Deborah Henson-Conant
"Performance for Musicians" Workshop
YES! YOU CAN! You CAN be a part of this!
August 15 - 20, 2011

Watch this video or scroll down and read on!

This 5-Day Intensive combines performance, ideas and total body engagement.This is my most intense teaching week of the year - a small group of students in a rustic setting in rural Maine, co-teaching with a life-long friend and award-winning performer who shares my deepest creative ideas about the foundations of great performance. Karen Montanaro and I deeply believe that great performance is possible at any level of technical ability, through concepts we learned on the very floorboards where we teach this workshop: the Celebration Barn in Maine. If you play an instrument or sing and want to connect more deeply with your life through musical performance ... YES, you CAN!

"I learned more in one week than I have in YEARS!" (Virginia B.)

"I keep coming back because this workshop helps me
see who I am in new ways every time I take it" (Betty W.)

Have you ever watched a child play-acting and been fascinated? Ever watched a professional musician and been bored? How is it that one can entrance you and the other leave you cold? "Performance ability" and "technical ability" are separate skills. You can learn to give a great performance at any skill level. This workshop shows you how.

WHAT WE DO: Morning classes focus on theater, movement and physical improv. Afternoons include master-class-type coaching. Evenings include structured jams to practice rhythms, improv forms, arrangement structures and soloing techniques. The workshop includes:
• Full-class warm-ups and improvs
• "The Mime of Music": How we can literally embody the music we play
• Standing on Stage: How to feel comfortable just "Being There"
• Rhythm & Improv: Structured group jams develop arrangement, improv & soloing ideas
• Performance-study and critique: We work on your individual pieces
• Amplification techniques: What plugs in where -- and simple, effective effects
• Evening Performance: We try it all out with an audience!

COST: $800 workshop fee includes workshop, lodging and a healthy lunch and dinner each day.

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Workshop Features
Prep & Questionnaire (pdf)
Register Now!
Packing List (pdf)
Tentative Schedule (pdf)
Current Students: Workshop Prep Info


Good musicians become great.
Great musicians shine like stars.

The unique and memorable thing about great performers is that each has committed to their own persona . . . a persona that feels as right on the inside as it looks on the outside. Developing that persona, externalizing it and infusing your instrument and your performance with it can sometimes be a matter of simply liberating yourself, and sometimes a matter of painstaking practice and experimentation. This workshop teaches you to do both.

Your strength and uniqueness as a performer has to do with the fact that you're more than a musician . . . you are YOU . . . you have a persona, a mystique, a physicality, a "look" and a style of your own.  Maybe you haven't found it yet.  Maybe you're afraid of it.  Maybe you don't know how to get comfortable with it, how to develop it.  Or maybe you've found it and now you want to expand it.  This workshop is for you.


The info below should answer most of your questions. If you have others, email Deborah's office or Celebration Barn Office ,or ask Deborah on her Facebook Fan page. Click here to go to the FAQs.

Dates: August 15 - 20, 2011.

Application deadline: No official deadline. Limited space. Limit: 16 participants. Early application recommended. (more info below)

Instructors: Deborah Henson-Conant with special guest Karen Montanaro

Location: Celebration Barn, South Paris, Maine

Accommodations: Rustic accommodations and two healthy buffet-style meals daily on-site; camping space available (

Cost: $800. Fee includes tuition, meals (Lunch & Dinner), and accommodations. $300 deposit is due when you register, the balance is due when you arrive the Barn. Additional discounts are available for multiple registration (i.e.multiiple registrations from artists in the same performing ensemble, or for family members taking the same workshop, and/or when you register for multiple Celebration Barn Workshops.)

Requirements: Because this workshop focuses on performance techniques rather than technical music ability, it's is suitable for all levels of instrumentalists, vocalists and other performers hoping to add music to their performance. Here's what you'll need in order to apply:

  • If you have a resume, demo CD or EPK (Electronic Press Kit), send them after you register or provide a URL to your website or other online materials. If you already have a resume waiver from Deborah, Karen or the Celebration Barn, mention that when you register.
  • If you don't have a resume, CD, EPK or waiver, then just fill out the student questionnaire (pdf) after registering.
  • If you have any questions about whether the workshop is right for you, email us at

Registration Link: Link to online Registration

Age: 18 and older (younger students may be accepted with parental consent - see "Eligibility" below)

Workshop Features: Deborah and guest coach Karen Montanaro present techniques Deborah herself learned in developing her own unique style of playing. Daily class warmups; development of performance, arrangement and improv skills; preparation for competition and performance. Private directing sessions provide one-on-one coaching with Deborah and Karen; evening sessions provide master-class-style feedback on performance and allow students to gain insight from each others' development; special sessions with Deborah for harpists provide hands-on experience with strap-on harps, amplification and specific harp techniques. Special sessions for non-harpists with Karen Montanaro.

Instruments: It is not essential to bring your own instrument as there are instruments on site.
• Harp-players
: you can bring your own instrument or share one of the on-site harps (lever & pedal). There's a $50 equipment fee if you need to share on-site instruments.   (We usually bring two pedal harps,  2 acoustic lap-harps, and 2-3 electric strap-on harps, some with stands). Since the workshop is focused on performance rather than specific playing techniques, that's generally plenty of harps for everyone, but if you're concerned, you should arrange to bring your own harp. If you have questions or concerns about how this works, feel free to email us at
• Keyboard Players: If you need a keybaord, we'll provide a Kurzweil PC-88 electric keyboard - there's a $50 equipment fee to share the keyboard. You're also welcome to bring your own and avoid the fee. Let us know whether you'll need the Kurzweil or plan to bring your own, and if bringing your own, if you're willing to share it with other keyboard players.
• Other instrumentalists: Please plan to bring your instrument. If you can't bring your instrument (if it's too big, too heavy, too delicate, unavailable), it's possible to take the workshop without an instrument and to focus during the workshop on stage, movement and other techniques. Keyboard players:
• Vocalists, storytellers, actors, etc: your instruments are attached to you, of course, but feel free to bring any props or equipment you use or would like to use in your performances - or not.


Eligibility: The workshop is open to performers and musicians 18 and older* and is focused towards those looking to develop their own style, and/or interested in help with direction and coaching.  This workshop is specifically designed to help students develop or hone performance techniques, find their own voice, physically integrate with their instruments and/or develop a more integrated program (i.e. incorporate singing with playing narration or storytelling, dance, etc).   * under 18 may be accepted with parental reference. We'll require a letter from th student and recommend you speak to a former under-18 student.  Email for more info about what to do if the applicant is under 18.

Workshop combines ensemble improv, master-class-style feedback and private coaching sessions.
While Deborah will present specific harp techniques, this workshop focuses on performance exploration and on the development of a personal style of playing and performing.  This workshop will be team-taught by Deborah's performance coach, Karen Montanaro, using techniques from the "Montanaro Method" that Deborah, herself, first used  to develop her own unique style of playing.  The workshop goal is to help performers transition from their current level of performance to the next level. The focus is not to teach harpists to play like Deborah, but to help them discover and develop the art of playing in their OWN individual style.
Specific aspects are likely to include:

• Full-class warmups and improvs: Physical warmups precede morning improvisation exercises. Using techniques that combine theatre, dance, mime and physical improv, these exercises enhance players' comfort-level with their bodies and their instruments.

• "The Mime of Music": How can you literally embody the music you're playing or listening to, from "classical" to "jazz," "rock" or "world music"? These exercises teach students to approach performance from a purely physical standpoint so they can learn to let their bodies express the music they're playing.  

• Standing on Stage.  As simple as it sounds, sometimes the most difficult part of a performance is simply standing on stage, so learning to "own the stage" is essential practice for a performer.

• Rhythm and Improv: In group performance sessions, we work on developing comfort with rhythms, then putting those rhythms into a formal improvisation we can all play together and explore new ways of "comping," "soloing" and maintaining awareness of a musical structure while we're having fun improvising.

• Private direction: There's a chance to work one-on-one with Deborah and Karen on both harp-techniques and purely physical techniques.

• Performance-study and critique: Evening sessions offer students a chance for feedback on performance and to gain insight from seeing others' development

• Electric Harp / Harness Harp try-outs.  Harpists -- and others -- will have a chance to try various models of electric harps, both strap-on and standing harps, and have a chance to experiment with Deborah's harp harness.

• Amplification techniques.  You'll have a chance to work with a simple sound system and to experiment with both wireless and "hardwired" technologies. You'll learn the basic terminology of amplification including what to plug in where.

• Saturday Night Performance. At the workshop's close there is an opportunity to try-out what you've learned in front of an audience.   

• It's All About You.  Great performance is really about projecting our own unique spirit into the music, so while this workshop always does result in learning new techniques and greater comfort with your instrument or voice - it's not about your instrument -- this workshop is about YOU. The main purpose is for each person to learn to access their own unique spirit onstage and to project it wholeheartedly into their instrument, voice, body, ideas and performance.


CONTACT Celebration Barn: / 207-743 -8452 (Phone) / 207-743-3889 (Fax) or Register Online

Email for Application Requirements to They may include a an audio sample, resume, brief description of your performance goals, brief description of your specific interest in this workshop, and information about what instrument you play and/or how you plan to include music in your performance. You may also request an audio/resume waiver (see FAQs below).

For more about Deborah Henson-Conant:
For more about Celebration Barn Workshops:


Is this workshop right for me? Why is there an age restriction?

While many harp players take this workshop because Deborah plays the harp, it's not a "harp workshop." It's a performance workshop, specifically for musicians. The age restriction (i.e. under-18 need to send a specific letter-of-intent to Deborah) has nothing to do with ability, but with ability to focus and willingness to suspend certain expectations.

In plain language, sometimes younger students or driven professionals can be so focussed on technical ability that they're unhappy and frustrated in an environment where technical ability simply isn't the focus - so it's important that they know that coming in.

For the first day or two of the workshop, participants will rarely touch their instruments - if at all -- and may be doing things that seem irrelevant to standard technique (we do some conceptual excercises with music, moving through space in different ways, "playing" with ideas, and exploring the instruments in new ways, etc.). Younger participants won't have any trouble with it physically, but conceptually it may be a little confusing because of how experienctial it is - because it's about experiencing and integrating ideas, concepts and new approaches to yourself, your instrument and your audienc, not about learning cool new tricks (although you'll probably learn some cool new tricks as well!)

In the end, it all "comes together," and it's exciting to see the lightbulbs going off in people's heads — but younger players sometimes find the first few days confusing and even distressing (i.e. what does this have to do with me as a harp player???), especially if they're heavily driven to achieve results quickly and have built a sense of self on how quickly they progress. Those are the folks who'll be most uncomfortable at first — and of course, in some ways, they're the ones who'll get the greatest life-long benefit.

The age range for the 2008 workshop was from 16 to 60 - and it's expanded since then.  So long as participants know the above in advance and understand this is different from Deborah's "harp workshops" or even from her general public Blues and Improv Workshops that focus on specific techniques and skills, then this workshop will be a deeply enriching and rewarding experience.

If you're not sure if this workshop is for you and would like to talk to a past student, let us know what your specific concerns are and we can recommend someone for you to talk to. For example - if you're concerned that your playing level isn't high enough, we'll try to connect you with someone else who had the same concern before they came; if you're concerned because you play an instrument other than harp, we'll connect with someone else similar; if you're concerned you're too old, young, big, little, etc. we'll try to find someone who give you a reality-check and answer your questions from a standpoint that's similar to your own.

What if I don't have a lot of performance experience? What if I don't play the harp? What if I'm not even a musician??? Will I fit in the workshop?

While this workshop is primarily for musicians who want to develop their performance skills, it's also great for non-musical performers who want to add music to their performances. And while it's primarily for professionals and pre-professionals, it's also great for others. It's likely there will be times when we split the group so harp players get some focused harp-technique time with Deborah and non-harpists and non-musicians focus on other skills with Karen.

It's traditional at The Barn to have a broad range of students, and it's part of what makes the experience so rich. If you want to check with Deborah's office first, email, ask for a Workshop Questionnaire, fill it out and send it back ASAP – Deborah should be able to tell from your answers if you'll fit in the workshop. At the same time, email the Celebration Barn at and ask them to hold your place pending acceptance.

Where and what kind of place would I stay? Will I have a roommate?

Students stay in rooms at the Barn, which is the same building where the workshop is held. Depending on how full the workshop is, people usually do have a roommate. Usually, it's first-come-first-choice for the rooms, but under certain circumstances it may be possible to pre-arrange roommates – for example if you wanted to stay with someone closer to your age. In any case, you'll be rooming with another person of the same gender — but all the rooms are in the same building. If you would like, we can also have you email someone who did the workshop last year who can give you a first-timer's description of what it's like (just let us know and we'll connect you).

What are the hours? And when will I eat?

Officially, the schedule is usually like this:
9am – noon: Morning Session
12:30 – 1:30: Lunch (clean-up until 2:00pm) (Lunch is provided — there are always vegetarian options & choices)
2:30 – 5:00: Afternoon Session
6:00: Dinner (Dinner is provided — there are always vegetarian options & choices)

EVENING SESSIONS: Workshoppers usually meet for at least an hour or two in the evening, either for master-class type sessions (where individuals perform and get feedback) or for structured "jams" where students are given a musical form and a specific rhythm, and create a kind of round-robin structure where all practice doing quick "solos," alternating with jazz-type accompaniment techniques (it's hard to explain, but it's a lot of fun).In the workshop there's not a whole lot of "free time" -- most of the time everyone is all together.

What is an audio/resume waiver - what is it and how do I get one?

If you've taken this workshop before, studied privately with Deborah or Karen, or if you get a personal recommendation from a private teacher or from Amanda Huotari at Celebration Barn, the requirement that you need to submit a resume and audio sample in order to register can be waived. To request a waiver, register for the workshop indicating you're requesting a waiver; then email Deborah's office, explain who you are and why you want the waiver. They'll tell you if they need any additional information and contact Celebration Barn to inform them of your waiver. You may also request a waiver if you're simply unable to prepare your audio & resume in time. Email Deborah's office, tell them your playing level, experience and reason you want to take the workshop - then explain why you're requesting a waiver.

Frankly ... it's pretty easy to get a waiver by just emailing to Deborah, explaining why you want to take the workshop, what your playing level is and what you hope to get from the workshop. You won't be disqualified for playing level. We just want to make sure that people's expectations of the workshop are realistic. Some people prefer to send resume/audio so that Deborah has a better sense of what their work and level is like before they enter the workshop.

Can I submit Audio and Resumes online or do I need to send them physically ?

You can email audio via MP3 and PDF Resumes.  You can also submit and audio or video sample by referencing a MySpace (or other online) page with audio or video footage.

If I play an instrument that is inaudible without amplification, should I bring an acoustic instrument?

If you have a backup acoustic instrument and it's easy to bring, feel free to bring it – but if you have to choose just one, choose the instrument you want to be playing most often. I (Deborah) often practice without amplification – and in a group situation, being able to play your electric instrument without amplification may prove a big advantage.

Who is Karen Montanaro & why is she team-teaching this workshop with Deborah Henson-Conant?

Karen Montanaro has coached Deborah on performance and development and was a creative consultant on Deborah's recent DVD, "Invention & Alchemy." Karen and Deborah were both students of one of the greatest mimes of the 20th century, Tony Montanaro. Shunning the stereotypical whiteface and silence, Montanaro challenged his students to court the Unknown and to always "Try something new and see what it does to you." Karen and Deborah share a vocabulary of exploration techniques and a similar ethic of working to develop each performer's personal style.

What is the "Montanaro Method"?

The Montanaro Method centers around a unique style of improvisation. Based on the premise that each individual is directly connected to their creative source, this workshop provides a method for directly accessing that source. The Montanaro Method empowers your presence and jump-starts your repertoire. For this workshop, we will focus the Montanaro Method specifically on musicians – or performers who want to add music to their performance – and explore the unique relationship between performance and music; between player, instrument and the on-stage story. The point is to develop each performer's individual style.

Is it safe at the Barn?

The Barn's in a fairly rural location, so "safe" depends on your definition. For instance, if you're insanely allergic to bees or mosquitos you should know that you're likely to see both. But if you're cocerned about it being a high-crime area, then it's absolutely safe. This is also a very physical workshop, so you're likely to get a little sore, especially during the first few days.

How do I request a rental instrument (this is for harpists only)?

You're welcome to bring your own instrument. If you don't want to bring an instrument, you'll be able to use instruments that Deborah brings, but there's an additional equipment fee in that case ($100 for the week) - so if you want to avoid that cost, bring an instrument.

Will I have a chance to try out Deborah's portable electric harps?

This is a great chance for harp players to try out electric harps, experiment with effects and "try on" Deborah's electric lever harps. Deborah usually brings  both her CAMAC "Baby Blue," and Lyon & Healy "Silhouette" harps, and at least one electro-acoustic concert harp for students to try.

Are there other activities on site?

Not really. Deborah often goes for a run in the morning, but usually people don't have time for activities. In past years, when Deborah was a student going to two-week workshops at the Barn, there were places they'd go to swim sometimes — but usually people carpooled to those sites. In 2007, everyone carpooled to see a performance in a nearby town by the guest teacher, Karen Montanaro. But, again, the workshop itself is pretty involving and quite physical. When people have "free time," they are mostly resting or practicing what they've learned.

If you have more questions about local activities, you can contact Mandy at the Barn (

Will I need to bring my car? Will other people have their cars?

Usually, about half the people have cars and the other half don't, so people generally carpool if they leave the Barn grounds. A car is certainly not required.

Does Deborah offer pre-workshop lessons or private instruction outside of the workshop?

Deborah is available for private lessons at the Barn the day before the workshop begins. If you need a room that night, there are a limited number of rooms available in the house adjacent to the Barn. Email us at ASAP if you want to sign up for lessons that day and we can send you info on cost, room availability and lesson times. When you email, tell us:
  • Where you'll be coming from
  • Whether or not you'll have a car
  • How many hours of lesson-time you want
  • Whether or not you need a room for the night

If you prefer to schedule private lessons in Boston at any time, including the week before the workshop, tell us the date you'll be in Boston and how many hours of lessons you'ld like. Or just request more information if you're not sure what will work best for you -- and we can send you general lesson info.

Have a question that's not on this list?

Email us at with your question. We'll try to answer it as quickly as possible and then add it to this list as soon as we can.

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