HARPISTS! Supercharge Your Playing

Lead Sheet Bootcamp

This Full-Day Virtual Workshop with Deborah Henson-Conant was recorded at the Online Somerset Harp Festival 2020.

When I thought about what would MOST empower harpists, it’s the ability to read from lead sheets, enriching the melodies with accompaniment and then expanding them into multi-part arrangements.” ~DHC


You’re sitting at your harp joyously playing song after song, never turning a page and playing each one for 3 or 4 minutes! On your music stand is a binder full of pages, each page is one song — and each song is a one-line melody with chords written above it.

But YOU are playing a full 2-handed arrangement–and you’re creating all that extra music yourself. This is what it means to arrange from a lead sheet and anyone has the technical ability to do it as soon they have basic facility on their instrument. You just need to know the process for doing it AND the practice of applying that process.

That’s exactly what I’ll show you in Lead Sheet Boot Camp.

What it is…

The first thing to know is that turning a lead sheet into a full arrangement has two parts to it:

1. Enriching the melody by adding accompaniment and bass (this is where knowing what to do with the chords above the melody come in)

2. Expanding that fleshed-out-melody into a multi-part arrangement that can be as long or short as you want (here’s where you get to be really creative)

You’ll learn to do both these things in the first session of Lead Sheet Boot Camp. And that’s just the beginning.


Here’s why we call this a Boot Camp

Knowing how to do it and actually doing it are two different things. It’s kinda like losing weight. Knowing how to do it doesn’t make the difference. Actually applying what you know over and over, especially when you can do it in a supportive environment with other people, is what makes things really happen. And that’s how you and DHC will be doing it in Lead Sheet Boot Camp.

DHC discovered the secret of teaching this way with her “Hip Harp Academy” students last holiday season. She took a list of holiday tunes and played the students through this process with each one. The students said they loved this way of learning because they could actually see how to use the process with any tune by practicing it over and over with the tunes she gave them.

In this all-day workshop at Somerset, in addition to learning the Enrich-and-Expand process, you’ll get tips like these:

  • how to use ‘cookie cutter’ chord shapes
  • how to avoid lever changes
  • how to reduce the notes you’re playing when you hit a complicated part of the music
  • how to expand the harmony in simple and beautiful ways

But the most important thing about this workshop is that you’ll go through the process over and over until it becomes second-nature, because that’s what’s going to liberate you from the notes on the page and empower you to truly create enriched and expanded music — from simple lead sheets.

How it works…

In the workshop, you’ll get a handout with 25 simple tunes that people know and love. First you’ll learn the simplest way to enrich the melody and expand it into an arrangement. Then the fun really starts.

Advanced beginners get to keep playing and solidifying that simple version, as more advanced players learn the embellishments and additions. And once we’ve gone through the process with that tune, we’ll go through it with the next, until the process becomes second nature. Everyone is playing together, each at their own level, so you never have to play alone or  feel like you’re mistakes are being heard, and everyone is learning and practicing the process of turning lead sheets into beautiful spontaneous arrangement, until you can do it without even thinking!


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