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 learn more about these final projects – and why they’re called “Beginning Projects” here. – Learn more about the course here: HipHarpToolkit.com – Learn about my NEXT course here: Blues Harp-Style – Get on the “First to Know” list for all courses here: First-to-Know-List
Nicole answers questions about this project:
1. What did it take for you to get to the place of being able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally?
This project was very different from my Final Projects of my previous courses, because I had set myself the rule to learn Jazz and to arrange in a jazzy-style. As Jazz is totally new to me, I had a really hard time finding my “language”.
So I ended up watching piano-versions of this Christmas-tune and trying to analyse what the pianists were doing. Only then could I slowly start to develop my own ideas for my own arrangement.
2. What freedoms and blocks did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?
It is so freeing to have such a supportive, encouraging coach like DHC and totally fantastic classmates. They alwas remind me that I am supposed to have fun and be imperfect – how wonderful is that! The block has been my inner voice that´s always saying that Jazz will be waaaays too hard for me to learn and that it will be embarrassing to share my “first steps” with others.
3. What challenges did you meet to connect with your own freedom of expression in this project?
I definitely is a challenge to play through the pieces and improvise again and again. As a classical harpist, I am used to see results when I practice and invest a lot of time. The results with practicing improvisation are much more subtle.
4. What were your personal “Ahas”?
My AHA especially for this tune was, that when I found the underlying chords I wanted to use (additional, jazzy chords that wern´t on the music-sheet), the improvisation (or arranging) was so much easier.
5. Is there anything else you’d like to tell people who are watching your video?
Have fun! Take this course! It´s totally worth it!
DHC’s RESPONSE TO THE VIDEO:
NICOLE – I love the way you set the scene for this and honestly I can’t say anything about the arrangement – it’s just great – it is its own very unique experience of the tenderness and tastiness in a holiday that can be both lovely and bittersweet. And I know how much you put into this arrangement – hours of listening and taking apart different jazz renditions of the tune. What came out is something that is so very you and so different from other jazz harp playing. The phrasing is totally convincing, the feel is great It’s just a perfect little gem … and the perfect teaser for your 2016 Christmas album.
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.