Behind anything really worth doing, there is a purpose – a “big why” –  the thing that keeps you moving forward through any obstacles that life puts in your path.

Dedicating yourself to a practice TAKES SOMETHING. Being vulnerable and expressive TAKES SOMETHING. It takes your “Why” – and I’m going to share my WHY – and where it’s led me. Because it’s led me to YOU.

So imagine this: It’s the mid-1970’s …

There I am, starting the harp as a young adult, and already feeling trapped in the conventions of the instrument, realizing people see the harp as a ‘woman’s instrument’, and feeling trapped, like the harp itself is trapped: in being pretty and delicate, in sitting at the back, trapped in the music I think I have to play on it, in the difficulty I have reading music, in the expectation of living up to tradition.

I’m even trapped in other people’s expectations. If I say I play the harp, people either joke about angels, or say, “Oh, I love the harp, it’s so soothing.” Hey- it’s the late 70’s! You won’t see a harp in a rock band — heck, seeing a woman in a rock band is an almost-never!

So I’m looking at this instrument and all its limitations, and feeling trapped as a woman and thinking: we’re BOTH trapped – me AND the harp. If only we could liberate each other.

I want to express being dramatic, gutsy, theatrical, tender, bombastic – fully expressive! I know that music must be somewhere in the harp – but I’ve never heard it played. Where IS it??

So I commit to creating that music: music that combines Flamenco, Blues and music theater. Jazz and improvisation. Sometimes tender, sometimes bombastic. Always expressive.

I want to be loud, so I electrify the harp. I want to dance around the stage, fly around the world, so I reinvent the harp as a wearable instrument that can fit in the luggage compartment of a plane.

I share that reinvention with a visionary harp builder and he commits to creating that instrument of my dreams: the CAMAC “DHC” harp. And when he does, I want to stand in front of a symphony orchestra with it and play my own music to thousands of people – and I GET to do all that!

I get to do it because I SEE all the passion, drama and human expression trapped inside instrument — just like I feel it trapped inside of me — and I wanted to bring it OUT!

And for decades, that’s my life: finding ways to bring it out, put it on stage, connect with audiences.

And then one day I realize this doesn’t just have to be for ME. Everything I’ve learned and created to liberate my own artist’s voice can be a powerful tool for others! The compositions I created, the performance skills I learned, the years of improv training in music, theater, dance – I could share them ALL with other harp players who, too, want liberation.

And so I start publishing the music, creating performance retreats – and putting everything I learned into an Academy for harp players. I distill my own creative journey so I can take others on that journey more quickly, powerfully and directly — and I become the tour guide on that journey!

And the more people I guide, the further I take them – the more the journey opens up for me!

And I discover I have a deep hunger to SEE what creative liberation looks like in every person, to experience the great ‘unseen’ that I can feel in every person – and I realize that guiding people on that journey liberates my own creativity even more.

And I start to see my students bloom and flower into who they’re meant to be – some starting in their 20’s and 30’s, some in their 60’s – or 80’s – I see them bloom. And I am so deeply moved by seeing that I’ve been able to SHARE this. And now THEY are sharing it!

And that’s what here for you in this Academy.

Everything I’ve ever created for harp players: all the compositions, the instrument itself – and now the Academy classes are to provide tools, and support and guidance for YOUR unbridled creative expression. Not because I’m altruistic (I’m not!) — but because YOUR creative voice is thrilling and I want to see it unleashed in this world.

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.  

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