Welcome to the 2020 Hip Harp Academy Fall/Winter Video Projects!  Check out the creativity and fun in all these video from harpists who just finished a class in arrangement and improv. Every one. ofthese players is committed to liberating themselves from the notes on the page and expressing themSELVES with their own improv and arrangement. 

Some of these projects are Video Holiday Greeting Cards, and ALL of them are wonderful examples of creative expression and connection.

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

These are called ‘Final-Beginning’ projects, because each ‘completion’ of an Academy class opens a door to the next phase of the creative journey in a world where we focus on Connection – not Perfection.

Take time to read the toggle below each video where you can learn each players’ ‘aha’s and takeaways’ then add your own in the comments below.   

Heather: Yay…I now LOVE LEADSHEETS!

Heather's Insights about this Project

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

Final project for INSIDE JAZZ TUNES
My version of an Xmas standard from a leadsheet!
Yay…I now LOVE LEADSHEETS!!!

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 how to play stride bas plus other accompanying bass styles, how to voice and extend chords, how to put my ideas, fills and riffs into my bits of improv…plus I have worked seriously on my memorization skills…which were non-existent before!!!

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

Lots and lots and LOTS of practice.

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

I’m still pretty SQUARE but I’m getting rounder as I learn more.

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

Learning I need to practice lots of different riffs and fills to increase my repertoire if ideas as I improvise.

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

I know my memory is not dead and that it gets better with exercise (practice)

What were your personal “Ahas”?

This is hard work but fun.

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

I had a picture of Rudolph, prancing in a very laid back way, around the North Pole! I have a very vivid imagination!

Debra: This class impacted my way of looking at music & playing electric harp. I am still learning and will never stop.

Debra's Insights about this Project

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

A video of My Remembering this day in History

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?

Everything we do in HHA contribute to my process to approach this Final Beginning. Even the After chats.

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

Today I watched on video the packaging, loading and shipping out thousands of Vaccines from Portage, Michigan. It really moved me to tears. I knew eventually I was going to do the tune I did, but not in a historical, emotional context till today.

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

I did this in one take. I couldn’t do it again with the same emphasis that first moved me. Its not perfect. Many mistakes, pauses, and I wished I did not rely on the lyric sheet as much as I did. It is what it is.

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

Media as usual. I had great trouble getting my ipad to communicate with my MacBook Pro. I thought I had this figured out. But Nooooo!

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

My way of looking at music, and my way of playing this electric harp. I am still learning and will never stop.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I need to dampen those overtones. I need to continue to figure out a better video gateway with editing to youtube.

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

It’s not the hope and holly of Christmas. It’s the hope of Vaccine and continued vigilance to get us through this profound period in all our lives!

Ellen: I’ve developed some comfort with improv which opens up my playing so so much.

Ellen's Insights about this Project

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

This is Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire.  I’m trying to show how much better I play when I am grounded in my essence, and how I’ve developed some comfort with improv which opens up my playing so so much. Thank you.

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’ve written what have been my jewels and gems, and included a drawing i completed during the class which, among other things, shows me how new life has been breathed into my creative expression.

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 “structure of improv” has been very freeing.  I feel like I’m beginning to play what is in my heart.  I made several different videos for this project, and while this one isn’t the best one technically, it has more of my heart in it so I like it best.  That aspect of communicating our essence is so important to me.

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

It took me a long time learn the melody.  I started playing pedal harp because I am so bad at switching levers.  I do better with pedals, but I am not a master, so it took me awhile to get the pedal changes down.  I also had to skip the middle section of the song, it just never sounded good.  That was learning.  I also really tried to add grounding and centering to my practice before I play and especially before I record.  More of my emotions come through when I do.  Otherwise I sometimes sound mechanisitic to myself.

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

As is so often, for me it is a struggle between perfection and expression.  As I get older, the perfection becomes less important, and Deborah’s encouragement in this direction has been really helpful.  On some level, at the end of the day, perhaps what we all want is to simply be seen.  And that is what I’ve been trying to open up within myself.

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

I think I kind of answered that above.  I cant say enough how important it has become for me to center myself before I sit down to play.  I have a big generous heart, but I lose track of it when I’m focused on “getting it right.”

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

I’ve used the phrase “connection, not perfection” with others in my life, including others I teach in a different arena (non musical).  Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about what freedom means to me.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Chord structure opens everything up.
Center and ground.
Keep it simple and full of heart.
Play at your own level.
Utilize the shape of the melody for improv and modulations
If you’re not having fun it isn’t that much fun to listen to.

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

I’m just feeling a lot of gratitude.  Hope you can feel it too.

Beverly: I played around with what sounded good on the improv. It felt freeing  to not have to write it down – just do it!

Beverly's Insights about this Project

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

Final Beginning 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?

The formula of intro, melody, improv, melody, ending.

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

I experimented and that was fun. I played around with what sounded good on the improv. It felt freeing  to not have to write it down – just do it!

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

I think because I understood the structure, it was easy to play. I did it in one recording! While it is not perfect, Deborah has drilled into me that perfection is not the goal, connection is. I really felt connected with my intended audience.

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

Well, I looked right into the camera for the talk, only realizing after it was all together that the lens was on the opposite side of the camera where I was looking so it looks like I was reading. I will correct this before I send it to friends and family. I learned how to use iMovie. Yay!!

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

I have always been confident in everything except playing the harp. That broke my heart because playing is my therapy and I want to share with others. This formula has opened possibilities for me to play seemingly complicated music easily. It is good enough. That makes me happy. Happy helps life during this pandemic.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Learning from others as we watched their videos. I also love how you make mistakes and find your way out. I was so married to printed arrangements. By the time I learned them, I had them memorized. I have had multiple training in music theory and I am finally beginning to understand. One day I actually said “AHA!” out loud and started babbling to my husband about theory. I was so joyful!

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

Please know this is a journey, not a destination, I am enjoying the journey.

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

Dimitra: I was surprised the improv parts sound quite nice even though while playing I thought I played a lot of “mistakes.”

Dimitra's Insights about this Project

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

This is my final project for HipHarp Toolkit.

It’s a Christmas greeting for my Greek father. I played and sang 2 Greek Christmas songs, with improvisations between the verses and a modulation from the key of the first song (F) to the key of the second song (C).

The words in the beginning mean “I wish you a merry Christmas” and in the end “Best wishes”.

The names of the songs are:

Chonia sto kabanario (Snow on the Church tower)
To thendro Christougennon (The Christmas tree)

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 5-part arrangement from for this medley in this way:

Introduction

First Song
Verse 1
Impro
Verse 2

Modulation from the key of F to the key of C

Second Song:
Verse 1
Impro
Verse 2

Ending

I also used what I learnt about modulating from one key to another.
And I specifically decorated the backdrop and my harp for having a Christmas feeling in the video.

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

Even though I was already late with doing my final project, I first took my time to experiment with the lights on the harp and how to decorate the backdrop and see how it looks in a recording. That also helped my getting comfortable with the camera and the setting.

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

I had to let go of my perfectionism because I had already missed the deadline for submitting the final project. When I read in the weekly mail that the very last extension for submitting something was Monday at midnight, I committed myself to record something, even though it wouldn’t feel good enough for my expectations of myself. Anyhow I’m happy I did and it worked out well. I’m sure my father will like it the way it is.

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

The found it hard to really allow myself to improvise between the verses and not plan in advance what to play. I feared I would ruin the recording, but now I have to say I’m pleased with the result, it sounds really natural.

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

When I saw that I most likely wouldn’t be able to submit my project in time, I had to tell myself not to worry about it. This was difficult to me because I always want to do things right. I had to tell myself “Okay you won’t submit a project and that’s fine. Nobody is blaming you if your life is too stressful at the moment. And you still can record a greeting for your father until Christmas, it just won’t be in time for the academy.” After letting go of the pressure I felt better and in the end I found time to do it last minute.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I was surprised that the improv parts sound quite nice even though while playing I thought I played a lot of “mistakes” meaning it didn’t sound like it intended it in that moment.

Tammy: I am more adventurous in my playing. I try keep in mind to work from where I am and not try to be perfect – just enjoy the process.

Tammy's Insights about this Project

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

Video Christmas card

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 loved this song as a video Christmas card

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?

Work from where I’m at and it’s ok to be perfectly imperfect

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

Practice is key

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

Take what I can do and keep coming back to it.

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

I had a hard time smiling when playing I kept concentrating too hard. This was the first time I’ve played with both hands

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

I found the course freeing. It gave me something to work toward instead of worrying what was going on around me. It was also fun

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Keep it simple. Don’t worry about making it good just go through the process. Using song structure and patterns ie- 1-5-10   Being able to improvise is freeing I loved D G C A D G C

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

I feel more comfortable with my playing and I’m able to do more than I could when I started. This course was freeing and nonjudgemental I am more adventurous in my playing and try keep in mind to work from where I’m at and not try to be perfect just enjoy the process.

Carol: The freedom of expression I learned has helped me to relax a little and appreciate what I can do – accept who I am without needing to be perfect.

Carol's Insights about this Project

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

My final beginning project is a couple “comfort songs” for some of my friends in this time of pandemic.

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 don’t think I would have ever tried to do a video “performance” to share with others, had it not been for the encouragement and push in the Academy to do such a thing.  What I loved about this project was the challenge to be creative, incorporating harp playing into a bigger presentation –integrating my harp playing with who I am.  I have learned in the Academy to simplify, to play at a level that I am comfortable with.

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

Feeling physically isolated and somewhat scared in this time of pandemic, I needed to find comfort myself.  The song, “In My Room”, sung by the Beach Boys, was a comfort to me even prior to thinking about what to do for the Final Beginning Project.  So, I am quite emotionally attached to that song.  The second song, “I Whistle A Happy Tune” just seemed like a tune that would also fit in with my project.  The challenge was in trying to sing and play at the same time!

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

As Deborah knows, I almost gave up on this project after sharing the Half-Baked.  I felt so vulnerable and exposed in sharing where I was at that point in time.  I wanted to pull back to a safer place, or give up all together.  Deborah convinced me not to give up, so I kept working at it.  I eliminated one song, “Me and My Shadow”, which was difficult and really didn’t fit musically.  I simplified the transition from one song to the next, and just kept putting more of myself into the project.

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

As I kept working on the project, I became more comfortable with what I was doing  — and that is, reaching out to some of my friends (who understand and appreciate my sense of humor) in this time of pandemic.  It was a challenge to venture out and share this video.

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

I have learned so much in this class!  Learning to break free of playing songs “as written”, without even understanding the structure of the music.  I think the freedom of expression I have learned in playing music has helped me to relax a little more, in general, and to appreciate what I can do – accepting who I am without needing to be perfect  (as if I could be : ) ).

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I was surprised at how deeply I felt like giving up after the sharing of my half-baked.  For some reason, it was a major hurdle to get over – to continue on with this project.

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

Now that I have gotten through this project, I want to do more videos!  I truly understand why Deborah calls what we were to do as a “Final-Beginning Project.”  I look forward to continuing the journey!  Oh, and something else:  I now view my harp as a friend, rather than as an instrument to be conquered

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

Sally: I’m very grateful to have DHC & the Academy in my life. It’s enjoyable being with this wonderful group of people.

Sally's Insights about this Project

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

This is my Final Beginning project for Hip Harp Toolkit 2020. I’ve been going through some boxes of music I played years ago and found the tattered remains of “Fun From the First,” my first harp book. There’s a simple “Silent Night” in the book so I thought I’d play a little of the version I first played and then go into a version I just arranged.

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 re-harmonize “Silent Night” using some of the principles taught in the class such as extending the chords by adding 7th or 9ths. I also experimented with substitution & alteration of the harmonies.

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

I struggle with anything music theory related so I found myself looking at some piano tutorials on re-harmonizing the tune. Emotionally I wondered if I had put enough of my own spin in the arrangement as I’m not confident with my ability to utilize the concepts of expanding, substitution, & alteration, especially the last two. I also had to deal with the logistic of making a video such as setting up the shot, moving things around to get a decent background, and lighting.

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

I wasn’t sure if there was enough of me in this project and had to give myself give myself permission that it was okay to submit the project.

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

I think my big challenge is accepting myself as I am at this moment, whether it’s as a musician or a person. I’ve struggled with that for a very long time and I just have to let go of that so I can bring my own freedom of expression to this and other projects that I want to do in the future.

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

I’m very grateful to have DHC & the Hip Harp Academy in my life. It’s been especially helpful during these unusual times but it’s enjoyable being with this wonderful group of people at any time.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

There really is a point where I honestly can tell myself not to be so serious and perfectionist in my life.

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

I give a spoken greeting at the beginning of how the project came to be. I was hoping to show my remnants of my “Fun from the First” book, but it didn’t pop on camera, so I left it out. I remember my mom being thrilled when I first learned “Silent Night” at age 10 so I think of this as an homage to her.

Alicia: Children have a natural desire to explore and PLAY which is why improv can be such a wonderful tool that they comfortably jump into.

Alicia's Insights about this 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?

The structure –

Intro over a descending bass line, melody with bass and comp, improv from each child, melody, ending.

Improvisation has always been an important part of my own personal exploration with the harp. This course has given me so many ideas of how to incorporate this into my teaching. It has also helped me to feel confidence in the importance of improvisation which I now include in most pieces my student work on.

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

I initially wrote the pieces thinking it would be quite simple for the children to play together. However, I soon realised that the melody (both fingering and rhythm) was going to be a bit of a challenge. I got quite anxious that I was setting them up for failure. However by having the bass and comp as an option, each child found a part that they were confident in. The improv section was also a great safety as they knew no matter what happened in the piece, they had a moment that was there’s alone.

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

Trust…..in my own teaching.

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

Keeping the piece simple whilst still making it engaging for the children.

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

The power of a simple structure and the support of a simple bass line for predictability.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

The power of improvisation in all areas of music. When the children performed their solos (after this video was taken), I was so impressed that when they made a mistake, they managed to improvise their way back into the piece. As with the ensemble piece, they always managed to find their way back in.

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

I am just so proud of these children who are only 6,7,and 8. I really feel that children have a natural desire to explore and PLAY which is why improvisation can be such a wonderful tool that they comfortably jump into.

AJ: Freedom is being unconventional.

AJ's Insights about this Project

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

This is the first time I have tried to compose anything original. Please ignore the pedal clunk!

I would like some help on progressing the melody and chords. Starts off in Bflat Phyrigian then moves to G major. It’s called “I can’t talk, but I can dance”.

The photo montage is of our very special grandson who has a rare genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. He is non verbal, but has brought so much to us all. It’s a surprise Christmas present for Philippa, his very special mum.

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?

Trying to progress from minor to major and write something with feeling.

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

Our special grandson

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

Freedom is being unconventional

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

Making something meaningful

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

Courage

What were your personal “Ahas”?

The impact it had on a small boy.

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

Just to say that speech isn’t the be all and end all off communication

Lynne: I am spending more time playing the harp to calm myself and do more than one thing at a sitting so I don’t get into a pattern of playing the same thing all the time…

Lynne's Insights about this Project
Describe your final project so I know exactly what you’re sending me.
 
I didn’t get to update my 1/2 baked, so it’s ok to repost it and I’ll answer the
 
questions
 
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?
 
SIMPLIFY to the point where I could look at the camera A LOT. The structure – always
 
having a structure.
 
Give a short description of what it took for you to be able to play what you
 
 
did – both logistically and emotionally.
 
I bought an adapter for my tripod and used it for the first time. I played with 3
 
different editing programs. I really imagined my 3 year old granddaughter in front of
me.
 
What freedoms and blocks within yourself did you connect with (or
 
 
struggle with) in the process?
It was the first time I didn’t record a bajillion times. I was able to let go and go right
 
 
past two errors (without rolling my eyes) Maybe because I didn’t imagine Sloan
would even notice….
 
What challenges did you meet while connecting with your own freedom of
 
 
expression in this project?
 
I had the idea for this – using an English song, and one that is simple that children
 
like, but had to find a way to add improv and make it interesting for me as well
without detracting from what I thought Sloan would like at her age.
 
What other parts of your life were impacted by what you learned in this
 
 
class, and how?
 
Beyond this project, I am spending more time (although not every day) using the
 
harp playing to calm myself. I try to do more than one thing at a sitting so I don’t
get into a pattern of playing the same thing all the time like I used to….
 
What were your personal “Ahas”?
 
 
 
Even though I’m working to get better, I’m already “good enough”

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

Marie: I feel motivated to play from my soul, and to play notes between the written notes on the page.

Marie's Insights about this Project

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

Silent Night…..by Marie Riss for the final project for HipHarp Toolkit.

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.

Enjoyed creating this Christmas card.  I played the melody, then an interlude and then the improv on the melody of Silent Night.  A little different order, but I think it worked ok!

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 the 5 elements of an arrangement, and had a sampler of improv ideas…..triads, sixths, scales & runs, leap seconds , and a few glisses.  Also used a vamp in the left hand for the 1st melody, and repeated the ending several times before adding my own special ending.

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

It took a lot of concentration and I could see that my face and neck were tense…..not relaxed.  I also worked on my hand positioning which took additional concentration.

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

Had to retake many times.  Had to memorize the melody in order to make it more flowing.  Had to think a lot about my hand positioning and closing my fingers into my palms.

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

When improvising, I wanted it to sound decent, so had to retake for that reason mostly, since I’m still learning what to do when it’s free form time.  Mostly I need to determine which chords work best with each other and will next study Hands on Harmony.

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

Though I’m not there, I feel motivated to play from my soul, and to play notes between the written notes on the page.  I am enjoying harmonizing and ad libing in this way.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I can meet the challenge of recording my very first U-Tube!

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

It’s important to hold your lips just right when you’re tense…..Ha, Ha!

Liz: The changes that happen during the arranging, playing process are not mistakes. They are either little gifts, or at the very least, learning points.

Liz's Insights about this Project

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

This is the second submission of my Holiday Card HHT final beginning project.  I had submitted one earlier after a very stressful situation. I wrote to you and you got the situation perfectly. I then watched Jung at Heart and got grounded and started again.

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?

5 Part Form; use of vamps as vamp and then as a theme; building from the top down with 6ths; use of parallel thirds; from Jung at Harp getting grounded.  I used the vamp in the beginning to ground myself.

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

Reaching out to Deborah when it had been so tough to keep going the first time, was invaluable. Watching the Jung at Harp conversation was very valuable.  From that, I started using the vamp as the point where I can get grounded in what I am doing.

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

In this rendition of the my piece, I take the vamp third structure and move it up the scale. This came from an “accident” when playing. I wanted to repeat it and did so, but it was a challenge to not get “in the weeds” when I did this.

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

I could not decide if I was playing too many chords. I still don’t know and at times the arrangement sounds fine, at other times it sounds “busy” and and a other times it sounds “thin”.

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

WELL… one important personal relationship was very much impacted as I moved through this and was setting out (unconsciously for the most part) my independent process.  I was getting quite a bit of well intentioned, but less than helpful, advice

What were your personal “Ahas”?

To react positively to the changes that happen during the arranging, playing process. They are not mistakes, they are either little gifts that want to be included or they are, at the very least, learning points.

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

Sitting down with Jung at Harp was very helpful.

Joke: I learned to be happy with what I could do, instead of feeling bad about what I couldn’t.

Joke's Insights about this Project

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

I continued to work on my halfbake submission, and tried to internalise your advise. Still not a perfect rendition of God rest ye merry Gentlemen, if there ever will be one. But I’m enjoying the way I’ve come. Deborah, thank you so much for all the new perspectives you gave so enthusiastically.

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 main principles I learned and started to embrace were not to strive for perfection and testing my own creativity. Working on these I started to become less nervous and enjoyed more what 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.

Logistically I stopped putting my harp-time at the end of the daily to-do-list. And emotionally I learned to be happy with what I could do, instead of feeling bad about what I couldn’t.

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

My technique is not up to level to be able to play the music as I hear it in my head.

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

My technique not being good enough to give me the full freedom of expression I’m looking for.

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

I’ve become less flexible in letting others dictate my schedule. More me time!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Chords are not so difficult as I was always told. And they sound great, also if I don’t know the exact names of them.

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

I just hope that watching my video gives people a happy moment.

Anne: The fact that I posted this “less than perfect” video is a breakthrough for me!

Anne's Insights about this Project

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

A short medley of 2 portions of Christmas songs (“Away in a Manger” and “We wish you a Merry Christmas”) played on a double-strung harp.

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?

Valuing connection over perfection. Eye contact. The ending (kerfuffle and then tonic as the final note). Creating a backdrop with a “Christmas feel”

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

This is the first time I have played something on the double/strung harp so I was on a somewhat steep learning curve! I also don’t have a proper stand for the harp so it was balanced on a stool (which is also why this video doesn’t have sign language). I also needed to creat a Christmas vibe with lights and backdrop and my clothes and jewelery.

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

I struggled with it not being “perfect” (I did approx 50 takes to get one I was given ally happy with) – so the fact that I posted this “less than perfect” video is a breakthrough for me!

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

Originally I had included “Silent Night” as the first of 3 songs in the medley but I chose to simplify and shorten the video by leaving that off.

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

It felt great to do something with my new double-strung harp!!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I can play the double-strung harp and it seems to sound far more complex than what I was actually playing.

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

I am thinking of them and hoping all the best for them in 2021 😉

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

Vera: Deborah is always encouraging us to show our vulnerability, so I just want to share the way it is.

Vera's Insights about this Project

….. this one just showed what it means to play the harp: always a wrong pedal in the way. 😉

Still Deborah is so encouraging us to show our vulnerability, so I just want to share the way it is.

Thank you soo much!

Margi: I’m so glad I keep taking these courses and gaining insights.

Margi's Insights about this Project

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

A Christmas greeting to my family who cannot get together this year.

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 worked on CONNECTING by using my greeting and including family decorations in the video. I tried the suggestion of recording on ZOOM with several logins.

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

As always, I make so many more mistakes when I am recording than in “real life”….

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

I tried repeating, stopping, breathing… EVERYTHING, but at one point I actually felt that I was “in the music”…

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

I kept saying to myself that if I really had practiced this music more, I would not have these problems of making mistakes and getting lost.

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

I realized I need to be present to my inner self.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I love experimenting with Zoom, cameras, video editors, etc.

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

I’m so glad I keep taking these courses and gaining insights..

Deborah: Practice doesn’t always make perfect and that’s ok.

Deborah's Insights about this Project

Describe your video so I know exactly what you’re sending me. If there’s anything special you want me to look at, listen to (or ignore), tell me what it is.

Last minute Holiday video

Practice doesn’t always make perfect and that has to be ok.

Stacie: We learned about setting the scene to create a beautiful and compelling atmosphere.

Stacie's Insights about this Project

Describe your video so I know exactly what you’re sending me. If there’s anything special you want me to look at, listen to (or ignore), tell me what it is.

This is a snippet of a recording I worked on for church using the tools from the video suggestions. [Stacie used her project to create a private video card for her siblings, which we won’t share here — but we wanted you to get to see the way Stacie set the scene and created such a beautiful and compelling atmosphere) for this performance she created for her church – using creative tools from Hip Harp Toolkit – and staging and tech tools from “How to Create Video Greeting Cards.“]

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

Fern: Harp had been a chore before, now I can’t wait to sit down and “play.” 

Fern's Insights about this Project

Fern said:

I am so thrilled to be in the Academy. Harp had been a chore before, now I can’t wait to sit down and “play”. 

Now play means play around! Sometimes I do exercises for agility, sometimes I play a song and try to “perfect ” it and do improv with it. 

Improv is what I am really working on. Even with structure I find it hard to come up with melodies. I know that I will get better, and most importantly, I enjoy it.

I love your enthusiasm and positivity. You are beautiful as well. And when you share your personal life, like that you are dating or you have nothing to do Christmas Eve, it makes our get togethers all the more special. Thank you so much for being you.

Caroline: I found the connection between myself, my harp and the people I want to connect with.

Caroline's Insights about this Project

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

This is a poem with harp ‘accompaniment’. I seem to have found the connection between myself, my harp and the people I want to connect with.

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 DEFINITELY about connection (not perfection). Do what you can do NOW and that you’re comfortable with. Used learning about modes. I used all of this and the feedback I received to continue to develop the speaking/harp playing project which feels unique and authentic for me.

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

Deciding to be vulnerable, trusting coach and colleagues will be kind & encouraging. Knowing the only way to learn how to REALLY do this is to do it!

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

Self consciousness and lack of competence. Both struggled with and connected with. Be brave! I like to be brave!

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

As above.

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

Being less apologetic about my lack of progress in playing the harp and being able to use it to move people and bring them joy.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Finding my ‘harp thing’, my harp voice. Not trying to imitate or emulate others. I never imagined being able to find this.

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

I used Locrian mode to create an air of mystery and Lydian mode in others to create a feel of spaciousness. Well, that’s what I’m aiming for. There is a lot more I could develop around these.

TP: I’m excited to be able to share my music this way.

TP's Insights about this Project

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

This is a seasonal greeting with three folk tunes; the backdrop is Christmas-y, but the tunes are not particular to any holidays.  I just think they’re pretty and relaxing.

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 document is my attempt to organize my most important takeaways from Hip Harp Tool Kit. It’s highly verbal with one illustration.  It also includes a favorite DHC quote from the chats.

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 play-speak-play as a way to connect; I tried to be clear about intro, melodies, transitions, and ends; and I made the scene as pretty as I could.

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

I needed to play the set of pieces (or parts of them) over and over and over, sometimes exploring my options, and sometimes trying to cement something I’d found that worked. I was torn between playing more familiar holiday music and leaving holiday references out entirely.  In the end I settled for a mix, with holiday as a backdrop but music that stands alone any time of year.

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

Sometimes I would get lost in exploration to the point that I forgot how to get back and would have to restart.  When I’m recording video, I can make myself play through the mistakes, but it usually takes me many tries before I get mistakes that I don’t mind becoming immortalized.

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

I’m becoming more comfortable speaking from the harp and not always being lost in the strings.

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

I’ve thought about creating holiday video greetings before, but this is the first time I’ve actually done it.   I’m excited to be able to share my music this way.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

So much of the power is in the sentiment; the trick is in keeping comfortable enough on the harp technique to let the sentiment shine through.

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

The tunes I play are, in order:
Erev Ba (Evening Comes) — Israel

 

Cherie: In the past, I’ve had trouble with alternating my hands and finally was able to do it.

Cherie's Insights about this Project

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

This the final project for the jazz course 2020.
Playing “Remember”, with old childhood photos and video taken in my garden

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?

We have been looking at how to make videos, and decided to use a phone instead of the camera this time, so I could use different  locations in the garden and incorporate old photos.  I’ve never done videos before joining the Academy so it’s been a big learning curve.

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

I wanted to try the jazz waltz rhythm and at first I had difficulty getting both hands to work together.  I wanted to use a gliss for the intro, and descending arpeggios for the ending.  I’ve had trouble with alternating my hands and finally was able to do it.

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

To gain confidence in my playing, and trying out new ideas.  I have difficulty with rhythms and wanted to challenge myself to try them and I’ve really enjoyed the jazz course.  I struggle with music theory, understanding majors & minors, etc. and that I don’t read music seems to make me feel inadequate.  I’m still working on this.

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

Tech issues with editing and compiling the video was a challenge.  Couldn’t get the sound track right, seemed to be buzzy and had to record it several times.  What I could imagine in my head was harder to produce on video than I first thought.

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

I was able to perform live at an exhibition, and the jazz music was ideal for the occasion. Learning about the patterns 2 5 1 and how to improvise on them and use for intros was helpful.   Generally feeling more confident with my playing.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I could use the cubes from the jazz course to easily change keys for different music.  I’ve done it before but it’s taken me ages and now I can look at the cubes and work it out really quickly.  Not sure if I’ll really understand the theory but I can follow the cubes.

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

It’s my personal memories of my family, childhood, and in my garden with my pets. My parents have both passed on and so it was looking back at the wonderful life I’ve had and continue to have and how fortunate I am to have this.

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

Jennifer: Hip Harp Toolkit & the Video Holiday Card Class were very helpful to me in organizing my arrangement and message.

Jennifer's Insights about this Project

I must admit that it took several takes to get Sky [the dog] to cooperate. She has always loved the harp and is my constant companion.

In addition to Hip Harp Toolkit, the Video Holiday Card Class was very helpful to me in organizing my arrangement and message. I would never have attempted this without your instruction and encouragement. My biggest hurdle was the tech part and, until I do this a few more times, I will remain a little unsettled getting around my IPad.

Bella: Learning to make a video on my phone was something new and challenging.

Bella's Insights about this Project

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

inside jazz tunes – the birthday congratulations from trad kantele to jazzier but peaceful harp, with a story to it, text in the video!

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 changed the chordings as much as possible in the minor key considering the melody. By accident it came to be similar to the Minstrel Boy – another sad tune that should end better.

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

Going without the intros and vamps was more natural. Changing instruments made the spacing challenging, especially since I didn’t know how to cut the video. Even placing of the paper with the text was hard since I didn’t want it to be seen in the film. I was nervous as usual…

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

I’m still struggling with the fear of being seen by people who know anything about harp, so much that when I make a video, I forget everything to do with good technique and see strings double.

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

I wanted to do something with an appropriate song that wasn’t all bubbly but the minor was prettier and so I couldn’t figure out how to put altered chords in and not clash with the melody. I knew that it could have been bubbly too at the end but I know that my audiences would hate that.

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

Learning to make a video on my phone was something new and challenging, that will take time and need somebody to help me in person…and the story is much like my life – the modern girl that they thought would only play on one instrument in the oldest style.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

when I recognised the connection with the Minstrel Boy!

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

I’m still scared to death of harpists seeing me play the harp since I last played for a harp teacher in person in the 70’s. I play slowly because I have issues with my joints and had to spend several years without playing instruments at all.

Barbara: Simple can be better than complex if you can play at your own level in a relaxed way.

Barbara's Insights about this Project

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

I did not submit a final video, so my comments pertain to my half-baked version of Bleak Midwinter and First Noel.

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?

Simple can be better than complex if you can play at your own level in a relaxed way and feel that is okay.

It is more about connecting to yourself, your instrument and your audience than about making a masterpiece of perfection. Learning one or two chord progressions, to play in the bass with left hand and then noodle/improvise with some simple patterns, thirds or sixths in the right hand, can serve as a skeleton/structure for a piece that can then be expanded with vamps motifs, etc. as intro, ending and before and after exploration in the middle. I found using too many sections increased the length and timing of the piece too much and also made it more complex. I removed some of the motifs and found I liked the simpler version better.

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 practice both the notes and different versions quite a number of times before submitting the piece as a half-baked project. I struggled with the technology to get the video up on Youtube, because I hadn’t submitted anything for so long. I felt it was worth trying to complete the uploading to make it easier next time, but even so, at class time Sally had to help me by uploading the movie version.

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

I had planned to submit the Final Beginning Project as Christmas greeting card, but had not been able to get the decorative background arranged, not practiced enough to get the smooth, relaxed flow and transitions I wanted.

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

The technology of uploading the video to Youtube, as well as trying to keep within the allotted time frame.

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

Letting lots of other things go, including sleep at times, and creating piles of papers that are not organized, filed or put in notebooks.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

What didn’t sound good or ready enough to me seemed to be pleasing to listeners in class.

Sarah: I learned a lot, especially from difficult grooves from play alongs. You’re teaching is very clear and helpful.

Sarah's Insights about this Project

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

I didn’t make a video yet.

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 did play at two Yoga sessions – I use the information and development when I play for handicapped people. (I played there before the second Lock-down on a regular base.) I organized a donation campaign for an organization that makes songs and videos with seriously ill children in hospital.  For the donation campaign, I organized a harp breakfast together with two other musicians through a livestream on the net.

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

I thought i wouldn’t be able to play at yoga sessions.  I don’t like music during a meditation.  I can’t relax and listen to the music.  I find it a challenge to make music for a group of participants who listen attentively and want to relax at a Yoga session. A friend asked me and after your lessons on improvising around chord progressions I did it anyway.

For me where the tips play around progressions and the webinar blues meditation helpful. I have the feeling when I play for people that, I could play intuitive. I prefer to use also tunes what I can play with, like you learned use. With for example an improv in between. The yoga teacher would love it when I only improvise. I have the feeling it is nicer to improvise and play tunes. My improvisations are maybe a bit the same?

Your talks that it is ok to play from your heart to another heart and try not to judge myself, too much, helped me to go for it. The second time at the Yoga sessions I started to like it more, because I had more ideas about nice progressions and other tips.

I can’t find words, but it helps me also to watch you. The enthusiasm, preparing, to teach your professionality, showing your vulnerability.

For the livestream. The tip “looking at your background” was helpful. I wanted to prepare or to have a rehearsal. The other musicians didn’t and there was a time problem. I wasn’t relaxed and I could see that in my playing and performing. The other musicians were super relaxed and it was ok for her that we discussed what we should play in the livestream. At the end it is confusing for me. I think I prefer a good preparation and I could do it just by myself, also when I play with other musicians. I noticed that when I tried to prepare it just by myself I had difficulties to make choices. Learning process for me!!

I really love to play for people in healthcare. Really sad that we have to stay at home again! I used the tips to play different intro ideas like the 5th, arpeggios etc. To improvise in between. They stopped singing and started when I play the tune again, plus to make nice ends.

What I really have to develop. I feel myself insecure when I have to sing. Often there are people from the staff, family in the same room, or they video me. I have the feeling that I have to sing when I play child songs etc. I can’t sing and only play the cords. I play the tune with the cords because that is easy. I have to learn to play more tunes by heart. I miss often the nice groove if I want to play pop songs. I cannot figure out in a good way to play for example Let it be.

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

I didn’t make a video. I started the program late and had difficulties joining in. One reason is just a busy life: finishing a course, work, family, live event, relative died. I don’t get all the emails and information from the academy. I going to solve these things next weeks. You already told me what I have to do. I’m looking forward to join with the group and the next project.

The other reason that I did not make a video card is. I love to play music, but I don’t need to show off my self. That’s maybe why I like to play in the healthcare? I do also like the play with music theater programmes, but then not alone.

If I should make a holiday card, I do not know if people would like that. Some people don’t like the harp. It makes me insecure.

The other reason is it sounds a bit deep, do not take it too heavy. I was born in a childcare home. I was not welcome and shouldn’t be born. Simply said, they hide me sometimes etc. I perfectly understand and solved my history in a good way. A certain caution or modesty is still there.

I thought to make a video after all. For example a funny one with my family. I think it is also a very nice initiative and gift for friends. I would like to do it so well and beautiful. I set the bar too high and so far there is nothing yet. 😁🤪

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

I make more time for myself to play! When I play somewhere I notice that I can give sometimes more direction. I stand more for myself that I love to play at different locations and dare to speak it out and go for it.

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

I love the joy that music gives us and I spread it out.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Nice progressions, improve myself with the groove.

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

Thanks a lot for all you’re inspiration and great academy. I learn a lot especially from difficult grooves from play alongs. You’re teaching is very clear and helpful.

Do you play the Harp?
Academy Registration is OPEN NOW

Classes Start Jan. 18, 2021

We call these videos ‘Final-Beginning’ projects, because, while they’re the final project of this class, they create a new beginning – a place to start the next phase of the creative journey – and the commitment for everything in the program is Connection – not Perfection.

Below each video you’ll get to learn – in each players own words – what they’re playing, their challenges in creating this project and what their ‘aha’s and takeaways’ were. Readers, please add your own ‘Aha’s & Takeaways’ in the comments below.

You’ll see a huge diversity

Students of all technical levels take this class – and 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.  You’ll see projects from people who’ve played all their lives – and from people who left the instrument for decades and then returned. They’re all working from the same principles I teach in the class – and you’ll get to see how they each use those to create arrangements at their own level of technical ability.

They’ve also all committed to creating these arrangements ‘off the page’ – so they’re not playing written arrangements, but simply using what they learned to create a spontaneous arrangement, that will be different each time they play it.

One of my favorite parts of these projects is reading what the students write about their journey to creating this video – and I’ve included their answers to the questions I ask about that in the dropdown below each video.

A few years ago, when I was explaining to a non-harpist friend how much I enjoy these projects, and seeing everyone taking the same concepts and bringing them alive with different tunes, skillsets, levels of technical proficiency, and in different settings – I showed my friend some of the projects and after looking at the page she 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: These truly are real people, often people who are expert at something completely different in life, sometimes adult beginners who have only played the harp for a year or two – sometimes advanced players who are challenging themselves to break away from the security of written notes — all of whom are investing themselves, heart and soul in expressing themselves with an instrument that’s as tricky as it is beautiful.

Yes, these are TRULY real people, and they’re sharing the beauty of that realness with all of us. This is a real gift, and I, for one, feel joyously enriched by getting to see every one of these messages of music.

Harp Players! Creative Freedom starts HERE!

Do something for YOU in 2021

 

Gift Yourself a WHOLE YEAR of Creative Freedom

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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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