What’s the one thing that opened the doorway to your life’s passion? Could you teach it to someone else?
You might have learned it in a few seconds, or a minute or ten minutes. The memory may be hazy. It may seem so impossibly simple it didn’t seem like a ‘thing’. But take a look back. Is there something illuminated: an action, a movement, a shape, a sound, a word, a phrase?
For me it’s seeing my fingers shape a chord on the ukulele. A few minutes later I learned 2 more chords – and with those three chords I could accompany nearly every folk song I knew.
It took less time to learn than it took to learn to tie my shoe – and I learned it from my mom, sitting at the kitchen table after dinner one night.
In that moment everything shifted into place. I only learned 3 things, but I knew how they fit together. Like a formula that made sense of everything, my life organized itself around that. It was a simple foundation of music that expanded to fill my entire life.
From those three chords I learned to create more chords, to expand them, alter them, substitute other chords, to create my own music with them, play with others, improvise, compose, tell stories with music – then play jazz, write chamber music and musicals, compose for symphony orchestra.
But it all started with those three chords, and their relationship. That relationship gave me the entirety of what’s called ‘functional harmony’ in western music. I didn’t get the details – but I got the whole meaning of how music WORKS.
Pretty cool for a ten-minute lesson at the kitchen table, eh?
So here’s the question:
Having been given something so simple and so powerful, why would I NOT give that to everyone I know???
And yet I never have. I’ve shared some of the more complex results. I created a whole online school for harpists teaching arrangement, improv, Blues, Harmony – the implications that spun out of that moment.
But it never occurred to me to just teach those three chord – even though they were the most powerful, foundational moment of my entire musical learning.
To be fair, I learned them in in the same way I learned how to tie my shoe, dry the dishes and fold underwear – a bunch of other things it wouldn’t occur to me to teach other grownups.
And because it was taught to me so matter-of-factly, it didn’t occur to me that it was something powerful that other people didn’t automatically know how to do – something I could GIVE them the power to do.
So when I promised the 100+ students in my Hip Harp Academy that I’d create a class in how to “Sing & Play Harp” in 2019, I hadn’t thought about how to teach them that. And when I started making it, I struggled with knowing where to start until I finally realized I should start where I, myself, started – with those three chords.
And now it’s there for everyone!
So last weekend we filmed the new “3-Chord Magic” class and it’s now sitting in a brand-new Beta classroom (‘Beta,’ because we’re still adding to the classroom).
If you play the harp, and you want to sing with your harp – or accompany other singers — register now because while we’re in Beta, there’s a very steep discount, nearly 30% off. PLUS … the sooner you take it, the sooner you’ll be singing and playing. Literally – people were playing and singing songs by the time the class was half over.
“3-Chord Magic” is an ‘Immersion Class’ – which means you can take it all in in a single afternoon. You also get 3-months access to the classroom when you sign up – so you can review as many times as you want, or spread it out over a few days or weeks.
And in less than 3 hours you’ll be singing and playing. (I can also teach you how to tie your shoes … but that’s a little harder)
Here what students said after last weekend’s filming:
“I’m seeing tons of opportunities to improvise” (Kathy)
“This is great for ear training – hearing these chords” (Robbin)
“I love that you can add very, simple picking and it sounds nice & full ” (Sally)
“This is great! I’ll use this when I play for Kid’s Day at Lindsborgs Mill-Fest. Last year I had about 300 kids in my “Discover the Harp” demo.” (John)
“Clear instruction, with repeating internalizes and locks it in. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon” (Nicole)
“It was PERFECT to do things step by step, first the RH, then the LH, then the voice” (Margi)
“Singing with the harp is a much more intimate way to connect – and playing simply gives so much emotional support to the singing. It’s really powerful. I NEVER considered singing and playing…… but now I will!” (Laurie)
“I felt so supported by the harp to sing. To feel that support from myself created a huge connection with myself and the instrument and all of you out there.” (Alicia)
“There is an incredible amount of versatility with these few chords. Who knew that something that sounds so great could be so easy!!!” (Anne)
“Accompaniment on the harp has eluded me. This is the breakthrough – the relationship between the song and the chords – instead of playing the melody on the harp. “(Kate)
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If you play the harp ... Join DHC's Hip Harp Academy
Deborah Henson-Conant's "Hip Harp Academy" online learning community is open for self-paced learning yearlong. DHC personal guides each class in the Academy once a year. Access to each guided class is limited to students who register before the 2nd week of class. Registration for the Fall Guided course, "HIp Harp TOOLKIT" is currently closed.