I love sharing the amazing work of Hip Harp Academy students.

In each class we follow a process of learning a structure, the skills that go with it, and then applying it to a project that you can actually use – like recording a video to celebrate a friend’s birthday, sending personalized Holiday music greeting cards, or creating a professional demo for your website.

Below are the projects from the 2020 “ Blues Harp Style” class – and later this year, projects from the current classes, “Hip Harp Toolkit” and “Jazz for Harps” will be completed and shared. Everything in the Academy is about Connection – not Perfection.

Students of all technical levels take my classes – and they take them together – they’re not divided by skill level and they all inspire and support each other. They all use the same principles to create their projects. You’ll see projects from advanced players, and from ‘fledgling’ players who’ve started their harp journey in the 2nd or 3rd acts of life and you’ll get to see how they each use the same creative concepts to create arrangements at their level of technical ability.

The Academy is an inspiring community of real people committed to expressing themselves creatively.

A few years ago, when I was showing student projects to a non-harpist friend and explaining how much I love them. She watched two or three with ever-widening eyes and then blurted out:

“Oh, I love it!  These are real people!”

In one short sentence she put into words why people find these videos so inspiring.

There’s a guideline in the Academy: when you look at someone else’s work – or your own – your job is to find at least one thing you love about it, and share that and only that: what you found to love. I invite you to do that, too, in the comments below.

There are currently 150+ students in the Academy. Not all create projects for each class, so I invite you to enjoy a selection of the talent, joy, and spirit of the Hip Harp Academy members below.

If YOU play the harp — join Hip Harp Academy now >>

And now … drumroll please … I present the Final-Beginning Projects from the 2020 “Blues Harp Style” class…

Join us for the NEXT Class in Hip Harp Academy:
Hip Harp Toolkit. 

Alicia: Learn to be vulnerable in the moment, to sing deep from your heart.

Read Alicia's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

~Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

A blues about being torn between two homes. Voice, harp and looper.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

My biggest lesson has been that less can definitely be more. The chats along with Deborahs feedback inspired me to really simplify my project and give myself space to express myself vocally. As this is such a personal project, I really needed space to explore everything I am feeling. 

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

It was very challenging. After submitting my half baked, I became incredibly homesick. I had no intention to submit a final beginning project. However with a little space, I felt ready to re-approach it and this time with more of a sense of hope….. which changed the direction of the song. Deborahs inspiring feedback really motivated me to give it another go along with everyone’s personal insights in the chats. 

Definitely feel very exposed in this video but I am trying to embrace and welcome the vulnerability.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

The story behind my blues was definitely a block however it became very therapeutic to work through it. The freedom from a simple vamp, that I absolutely loved, was so liberating. I am always struggling with overplaying. With this project it all felt so calm and simple (unlike my half baked). I am falling in love with the space in between the music. 

I really enjoyed making the video and putting a bit of effort into the background and getting dressed up. I haven’t worn makeup in about 3 years so that was also a little bit fun.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

The emotions that came with it. The structure of my half baked interfered with my freedom of expression. Really stripping it back to simplicity helped so much. 

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

It helped me to deal with missing home and to accept and embrace my current situation.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I really like trying to play all fancy when I am playing the blues. This project really helped me to connect with the blues on a much deeper level. To really be vulnerable in the moment and sing about something from deep within my heart.

~ Alicia Dawes-Salazar

 

Verena: Play what you feel – even if it’s not perfect.

Verena's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

The principle to play what I feel, to play and submit something which I don`t find perfectly.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I don`t know…

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

I noticed that it`s easy for me to play something without notes. But I play always in a classical style and sometimes I see that than a weakness.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

The challenge to submit my piece although it isn`t a normally blues.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I try to look more on the positive aspects of things and not on the negative.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

If I saw and heard musicians playing alone or together without notes, just sit down an play something, than I thought often I`m not a musician, I`m playing always with notes. But I can play something without notes and it isn`t difficult for me.

~ Verena Jochum

Angie: It can be fun to be a complete beginner at something!

Angie's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

Harp Finger Blues from The Zither House

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

To keep it simple and to enjoy my limited skills without self-judgement.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Logistically, I had to get a stand made so I can stand at the harp and spend time doing the drills. Emotionally,I had to get over myself.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

My perfectionism.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

The amazing skills of the other students, it was very challenging not to compare myself and think that me learning the harp is hopeless.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

The structure of the weekly modules, homework and chats got me more organised in the rest of my day.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

That it can be fun to be a complete beginner at something.

~Angie Smales

If you play the harp, join Hip Harp Academy Now
Fall Classes Are in Session!
Hip Harp Toolkit & Jazz for Harps

Fall Registration Closes Oct. 8th

Betsy: Playing without sheet music has been a very freeing experience.

Betsy's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

It’s all about the framework and rhythm. If I can remember the framework, the music falls in place. I concentrated on something simple, simple, based on Deboah’s videos. From the simple, basically 3-note riff I could go anywhere in the Dorian mode. I could play the 3 notes twice without even moving my hand.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Playing without sheet music is a whole new experience. It felt like diving into a pool of unknown depth. But I did it!  Now I can use the same concept for developing other blues pieces. My challenge is to break out of familiarity and try new melodies of my own making in other keys.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Playing without sheet music has been a very freeing experience.

One nagging concern goes like this: Why do I, a white, elderly woman, think I can tap into a genre that has not ever been a part of my tradition?

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

My biggest challenge has been the technology. Also, learning  how to end the last four measures of the 12 measure blues.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I began this course during the pandemic, as a way to do something creative and productive while the world seemed to have stopped. I found the course to be so much more. I LOVE doing this. It is something that I can share with others, given the opportunity. I’ve played it for a couple of individuals, resulting in smiles, compliments and kudos. It’s FUN.

~ Betsy Kopyc

 

Dimitra: Combining the 12 bar form with my own Celtic sensbilities to create a more personal Blues

Dimitra's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is the “Rainy Weather Blues”, my final project for Blues Harp Style.

Into: Gliss and “rainy sound”
Head: Left hand pattern and melody
Chorus 1: Left hand pattern and singing
Chorus 2: Left hand pattern and improve with right hand
Out Head: Left hand pattern and melody
Ending: “Rainy sound” and flageolets as final “raindrops”

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I used the 12 bar form and especially the harmonies you provided for the contemplative blues. Like in my half bake I played it as a mixture of a contemplative and up-beat blues. Your feedback for the half bake encouraged me to play the whole blues in a more “celtic” way and use the left hand pattern for all choruses.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I had to internalize the 12 bar blues form and when I stumbled over that left hand pattern I had to practice that for a while to be able to play it fluently and to be able to improvise over it. Especially for the improvising part I needed courage to let go and not write something down beforehand and play it the same way every time. This really is improvised, I play it differently every time. The idea is the same, but the outcome differs every time I play it.
Before I submitted the half bake I wasn’t sure if this mixture of a contemplative blues with a slight swing worked. Thank you for your feedback! I know you said it would be a nice instrumental piece, I still decided to add a chorus with singing, especially since I found a way to accompany my singing with a contemplative or Celtic way that fits the piece more than the way I accompanied my singing in the half bake. And I wanted to see if I can really play and sing it this way, since singing is still something I struggle with while playing.
For the recording I moved my harp in front of a picture of Eilean Donan castle in Scotland with a cloudy sky to fit the mood of the song.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

First I thought I had to play an upbeat blues like the ones we learned in most of the modules. Then I gave myself the freedom to make something more personal out of it. And as you said in your feedback, there’s also the advantage that this fits in my other repertoire.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

When I recorded the video I thought I had to look into the camera regularly, but that distracted me from playing the right notes. So I had to let go of my expectation of myself and trust that people will still be able to connect with my playing just by watching me and my facial expressions/movements etc. In the final version I only looked into the camera when it came naturally.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

Something I learned by doing this project is, that it’s okay to do my own thing. I hope I can transfer some of that in to my “real life”.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

The biggest Aha was, that the blues can be used in many different ways and that I have the freedom to do so.

~ Dimitra Fleissner

 

Caroline: Don’t Try to Get Everything. Stick with something simple you can do right now

Caroline's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

My aim is to be able to play Blues with my friend Lindsey – her singing and playing recorder.  Me playing harp – maybe even singing (dare I say it….??). This is the first step for me in understanding and playing the form and roles.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

  • Don’t try to do EVERYTHING – get a few things more thoroughly under your belt
  • Stick with something simple that you can do right now
  • Perform! Don’t just play.  Put yourself out there.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

  • Logistically I had to find the right space, right camera angle and stand – a challenge as I’ve had some serious dental work in the last few days and didn’t want to show my bruised and swollen face! Then I thought “What the heck!” Put on some make up and get on with it!
  • Emotionally – I’ve been on a great journey from my first Blues Harp homework where I was just TERRIFIED but determined to take your advice and do SOMETHING.  Today I had real fun having decided to keep it really simple and finding my dressing up clothes and props

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

Doing the Blues Harp module with DHC’s ideas of freedom and performance and connection, encouragement and positive feedback, have really helped me to start thinking of myself as a musician and performer rather than just ‘someone playing the harp for something to keep my brain active in retirement’.  It’s about more than ‘playing the right notes’.  It’s helped to free me from the fear of ‘going wrong’ and ‘making a fool of myself’

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

  • Wanting to be able to ‘do it right’ and be a fantastic musician, harpist and singer like others in the class.
  • Wanting to be able to ‘get it all’ – once I let go of that I’ve made steady progress in understanding the form and elements and being able to play more roles.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

Generally feel more relaxed and less need to be BUSY – keep things simple, do what I can now, trust that the rest will fall into place in time

What were your personal “Ahas”?

  • Finding I have a sense of groove and counting!
  • Remembering the power of spiral learning – concentrate on getting a few things and keep coming back to understand more and increase my ability
  • Harp time is playtime!

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

Just had some serious dental work and somewhat embarrassed about the bruised and battered state of my face!

~ Caroline 

Sally: Using Classical roots to reach deep into the Blues

Sally's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

I experimented with playing a Blues in A minor, or at least keeping within a Blues structure in terms of the progression. After the July 6 chat, I took DHC’s advice and worked my classical roots into the project while adding a couple Blues’ elements.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I tried to stay within the structure of the Blues, at least harmonically. I’m not convinced what I’m playing is actually a Blues, but it is based on some of what I learned throughout the course such as the chord progression, some use of a pentatonic scale, and bending notes.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I had a terrible writer’s block after my Half-Baked. I just wasn’t liking or enjoying anything that I tried after my feedback. I almost gave up on doing a final. However, DHC’s encouraging words in the chat on the Final projects really helped me to let go, experiment, and enjoy the process. The suggestion to use some of my classical techniques and to put on a timer to just play the Blues really helped me get over that hurdle that was preventing me from doing this. Logistics tend to be technical ones like finding decent lighting, background, camera angles and so on. Videography is not one of my superpowers.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

The blocks tend to self-criticism. I have a difficult time recording myself because I fall into perfection mode and never feel satisfied. The freedoms came when I gave myself permission to make mistakes and the realization that perfection is a myth.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Feeling comfortable this style was a huge challenge. I’m not sure I ever really embodied the style, but I had a realization that I didn’t need to do a strict Blues and it could be more contemplative.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I need to learn that it’s okay to just be me and not hide behind complexity.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

That I can let go and enjoy creating music.

~ Sally Walstrum

If you play the harp, join Hip Harp Academy Now
Fall Classes Are in Session!
Hip Harp Toolkit & Jazz for Harps

Fall Registration Closes Oct. 8th

Holly: Blues can be fun. I like to play for myself – and maybe the dogs – it’s a form of relaxation.

Holly's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

Bailey’s Blues updated pdf of song and myself playing with errors and all 🙂

Attach your homework in PDF or JPEG format here:

Bailey’s Blues Final.pdf

Describe your written materials – if there’s anything in particular you want to say about it to help people know what they’re looking at, add that here.

The music updated with using recommendations from the Half Baked project.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Review of blues form, riffs, new concept of walking bass line.  Playing in Dorian D.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I like to play for myself (and maybe the dogs) it’s a form of relaxation.  However videos and playing for others changes the dynamic.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

Always room for improvement.  Don’t often feel it is ready to be called complete.

Sometimes you play off the page and have fun.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Trying not to worry about mistakes.  Looking at a camera.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

Needed help with video taping to have it come out sufficient.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Blues can be fun.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

Not so sure I like the 12th bar.  There should be a way to improve over time.

~ Holly

Anne:  Using the Blues to create an original song addressing something current in my life: Hotflashes

Anne's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This 8 bar “bluesy” tune might be best described as a “Menopause Blues”

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I decided to play in A minor and use an 8 bar form that Deborah showed us during Harp Time Live (same as the 8 bar form in “Fever”).  The melody primarily uses the pentantonic scale (of A minor) and has some lever slides on the 4th note (D) as well as some accidental G#’s.  The rhythm is swung.

The biggest influence on my project choice is Deborah herself … unbridled authenticity, bravery, humour and enthusiasm is something Deborah models for us every time she opens her mouth!

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Emotionally – I wanted to write an original song that addressed something real and current in my life.  I felt quite blocked trying to think of something “bluesy” in nature, but as soon as I thought of “menopause” I knew I had found my topic! I tried to sing with varied emotion/feeling in my voice.

Logistically – I wanted to try something other than a 12 bar blues and I wanted to use my looper. Deborah suggested I play double-handed melody (ie: LH and RH in unison) and even the same notes as I was singing at times.  This worked!! Also, Deborah’s suggestion to set up the loop in advance was very helpul. When I was developing the RH noodling I just let myself sing what came naturally and then copied that. It needed to “feel right”.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

Block – thinking of something authentic to sing about (and wanting it to have a comedic element). I found it hard to sing and play different things at the same time – so I didn’t.

Freedom – tapping into what is real for me at the moment. Simplifying my playing until I could sing and play at the same time – this included choosing to play and then sing alternately rather than simultaneously. Also, deciding not to use sign language – just sing and play the song.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

The challenge of trying to use the looper … it came in very handy for a pre-recorded bass chord progression with a swung percussion – but I spent a lot of time trying to think of other “layers” I could play – and I couldn’t think of any.

I also had to decide to be uninhibited on a topic that is rarely talked (or sung) about openly – and look the camera in the eye!

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

To always be as authentic as possible in every area of life.  The more you give yourself to something, the more you will get out of it.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I really didn’t know what to wear – but I decided to be just “everyday me” … an unremarkable woman dealing with a common experience (despite Deborah’s encouragement, I just didn’t feel to embrace the Marilyn Monroe archetype).

If I ever did perform this piece, I would like to have a “storytelling” component/interlude whereby I chat to  the audience about the challenges of menopause – this would have a raw comedic flavour … I would probably want to include this explanation I came across of how menopause came about, “dementia and puberty got together and had a baby … menopause” … this strikes me as being funny … my husband couldn’t see how that’s funny at all! Hmmmm … I guess you have to consider your audience, and the best audience for this song would be women who can relate to what I’m singing about!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

It’s so much better to memorise the music so you can focus on your audience rather than looking at the music (I was only partially able to do this).

How to save a loop in my looper so I didn’t have to record it again every time I turned my looper off and on again.

To try and think a bit “outside the box” with how to use the looper … it’s not compulsory to have mulitple  layers if that doesn’t seem to work.

~ Anne Horton

 

Ted: Adapting Blues for guided meditation

Ted's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is a guided visual meditation on the theme “My Center is a Still Pond” with improvised harp accompaniment.

Attach your homework in PDF or JPEG format here:

Still Pond.jpg

Describe your written materials – if there’s anything in particular you want to say about it to help people know what they’re looking at, add that here.

This is a meme of the video theme “My Center is a Still Pond.”

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I used the four meditative blues harp chords, the 12 bar blues, and the bass/comp/solo roles  as the basis for an improvisation.  I created a background and setting appropriate for the visual aspect as well.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I had to be alert to whatever the speaker said so that my mood, playing style, chord choices, and even the look on my face supported his words.  So I had to know the chords, how to extend and alter them on the spot, possible coloristic effects, and when melody might not clash with spoken words.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

I usually improvise in a different key without trying to use certain chords or a given sequence.  All these gave me challenge for this recording.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

This project gave me a chance to explore a new way to improvise and to expand beyond the usual.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I’ve gained a greater respect for the range of creative possibilities the blues offers and how to adapt the blues beyond the basics.  This exploration gives me additional tools to use personally and in healing and therapeutic situations.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Two or three simple tools (using the pentatonic scale, repeating a sequence of notes or even a single note, and using a bent note) offer immediate access to blues improvisation.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

The harp has a two-fold purpose in this improvised meditation of words and music.  Its role is to extend and amplify the vibrational effect of the words while contributing its own colors and musical sequencing to the whole.

~ Ted Jones

Ted's Image (Click to Open)

Lynne: I love that I’m writing again (and I crack myself up every time I play this one)

Lynne's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

(Lynne’s Video 2 submitted)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

LMNOP Blues after commentary from Half-Bake. I changed the background (a place with less privacy, but looks a little nicer). I took the challenge from M4 and played in F dorian. I changed the intro story.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I learned to get comfortable with the walking bass, I learned to leave things out on the fly when they weren’t happening. I actually DID think about someone else’s homework for one part of this – it was an influence (“Whine”, that could have meant “wine”). I used the 12 bar blues line, I tried to be kind of cutesy and expressive to be more entertaining.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

First of all, I HAD to record it. I crack myself up every time I try to play it through live for someone. (or even watch someone watching the video). I do really like it and think it’s funny.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

The struggle is about dropping the rhythm when I forget something (words, or where to put my hands next). I am walking around singing my own stuff and feeling the rhythm when I’m cooking etc. It’s really neat. please leave out the part in (()) if you post this

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Scheduling the time. That is probably my biggest challenge. Having “Harp Time Live”  is the biggest help for that. I have 2 times a week where/when I can apply the principals. So I didn’t really meet the challenge – you gifted it to me.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I have food for arranging for Women’s Barbershop. I already started on Idiomatic Blues. I also wrote a song based on a riff that came out of Harp Time Live. I have a chorus and 2 complete verses. I recorded it a capella and sent it to my whole chorus today, something I would have never thought to do before.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

My fingers can be more creative than my brain. Nicer melodies, nicer harmonies that what I used to write for guitar and voice. And I love that I’m writing again!

~ Lynne Lapidus

If you play the harp, join Hip Harp Academy Now
Fall Classes Are in Session!
Hip Harp Toolkit & Jazz for Harps

Fall Registration Closes Oct. 8th

Cherie: Gaining confidence to stay relaxed – with practice it becomes easier

Cherie's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

My final beginning project of contemplative Blues  ” Dream inside the moon”. written by DHC.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Used ideas from discussions and feedback from others video’s when we did homework chats.
Learned how the way you look, the setting, how to position the camera and creating the mood are all important.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Gaining confidence in myself to play and stay relaxed while I was being recorded on a video. To start with I found this quite daunting and made me feel nervous but with practice it became easier.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

My blocks were wanting to get it right and not being OK with how I am right now and my ability and wanting to be better.
I feel liberated and inspired after doing this course and feel happier with myself and where I am with my playing.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I thought I wasn’t good enough and didn’t think I’d be able to play the blues and now I know I can.
I put in my own improvisation which I didn’t think I could do, and I’ve achieved this.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I’ve gained more confidence in myself as a person and feel happy with who I am and my ability. I was consumed doing the course and loved every minute of it and couldn’t wait to do my work so I could get back to playing.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Tuning was my aha moment.  When the harp is in a key you play in the note next to it.  eg in C next note  is D and that’s what you play in.
Also the other chords are 4 notes up & 4 notes down from the root, G & A .   The note to bend is also 4 notes from the D , meaning G.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

To connect and enjoy the music and feel relaxed.

~ Cherie Maffey

Liz: I felt relaxed and more free than usual, because there was an absolute limit on me (Broken Leg Blues).

Liz's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

I did not do a half-baked due to the timing of the leg break and I couldn’t sit at the harp at all until yesterday, so this is a the start of a project going back to the very beginning.  Broken Leg Blues

Describe your written materials – if there’s anything in particular you want to say about it to help people know what they’re looking at, add that here.

I did not include a chart at this time.  It is the 12 bar blues (Dorian) with three verses of vocal and slap base.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I actually answered this on the video!  My colleagues on the chat suggested I go back to the beginning and also perhaps create a song
Broken Leg Blues and that’s what I did.  I laid on the couch listening to Module One and then just tapping my hand and thinking about a song.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Logistically, I had to wait until I could sit for a short period of time with my leg extended.  Emotionally, I wanted to go so much further, but didn’t.  It is a big challenge for me because my husband is a musician (within hearing distance) and old perceived judgements (not from him) come to play.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

I felt relaxed and more free than usual, because there was an absolute limit on me.  I had to keep it simple. I wanted to really let it all go in the second verse and did not do so.  Big block.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I bypassed wanting to “create” something perfect, something “better”.  I could only do what I could do.  Not being able to play the harp at all for three weeks released me from expectations.  someone once said that “expectations are resentments waiting to occur”.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

What a good question.  Well, not to strive for perfection.  Just enjoy.  But also, I would say, that I want, whatever we do next, to keep that feeling of “well, this is where I am and that’s ok” combined with better energy and being in touch with my emotions.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Don’t make a big production and I really want to be less concerned with “who might be listening” or “what do thy think” and more in tune and trusting  of my emotions.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I don’t think so, I thanked the group for their advice as intro to the song.

~Liz

Pumehana: The Hip Harp Academy community is so creatively inspiring.

Pumehana's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

this is me embracing imperfection and showing body movement and engaging the audience

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

inspired by the live with dhc ,

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

i crammed my lessons for two weeks and was overwhelmed with choices.  took a break , dinner , shower more creative procrastination and then i had a beer..

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

writing it down seemed to block me from being free to make changes… the impending deadline gave me freedom to just get it done

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

struggled with camera angles

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

Sally and i have something in common again .  we still meet over skype . she is very encouraging. i like that we are in ‘class’ again.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I’m so happy to be revisiting and returning to class with DHC and community.  Community is so creatively inspiring.

~ Pumehana Wadsworth

Charlene: Standing while I play gives me more freedom of expression.

Charlene's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

Crazy Co-op Customer Blues
My expanded COVID

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

From the course this time around I added the intro with bendy notes. I took much advice from the half-baked feedback – improved the staging, got the intro down and little interlude after verse 2. I simplified on verse 3 so i could really look at the camera. Changed the wording so i could get “COVID-19” to line up right.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I had to get comfortable with playing standing up, I can sing better that way. I experimented with camera height and placement of myself in the room. And worked on hamming it up. I’m getting more comfortable with the camera. It’s less intimidating and more of an informational feedback tool.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

The song is a little high for me, and if i wasn’t trying to get it ready for the song contest i would have tried it in C. So I changed the melody a bit so I wasn’t straining on the higher notes.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Standing gives me more freedom of expression in my body, but i have to feel real confident that i have the notes to be expressive. It feels awkward at first, trying to figure out which way to stand, how to make the movements more relaxed. I’m very expressive in my body when singing in chorus, so I just have to experiment with movement and balance.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

Many times i wanted to sing this to my co-workers when the whiny customers present themselves! It helps me laugh it off. Also it is so fun to see what others are doing and that inspires my creativity.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I recorded with my iPad, the balance seems off, like the bass of the harp overwhelms my voice. Any suggestions for equipment that works with an iPad that might give me better sound?  Are the lyrics clear?

What were your personal “Ahas”?

So many – the inspiration to take this song to a new level and submit it for the song contest. Taking the opportunity to get something out there during this time. Getting more physical with the harp. How easy lyrics can come to me. How i have to persist in practicing to get to the comfort level, even if I’m getting bored with the song.

~ Charlene Elderkin

Chari: I really liked doing this project because my mind loves having a creative outlet for filmmaking, harp playing and poetry.

Chari's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

My final project is Shakespeare verse from A Midsummer Night’s Dream set to the contemplative blues chords and structure.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I used the blues structure and the contemplative blues chords and a short verse from Shakespeare. I purchased a new microphone but could not get it to work with the IPhone, so scratched that idea. Although the standard blues form, I am more interested in the contemplative blues and since this was a short course and it’s new for me, I wanted to keep it into something I could do.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Logistical–I wanted to play and film outdoors but the extreme heat made that idea untenable. So, I went back to my living room where I am surrounded by books and more certain acoustics.  Emotional–I let go of perfectionism but did still demand a lot of myself.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

Freedom to connect with new structure and skills and beginner’s mind. I still get blocked by procrastination and got it in anyway.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

There is a lot of room for growth with this genre and not sure of how much it would take me to get proficient. Definitely outside of my comfort zone with the slap bass. Still believe there is a better way to record video than what I am doing.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I appreciate the Blues a lot more.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I still had stage fright even though I memorized the verse but wrote it and placed it in front of me.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I really liked doing this project because my mind loves having a creative outlet for filmmaking and harp playing and poetry.

~ Chari McHale

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Fall Registration Closes Oct. 8th

Heather: Passing the Freedom on to others

Heather's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

Blues final project
A video of my trio Summerhill Strings playing
my “slow blues” tune….Summerhill Chill.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I wrote a Lead Sheet and this is how we play it…
-a tiny intro
-the Head (Shirley sings her lyrics)
-Linda plays the “blowing changes” section
-return to the Head for Shirley where she sings a short ‘scat’ section.
-short exit flourish for harp

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Here’s what I needed to learn
-how to write a lead sheet format
-how to conceive, program and record drum tracks
-how to co-opt two strictly classical musicians into  improvising with no written music except the lead sheet
-how to keep my husband awake while he filmed it

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

I had to be really positive and a bit of a cheer-leader to convince the others that they could actually take a chance and play the improv successfully …and they were very nervous about it. But by the end they both loved it and want to do more

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

If I loosened up the time or fills too much the others got confused or lost so I had to stay rather confined.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I am getting much more relaxed and confident with improvising and trying out lever slides etc.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I need to remember to give my husband a coffee before I make him do a late afternoon filming!
He actually started to fall asleep and his middle finger slipped down in front of the lens. This is why there are some odd flower shots…..one of them covers up his “finger cameo”

~ Heather Flinn

Tara: You can still use body language to good effect, even when playing a stationary harp.

Tara's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This video is designed to be played along with.  A few slides in the beginning give an orientation, then you see me playing half the duet.  Text cues help the live player keep track.  It’s a straightforward 12 bar blues in D dorian.

Attach your homework in PDF or JPEG format here:

BHS-M6 OBrienPride Tara Final-Beginning Blues half duet.pdf

Describe your image – if there’s anything in particular you want to say about it to help others know what they’re looking at, add that here.

The PDF shows the information on the slides that form the orientation part of the video.  It gives the structural essentials so that another harpist/er can tell what’s coming and what they can play.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I used several of the blues-specific ideas, such as the 12-bar form, using D dorian, throwing in some lever bends, playing different bass lines (slap and walking), and using the different registers of the harp for different roles (bass, comping, and melody).  I also incorporated ideas about trading roles, and adding introductions and endings.  Since my project was to create a video that a friend could play along with, I wanted the musical structure to be very clear while giving my partner room to add her own ideas.

I also tried to incorporate ideas from the chats about videography, presentation, and connecting with the viewer/audience.  I was lucky to have beautiful weather and nice greenery in the yard when I was ready to record.  I tried to choose a backdrop and clothing that would be cheery but not distracting.  I tried to keep glancing at the camera and showing that I think it’s great fun to play the blues.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I’d been wanting to create a half-duet video for a couple of months (it’s the next best thing to being there?), so I had a real desire to create something enjoyable and usable.  Once I decided on the structure and wrote it down, I had to practice enough and mentally rehearse so that I could play from memory and not drop the rhythm at the transitions.  There were times when I wondered if I had kept it simple enough to be within my current abilities, but I told myself that doubt was normal and that perfection was not required.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

I was dragging my feet a little on the video editing.  My program is a bit clunky and buggy for adding text, so I was not looking forward to re-doing it all.  But then I realized I didn’t have to start from scratch!  I could keep all of the text from the half-baked, just swapping out the video footage and changing some of the text formatting (and readjusting the timing). I did also need to add extra slides at the beginning, which seemed to call for extra background music, so there was plenty to do, but the motivational hurdles were smaller. It helped me to realize that I could use more than I thought from my earlier draft.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I think one of the biggest challenges always is narrowing the focus of a project and committing to it.  Any creative project calls for a significant investment in time and mental energy, so I always want to feel like I’ve made the “right” choice.  Of course, there isn’t really a “wrong” choice, except, perhaps, to do nothing (which is also a choice, and sometimes valid for a while).

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

One important  idea for me is that I need to actively practice connecting with others when I play (and/or sing).  It’s also been interesting for me to draw parallels between approaches to learning/performing in this course and to those in other creative areas, such as dance (which my spouse competes in).

What were your personal “Ahas”?

  • A person can still use body language to good effect even when playing a stationary harp.
  • It is possible for me to become comfortable with liberal use of levers during a piece.
  • It doesn’t have to be outlandish to be fun.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

If you feel like playing along, please do!  I’d love to know how it went for you.

~ Tara O’Brien Pride

Vera: Abstracting the Blues to create a Fantasia

Vera's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

[No comments from Vera available right now]

~ Vera Stern

Margi: I chose one simple section from the class and used it to develop skills I want to some day master.

Margi's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

My rendition of “You Have A Voice” done during Covid Lockdown with my flute partner as we recorded from two different places.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I learned to choose one simple section from the classes and use it to develop skills I wanted but still don’t have: namely, singing and learning to record with a music partner remotely with a software we finally settled on: Acapella.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

We had to learn to play with a metronome, earphones and mike combination through an iPhone only. There was a LOT of back and forth and “I don’t get this” conversation. It was stressful and hilarious at the same time.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

It was just so rewarding to see the visual turn out so well.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I knew that the more “takes” I made of the recording, the more stressful it might be, and then there would be even more mistakes. At the same time I realized that with more “takes” I was getting to know the music better.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I feel like I now have one more technological challenge under my belt that I can use, e.g. to send online greetings to friends far away, hospice patients, etc.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

If I just poke around a lot on a software I am unfamiliar with, I can actually remember and learn it.  I just need to keep on keeping on. As someone said: you don’t remember this, but it took you probably a year or more to learn the alphabet!!!

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

This is a very deep song: You Have a Voice.  If you google it, you will hear DHC’s rendition played at the 2017 Somerset Festival.  It’s BEAUTIFUL….

~Margi Miller

Debra: Finding my own sensuality in the piece is an ongoing discovery.

Debra's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

I am sending a video of the full tune “Fever” which includes intro, verse 1 & 2, 8 bar improv w/riff, bridge, verse 2,3, outro.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Personality, body movement, and emotional viability engages the musical story. Although not 12- bar blues, Fever has blues elements. Slap bass and any rhythmic add ons I believe help keep the repetitive parts interesting.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

The Peggy Lee version of this song is in Am with Bb minor keychange. I couldnt manage the keychange but kept searching for ways to enrich the repetitive progression. I developed a tuning based on Bb minor starting w/ Bb, C#, D# (Eb), E, F, G#(Ab), A. The scale is very bluesy. I needed to create a song structure and learn as well as act out the lyrics as story.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

My freedoms were playing in the tuning I created on a electric harp new to me in the last few weeks. The roadblocks were learning the structure but remaining fluid in the structure and act out telling the story. Technology !! I kept getting a buzzing background in the recordings. Switched from computer to iphone to ipad to record. Very frustrating and delaying my progress.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I didnt realize the complexity of the story till I kept doing it and discovering its nuances as I performed it.  I would forget words or where I was. I learned I was in the process of making the song mine. And it takes time to relax into it.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I was totally driven to make this work so my days were wrapped around playing 25 minutes 4 x a day.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Figuring out how to chunk out this piece without destroying it, without over doing it, without getting bored with it. I will need a break from it surely. But to get it where I want it then let go was the goal.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

Finding my own sensuality in the piece is an ongoing discovery.

~ Debra Sawyer

M.B.: It was a revelation to find I could just work with two chords and do so many things.

M.B.'s Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

My project was to explore the use of two cords as a meditation. After the half baked I added voice to the meditation.  I made this video to send to my yoga teacher and the rest of our circle of yoginies.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

I used the video from module 4 on using the Am9 and Dm9 to begin improvising in a meditative fashion.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

It was a revelation to find i could just work with those chords and do so many things.  It is a. Bit like meditating with numbers and just always coming back to 1 and then 2.  So very grounding.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

All the usual stuff.  Not being good enough. Not being beautiful. Wanting to hide.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I wanted to do it outside, alone except for the birds.  But the weather hasn’t been so good so I was doing it this morning at 7:00 am with a strong breeze and no sunshine. Not exactly perfect conditions.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I find this way of playing really does calm me down.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

See description above

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

Any one should try it.  It is a great comfort.

~ M.B.

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Fall Classes Are in Session!
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J.I.: The harp community in this class is just what I’ve always been missing.

J.I.'s Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

MY STORY: shortened to intro and 2 verses of song spoken, bridge, harp blowing and harp melody (which I didn’t sing do to lack of quality technology, ending in intro/outro + 2 measures of sharp and dramatic chords.

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Familiar left hand, trading hands in intro/bridge/outro. Telling my story to communicate with audience – I’m not as deadly serious as I’ve seemed so far! After fighting with a lack of technology I ditched the singing and spoke with feeling. I didn’t have to do everything at the same time.

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

Technology was an unforeseen battleground. Being seen is still an obstacle for me where harp is concerned, but only where there are people who play the harp, so this group is much scarier than an audience of 3-400 where I live.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

Being seen on one constant video and not being capable of cutting and pasting it was a big challenge. A little harp sitting was hard to be dramatic with in a confined space. Playing the big harp without a mike at all I thought that the accompaniment voice wouldn’t come thru, when in fact it created fuzz when I tried to increase the volume. I’ll need a mike that will take my voice thru a mixer without restricted my head and hands.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

Instrument size and location seemed in my way, changing lyrics affected melody lines since my first lyrics came without a melody. Then when I first filmed with clarinet, I didn’t realise that I should have just shut off all the inputs in my looper, since the voice came thru the harp into the loop. Instead I ran away from the film to play the clarinet in the hall, but you should have seen my freedom when I play it. It was genuine blowing, which I still fear when playing the harp in front of this group.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

I remembered that I’ve been told before that I should always sing when I play. With classical music that doesn’t work so well but this might once I get the tech sorted out.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

The costuming, clarinet and most of the technology were 100 km away, I ditched the song singing and settled for the fuzz in the accompaniment in a very confined space but with a harp that I could stand with, for once. I had to leave some notes out for lack of levers. Still working to get over the fear of being seen by people who play the harp!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

The harp community in this class is just what I’ve always been missing. I also realised that I should be learning to make those videos with more than one of me in the picture, especially since I hate being categorised as a person who only does one kind of music on one kind of instrument. I now know what technology to ask about, and members of the class have also been helping there.

~ J.I.

 

Deborah: “Just tell me what IS working.”

Deborah's Insight (Click to Open)

[No comments from Deborah available right now]

~ Deborah Fleisher

Mary: You never know what life will hold.

Mary's Insight (Click to Open)

[No comments from Mary available right now]

~ Mary

Lynne: I like that I can do something with my fingers to find a melody – and THEN take it where I hear it in my head.

Lynne's Insights in the creation process (Click to Open)

(Lynne’s FIRST Video submitted)

Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.

This is the Idiomatic Blues after trying to incorporate all the feedback from the class chat. I worked on being more animated, looking at the camera, and reorganizing the musical elements according to the suggestions

What principles from this course or from chats did you use to develop, perform, and record this project – and how did they play a part in your process?

Simplified it enough that I could take my eyes off the strings enough to be look at the camera and be more animated. Stopped the strings for the punch-line words for dramatic effect. Put the riffing at the end rather than the middle and added my 3rd verse. Played a bit (fore-shadowing the melody during the spoken intro)

Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you did – both logistically and emotionally.

I recorded it A LOT of times until I was pretty happy with it.

What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or struggle with) in the process?

I used to write a lot, but haven’t been motivated or inspired in a long time. I’m excited that things are whirling around in my brain again. I’m a guitarist – I’d never used the harp as a starting point for writing songs before, even though I did have some limited “noodling” things I would do…I used to just do the same things over and. I feel like I’ve broken out of that into a new space of creativity.

What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of expression in this project?

I still don’t feel like my improv is where I want it to be. But getting better.

What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this class, and how?

Oh wow! I want to take these harp arrangements and set them for A Capella – Women’s Barbershop. I’m also waking up in the middle of the night with the songs in my head, and walking around humming them, like I’m trying to learn my own songs – which I actually am, since things fall out of my memory so easily these days. But these seem to stick better than I expected – probably because of the predictable form.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I like that I can do something with my fingers to find a melody – and THEN take it where I hear it in my head.

Is there anything else you want people to know when they watch your video?

I am proud of this.

~ Lynne Lapidus

If you play the harp, join Hip Harp Academy Now
Fall Classes Are in Session!
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Fall Registration Closes Oct. 8th

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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