WELCOME to Part 2 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.

What if you decided to explore a new way of playing music, where you learned the basic building blocks of music itself, and then you ‘built’ a new piece every time you played?

That’s what members of “Hip Harp Academy” learn to do – to build and discover music as they’re playing, and let it be new each time, without the security-blanket of the notes on the page.

Enjoy these video shares from the 2022 Fall program at Hip Harp Academy  where our motto is “Connection … not Perfection”

Click the toggle beneath each video to read the personal creative journey of each player – and if you play the harp, join us at Hip Harp Academy.

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


Bonnie Berk:

This is a short sample of a 20-minute guided meditation. If anyone wants a full version, I would be happy to share.

 

Bonnie's Insights about this Project

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

This is for Structure is Freedom course, but the link was not an option on this form. I included a description of what I did so others can duplicate. Thanks for your input on my half-baked project. I used all your suggestions.

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

The chats were most helpful as well as feedback from both Deborah and class participants.

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 slow down and be patient with myself while playing. I needed to be less self critical and just try to have fun.

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

Looking at myself while recording my videos was initially hard. It was helpful though because I realized I needed to smile more when I play.

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

Playing slowly and really listening to myself objectively.

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

Trying to become less serious and more playful. Learning to really listen to the notes and allowing myself to wander on the harp.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

When my face is tight, so are my fingers! When I was in the flow physically and emotionally, so was my harp playing!

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

This is a short sample of a 20-minute guided meditation. If anyone wants a full version, I would be happy to share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cherrie Mooney:

If life becomes too complicated, take it one step at a time, and block out what’s not important. Be yourself, not worrying about what others think. Connection with others is important.

Cherrie's Insights about this Project

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

This is a medley of three tunes, Simple Gifts, Finlandia, and The Water is Wide, using an intro, ending, and improv between each tune.

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 arrangement form (expanded)

Matching left hand patterns and accompaniment to the music

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

I was overwhelmed at first by all the possible combinations. I needed to take it one step at a time, and block out everything else.

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

My biggest problem was trying to keep it simple. I just wanted to make it sound like more, which made it more complicated.

I still have a problem with involuntary pauses while playing. This recording took many attempts.

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

I started out with a bigger goal, an hour of meditation/yoga music, but realized that was too ambitious. I ended up with a medley of three tunes.

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

The class concepts can be used in life:

If life becomes too complicated, take it one step at a time, and block out what’s not important.

Be yourself, not worrying about what others think.

Connection with others is important.

 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Once I started adding accompaniment down from the melody, it started to become automatic.

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

I tried recording this on my much colder enclosed front porch, for a different background. After a few minutes, the strings were very out of tune, and it was hard to play with cold fingers. Also, there were cars making noise driving by. On the plus side, I was comfortable with people walking by, staring in. In the past I was too self-conscious. This time, I just didn’t care.

Debra Sawyer:

I am beginning to feel more and more that I know what I’m doing with my music. There is still a lot I don’t know but it is a mind/body event that keeps me working at it.

 

 

Debra's Insights about this Project

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

My Half Bake was my interpretation of Fly Me to the Moon w/ a rubato beginning. I shared with DHC that I have been working with a percussionist on a Cajon. She made some suggestions about how the two percussive instruments could interact using this same form. So, we tried 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?

I used principles of structure and played around with it i.e. by slowing down the piece in the beginning, coming to tempo, and then adding voice. It really started to evolve working with the percussionist. The first take was better but there were problems with the sound. The 2nd take ok to get the idea across. After this recording was made, we played it live in front of an audience and other musicians. There’s still more to do – we had fun!

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 playing this progression as a warm up. Depending on day and hour it always gets me improvising and reinterpreting it. As a warmup it is therapy. Now to make it into performance with another player is exciting and fun. One, because I am so familiar with the form, and 2, I have not tired of it.

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

Slowing down the progression and breaking it apart was an impulse to try at first. As I kept fooling with it, I got looser and looser. I found a great deal of self-expression in the playing of it and now especially with a percussionist.

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

Mostly the old creepy self-doubt that the idea wasn’t going to fly. I am learning to push through those moments and walk through fire rather than resort to giving up.

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

Mostly confidence as a musician. I am beginning to feel more and more that I know what I’m doing with my music. There is still a lot I don’t know but it is a mind/body event that keeps me working at it.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Biggest aha was having a drummer hold the rhythm so I can dance on it is a joy for me as a musician. And telling the drummer not to follow me, just hold the rhythm and we will sync on many levels. Still working it. Sooo much fun!

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

Try it yourself!

Tammy:

I had to let go of how I perceived it should sound and just let the music flow through me.

Tammy's Insights about this Project

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

This is me combining my love of playing the harp and telling my story. All the pictures and video are my own. I was able to take what I learned in Structure is Freedom class and apply it to my playing which added the final aspect of my story

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

Using a simple structure and applying it to my playing. I don’t have to be fancy.

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 let go of how I perceived it should sound and just let the music flow through me.

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

It’s hard to let go of perfection – I could finally allow myself to just play and not worry about something written on the page

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

It was a challenge to let myself be free and just use simple melody and technique.

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

This class allowed me to complete my story and make it my own.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Simple is freedom

Carol Henley:

simple is better!

Carol's Insights about this Project

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

This is one week of a four week project of Advent hymns.  I’ve done a more or less 5 part arrangement of the hymn “Prepare the Way, O Zion”

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

My goal was to keep to the structure of a 5 part arrangement.  So, there is a simple intro. and ending, and a brief improv in the middle.  The second time with the melody is only the A part.  I am hoping all this hangs together.

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

Trying to put pictures, titles, and various parts of the music (I edited, as I couldn’t seem to get it all together in one piece) was a real challenge.

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

The biggest struggle was trying to play a hymn from a hymnal, ignoring the arrangement/accompaniment, and just focussing on the melody line and chords.  Finally, I wrote out just the melody line with chords above, and then it was MUCH easier to deal with.

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

I was so wrapped up in the technical aspects of getting this video together, that it was hard to enjoy what I was doing.

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

simple is better!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

again, simple is better!

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

This video is short, because it is one in a series of 4, for the 4 weeks of Advent.

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Romana:

I feel more connected to the harp, free to play by ear, didn’t manage to do that with harp before.

Romana's Insights about this Project

Share the link to your video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVeLjD5O6WY

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

Simple arrangement of a traditional Irish song (The Wexford Carol) for harp and voice.

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?

Feedback from the Half-Bake project (essential part) + Harp Improv Challenge and Chats made me realize for the first time since I started to teach myself to play the harp that I can actually play without sheet music (huge aha moment) even though my technique is very poor and I cannot add nice arpeggios, cadenzas, etc. to my improv/arrangements yet.

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

A lot of time 🙂 I recorded the song many times till I gave up and used the last recording even though it is full of mistakes.
Some amount of stress, as I am quite self-consciuos so knowing the song might be heard by someone else made me really nervous (and I just recorded audio).

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

Self-consiusness, self-doubt, singing “in public”

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

lack of proper harp technique and limited voice strenght and range

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

I feel more connected to the harp, free to play by ear, didn’t manage to do that with harp before.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I can actually arrange a song for harp when I remember the melody, without any sheet, even when my technique is very basic.

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 – but please just use my first 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

Joke Verdoold:

Simple is more than good enough and more fun. (When I normally write or arrange, it’s always too difficult for me to play it myself.)

Joke's Insights about this Project

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

This is a still shortened version of my new song. Staying within the time-limit I had to choose, doing a hasty version of all 3 verses + choruses, or doing only 2 and have some small improv. Also if the playing-structure was what I tended most, it now happens also to show the 5-part arrangement-form.

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 wrote down the notes, so that at a later date I can remember/relearn the song when forgotten. 

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?

Structure was my main principle of this course. I wanted to have a recognisable and easy to play structure to support the song I wrote on Thomas Campbells beautiful poem.

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

Time! Time and time! Which for me normally means that halfway I let go of it, because what I’m busy with looses its glow and I find new interesting projects. But not this time, and that makes me feel good.

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

Going on also when I lost my interest in the project.

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

Sticking to what I already made and not every time trying to invent/play something new. 

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

Patience and perseverance

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Simple is more than good enough and more fun. (When I normally write or arrange, it’s always too difficult for me to play it myself.)

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

I’ve the intention to make a new video with the full version in style. Watch it coming up.

Addie Elliot:

I feel that I’m able to grow in the harp, especially when it comes to improvisation.
Also, its very helpful to have a structure when it comes to create a short piece.

Addie's Insights about this Project

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

This is The Secret Garden improvisation with a short piano intro. I’m using a progression with major and minor chords. This piece is written in Am.

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 principles I used is the rule of Intro, Melody, and Coda. I create a chord progression using mainly Am chords, and complementing with major chords.

I record myself often, so in terms of technology I didn’t experience issues.

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

Am chords sound very beautiful when played in a progression (A-C-E , A-D-F, G#-B-D). When, I played these chords on the keyboard I wanted to hear them on the harp, and I love it!
The melody makes me feel in a secret garden, where silence and calm is all you can feel. There’s a mystery hidden in that garden, but it’s full of beauty, colors, elfs, gnomes, and magic. That’s were the title came from.

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

The blocks are that sometimes my being wants to play faster than my fingers allow me, so I made couple of mistakes and noticed them all. However, I tried to be gentle with myself and thought…well this is an improvisation, so mistakes are allowed. That helped me to overcome perfectionism.

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

The challenges are my technique. Every time I practiced the piece, I was self-conscious on my hands. I want to keep a nice, relaxed position when playing, but at the same time keep on fluency. I know this wil improve as time goes by. Practice, practice, practice!

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

I feel that I’m able to grow in the harp, especially when it comes to improvisation.
Also, its very helpful to have a structure when it comes to create a short piece.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Not being too hard on myself when making mistakes.

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

Just ignore the little mistakes that my fingers made. Ha!

Think that you are in a magical garden!!!!

Lesley:

It took an impulse to share, an encouraging comment from Deborah about completion and a commitment to follow through. The ethos of the academy – to share ourselves despite our imperfections – was hugely influential.

Lesley's Insights about this Project

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

This is my final project for structure is freedom aka hip harp toolkit.

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 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 an impulse to share, an encouraging comment from Deborah about completion and a commitment to follow through. The ethos of the academy – to share ourselves despite our imperfections – was hugely influential.

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

Initially, i did not think I had anything to offer as due to other committments, I had only attended weekly chats and not engaged with the teaching materials. However I had followed the course last year and I drew on what I remembered.

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

Time constraints and a feeling that my technical proficiency did not match the ambition of my musical impulses.

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

When we commit to creativity we tap into something greater than ourselves and discover that joy can be found in the simplest of tasks – even clearing out a shed!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Seeing Deborah make a 5 part arrangement out of a 
C major scale, and realising that the simplest idea can be the seed for something beautiful and meaningful. A helpful comment from an academy member that am arrangement could be made from a snippet was another ‘Aha!’

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

Just that all comments are very welcome!

Susan Regan:

Logistically, once I decided to make it my own it took on a new life.  
Emotionally, I enjoyed the process. 

Susan'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 main principle was to use Structure for freedom. When I choose to play this piece the arrangement I bought was too difficult, so I simplified it to create an arrangement that was right for me.

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

Logistically, once I decided to make it my own it took on a new life.
Emotionally I enjoyed the process.

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

The freedoms were being able to play something I love and make it my own.

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

The challenge was to chance the arrangement to fit my ability.

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

Not to obsess with difficult pieces, but to play with joy.
I incorporated my pass into my Holiday program and added a few dances. Not to abandon who I am.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Any piece is possible.

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

Only that it took many tries and it felt different playing in front of a camera than practicing alone.

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 12/21/22)

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