This is a guest post by Kathleen Blackwell-Plank, who recently wrote this article for the Charlotte, NC Chapter of the American Harp Society, spotlighting chapter member Kathleen Wiley and her work with our “Jung at Harp” series. Thank you to Blackwell-Plank, and also to Chapter President Kristin Andes for making it available to share here.
What do Charlotte AHS Chapter member Kathleen Wiley, Jungian analyst, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Deborah Henson-Conant, award-winning, Grammy-nominated, international touring artist, and iconic innovator in the harp world, have in common?
Among other things, a YouTube series about the intersection of music and psycho-spiritual principles fostering creativity and expression!
How did this collaboration come about?
Several years ago, Kathleen helped host and transport DHC as the guest artist for a workshop and concert sponsored by the Charlotte Chapter. As they drove to the presentations, conversation turned to the role of the unconscious in creativity. This chance discussion provided fertile ground for the emergence of new ideas.
Deborah specializes in helping others experience freedom and creativity at the harp. Kathleen later participated in Deborah’s Hip Harp Academy and about two years ago, Jung at Harp and Strings of Passion emerged from a project Kathleen did in one of the classes.
The project quickly morphed into a video series that moves beyond the techniques of music to explore relationship, expression, and creativity. One of the episodes (there are now over 40!), Creative Bursts from the Unconscious, recorded on January 16, 2021, explores how improvisation using musical motifs creates a new relationship with the harp.
Deborah shared these improv musical snip-its in her 5-Day Vision Music Challenge. Kathleen combines her personal experience as an adult learner with her expertise as a Jungian analyst to tease out how creativity emerges from this new relationship, with implications for both our music and our lives in general.
The Jung at Harp and Strings of Passion Series is available free of charge.
Kathleen and Deborah develop the topics in collaboration. In the series they move from the particulars of relationship with the harp, to creative expression, to principals for creative living. The topics and ideas in the series also work in tandem with educational offerings in Deborah’s Hip Harp Academy. To follow the series, go to Deborah Henson-Conant’s YouTube Channel Playlist – OR – to this page to read more about the series.
What led Kathleen to take up the harp as an adult?
Growing up on a tobacco farm, she played flute at school and sang in the church choir but with limited finances, buying an instrument or taking private lessons was not possible. During college she played the guitar and sang folk songs. Her adventure with the harp began after meeting her husband, Jon Singleton, a versatile and talented Old-Time and Celtic musician.
Jon plays fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and guitar. Early on Jon asked, “What instrument are you going to play?” Kathleen shared a memory of hearing wonderful harp music at a beach restaurant. So when it came time to choose an instrument, harp was her dream. Jon teased, “That’s the one string I don’t play!”
Kathleen began lessons with Chapter member Christine van Arsdale and soon was participating in folk music jam sessions. At times, though, the pressure of keeping up with fast-paced fiddle tunes inhibited her confidence and relaxation while playing. Over the past year, Kathleen began exploring improvising with modes and shifted her focus from “trying to get it right” to developing a relationship of playful, meditative expression at the harp.
She is also enjoying learning music written specifically for the harp. One recent find was “Petite Berceuse” by Alphonse Hasselmans which can be downloaded free at https://archive.org/details/petiteberceusepo00hass/page/2/mode/2up.
So, what’s next?
Kathleen is excited about the way the Jung at Harp collaboration has generated ideas and reached people in different realms of interaction, bringing together people whose paths might not have converged before. Kathleen and Deborah are toying with the idea of making Jung at Harp & Strings of Passion a podcast to reach an even larger audience.
Connect with DHC (Deborah Henson-Conant)
Deborah Henson-Conant is a Grammy-Nominated performer, composer & innovator who’s performed her original music in one-woman shows with the instrument she invented (the “DHC” electric body-harp) – world-wide in theaters and concert-halls, with orchestras such as Boston Pops, Baltimore Symphony and Prague Radio Orchestra, and with legendary musicians like Steve Vai, Bobby McFerrin and Mason Williams. She also teaches and mentors harp players in creativity and self-expression in her online Hip Harp Academy for harpists worldwide.
Connect with Kathleen Wiley
Kathleen Wiley is a Jungian Psychoanalyst in private practice in Davidson, North Carolina. She works with individuals, couples, and groups with an eye towards wholeness. Her work seeks to empower people to live out of a conscious connection to God Within as experienced in our body and mind. Her series ‘New Life’ is available through Amazon.