March 30, 2011

To wrap up our March on Spring Planning

I've taken the month of March to tell you about some great harp opportunities that are available this summer. I mention these particular events because I have participated in each of these events in the past.  I am confident that if you choose to go to any of these you will have an excellent learning opportunity - and you'll have fun!  There are many harp events throughout the summer and this was not meant to be an exhaustive list - just a sampling, so I'll end with the last of my suggestions - Harp Camp.

I'm particularly partial to Harp Camp because it is not only where I have such fun teaching and sharing - it is also where my harp life began.  This will be the 16th consecutive year for Harp Camp and each year Director Kris Snyder puts together a wonderful teaching staff.  I wasn't at the first few, but I am delighted to be invited back again this year.  Lucy Stevens, the wonderful arranger and performer, will also be teaching this summer. I am so excited - we have done all the planning and have put together a really nice workshop for you - if I may say so myself!

Harp Camp is a great learning environment.  The setting and the facilities allow participants to be comfortable.  That comfort allows you to safely try new things, meet new people and ideas, and grow regardless of your level of experience and expertise. In fact, Harp Camp is an excellent place to come if you have never played the harp before and are not certain it is for you. At my first harp camp, two of us were in that is now a harper (me) and the other decided that it wasn't really for her, but don't worry, she had another instrument to fall back on.

Harp Camp will be in the lovely Glen in Southeastern PA which is beautiful (that's not really what its called - but that's what it reminds me of).  This setting lets you breathe and be creative.  In addition, we have a variety of activities that all contribute to our growth,  In case you're worried, we don't spend 8 hours a day slaving behind our harps - we spend the days in a variety of activities and we have FUN too! We approach developing our musicianship in a number of different ways and in many modalities - it's exciting and I am very thrilled to be returning!  We have a variety of learning experiences, exploring basics of music, technique, performance, as well as creativity, ensemble play, arranging and writing, improvisation, and other aspects of being a solid musician. We also play games, enjoy good company, and play a lot of great music together. It's a busy workshop - jam packed with harpy goodness!

We'll be updating the website so you can find all the particulars and I'll post here when the information is available.   Don't forget the date - join us for Harp Camp 28, 29, and 30 July!

March 23, 2011

The REAL highlight of the Harp Summer

I have been posting about some of my favorite music opportunities for the summer.  Each of them is an event I have participated in and really enjoyed as well as learning a great deal.  Summer is a great time to learn and a wonderful time to play the harp. 

But by far and away, my favorite summer harp activity is GOING TO SCOTLAND!  We do have a couple of spots left in the Harp in the Highlands and Islands tour in August.  As much fun as it is to go to schools, though, it is nothing like actually going to Scotland and playing harp tunes smack in the middle of the places the tunes evoke!  It is a breathtaking experience to sit in a castle and play a tune that was written to honor the Laird or to look over a field and play a march that commemorates the bloody history that occurred there - reminding us that people live history every day.

As you can see, we had a great time last year - and this year looks to be even better! 

And you can live your own harp history - come with us!  We go along the byways - not the highways - to see the parts of Scotland most people never see.  Through villages and along Lochs we find our way to the gems - and learn the music associated with them.  Accommodations are wonderful and the food in incredible!  Each day brings more - wonder, beauty, history, scenery.  And you may think I'm just gushing to get you to come - but really I'm gushing because I can't believe how lucky I am that I get to go and see the sites, play the tunes, and show you the things I love about Scotland.

I hope you'll join me - for more details, go to

March 16, 2011

Summer time at Somerset

The Somerset Folk Harp Festival will be held in Parsippany, NJ July 14-17 and in conjunction with the Historical Harp Society Conference.  Somerset is a great conference - see people you know, meet people you've only dreamed of meeting, and learn from some of the brightest stars in our modern harp pantheon.  With over 90 workshops to choose from the question is not will there be anything to go to but rather how will you ever decide on just a few in the available time.  In addition, the vendor area is a veritable cornucopia of temptation and delight with products ranging from delightful jewelry and trinkets to harps that are beautiful, mellifluous and harp-lust inducing!  And if it needs it, you can even take your harp to the doctor - and have it regulated!  All in one place and for an excellent price.

No matter your interest area - historic, wire, Celtic, Latin, classical, bedside - there will be workshops.  There are sessions on business, teaching, and other "tools of the trade" for professionals and those contemplating becoming professionals.  And there are excellent concerts each day of the event.  And even more - there are jams, the Carolan marathon, fancy dinners,  meeting old friends, making new friends, and harps everywhere! 

Somerset is well run, fun, informative, and worth the trip.  Early Bird registration offers a great deal on the registration price and is open until May 14th.  For all the details go to the website (being updated frequently with even more information, presenters, performers, exhibitors and more) -  Don't miss it!

March 9, 2011

Its beginning to look a lot like...OSAS!

Those of you who know me personally know I'm really big on going to school to learn cool stuff. So it is essential that I tell you about/remind you about/encourage you to come to THE OHIO SCOTTISH ARTS SCHOOL. I have been fortunate to participate in OSAS for a number of summers and each year I learn more than I thought possible - so you need to know more about it too!

This year, OSAS will be held June 25—July 1, 2011 at the quaint Oberlin College campus in Oberlin, Ohio (just south of Cleveland). OSAS is sponsored by the Scottish-American Cultural Society of Ohio, Inc.

From the website, “It is the intent of the OHIO SCOTTISH ARTS SCHOOL to provide comprehensive instruction in traditional arts of Highland dancing, fiddling, harping, piping and drumming, by nationally and internationally recognized teachers. At the end of the week, the students will have increased their knowledge of theory, improved their basic skills and technique, and been exposed to new material.”

OK, originally when I pasted that in I was going to delete all the other arts, but you need to know the full scoop! The school provides a great opportunity not only to improve your harping but also to learn from other students as well. And we learn all sorts of things all day – from breakfast straight on through ‘til the end of the sessions that erupt each evening.

Again, from the harp portion of the website:

All Students are expected to bring their own instrument. The Scottish Harp classes will focus on:

• Basic harp technique for beginners and intermediates.
• Repertoire at all levels, including tunes for competition sets.
• Scottish style, including ornaments, lilt, and dance types.

Evening jam sessions offer students the chance to develop accompaniment patterns and learn more tunes.

The nylon/gut harp classes will study Scottish dance music, airs, and songs, focusing on ornamentation, Scottish style, accompaniment, and learning by ear. Afternoons will include lectures, practice time, and playing in sessions. Classes will be available for beginners who have played for a few months, intermediates, and advanced players.

Ann's class will focus on fingernail and damping techniques for the wire-strung clarsach but any harp is welcome since such techniques were also standard fare for gut harp. Repertoire will range from beginning pieces to ports, strathspeys and reels. The creation of two level-appropriate groups will allow for individualized instruction and practice opportunity as well. Afternoon lectures will include an overview of fingernail technique, the “coupled hands” technique, and a discussion of symbolism in harps."

And the instructors this year are, as every year, AMAZING! This year we will have:

Seumas Gagne, Jo Morrison, Ann Heymann, and Sue Richards! It’s enough to make your head explode in excitement!

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn more about the harp, the culture, the music! For more information go to the OSAS website:

And if you've never been to OSAS before, give it a good think - it is a warm, inviting learning environment that might feel daunting if you've never been - but that could not be further from the reality - don't let the thought of all that yummy Scottish harping scare you - its a blast you'll never forget!

March 2, 2011

Competition Season - YEA!

You know that I LOVE competitions! From the excitement in the air, the stress of performing, and the camaraderie of my fellow harpers, to the haggis and chips and Scotch eggs – I can’t wait! The best things about competition, for me, are the urge to master new tunes, to push myself to play under a deadline, to incorporate feedback from judges who are so careful to make competitions a growth experience, and to get to cheer for everyone else!
I know competition is not for everyone – and I respect that we all have different paths and goals. But, now it’s nearly spring and I can smell the games season gearing up in my area. And I am honored to be coordinating a lovely one day competition that is near and dear to me.


So I want to invite you to the Celtic Society of Southern Maryland 2011 Celtic Festival on Saturday, 30 April in beautiful Calvert County Maryland. We are centrally located to the mid-Atlantic and have had competitors from as far as North Carolina to the south, Michigan to the west, and upstate New York to the north – and I hope this year will be no exception. The Festival is held at Jefferson Patterson state park with the field overlooking the Patuxent River which is stunning and delightful – a lovely location for a games.

We will have a Scottish Harp Society Sanctioned Competition (rules are available at . Our judge will be the wonderful Sharon Knowles. And we are fortunate to again have the Virginia Harp Center as our Prizes Sponsor this year.

I hope you’ll come to the competition, whether you compete or not. If you want to compete you’ll find the online registration (there will be no onsite registration) on . And if competition performance is not for you, come out anyway – we always need volunteers (who get complimentary admission to the games – just leave me a comment if you are interested).