3 months ago, a harpist named Roselyn contacted me about lessons. Here in the U.S. from South Korea, she’s been studying classical harp at Eastman School of Music, but wants to forge her own path, and she wants to do it with the “DHC Harp.”
If you don’t know what the “DHC Harp” is, watch my TEDx talk. It’s similar to a concert harp in that it has LOTS of strings – but it’s completely different in many other ways, and making the transition from concert harp to “DHC Harp” is a huge transition.
We had one lesson intensive in January, and then Roselyn signed up for a week-long in-studio intensive, to happen during Spring Break in March.
In March, Roselyn and her mother, Min, drove to Boston and settled into the studio’s on-site lodging. We hunkered down to two days of lesson intensives … and then Roselyn found out that Eastman was closing down due to the Covid-19 virus. She and her mother raced back to Eastman to close down her apartment and settle affairs and then drove back here a week later to complete the intensive training before flying back to South Korea.
Her new “DHC harp” was shipped from California with an amp and looper pedal. Roselyn and Min raced off to the shipping depot to grab it. We spent a day retro-fitting it with all the accessories and modifications I use on my own, while at the same time mixing in intensive lessons in how to use a looper pedal and amplification, how to use a looper to arrange a cover tune, how to actually USE the DHC harp and all the effects and logistics of playing – and wearing – an electric harp.
And all of this we did wearing face masks, from 6 feet away from each other. That meant that I set up two learning stations, 6 feet apart: one for her and one where I could show her what we were doing. It meant we always had the windows open – which meant that people stopped on the bike path and waved and applauded as they heard the music. It meant we were constantly washing our hands, using hand sanitizer and trying to explain with words what it might have taken 2 seconds to show if only we could have actually been working in closer proximity.
And yet — despite all that – we did it! We retrofitted the harp, created the special accessories, did the lessons and learned. And on Monday at 3pm, Roselyn and Min packed the new harp in their car, drove off to the shipping company and are now headed to the airport back to S. Korea … where they’ll sit in Quarantine for 14 days. Hopefully with the new harp.
Welcome, Roselyn! To the growing number of creative harpists the world-round who are now playing the “DHC Harp!” — and what a wonderful way to start that journey together, even in the midst of a pandemic!
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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.