable – all of this to help us connect with our inner musical selves!

4.  What were your personal “Ahas”? 

The biggest “AHA” for me is that there is no ONE “RIGHT” way of creating music.  We can bypass what holds us back (most of which is mental) and ENJOY freedom of moving FORWARD either as a composer, arranger, or performer.  We can be at the level we are at and STILL create beautiful music!!!

5.  Is there anything else you’d like to tell people who are watching your video? 

The only thing I can tell you about this video is that I HOPE YULE ENJOY THIS (which is the title of this video!)

I want to thank DHC, Claudia, and all of my amazing classmates for this sublime experience.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!!! 

The biggest AHA for me is that there is no ONE RIGHT way of creating music. Click To Tweet


Ha ha!  I loved the simple holiday lights and the colors you wore.  This is a fun angle to see the harp, your face and your hands from – I love it!

Great intro – Happy and majestic all at once!

Ist Tune – “Joy to the World”: Great harmonies and I love how you dovetailed the happy-majestic theme at the end of the phrase, and then used a descending base to create a quick an graceful modulation/transition – so musical and economical (I know that’s a weird word to use for music, but it was fun to watch the transition being both smooth and quick).

2nd Tune – “Silent Night”: LOVE the set up and the use of that repeated G pedal tone — it was so evocative and yet sweet  –  and that pedal note gave the sense of silence and calm at the same time the melody gave them sense like, you know, when something is about to happy – that calm moment of expectancy.

3rd Tune — “Do you Hear What I Hear”: WOW! love that totally just interrupted the previous tune.

And I love that you came back to first tune and then pulled all the themes together.  It was a very satisfying experience – meaning I really felt that  I experienced the emotions of each piece – almost like I got to travel to each one.

Wonderful.  Thank you!

I really felt that I experienced the emotions of each piece - almost like I got to travel to each one. Click To Tweet


What was this project all about?  What were the Guidelines?  The project description was to take 3 contrasting tunes and create a medley no more than 3.5 minutes using techniques from the course, like introductions, melodic improvising, embellishing, turnaround endings and modulating from key to key. (If you’re not a musician, you’ll know when they’re modulating when you see them reach up to shift the levers, which change the harp into a new key).

One of the core principles of the course is “Imperfect Completion” so each of the “Final Projects” is really a “Beginning Project.”

YOU can join my next creative harp course:

My next online course for harpists begins January 14, and it’s called Blues Harp-Style.  Take a look at the Blues Harp-Style info page here or get on my “First To Know” list for notification of early-bird specials and new classes.



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