March 25, 2015

What to do on your summer vacation - Harp Camp!

You have so many things to do during the sweet, sweaty days of summer and it is only natural that you’d want to spend some of the time on your harp!  I hope you’ll consider joining us for the 20th anniversary Lever Harp Camp 2014, August 14th-16th - in South Central Pennsylvania. Harp Camp is easily accessible from anywhere and to harpers at any level.

Kris and I work hard to provide a highly personalized, fun-filled and supportive environment so that you can extend your technical skills no matter where you’re starting. We also work on building a healthy sense of self-esteem and encourage our attendees to try new things while developing an understanding of the skills necessary to reach individual performance goals.

We put together a format tailored to you: no frustration of not getting something that you aren’t ready for.  And no waiting for people with less experience to understand what is being presented. We tailor to you – where you are at the time we’re working.

Each workshop you take will be geared toward your proficiency and comfort level. These three days will be filled with creativity and fun. Workshops cover diverse topics from learning to performance to composition and improvisation. 

We are working on the specific topics right now and we’ll post them soon.  Games, Creative and Directed Ensemble and age appropriate activities will all be included!

If you have always wanted to try the harp without the commitment, we will have rentals available and a separate novice track designed to give you the optimum experience of trying the harp – with no strings attached!

Harp Camp has small class sizes to give each attendee the personal attention for which we are known.  For more information, check our website for updates in April or contact us. Harperkris (at) or jentheharper (at)

March 18, 2015

Early Summer Opportunity - OSAS

I'll spend the next few posts reminding you of great ways to spend your harp summer - in chronological order, that way you can plan your entire calendar!

It probably isn't summer without participating in the Ohio Scottish Arts School in Oberlin, Ohio!*

OSAS is a week of intensive learning, music, sharing, making friends, and fun! You bring your own harp (of course!) and if you're smart, you'll bring all the things Sue suggests on her list - well hewn after years of being in the dorms! The classes focus on: basic harp technique for beginners and intermediates, repertoire at everyone,Scottish style, including ornaments, lilt, and dance types, and did I mention having fun while sharing tunes?


Instructors this year will be Wendy Stewart (insert jubilant crowd cheer here), Haley Hewitt (keep cheering!), Ann Heymann (still more cheering!), Charlie Heymann (don't stop to breathe now, keep cheering!), and Sue Richards (ok, you are probably on your feet from cheering at this point!!).

Both wire strung and nylon strung harps are taught with focus on Scottish dance music, airs, and songs, as well as ornamentation, Scottish style, accompaniment, and learning by ear.

There are also lectures, practice time, and playing in sessions, as well as Charlie's well known  "band class" for all instruments so you can learn to "play well with others"!

In the evening there are jam sessions as well as treats, games and other fun.

If you've never been to OSAS, you definitely don't know what you're missing.  If you think it sounds intimidating, it is anything but (and I understand - before my first year I was terrified!). OSAS is a great learning opportunity that keeps students engaged and coming back (some for more than 15 years!). Hope to see you there -

* All the factual information in this post unceremoniously stolen, without permission, from the OSAS website: where you'll also find additional information and registration materials.

March 11, 2015

It’s March already!

I know many of us are having hellacious winters no matter where we live and that makes it difficult to imagine spring or to begin planning our summers.  But summer will be here in no time, so now is the time to start planning what lovely harp events you will attend.  There are many more than there used to be which is helpful – choice is always comforting.  But finding the summer event that is the right fit for you can be daunting.  In addition, sometimes you have to read carefully to assure you’re going to the event that will fit your needs and your harp.

There are loads of summer camps for harp players – typically for those under the age of majority.  And while that’s great and I applaud the ongoing education of our youth – many of us are both harp players and well above the age of majority.  Also, many events cater to pedal harpers – again, I applaud their ongoing edification but typically lever harpers may not be comfortable at these events.
It’s comforting to be stretched at an opportunity that fits your goals, level of play and interests.  These events do exist and many are likely close to you (or at least near enough to make the trek!).  I will spend the next few weeks highlighting the events I find especially useful, fun, educational, entertaining, and worth the time and money to attend.  I clearly benefit from sharing the events with which I am associated but the others are just good in my opinion, pure and simple – no cross marketing, not compensation, no bennies, just my thinking on events I attend or have not yet gotten to but reliable sources have confirmed are a great time. 

If you have a favorite, let me know – ‘cause you know I’m going to tell you mine!

March 4, 2015

The Dr is in

Last week we talked about the environment you can set to help assure your harp’s health so this week let’s talk about getting your harp to the Harp Doctor – your luthier. You want to keep your Harp healthy after all!

While many harp maintenance tasks can be performed at home, I prefer to take my harp to my local luthier* just to be sure I don’t break anything!  What do you mean you don’t have a luthier?!? 

There are some standard maintenance items you should take care of annually – regulation and restringing.  Regulation is the practice of calibrating your levers so that, when engaged, they raise the pitch of the string one half tone.  Not about a half, not, like a half, not halfish, but a true half tone.  This assures that when you tune and when you play you get the tones you expected and desire. Regulation is a delightful and desirable thing because after you spend all that time tuning, it’s nice to set the levers and be in tune still! But I ask my luthier to do it because regulation is a fiddly business and I don’t have the patience to get it right**.
Restringing is needed because your strings will get dull with age and wear.  You might have a hard time hearing it because you play on them every day. Sometimes the string will let you know it’s time, refusing to hit or hold a pitch for very long or sounding "thuddy".  Its as if it is saying, “I’m soooooo tired, I just can’t hold this pitch any longer.” Restringing is not difficult but it is time consuming and can be hard on the hands.  Your luthier can do this for you (for a well-deserved price) or you can do it yourself.
Now annually might be a bit of a convention because how often you need to restring or regulate is a function of many things including how much your play your harp, how hard you are on it, how much it travels, how often you tune, and the harp itself.  Use “annual” as an estimate. Keep an eye and an ear on your harp and perform maintenance as needed.

So, take your harp to the Harp Doctor for regular checkups to keep it harp healthy!

*my local luthier is Rick Kemper ( and he does excellent work. There are other great luthiers throughout the country and there is likely one near to you - let me know who works on your harp and we'll give them a shout out here too.

** knowing yourself is important in this - I am not patient, nor do I do well with tedious, repetitious, fine work.  If you are good at this sort of thing (clock repair, zymurgy, or other fine work) you'd probably do a good job.  I'm not like that!