We’ll explore the power of IMPROV – in all it’s forms – and how those forms, skills and principles help YOU express yourSELF … and WHY.

In this series of casual creative cafe events I’ll take you inside the classes I’ve created at “Hip Harp Academy” to show you how the principles in each separate class works together to support self-expression.

You’re invited to join us for FREE. Click the big button below to sign up for Reminders, Replay links and the PDF Handouts that go with the trainings.

GET THE INSTANT REPLAY NOW with the button below – and scroll down to see what we covered in each episode. 

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Previous Episodes in this Series:

Upcoming Episode dates & content is subject to change.
Past episodes are available for replay – usually 24 hour after they’re recorded.

Episode 5: Meet the Family! (The CHORD Family, that is)

June 5, 2019 (Wednesday) (4:30 pm EDT)

Meet the CHORD Family (Click for info)

 When you’re learning to improvise, playing from lead sheets, cheatsheets or chord charts — which are different names for the same thing — one of the biggest challenges, as a harp player, is knowing what pedal or lever you need to shift in order to correctly play some complicated-looking chord — like “Bm7(b5).”

But here’s the thing … you may not need to change any levers or pedals in order to play a complicated-looking chord, because complex-looking chords can happen automatically on different degrees of the scale in any FAMILY of chords.

Knowing the members of those families – and being able to predict which ones might hang out together – can make the difference between trying to play from chord-to-chord, worrying about how each one is spelled … and being able to play from key-area to key-area, modulating your instrument as the music modulates so you can play more fluently.

If that doesn’t make perfect sense yet, come Meet the Family and learn more. Then take “Hands on Harmony” or “Jazz for Harps” and liberate yourself from the notes on the page with skills, systems and support that help YOU express yourSELF with your instrument.

Episode 4: Piecing the PUZZLE Together 

or … How Academy Classes Fit Together 

May 30, 2019 (Thursday) (4:30 pm EDT)

How do all the programs in Hip Harp Academy fit together to support creative expression?

Piecing the PUZZLE Together (Click for info)

When you’re learning how to develop many different aspects of anything, it can be hard to figure out how everything fits together and how they affect each other.

In this session, I show how each of the classes in “Hip Harp Academy” work towards a single “way of thinking about and expressing with” music – and WHY that helps you express yourSELF with music.

This session might better be called “trading out pieces of the puzzle” – because it shows you the simple puzzle-board – and then how you can trade out sections, or expand each one.

Episode 3: “Interview with a VAMPer”

 May 29, 2019 (Wednesday) (4:30 pm EDT)

Interview with a VAMPer (Click for info)

Vamps and Loops are very powerful musical tools. Once you ‘get’ how they work, they can provide a powerful – and easy to create – foundation for improvisation. You can insert them as ‘improvisation sections’ into nearly any piece of music (yes, even classical pieces!) to create an instant opportunity to improvise inside the safety of a piece you already know well.

“Summer Harp Jam” is all about learning new vamps and applying them to pieces you already play, and this “Creative Cafe” will explain exactly what a VAMP is, why they’re such a powerful improv tool, and how they can help you practice some of the other skills of improv, like melodic improv, rhythms, extended harmonies.

Vamps also give you a simple structure to help you practice many other parts of the musical self-expression puzzle. To show you that, I’ll pick ONE vamp, and show you how you can use it to practice harmony principles (extension, alteration & substitution), rhythms, melodic improv and left-hand patterns.  Then I’ll show you how you can USE that same vamp in the 3 parts of any piece that are open for improvisation.

So … this one vamp will give you a look at every part of the musical puzzle and give you a taste of how it all fits together.

Episode 2: “Get RICH QUICK!   (Harmonically)”

May 28, 2019 (Tuesday) (4:30 pm EDT)

In this session I’ll show you the 3 principles of harmonic development, what progressions are and where we use them in music.

Get rich quick (harmonically) (Click for info)

In this session we’ll take a look at harmony, theory and chord progressions. What are the basics of harmony – especially on a harp – and how to create richer chords.

Why are the 3 principles for creating richer harmonies: Extension, Alteration & Substitution, so powerful?  You can learn what these mean in a few minutes.  Learning to apply the principles gives you the opportunity for a life-long adventure in harmony?

What is the Power of Progressions? How do harmonic progressions become ‘vamps’? How do harmonic progressions become “Jazz Maps” (or “Charts”)? How do they become the foundation for jazz improvisation?

How can learning about the harmonic “families” help you predict what levers or pedals you need to shift?

These can sound like complex concepts – but they all start with harmony, and they can start very, very simply.

This “Creative Cafe” is all about harmony, what you learn in “Hands on Harmony,” and why it makes music so rich.

Episode 1: Musical Moonshine …
Distilling STRUCTURES for Creative Expression

May 27, 2019 (Monday) (4:30 pm EDT)

Distilling Structures for Creative Expression (Click for info)

When you’re used to reading written music, it’s a little bit like reading a transcript of a play. A transcript is just a written version of what you’d hear if you were listening to the play.

It doesn’t tell you anything about the ‘structures’ of the play. It doesn’t tell you when one scene starts and another begins.  It doesn’t tell you who’s saying what. It tells you nothing about the roles that are being played or the sections of action.

If you don’t see the names of the roles on the page, it’s hard to pull out one of those roles to play. And if you don’t know where one scene ends and another begins, you can’t shift scenes around, or shift the lighting for a specific scene.  The whole thing is just one linear experience.

Distilling and clarifying the structure and roles of music lets you interact with it, deconstruct it, adapt it – and use those structures to help YOU create your own music.

In this session we look at distilled drawings of musical form and the 3 roles you play in music.

“Arrangement” and “Form” are at the heart of the “Arrange Yourself” class in Hip Harp Academy as well as “Inside Jazz Tunes” and every “… Beyond the Page” class in the Academy — and the principles of arrangement and form are at the heart of every improvised form of music in the world.

Learning to improvise means thinking multi-dimentionally

  1. The overall FORM the flow of the music follows.  What stays the same, what gets repeated and what changes? What is the story-line of the piece: where it starts, where it goes, where it comes back to?
  2. The ARRANGEMENT of your hands on the strings into bass, accompaniment & melody.
  3. The harmonic PROGRESSIONS that determine the bassline and melody of a piece, and propel the piece forward in time.

I’ll show you pictures of the basic forms you learn over the course of a year in Hip Harp Academy: forms at the heart of every kind of improv from  jazz and blues to meditative and even classical music

These dimensions can get very complex in the hands of great musicians – and it can be hard to disentangle them when you’re listening.  That’s why it’s so powerful to have them broken apart and simplified into maps or drawings so that , and see them as maps or drawings.


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