Welcome to Hip Harp Academy Member Spotlight Series: Grounded Expansion Quarter (Part 2 of 3)

For this year’s second quarter, Hip Harp Academy Members poured out their creativity to the next level, putting their creative expression into forms so that they can share it with others. And now, I’m sharing them with you!

Scroll down to see the projects – but first, take a moment to think about the power of people sharing their creative PROCESS instead of a PERFECTED “PRESENTATION.”  What you’ll learn from these videos – and the mini-interviews in which they share their process – will be far more inspiring to your creativity than someone sharing a trendy video with five gazillion hits.  This is creative process – and in these shares, you get to glimpse into the process of other people like you and HOW they overcame their own blocks to accomplish their next creative goal.

The Hip Harp Academy Members’ Final Beginning Project

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. And notice how different each video and each project is from the others … and yet they were all taking the exact same class.

This is the power of learning the tools of self-expression and creativity. 

“Final-Beginning” is a term we use remind ourselves that these are not meant to be “Final” projects. If we worry about making them ‘FINAL’, we’d never share!  Instead, we learn to embody a moment of completion as a new beginning: to acknowledge an accomplishment as something that opens up a new door, a new place to stand in, a new level of confidence – not the FINAL – it’s not the END … but the new BEGINNING.

So think about that as you watch them and 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, and 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.

Want more confidence, creativity support and freedom from the notes on the page?

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See all the Academy Member Spotlight Series:
Part #1  –  Part #2  –  Part #3

Cathy Hornby:

I’ve loved working on this – I felt I really could let the piece ‘get to me’

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Cathy's Insights about this Project

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

Here’s a version of “Gloomy Winter’s Now Awa’” – arranged after the inspiration of Baroque Flamenco – so, using the idea of a simple tune that provides an anchor for exploring spontaneous exploration and improvisation- I’m trying to let the music get to me! It’s in a rondo form (a bit truncated to fit the 3.5min brief – when I worked this up to how I’d want to play it for others it lasts around 5-6mins) and uses the brief modulation we learned in this 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?

The form – using Baroque Flamenco as an exemplar- taking a tune for a walk and exploring rhythms and improvising around a finger pattern.

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

I knew what I wanted to do more clearly than usual – this wee tune came to my mind and fingers and it struck me how obviously it leant itself to exploration in a rondo format.
I wanted to play it outdoor since it’s about leaving winter behind and with the garden full of flowers it really demanded it. As ever, I’m self conscious when I hit ‘record’, but less concerned about it than usual, and instead battling with breezes, rustling leaves and dogs barking from a neighbouring garden!

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

I’ve loved working on this – I felt I really could let the piece ‘get to me’ – though I find it takes time, so generally I need a good 5-6 mins to work through all I want to express. Getting there in 3mins trickier, but I’m happy enough with the recording.

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

Only one of pinning down what I wanted to include/exclude in a short version for recording here. When it came to it, I played what I played, it wasn’t exactly what I intended, and I had three attempts – each had their different strengths and I just chose this one to share.

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

I’ve had some fun playing this piece together with my husband since it’s a tune we both know and love.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I finally ‘get’ that use of the raised Bb to B to complete the modulation to G and the impact when playing the descending chords. And I can hold the structure of a piece – with its ‘tune’ sections and ‘improvisation’ points more readily.

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

This traditional tune is essentially, originally, a strathspey but I enjoyed stretching it about and moving around different rhythms to make different emotional connections with it.

Lynne:

I realize that I do these songs for me, that they are cathartic. If I can accept the outcome of the song, I can also accept the outcome of the story.

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Lynne's Insights about this Project

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

working from all the wonderful feedback on the arpeggios from my half-bake of “Where Can We Go From Here?” – since nothing has moved and so I’m still stuck in the music as well. Decided to embellish the physical embellishments even more so that every move was intentional.

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?

discussions of developing more musicality and physical presence. Eventually took on a character.

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

logistically I needed to slow down and after feedback embraced that even more and made it intentional to the point of desirable

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

Still struggling with what happens next in the story, since the story has abruptly hit a pause and there is no communication again.

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

Realized that my idea of how it is “supposed to be” (Even though I’m writing it) can change to make it more beautiful than originally intended, even.

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

I realize that I do these songs for me, that they are cathartic. If I can accept the outcome of the song, I can also accept the outcome of the story.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Maybe that is why I’m stuck right now. Maybe I’m afraid of the story’s end, that there will be an “end”

Lori Lewis:

Do not be afraid to step out and try something new and completely different. For instance, I was a little nervous about signing up for this class, not knowing what to expect. I am so glad I did! I felt stuck in my playing. I’m learning so many new things and enjoying it!

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Lori's Insights about this Project

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

My goal was to play Baroque Flamenco, Advanced Beginner version with its wonderful gestures. In order to meet the time requirement, I abbreviated some sections and combined a couple of variations as follows:
Intro-played first 4 measures once, no repeat
Played Theme 1
Combined Variations 1 & 2 (didn’t repeat)
Cut Theme 2
Played Theme 3
Variation 3 played once and skipped to 2nd ending but only 4 glisses instead of 6
Cadenza-only played once, no repeat
Played Theme 4 and Coda

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?

That the skeleton of a piece is important with all of it’s various parts (bones) but it’s also important to connect with the music and feel what you’re playing. I found all of the chats helpful because not only do you learn from the snippets, but also from other students who may be having similar questions/struggles.

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

My personal goal was to play as much of the Advanced Beginner version as I could as it was written just because I felt challenged to learn the gestures of the piece. This was a musical adventure for me because I haven’t used strumming, percussion, finger snaps, etc. in my solo playing but I like it!  I’m still working on expression. I do enjoy playing Baroque Flamenco and hope to continue by learning the Intermediate version.

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

Because this academy gives the freedom to not be “perfect”, it gave me the courage to play and post.
I took a deep breath and told myself, “I can do this!”

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

Feeling awkward and clumsy when learning some of the gesturing, but I know that is part of the learning process! It isn’t always going to sound pretty but when I make mistakes, just keep on playing and let it go.

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

To not be afraid to step out and try something new and completely different. For instance, I was a little nervous about signing up for this class, not knowing what to expect. I am so glad I did! I felt stuck in my playing. I’m learning so many new things and enjoying it!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

When Deborah was comparing playing the piano as opposed to playing the harp. She said, “On the piano the hands are playing two different things, but on the harp the shapes are the same in both hands.” That made so much sense to me!

Her snippets on a descending bass line playing the melody above, using arpeggiations, embellishing the melody, playing up and down, etc. These have been very helpful to me!

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

It may not look like it, but I did enjoy playing Baroque Flamenco! I love the melody and the contrast of the various themes.

Want more confidence, creativity support and freedom from the notes on the page?

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>> Classes Start Mon. July 22 - Join Now to get $400 off <<

Fern Nelson:

Aha that I can string snippets together!  How fun!  i want to put some blues in Eb major into the BF concept.

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Fern's Insights about this Project

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

BF with abbreviated melody.

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 understand glisses better, which should be like waves on water.  I’m trying to use my body more to connect to the harp, trying to feel an extention of myself through the harp into my music into the world as a gift,

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

Emotionally I always feel stuck, like I’m trying and trying to play the piece “correctly” and never get it right.  Some things have to be “right” and have structure or it doesn’t work.  So I try to use timing, number of bars (in blues), getting quieter or louder, etc, to put in emotion but I see frustration and trying too hard in my videos,

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

Blocks within my self are not accepting the level at which I’m playing.  If I’m not trying to improve I’ll always be at the same level, I believe, though DHC says otherwise,

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

Can’t get off of the page.  I told myself that I’d learn it on the page and then get off of the page, but I’m stuck on the page trying to do some parts of BF from the beginners and some from the intermediate portions

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

I have too much stuff in my life and I need to get rid of thing but am having a hard time. I have clutter on my desk in my harp/sewing room.  Clutter in my garage.  Clutter in my drawers.  Clutter in my calendar with too many things to do (thing which I really want to do…)

What were your personal “Ahas”?

Aha that I can string snippets together!  How fun!  I* want to put some blues in Eb major into the BF concept.

Sarah Loveland-Gill:

I don’t push myself to memorize things, but this was easy to memorize with all of the support provided, and it gave me a lot more freedom interacting with the harp and the music.

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Sarah's Insights about this Project

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

Baroque Flamenco Version 2, with cuts/edits to shorten the length into acceptable time for Final Beginning.

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 integrated the snippets and exercises to practice gaining confidence moving around the harp, and experimented with the concept of gesture which I’ve not really explored before. I adopted the version 2 as my own version, experimenting with some things I found interesting or wanted to modify to accommodate my current ability level.

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

The warm up practice material and all of the supplementary videos were very helpful. It helped me internalize the parts of the piece. This piece became something

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

I wanted to do more with my hands than they could give me sometimes. I had ideas in my head that didn’t really yet get expressed – but they’re on the way, and I did memorize the piece which I think is a plus.

I expressed the full range of the harp with this piece (not all of it is in this video), low B flat to high G).

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

I don’t push myself to memorize things, but this was easy to memorize with all of the support provided, and it gave me a lot more freedom interacting with the harp and the music.

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

I thought about the time I lived in Mexico THIRTY  years ago a lot, and I usually don’t think about my life that far back.

What were your personal “Ahas”?

I really enjoyed playing with the Merlin and seeing what it can do with this piece.

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

I keep wishing I had more time to really make the video exactly how I want it. But it’s the best I can do with the time I have. I feel it’s not my best playing, there’s a lot of things I hear that I want to fix or do over, but there isn’t time to do it.

Bonnie Berk:

My new mantra is : “I am enough.” Simple can be beautiful!

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Bonnie's Insights about this Project

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

I am working on a wedding blessing after the bride and groom say their vows. At the end of the blessing, I was going to have the guests sing along with me as I play the chords of Pacabel’s Canon and we all sing “Love.”   My idea is before the ceremony, I will instruct the guests what to do when I get to that section and hopefully, they will join in.

All suggestions are welcome!!

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?

Practicing grounded expansion, i have been learning songs and then improvising to extend the music and then using the melody to ground myself back into the song. In this project, I took Pacabel’s canon and tried to expand it into my wedding blessing as well as encourage group participation.

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

Getting feedback from my halfbake was very helpful and encouraged me to just noodle around the harp until i found the best way musically to communicate what I wanted to express.

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

Trusting my intuitive voice instead of second guessing myself.

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

Being less judgemental and more accepting of who I am.

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

My new mantra is : “I am enough.” Simple can be beautiful!

What were your personal “Ahas”?

The more I practice listening to my playing and the more attention I give to my music,  I am becoming a better harpist.

Julia Cunningham:

I’ve been feeling inspired by Deborah’s “Legacy Project” and in a way, I feel like I’m creating my own “Legacy Project” with these videos I’ve been creating for the past year and a half.   In actual fact, I believe we’re all creating Legacy Projects here in the Academy which is wonderful!  As we grow older, and/or when we’re faced with life altering events, it reinforces the fact that our time on this earth is finite.  My goal is to share my music, recordings & videos with the world.  One never knows when our time might be up.  Our music and videos will live long after we’re gone.  That’s a beautiful, comforting thought to me.

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Julia's Insights about this Project

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

This is a music video I created for the tune “Aged & Mellow Blues.”  

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

I’m always reminded of Deborah’s words: 
“Connection not perfection”.  

And here’s a new phrase I came up with that was inspired by the Academy:
“Be bold, be brave, try your best, accept it as it is, and don’t be afraid to launch & let it out into the world.”

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

This tune (Aged and Mellow Blues) is such a fun one to sing and play. Emotionally, it just felt right.  Logistically, it took a bit of organizing to get the right musicians for the track.  I was very happy with how the recording turned out.  

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

I always struggle with confidence when it comes to singing.  Fortunately, singing in a recording studio doesn’t intimidate me in the way singing in public does.  I learned to just have fun with it.  If you approach things with the goal of having fun,  it will likely come through in your music & playing.  

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

When creating the video, I initially struggled to find characters that would be suitable for the video.  My goal was to include footage of older men but I wanted it to be humorous.  Since the song has a retro feel, I searched for old black and white footage, and was thrilled to come across these various clips, especially of the men dancing in tuxedos which I thought worked perfectly with the tune.  

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

I’ve been feeling inspired by Deborah’s “Legacy Project” and in a way, I feel like I’m creating my own “Legacy Project” with these videos I’ve been creating for the past year and a half.   In actual fact, I believe we’re all creating Legacy Projects here in the Academy which is wonderful!  As we grow older, and/or when we’re faced with life altering events, it reinforces the fact that our time on this earth is finite.  My goal is to share my music, recordings & videos with the world.  One never knows when our time might be up.  Our music and videos will live long after we’re gone.  That’s a beautiful, comforting thought to me. 

What were your personal “Ahas”?

When I heard the piece come together in the recording studio, it was definitely an “AHA” moment as in, “Yes, this works!”

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

People often ask what I use to create these videos.  I use a mix of various platforms including: “Luma Fusion” and iMovie, and Adobe Premiere.   I find clips on iPhoto, Adobe Premiere and Storyblock.  

See all the Academy Member Spotlight Series:
Part #1  –  Part #2  –  Part #3

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