The Basics of Beauty and Fire (All levels)
Phase one of this beginning workshop deals with the basics of playing with beautiful ringing tone. Rediscover the hidden resonance with-in your instrument by approaching each note with a relaxed and supple arm, wrist, hand, and finger. We will work on specific exercises and techniques to develop listening for beauty in every note. Phase two deals with developing facility and fluency on the harp. We will address issues such as cross-overs, rapid arpeggios, repeated octaves, dynamic control, and generally how to gain that speed and even tone quality that is the envy of every player.
Composing on the Lever Harp (All levels)
In this workshop we will explore three specific techniques to enhance your creative bag of tricks. The first, “play by number,” will use a random sequence of numbers to create a melody, and then use our ears to flesh out the harmonies. This could be a telephone number, a birthday, or a random sequence. Then we will explore the “double diad” method of creating two intervals, one dissonant, one consonant, thereby forming movement and direction with-in the tonal palette. The two intervals will then be expanded to form chords, which may in turn suggest a melody. The third system of composition is really an improvisatory exercise. We find a finger pattern which fits well in the hand, and through a series of minor variations, transform the pattern into a meaningful sequence. Be prepared for your ears to be expanded. Some of these tonalities may not always sound very traditional.
Unity and Contrast: Arranging for the Lever Harp (intermediate)
This workshop is a practical guide to a few successful arrangement techniques. We will take an existing tune, and watch with an analytical eye and ear how the melody can be transformed through various treatments. We will cover open harmonies, left hand melody techniques, right hand arpeggio melody techniques, use of harmonics, substitute chords, non-chord tones including suspensions, the effects of register changes, modal treatment and more. Special attention will be given to the intended impact of each treatment in order to create a meaningful and thoughtful presentation.
Modes De-mystified (All levels)
In this workshop we will work with the six most common modes: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian and Aeolian. We will discover chord progressions which work to harmonize melodies in each mode using a sequence of half steps and whole steps. We will also experience improvisation in the most common modes. Some music theory is helpful for this approach.
African Poly-rhythms (All levels)
Experience the high energy interlocking rhythmic complexities of West Africa. The harp is in essence a percussion instrument. We can easily transfer the rhythms of the djembe onto the harp for a fun exercise in rhythm and ensemble playing. Each part is intricate and interlocks to create a distinct and sometimes hypnotic “song”. The patterns are sometimes simple enough for beginners to join in, and sometimes present a complex challenge for experienced players.
Harp Yoga (All levels)
“Thumbs up, elbows out, full articulation, sit up straight and… RELAX!” In this workshop we will explore how the body moves while at the harp. We will work with gentle stretches that target those muscle groups that tend to be the most vulnerable to injury as a harp player. We will also touch on some basic body mapping concepts. Wear comfortable clothes.
Modulation Takes Co-ordination (Intermediate / Advanced)
If you need to be able to move with ease and grace between keys on your harp you’ve come to the right place. This is a “hands on” workshop, and requires some basic music theory. This workshop is divided up into two phases. The first phase deals with getting familiar with some basic chord progressions using a simple familiar melody with emphasis on the dominant / tonic relationship. We will explore how each chord functions with-in a key and in our chosen tune. Phase two delves into several possible ways to ease from one key to the next, using the dominant as a pivot chord. We will finish out with an exercise to modulate into sharp keys, and also into flat keys. Previous knowledge of the circle of fifths is helpful.
World Beat Riffs in Celtic Music (All levels)
From the complex djembe poly-rhythms of West Africa to the foot-stomping reels of the Scottish Highlands this workshop explores the harp’s rhythmic potential in a unique and challenging series of experiments. Phase one involves each harp playing an intricate interlocking pattern of multi-layered rhythmic motives. Each player must listen intently to discover the overall resultant rhythm. Phase two requires a cross-cultural leap. We begin to incorporate some of the coolest rhythmic motives into some high energy Celtic tunes.