This post is from a series that shares the “Final BEGINNING Projects” from my winter 2016 “Blues HarpStyle” online course for harp players. students created short videos based on what they learned in the course, and answered 5 questions about what they got from the challenge of this project.


No blues video here 🙁

See #5 for something completely different. Here are my five answers, as Deborah requests even if no project is submitted.  And kudos to everyone else who managed to do this.

Carol’s answers to my 5 Questions:


1. Give a short description of what it took for you to get to the place of being able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I was unable to complete the project due to many commitments and conflicts.  However, what it has taken logistically to work on projects and postings for this class has been mostly about finding time and space, not to mention videography challenges.  If I were doing it again, I think I wouldn’t register unless I could foresee enough hours in a week to make the best use of the scheduled lessons and assignments.  Emotionally… ah, see #2

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

The biggest blocks had to do with the discrepancy between what I imagine and hear internally and what my hands can actually do.  Listening to wonderful classic and contemporary blues and feeling so very far from being able to make this music.  Freedom – working to accept the constant encouragement from Deborah and the learning community for accepting where I am, but the struggle is always there to be further along this arc of competence.

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

Challenged a bit by different definitions of blues.  Jazz blues vs traditional blues, and where I fit or want to fit in this world.  Although playing with others has been well discussed, I’m not that interested in a solo role (except for a couple choruses), so being able to play with the same people regularly enough to develop a real ensemble is a challenge I have yet to overcome.

What freedoms and blocks in yourself did you connect or struggle with? Share on X

4. What were your personal “Ahas”?

Huge aha – I absolutely love the concept of having a hand with 8 fingers, and integrating them into melodic lines.  Appreciated Deborah’s input on half-baked video, especially thoughts about repeated notes not working so well with harp, especially if all are accented the same.  And simplifying. Working hard to sing along during practice.

Absolutely love the concept of having a hand with 8 fingers & integrating them into melodic lines. Share on X

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

** One reason I didn’t get on top of this final assignment was the opportunity to travel for an unbelievable concert this past weekend, a tribute to the late Alice Coltrane, featuring a number of jazz greats, including an outstanding harpist, Brandee Younger, who truly channeled Coltrane, and has also interpreted the work of Dorothy Ashby.  Check her out! And…for an amazing take on the blues, find Coltrane’s recording of Blue Nile.

I submitted a sample of a recent free improvised performance, not the blues, but where much of my creative energy goes these days, and where I’ll apply many learnings gleaned in the class!

Finally. all that said, I have found Blues-Harp-Style to be really valuable, and plan to spend many hours reviewing, relearning and working hard on the lessons, concepts and conversations from this class. Thank you, Deborah!

I found Blues-Harp-Style to be really valuable, and plan to spend many hours reviewing its concepts! Share on X

DHC’s Feedback:

“Wishing to be further along the arc of competence” – wow, what a quote! I know the feeling.

So …. after listening to the free improv and watching you clearly PLAYing with your instrument, your gear and the saxophonist — can’t help wondering why you’re feeling a need to get further along the arc of competence with a more structured form like Blues.  I mean I totally get that we all want to learn new things … and each thing we set out to learn gives us fodder for so much in our lives — and at the same time I would love to see you going further with the kind of thing I saw here.

I’m glad you shared this and I’ll bet a lot of people in the course would be interested to know how you’re approaching it and how you’ve developed it.

And I hope you do a lot more of it!


Hey, thanks for reading this example of what it’s like to go thru a course with me! Did you have Aha’s or revelations watching the video & reading the answers she wrote? Add your comments below. Please – no critiques – just share what you learned from someone courageously sharing a project that’s the BEGINNING of a lifelong creative exploration.

Check out the beginning of a lifelong #harp learning journey Share on X

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