WELCOME to Part 1 of the Hip Harp Academy
Final-Beginning Projects ~ Winter 2022

How to enjoy these video shares

How to enjoy these wonderful video shares? Enjoy the creativity and the willingness to share. Think about the fact that each of these videos is a unique creation – none of these musicians are playing written sheet music – they’ve created these arrangements by learning the fundamentals of arrangement and improvisation and putting them into play – literally – in their own creations.

Read their own account of their personal creative journey in creating each video by clicking the toggle beneath each video – and I encourage you to do that if you really want to be inspired.

Some of the players have played for years, and even decades – some have come to the harp as adults – some even as a retirement gift for themselves.   We’re a community connected by a commitment to creative expression. Every week we meet for masterclasses and training, during the week we practice the new ideas and the willingness to be vulnerable, authentic and self-expressed with our instruments, our voices and ourSELVES.

For the last 3 months, the members of Hip Harp Academy have been stretching themselves creatively, learning to put their creative expression into forms that they can share with others. Now they’re sharing that with you – in the form of these video shares.

How to enjoy these wonderful video shares:  Enjoy the creativity and the willingness to share. Think about the fact that each of these videos is a unique creation – none of these musicians are playing written sheet music – they’ve created these arrangements by learning the fundamentals of arrangement and improvisation and putting them into play – literally – in their own creations.

Read their own account of their personal creative journey in creating each video by clicking the toggle beneath each video – and I encourage you to do that if you really want to be inspired.

Some of the players have played for years, and even decades – some have come to the harp as adults – some even as a retirement gift for themselves.   We’re a community connected by a commitment to creative expression. Every week we meet for masterclasses and training, during the week we practice the new ideas and the willingness to be vulnerable, authentic and self-expressed with our instruments, our voices and ourSELVES.

So be inspired by that commitment, let it infuse your own life – and if you play the harp, come join us at Hip Harp Academy.

See All the Fall/Winter 2022 Projects: 
Projects #1  –  Projects #2  –  Projects #3


Chari McHale:

The challenge was to let it not be perfect, that it could be about connection and share what I learned.

 

Chari's Insights about this Project

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

Hi–I am sending a video of a medley of 4 improvised holiday songs: 1. Jingle Bells 2. Silver Bells 3. Silent Night 4. We Wish You a Merry Christmas against a backdrop of Christmas-y themes and photos.

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 idea of deconstruction to get to the essential sweet spots of the songs and used different ending and beginnings. I used 6ths to introduce Jingle Bells; thirds and arpeggios for Silver Bells; Repeated a C chord 1-5-10-1 for Silent Night and Fairy Dust to begin and end to We wish you a Merry Christmas L-H C5, R-H 123,5 (c-d-e-g)

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

Logistically, I played my harp and recorded on the IMovie app on the IPhone. I wanted to be able to get four songs in this improvised medley although it was a bit longer than anticipated and was harder to fill the song with images. It took a lot longer to find holiday pictures and I really need to get out for more footage like at the museum with 80 trees from around the world exhibit in Chicago.

It was an emotional experience for me because my playing has been affected by my health challenges but I got her done.

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

The freedom was in playing the songs with minimal note reading. Blocks come from not being patient with my right hand which is still recovering from the broken elbow and it was a difficult week for me physically.

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

Challenge was to let it not be perfect, that it could be about connection and share what I learned. That it could be a home movie with personal gongs in it.

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

I feel more confident in playing in front of others.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

To let  go of the perfectionism and listen to gr harp. 

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

I hope there is something you enjoyed.

Sally Walstrum:

I love playing this piece. It’s fun! It’s challenging! And it’s way cool!

.

Sally's Insights about this Project

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

I’ve been working on adapting DHC’s “My Mother’s Mexican Hat,” which is the first movement of her concerto “Soñando en Español,” for solo harp. This is an extremely shortened version of it.

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?

With DHC’s coaching, I’ve been working on taking a piece written for harp & orchestra and playing it as a solo harp piece. I incorporated the use of 6ths, improvisation, playing a melody line in both hands 2 octaves apart, and ideas of what to add in the bass.

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

I cut down a piece that takes me around 7 minutes to play to under 2.5 minutes for the purpose of this Final Beginning. I struggled with what to leave in and what to cut out. I kept changing my mind since I enjoy all the parts of the piece and didn’t want to leave any of it out. I also wasn’t sure if what I finally came up with made for a cohesive piece of music.

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

I’m very much a reader of music so it was a struggle to come up changes for the harp in places where the orchestra takes over the melody. I didn’t think I could do the piece as a solo, but DHC’s coaching was invaluable in this area.

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

It was a challenge to change the mood of certain sections since a single instrument can’t do a big buildup the way a full orchestra can. There were places where I wanted to make a big splash musically, but found it was effective with just the harp. I sometimes ended up taking the opposite approach and made it softer and calmer.

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

I’m trying to be more accepting of who I am and what I can & cannot do. I always struggle with perfectionism, so I was determined to do this project in one take. There are parts of the video that I like and parts that I do not, but I let go and submitted my one and only take.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Embrace who you are.

Janet:

With perseverance you can accomplish much, if something is not working adapt by removing notes.  

Janet's Insights about this Project

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

Video of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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 added and introduction of the melody an octive higher, added harmonics at the end “Merry Christmas”

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

I have been working on this piece for, it has multiple lever changes in several places that took me quite a time to get. Placement of some chords were awkward, and some are very cruchy.

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

I get lost at times as I have some of it memorized and then can’t find my place in the music, causing some hesitations.  

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

I am not playing this at the tempo that you would normally here it sung a, in order to get all the chords, levers changed I have slowed it down 

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

I am trying to over come having something perfect before I can share it.  As this piece is imperfect at this time. 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

With perseverance you can accomplish much, if something is not working adapt by removing notes.  

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

This is not what I was going to do when I fist started this quarter. I am in a class, Prepare, Study, Perform  with Shelley Fairplay in which I picted this piece to learn, and it took up so much of my time that I was unable to complete my original idea of making up a some chldren’s chirstmas songs. Maybe another time. 

Wendy Savage:

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to play.  Once I came to my decision, practicing was really quite enjoyable.

Wendy's Insights about this Project

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

My final project contains motifs taken from a song written by Frank Volz called Reflections.  It’s a song I learned when I was taking more formal lessons.  I love the meditative feel and felt it was the perfect place to move into my own ideas and expression which I did with most of the 5 part arrangement in mind. What you see and hear are what I think are only the beginnings of my expressive ideas but really wanted to get something in for homework.  

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 was making efforts to utilize the 5 part arrangement form

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 while to figure out what I wanted to play.  Once I came to my decision, practicing was really quite enjoyable. Creatively it became more emotionally based which I still found to be a really positive experience  Yes, some frustration but was just happy to make what I could happen.

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

I found I struggle with time not always being on my side. Many other responsibilities that can get in the way that block my progress.  I connected with the process in a way that actually worked.  I could have tried to make another recording and maybe should have but this was what I had time for.  So in that decision came freedom. I was comfortable within the process as well.  That actually felt newer to me.Sorry I was in vertical format.  I’ll remember to go horizontal in the future.

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

The challenge was to work within the parameters of the 5 part arrangement but also inserting my freedom of expression.  When practicing I had some ideas that I wanted to express musically but then at recording time, some showed up and some didn’t. 

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

I have a great responsibility to my elderly mother.  That has been a roadblock but I’m working at finding a way to compartmentalize.  It’s getting better.  So, I can’t say that had impacted what I learned in the class, but it put me on hold.  I showed up to all Monday classes unless I was traveling.  I enjoy that connection so much.  And I learn so much from that experience.  Thank you!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

The biggest Aha was that I got very comfortable with playing when I began to record.  Not sure why because I get a little nervous and it didn’t really happen this past time.  Another Aha is that I do understand quite a bit from the class but possibly still need time to apply it in a way that suits my playing interests and style.  It’s a process.  I’m good with that. 🙂

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

I notice in many places I pause and hoping that is more musical than awkward, I do like the meditative feel at times and then how I move forward in a more energized way within the music.  I’m surprisingly glad that I was able to let go and make this recording.  Any thoughts etc are always welcome.  

Diane Giorgi:

The Princess of Perfection, a metaphor answering the statement, “If I can’t excel, I feel inferior.”  An attempt to combine Hypnosis and Harp.

Diane's's Insights about this Project

Share the link to your video here:

https://youtu.be/dDIFmTZ7lLI

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

The Princess of Perfection, a metaphor answering the statement:” If I can’t excel I feel inferior.”  An attempt to combine Hypnosis and Harp. This is a metaphor I wrote for my sister in 2018, as part of a Hypnosis certification course. Since the course, I have been trying to find a way to combine harp and hypnosis

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 was inspired by the Creativity Workshop we did. The more questions I answered, the more my original concept of a performance mismatched what I would like the audience to experience.
I used Snippets for some of the incidental music. I was inspired by others who used story telling for their projects

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

iMovie is a beast for me, but slowly I’m figuring it out. 
At first, I felt I might have taken on too much, but breaking things down to one task at a time made it feel less impossible.

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

Fighting the feeling that “I’m not a musician, how can I possibly figure out music for this.”
I experienced freedom realizing that less is more and I didn’t have to write an opus.

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

I had to confront my overthinking and tame my looking for the hardest/most difficult way to do things and “zen” myself into a more simplistic approach.

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

Breaking things down to the lowest common denominator, so that projects don’t seem impossible and insurmountable, can apply to many aspects of life. 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

While combining harp and hypnosis was relegated to the back of my mind for several years, I realized I’m still passionate about the possibility of the changes in perspective that can be made in people/children by the use of metaphors. Made me consider doing a “performance piece” based on metaphors written for persons in the audience.

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

This story was initially written for my sister, but I’m hoping that I will be helpful for her grandchildren (4 & 2 yrs old). If they like it I might do the same for other metaphors I’ve written.

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Mary Law:

I’m so excited, my eyes can finally leave the music! I was able to engage with my audience at a whole new level; I put my hands in auto pilot and enjoyed the moment. It’s amazing the confidence this has created in me!

Mary's Insights about this Project

Share the link to your video here:

https://youtu.be/Yw81l5EFxO4

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

I was warming up for a gig and decided to try noodling over the chord structure in Silent Night. I got a bit lost a couple of times, but was happy overall. 

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 HHT structure. It enabled me to “see” where I needed to go and gave me the confidence to try improvising.

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

Knowing the chord structure provided the outline & following the fence posts gave a solid starting point. 

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

The feeling of playing from my heart was nothing short of empowering! It lead me to taking liberties in my old, worn out repertoire. Occasionally when improvising, I got lost in the counting of beats or how many chords I needed to play. I know this will become easier with time & practice.

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

I was trying to play eighth notes over 6/8, which was beautiful, but lots of notes to contend with. My brain was a little muddled, especially after playing it multiple times.

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

I love trying to improvise, it’s challenging, yet extremely rewarding. After I comped chords & noodled while my friend played the melody, she said, “Wow, that sounds really cool!” We were both surprised! 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I’m so excited, my eyes can finally leave the music! I was able to engage with my audience at a whole new level; I put my hands in auto pilot and enjoyed the moment. It’s amazing the confidence this has created in me!

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

Lol! My face looks stressed, I’m thinking about the next chord, what I want to noodle, counting, who’s watching. Ugh! Makes me laugh to see all of that in my expression. Hope to relax more with future gigs.

Are you OK with me sharing your final project & answers to the 6 questions on my blog (or just sharing your answers to the 6 questions if you didn’t submit a final-beginning project)?

Yes – and you’re welcome to use my full name

Are you OK with me sharing your final project in the Monday CHATS and if so which Chat will you be attending?

Yes – and I’ll be attending the Monday MORNING Chat

Stacy Salles:

This is mostly about me having fun, since I have to play a certain way in the hospital setting, which is nice, but I can explore more with hip harp.

Stacy's Insights about this Project

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

This is my beginning final project for the Structure is Freedom Class.

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 put to really be intentional about putting the 5 part arrangement to use. I also wanted to work with particular rhythm.

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 develop a simple rhythm with not much change in the left hand. Most of the work is being done in the right hand. I came to like the piece more as I worked with it.

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

I wanted to do a more syncopated rhythm which I don’t get to do in a hospital setting. 

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

I wanted to be intentional about applying the 5 part arrangement. It wasn’t easy to come up with an ending. Creating an ending I was happy with was the hardest part. Another challenge was creating my own composition. 

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

This is mostly about me having fun, since I have to play a certain way in the hospital setting, which is nice, but I can explore more with hip harp.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I’m not sure.

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

I couldn’t come up with a title. I’d like to hear what it raises up in other people. That might help me get a title.

DH:

I like challenges, although their realisation needs a lot of time.
The realisation and the result is quite different than I intended in the beginning. To trust in that process is very helpful.

DH's Insights about this Project

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

Christmas greeting video done with an Italian lullaby.
Melody and text is from Toscana. 
I will send it to family and some friends

 

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 parts music 
Jazz waltz rhythm
Curtain as background

 

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 work with jazz waltz rhythm, it took some time until I played it properly.
As the lullaby is played quite slowly and as I had enough time, I was not so much stressed.
But sometimes I thought it is too slow, too calm, boring? 

 

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

I always have problems to play for 3 minutes without mistakes when the recorder is on, this makes me angry and then more mistakes appear.
Enough time helps to stay calmer.
To try to create something out of an idea, is always very interesting for me and encourages me to go on…

 

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

I stayed with the 5 part music system, that helped me not to lose myself. 
Time-frame helps me also not to lose myself in too many different parts.

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

enough time is a good base for being creative

 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I like challenges, although their realisation needs a lot of time.
The realisation and the result is quite different than I intended in the beginning. To trust in that process is very helpful.

 

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

I choose an Italian lullaby because where I live, we also speak Italian and because I loved that melody and because i wanted to take something different than a Christmas song.
The baby you can hear is the grandson of a friend.

Lynne Lapidus:

That I have a creative outlet is the most important thing to me.

Lynne's Insights about this Project

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.

Lyrics and potential lyrical ideas are in the PDF

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 a progression, then modified the progression. I improvised using a pattern of going up, repeating, then skipping. Then reversed it. This was my structure.

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

HAH! Emotionally, I sang this over and over    and over, but only played it once before recording. I only recorded it once even though I blew the lyrics, if that says anything….

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

I’m STILL struggling with the story because I’m IN the story and it isn’t resolved/over yet.

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

The challenge of: Can I really write this? SHOULD I really write this. I NEED to write it.

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

That I have a creative outlet is the most important thing to me.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

That writing can be all encompassing and cathartic at the same time. It kept me up at night

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

That this is only the beginning of the song.

Betty Herloski:

Things can be simplified, rearranged, and it’s really okay to make something your own. Doing this has giving me more ideas for making shorter pieces for demos and greeting cards.

Betty's Insights about this Project

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.

Feeling happy to be able to present mu shortened version of Merceditas for lever 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?

The chats, office hours and catch up coaching helping me to brea down the piece, work on technical parts and to really relax and enjoy playing the harp.

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 study and looking for patterns and repeats, breaking down it bit by bit so I could build it back up to where it is now. Emotionally, it’s hard to share, but all the encouragement from HHA has really helped me to start to get through.

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

Blocks – working on a piece that originally not meant for a lever harp, choreographing lever changes, and then slowing things down to try to express how the piece makes me feel.

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

Trying to figure out how to turn a longer piece into something shorter and to get the best parts into a cohesive piece.

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

Realizing I can do more than I give myself credit for. Learning to love to play again. Being with a group of supportive fellow harpers and looking for and finding how I can be inspired.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Things can be simplified, rearranged, and it’s really okay to make something your own. Doing this has giving me more ideas for making shorter pieces for demos and greeting cards. 

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

I’m still working on technical things – asking and getting help to bring out the best sound from my harp.

Special Thanks

Very special thanks to harpist Sally Walstrum for collecting and curating these video gifts (including the 30+ others that we’ll be sharing in coming days). Sally – you are a joy and an inspiration.  And thanks to everyone in the Academy for your willingness to share your gifts with the world. You make this a richer world to live in. (DHC 12/24/22)

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